The Geography department at Camborne Science and International Academy organised a fieldtip to Iceland for 40 GCSE and A Level students from the 12th to the 15th February 2015. Our students were impeccably behaved, they were a credit to the school and our guide in Iceland thought we were a Public School.
We flew from Bristol to Keflavik arriving mid morning with temperatures of -6°C. Not fazed by these temperatures we immediately went for an outside swim in the legendary Blue Lagoon. The students and staff were revitalised by this impressive geothermally heated lagoon. All members of the trip were soon wearing mud packs and sipping smoothies and slushies and we hadn’t even got to our accommodation. Enroute to the hotel we stopped at the highest point in the city to get our bearings and the biting wind at -9°C gave us a taste of the Arctic conditions Iceland experiences in the winter. Once checked in to the Hotel Cabin we walked into downtown Reykjavik via the scenic seafront, a fjord with snow-capped mountains in the background.
On the Friday we visited the Þingvellir National Park, the most visible place in the world to view a constructive plate boundary. The Mid-Atlantic ridge is separating and is an example of sea-floor spreading. The North American plate is drifting westwards and the Eurasian plate eastwards.
We then drove to the Geysir Hotsprings Area which has many boiling, bubbling and gushing fumaroles, one of which Strokkur; “The Churn” erupts about every 5 minutes to a height of 15-30 metres. Mr Keddie showed the students where the rocks were too hot to touch and you could, if careful, warm your hand in the almost boiling water. We watched Strokkur erupt twice. Next the group moved onto Gulfoss a glaciated river with a massive double waterfall 32 metres tall with a 70 metre gorge at its base. It was partly frozen. It has been voted the third most beautiful waterfall in the world and we could all see why. Some students and staff took the opportunity with this breathtaking scenery to have a spontaneous “catalogue” style winter fashion shoot. Much posing ensued not least by Miss Finn and Mrs Haase.
The group then went to Frioheimar Geothermal Farm were the geothermal heat from the soil is taken advantage of along with cheap geothermally generated electricity to grow tomatoes all year round, even with snow outside. We had an interesting talk from the owner, tasted some fresh tomatoes and quickly said hello to the Iceland ponies in the nearby stable. Then onto the geothermal power plant of Hellisheidarvirkjun one of the largest geothermal power stations in the world. After our visit a 41 person snowball fight ensued to the delight of the students, who living in Cornwall rarely get deep, powder, snow. Mr Keddie lost the snowball fight outright; 40 against 1. Back to the hotel for food, some rest and then that night we visited the local geothermally heated public swimming pool. Crossing the snow to go down an ice laden water slide in the open air at -2°C at night is an experience in itself. We returned to the hotel tired but exhilarated.
On Saturday it was Valentine’s Day and also Billy’s 15th birthday. It was to be a day he will hopefully remember forever. Our planned walk on the Solheimajokull Glacier Tongue that morning with crampons and ice axes had to be cancelled due to gale force winds and driving sleet. Instead Mr Keddie managed to rearrange the schedule so that the students could go lava caving underground instead. We were met by our caving guides, everyone donned helmets and headlamps and we headed across the snow and ice covered lava towards the lava tunnels. The wind was so strong we were literally sliding across the ice and snow. Straight out of Alice in Wonderland, we all had to slide down a very narrow snow tunnel into the cave. The lave tunnel was pitch black, slippy and full of icicles. Mr Kenworthy and Mr Keddie went with a group each. Our students were fearless and had to crawl on their stomachs along the floor of the lava tunnel in some places as the roof was so low. On exiting the cave the wind had picked up and we had to fight our way back to the coach against the driving sleet, the smaller students, linking arms with the guides and teachers to stop them getting blown across the snow and ice. It was extreme geography and everyone was ecstatic about the experience. Our coach nearly got snowed in with drifting snow across the road and the whole coach shook from the blizzard outside.
We drove along the South Shore towards the volcano Eyafjallajökull and the glacier. The weather turned from sleet to driving rain and sadly visibility was so poor we couldn’t really see the volcano or glacier. We did however manage to see the spectacular waterfalls of Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss which drop 60 m from the relict cliff above.
Frazer H. (Year 12) said “Iceland was a truly amazing excursion, as a geographer I found the country’s natural features breath taking, a trip I will never forget.”
Our last destination of the day was Skogar Folk Museum to see how Icelander’s used to live in stone houses with turf roofs.
Upon returning to the hotel we had dinner, gave Billy a birthday cake, sang happy birthday and again immediately headed out to the local geothermally heated public swimming pool. This time as the snow had thawed the bigger water slide was open with its flashing lights and twisting turns. We returned to the airport on the Sunday, flew back to Bristol and returned to Cornwall, tired but happy. The only disappointment was not being able to see the Northern Lights due to cloud cover at night.
Ellie B. (Year 12) said ‘Iceland is now the furthest north I’ve been, I loved the country especially the amazing landscape! I’m definitely going back one day.’