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HMSG Iceland – Fire and Ice Study Trip, July 2015

September 17th, 2015

During the summer holidays, 21 pupils from Year 7-12 visited Iceland as part of a 6 day Geography/Earth Science study tour. The trip was led by Mr Meek and Mrs Harper and organised through the Discover the World Education travel company who are Iceland specialists. The visit promised spectacular waterfalls, glaciers, geysers, ancient lava flows, geothermal pools and power stations and much more.

Having met at school at 5 a.m. for a coach to Gatwick Airport, everybody was in need of a relaxing activity once we arrived in Reykjavik, so we travelled first to the outdoor geothermal Blue lagoon and really enjoyed the drinks and spa treatments.  On the way into Reykjavik we drove through the lava fields with their strange moss covered boulders, it had the appearance of another planet. We stayed in accommodation in the capital before travelling east the following day.

One day 2 we met our guide Arny and boarded our luxurious coach. Our first stop was the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Station which is capable of supplying the capital with all it energy needs. We then travelled first across the Ejafjallajokull flood plain and then to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, which spills 60 meters high over a basalt cliff. We were able to walk behind it, getting extremely wet!  We then journeyed to the Eyjafjallajokull Visitor Centre which displays information linked to the 2010 volcanic eruption, a case study investigated at GCSE. It was then on to the Solheimajokull (sun house) glacier. Armed with crampons and ice axes we proceeded up onto the glacier, viewing stunning crevasses and moulins. The glacier is currently melting and retreating at 100m a year as a result of global warming.

On day 3 we headed further east to the stunning Jokulsárlon glacial lagoon for an amphibious boat trip. We floated past icebergs the size of houses which originate from the Breidamerkjokurjokull glacier. After exploring part of the Skaftafell National Park and a walk to an amazing basalt column waterfall we headed to Farm Vatnsholt where we would be spending the night. This farm has an amazing array of different animals with dogs, ravens, parrots and even two arctic fox cubs to keep us company!

By day 4 we journeyed back to Reykjavik, stopping at Reynishverfi beach with its black volcanic sands, puffins and arches before having photos taken on the massive hexagonal basalt columns. We returned to our Reykjavik hotel and walked into the city for some sightseeing and our evening meal.

During day 5 we visited Kerid, a dramatic extinct volcanic crater lake with clear blue water. We also saw the Gullfoss Waterfall with its multiple drops which was truly spectacular and then on to the Geysirs, which spouted boiling sulphurous water 30 meters into the air every 7 minutes.  We also visited a working dairy farm where we were able to sample the homemade ice cream and meet the dairy cows and the Thingvellir National Park where Iceland’s parliament was established in 930AD. It is scoured by the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and rift valleys are clearly visible where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates pull apart at around 2cm a year. After a busy day we travelled back to Reykjavik to do some much needed souvenir shopping.

On day 6 Mr Meek led us into the city where we visited the impressive Hallgrimskirkja Church and the parliamentary buildings, where we were able to walk right up to the President’s front door!  Our final destination was the Reykjanes Peninsula to walk around its solfataras (boiling mud pools) and hot springs.

This was a brilliant school trip.  We saw so many amazing things and had some incredible experiences we will never forget. We are all very grateful to Mrs Harper and Mr Meek for looking after us and giving us this opportunity.

Annie and Megan

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