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KS5 Fieldtrip to Iceland (10/15)

Twenty passionate and motivated key stage 5 geographers travelled to Iceland, the ‘Land of Fire and Ice.’ This fieldtrip was a unique and educational experience for all involved. A small recollection of this amazing journey is provided here for you.

On Wednesday 21st October,  the Chalfonts geography department had the pleasure of taking twenty passionate and motivated key stage 5 geographers to Iceland, the ‘Land of Fire and Ice.’ This fieldtrip was a unique and educational experience for all involved. A small recollection of this amazing journey is provided here for you.

We all met promptly for check in at 5.35am where we were greeted by Jo our personal guide from Rayburn (the travel company who led the fieldtrip). We had a safe and uneventful flight courtesy of Easyjet to Iceland landing at Keflavik airport on the Reykanes peninsular. We then proceeded to have 5 days of non-stop activity with beautiful sights and landscapes to see, appreciate and learn about.

Wednesday 21st October 2015
  • Our first stop on our tour of Iceland was the Bridge between the continents. This was where we found ourselves with the unique experience of being able to stand between the two continents of Eurasia and North America.
  • Blue Lagoon - Here we relaxed outside in the natural springs heated by the Earth. The spring’s own mineral-rich silica mud created a face mask which made skin baby-smooth for the remainder of the trip, if not also giving the appearance of fearless tribal warriors.
Thursday 22nd October 2015
  • Pingvellir Rift Valley  –  We walked through the fissures and across the graben landscape in this national park. This area shows clear evidence of the divergence of the two tectonic plates and is the site of Iceland’s very first government. It was a real treat to be standing in the landscape that we had only ever seen on television.
  • Kerio Crater – We walked around the rim of an extinct volcano. This explosion crater is in the northernmost one of a crater row called Tjanrnaholar, which together with the surrounding lave field dates 6000 years.
  • Geysir - The boiling hole in the ground all other geysers owe their names to was our next stop. Its sister-geyser Strokkur blasted immense amounts of boiling water into the air every 5-7 minutes. Lots of fun was to be had trying to capture the exact moment when the geysir went off.
  • Gulfoss Waterfall – Gulfoss (The Golden Waterfall) is Iceland’s most famous waterfall located on the mighty glacial river Hvita. The enormous white glacial cascade drops 32 metres into a deep narrow canyon which is 70 metres deep and 2.5 kilometres long.
  • Selfoss open air pool – The day ended with a nice relaxing swim in the open air, geothermally heated swimming pool which was just a short walk from the accommodation where we were staying.
Friday 23rd October 2015
  • Seljalandsfoss – This is a waterfall spilling from high basalt cliffs. Formed by isostatic rebound, (the tilting of the land due to the weight of land ice pushing down on the crust) we were able to scale behind the waterfall. It is the only known waterfall of its kind, where it is possible to walk behind it.
  • Eyjafjallajokull Visitors Centre - Here, we examined the effects of the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull eruption (famous for delaying flights all across Europe) on the local farmers, whose land was subsequently flooded and water supplies contaminated.
  • Solheimajokull –  This was a massive black glacier that took our breath away. We observed lateral and terminal moraines (deposition rock structures) and viewed kettle hole lakes that were in front of the glacier.
  • Reynishverfi - Our final stop of the day was at Reynishverfi Beach, consisting of volcanic sand, caves and basalt cliffs. Here we noticed a cave-arch-stack-stump formation off in the distance.
  • Northern lights – Despite all the weather reports stating that there was a very small chance of observing the northern lights we were fortunate to observe this first hand and Arthur Hill managed to capture some amazing pictures of this phenomenon.
Saturday 24th October 2015
  • Gunnuhver Hot Springs – We took a stroll along the water pipes to the sea where the geothermal excess water was released into the ocean. Our guide informed us that because of the increased temperature at this discharge point a tropical fish aquarium has opened up along this stretch of coastline. We walked around the edges of the closed geothermal energy plant and then took a stroll into the misty fumes of sulphur dioxide rising from the fumaroles.
  • Reykjavik – We finished by exploring the northernmost capital in the world, with its multiple souvenir shops and a gigantic model of Iceland in the city hall. We also took advantage of the geothermal energy by visiting Laugardalslaug Thermal Pool  where we spent a nice relaxing 3 hours bathing in waters up to temperatures of 42◦C.
We retired to the Kex Hostel as are final sleeping place. From the outside we were unsure what to expect but inside the hostel was contemporary and its description of being a living art museum was true to form. Our year 13 boys found the decoration of their room slightly disconcerting with pictures of porcelain dolls and horror books adorning their desks giving them a restless night sleep.
Sunday 25th October 2015 – Homeward bound

We departed nice and early for our flight home and we were lucky enough to witness the first snow of the season to fall. According to the bus driver it would snow for the next 6 months.

The trip was an amazing experience for all who were privileged to attend and we look forward to running this trip again with the forthcoming key stage 5 classes.