40 fourth year and fifth year Geography GCSE pupils had a trip to remember as they visited Iceland to investigate volcanic and glacial landscapes and observe the cultural side of Icelandic life.
The first full day of their trip saw the travellers visit Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Station, the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.
Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Station is the third-largest geothermal power station in the world and is responsible for most of the power production in the country. The Golden Circle, which is based in southern Iceland, was really well received with pupils learning about the pro-glacial waterfall at Gulfoss (one of the largest in Europe) and visiting Geysir National Park – famous for its ejections of volcanically heated ground water and the site after which these features are named.
Pupils then travelled to and circumnavigated Kerid volcanic crater before arriving at the Blue Lagoon for some much needed downtime at the geothermal spa. In the spa they donned algae face-masks and let their minds drift off in the mineral rich waters of this man-made wonder on the Reykjanes Peninsula of western Iceland.
Pupils were then whisked back for dinner before a late walk around Reykjavik taking in the midnight sun and finishing the evening with a stroll along the harbour where they had their picture taken with Jón Gunnar Árnason’s sculpture ‘Sun Voyager’.
Day two saw the travelling group visit Heimaey in the Vestmannjaer Islands. The land, which literally translates as Home Island, is the largest and most populated island off the Icelandic coast and in 1973 a lava flow from the nearby Eldfell volcano destroyed the town, covering much of it in lava flows and ash and prompting the evacuation of islanders to the mainland – much like a modern day Pompeii. Pupils sailed across the wild North Atlantic and visited the port town before hiking for the rest of the day up and around this still active volcano.
The next day was action packed with visits to the Eyjafjallajokull volcano – site of the disruptive and destructive 2010 and 2011 eruptions, Thorsmork National Park and an exciting trek up a subsidiary tongue of the Myrdsjokull glacier. On the glacier pupils slipped on crampons, ice-picks and helmets and courageously negotiated a host of glacial features including seracs, crevasses and moulins.
Geography teacher and trip leader Mr Alex Cooke said of the expedition: “The trip went very smoothly and pupils thoroughly enjoyed themselves with the feedback being highly positive.
“We employed an excellent guide in Rob Richardson who was informative, knowledgeable and available 24/7 and the pupils learned about a variety of environments and an unfamiliar culture.”
It was an extremely interesting and educational experience for the pupils and for many of them it has inspired them to continue their Geography studies onto the A-level stage.
Photos © Robert Richardson and thanks to NST Travel Group