Intrepid Westholme Geographers explore the wonders of Iceland!
During the October half term holiday, twenty four intrepid Geographers, accompanied by Mrs. Buckley, Mrs. Moore and Miss Entwistle, set out to explore the wonders of Iceland. After landing at Keflavik airport the girls headed for the Blue Lagoon to relax and unwind after the journey. The geothermally heated seawater is rich in natural minerals and allows bathers to float effortlessly in the blue opaque water.
The first evening was spent in Selfoss on the south coast and the following day the group discovered the first of several spectacular waterfalls. Skogarfoss waterfall is a 60 metre high torrent of water created by isostatic uplift (when the land rises after the weight of the ice is removed) at the end of the last ice age. The gale force winds made climbing to the top of the waterfall an invigorating experience! Reynishverfi beach with its basalt columns and black lava sand and pebbles was surprisingly sheltered and provided a tranquil contrast. Here the girls studied the sea stacks, two giant columns of rock, and the huge arch of Dyrholaey in the headland jutting out into the sea.
The ash from the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull lies in the fields on the south coast and creates dust storms of swirling ash in the wind. Icelanders expect an eruption from Katla next. As it is subglacial it is considered one of Iceland’s most dangerous volcanoes as an eruption will cause catastrophic flooding of the south coastal plain.
The majority of Iceland’s population, of 318,452, live in the capital Reykjavik. So as the group travelled east to the Vatnajokull icecap and the Skaftafell National Park they experienced the true wilderness of this barren land. Jokulsarlon is a spectacular glacial lagoon below the snout of the Breidamerkurjokull glacier. The lagoon is filled with giant turquoise blue icebergs which float majestically in the ice cold seawater. The amphibian boat, Jokull (which means glacier), transported the girls across the lagoon and allowed them to get close to the bobbing seals and see the stripes of black ash, from the recent volcanic eruptions, frozen into the icebergs. In the afternoon the girls trekked in the Skaftafell National Park to Svartifoss (Black falls) and the Skaftafellsjokull valley glacier. They perched on a rock ledge above the glacial crevasses of the glacier and perused all the glacial landforms they had studied in the classroom in this one magnificent view.
Next stop on this memorable visit was back towards the west of Iceland and the Golden Circle. This includes the spouting geyser, Strokkur, at Geysir, the awesome Gullfoss (Golden falls) and the fissures of the tectonic plate margin at Thingvellir where the North American plate and Eurasian plate are pulling apart. Thingvellir literally means parliament plains and this is where the Viking general assembly took place from AD 930.
The girls had a wonderful time in the land of ice and fire and are already planning a reunion in 5 years time with Gudbjorg our amazing guide whose extensive knowledge of ghost and troll stories and Viking words of wisdom enlivened the long coach journeys.