Vandyke Students travel to Iceland at half term
41 students and 5 staff embarked on an adventure to Iceland at the start of half term; true to its name it really was the land of Ice and Fire. On arrival we were informed of a snowstorm and strong winds moving in and that our itinerary would need to be changed. ‘I’m sure it’s not that bad’ we thought, and headed to the blue lagoon to enjoy the falling snow while nice and warm in geothermally heated water.
Day 1 – overnight the wind was howling down the main street outside our hotel and a few feet of snow had fallen, our guide Gunnsa confirmed we would not make it round to the south shore, the road would be shut for days!! Instead we drove out to “Mordor” The Gunnuhver; a fierce and smokey hot-spring (named after the witch Gunn). The area features a number of hot-springs and is widely believed to be the area Tolkien used as the basis for Mordor. From here we went to the bridge between the continents – the only place on land where you can walk from the north American to the Eurasian plate. The afternoon was followed by a tour of Reykjavik before we headed to our alternative accommodation for a snowball fight, a pizza buffet dinner and the traditional Iceland quiz.
Day 2 – Our itinerary was still off the cards as a blizzard was due to move inland with winds reaching 24 metres a second. With the advice of our guide and driver we left the hotel at 8am sharp to get out of Keflavik before the roads were closed and headed to an outdoor pool which had an Olympic size pool, an activity pool, a hot relaxation pool and hot tubs and steam rooms – what else would you want to do in minus 6 degrees and 16 metre per second winds? Needless to say it was an experience. The afternoon saw the storm hit fully, with our driver and guide called back to the office and all cars banned from the roads. We holed up in the hotel playing cards, chilling out and doing fitness challenges, before an evening walk to the most visited restaurant in Reykjavik and then on to an evening ice-cream parlour.
Day 3 – THE GOLDEN CIRCLE! Finally, the winds dropped and the snow ploughs could get out to open up the roads – we had 6 hours to travel 118km to Gullfoss and back, 164km to the airport in minus 13 degrees – with our driver Stig and the efficiency of Vandyker’s we knew we could do it! We managed to see Geysir, Gullfoss, Faxifoss and the village of Sulfoss although we didn’t have time to get to see the waterfall. All in all, it was a long journey, but worth it to see some of the geography we travelled so far to view.
The trip did not go at all to plan and we missed out on seeing some great attractions; however, ALL students conducted themselves very well and dealt with the changes and uncertainty maturely. Without their self-organisation and adaptability, we would have had a very different and difficult trip. As it happens it was one of the most unique and enjoyable trips I have run! Thank you guys!
Daniel Scott in Year 12, who came to Iceland in Year 10 and again this time round, summed up the trip ‘Last time I discovered Iceland, this time I experienced Iceland’.
An experience it most certainly was; one I’m sure our students will remember for a long time! Hopefully they will all go back to see the other features and the Northern Lights!
Team Leader of Geography