Parent Update - ICELAND 2019
– by Miss Tipper, Head of Geography
At the start of the Easter holiday the Geography Departments of WCSA and PCSA gave 40 Year 10 and 11 students the opportunity to venture to the country with the most northerly capital in Europe – Iceland; known as the Land of Fire and Ice. The aim was to experience a variety of incredibly dramatic geographical features in a country not many of our students would go to on holiday. Here we studied tectonics, rivers, geothermal power, glaciers and coasts. These are all topics that feature in the GCSE exams.
After a very early start on Saturday morning, we arrived in Keflavik airport, where we met our incredible guide (Hilmar) and headed for the Blue Lagoon, having stopped first to explore a lava cave. At the Blue Lagoon, which is geothermally heated, we were able to relax and swim in the warm, turquoise water surrounded by a lava field and cover our faces with a volcanic clay face mask. From here we then went to our hotel in Hafnarfjordir, a harbour town close to Reykjavik and which was designed with a Viking theme – a really interesting place to stay.
One the second day, we visited Hellisheidi Geothermal Powerplant to see how Iceland is able to utilise the natural phenomena in order to develop their electricity and hot water. From here we walked around the top of Kerid volcanic crater and then visited Geysir where we were able to see Strokkur geyser erupt several times. It was part of the challenge to capture the best image of the eruption, whilst not getting wet from the falling water.
After lunch was a visit to Gulfoss waterfall, an incredibly beautiful set of falls fed by the nearby glacier, and which created amazing features such as the basalt gorge below. Last on the list this day was a visit to Thingvellir national park, where students were able to see the site of the oldest democratic meetings – the Althing, the rift between the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates (that are still moving apart), and the many active volcanoes surrounding the park.
On our third day we headed off to Vik on the South coast. On the way we stopped off at two more waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss, which we were able to walk behind due to the undercutting in the cliff, and which is has created a grotto like cave, and Skogarfoss, which is beautiful and recognisable from adverts – here students were able to walk to the top and see the falls from above. At Vik we walked along the black sandy beaches and saw the dramatic basalt coastline created by the vast Atlantic waves, knowing there was no land directly between here and Antarctica. The features such as caves and arches were as though they came from a textbook, although looking very black due to the geology.
On the return trip to the hotel we stopped off at Solheimajokull glacier – which was incredible for our students to be able to see this huge natural feature, and walk around the snout to see how erosion has created caves which looked turquoise in the right light. Some students tried to catch the clear glacial water that dripped.
Luckily the weather over the four days was wonderful with blue skies pretty much the entire time, which is very unusual for Iceland as the weather is normally very changeable. It was sad that once again there were no Northern Lights but it is a little late in the year for this.
Unfortunately this trip had to come to its final day so we headed back to Keflavik airport, bought some souvenirs for our families and said goodbye to this amazing country. Although very tired, it was so nice to see parents on our arrival at school.
As always, I hope our students had an amazing time and I am sure they have created memories which they will never forget. They were truly incredible ambassadors for both schools and should be proud of themselves. I would like to thank the staff that gave up their holiday to attend this trip, namely Mr Davis from WCSA and Mrs Empson and Ms Rees from PCSA. I would also like to thank the students for making another fantastic and memorable trip, to Hilmar, our brilliant guide, and also to the parents and SLT who enable this visit to go ahead through their support.