22nd - 26th October 2018
Writing: Monty Weatherall (Year 13)
Editing: George Corby (Year 13)
Of all the trips that Challoner's runs, Iceland is one which could truly be described as a once in a lifetime opportunity. The 45-strong travelling party embarked on their journey this half term on a quest to see the magnificent volcanos, vast glaciated landscapes and towering waterfalls that Iceland has to offer. For four nights the group stayed in a hotel 50 km east of Reykjavik, everyday waking at the crack of dawn to visit some of the most famous sites on the island.
One of the most important things to remember when visiting Iceland is that the weather can never make its mind up, something we experienced first hand on day one. Our visit to Thorsmork valley was cancelled due to flooding. However, this did little to dampen our spirits and we instead went to the Viking ruins of Stong, soaking up some human geography at the same time as the physical.
On our journey back to base, in the distance, we could make out Eyjafjallajokull, the volcano responsible for the cancellation of nearly 100,000 flights after its eruption almost 8 years ago. Harrowingly, we were told of a volcano named Vatnajokull which is overdue an eruption, with the potential to cause 20 times the devastation.
The second day of travelling lead us on a trip around the golden circle. Here we were fortunate enough to visit Geysir (hot springs), Thingvellir (the site of the mid-Atlantic ridge) and Gullfoss, a 30m high waterfall with three dropping tiers. It was a spectacular sight and totally geographically unique, formed by a fissure rather than erosion of soft rock!
Our third day on the road was the earliest start of all. Leaving the hotel before the sun had even begun to rise, we were bound for the south coast. Following a morning stop at an education centre, the party stopped on the world famous black sand beach for lunch. It was truly bizarre to be sitting on black sands, stained by ash following multiple eruptions over thousands of years. The afternoon was well spent glacier walking on Solheimajokull, standing on ice 60m thick. Despite being a natural wonder, the site had a melancholy feel about it because on average, the glacier is losing 100m of ice every year and that rate is increasing. It was surreal to see the real world implications of human-accelerated climate change, something we are very shielded from in Amersham. It was an experience that provided real food for thought.
To finish that day we really did leave the raisin for the end of the hot dog (an Icelandic saying meaning 'to leave the best for last') by visiting Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, both amazing waterfalls falling 60m each.
The next day we awoke with sadness as it was the end of our awe-inspiring trip. The group left Iceland with stories, memories and most importantly a greater understanding of the natural world around them and hopefully a greater appreciation that we only get one planet, so we need to look after it.
Thanks must go to Mrs Patterson and the rest of the Educational Visits Office for making the trip possible. As well as this Mr Abbas, Mr Bushe and trip leader Mr Davies (el gouna) deserve our gratitude for helping provide this opportunity. Finally, thanks go to our tour guide Bryndis who gave us exceptional insight into life in Iceland.