Fifth form trip to Iceland – the land of fire and ice.


Day 1: This October, a group of Ardingly students set off to Iceland, accompanied by Mrs Cook, Miss Lane, Miss Dewing and Mr and Mrs Schilling. Leaving from Gatwick, we arrived at Rekjavik and immediately set off for a Lava Tube Caving adventure. Suffice to say spare clothes were a necessity and we learnt from the first day that when advised to wear waterproofs, listen! The Lava Caves were located in the Blue Mountains which were created in the last volcanic eruption and this entailed lots of crawling and climbing through nature’s obstacles. When we had ventured into the tunnel our guide instructed us to turn off our headlamps so that we could experience total darkness. We had a lovely Icelandic tour guide who tried to teach us a word of Icelandic every day. Day 1 ended with pizza and bowling.

Day 2: This was a jam-packed day of activities. We began by visiting a geothermal power station where we learnt that Iceland generates 100% of its own energy, almost all renewably. Next, we visited a site called Geysir, a hot spring that gave its name to all the world’s geysers. Here, we saw a geyser that reached a height of around 30m. The highlight for me was Mrs Cook’s reaction when she thought the geyser was due to erupt but only a small jet of water emerged – she was so disappointed! However, when it erupted properly she was delighted. Afterwards, we visited a beautiful waterfall, which dropped around 33m. This was especially memorable for me because I had never seen a waterfall before on this scale. Finally – and probably my favourite part of the trip – was our visit to the Blue Lagoon. This is an incredible naturally-occurring hot pool. As we visited it at night, colourful lights illuminated everything, making the area even more magical. The water was so warm and relaxing that we wanted to stay in all night. Around the water’s edge were mud salts that could be used as face masks and when we left our skin felt much more rejuvenated.

Day 3: This day began similarly to the previous day, with visits to another geothermal power station.  At this power station we were fed with eggs that were cooked in the geysers, and bread that had been baked in the ground overnight. We then went to see another waterfall; however, we could view this waterfall from a platform above. Although this required us to walk up what seemed like a mile of stairs, once we were up there the view was stunning. After lunch, we explored a glacier with professional tour guides. Before arriving there, I was not expecting to find this task challenging; however once we reached the destination and saw people waiting for us with harnesses and crampons, I realised I was wrong. Whilst walking on the ice, we were taught different techniques for walking, depending on whether we were climbing up or down, or even avoiding crevasses, with our tour guide explaining to us on the way about the magnificent natural wonders we were witnessing.

Day 4: We visited the area around the famous Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010, to look at the impact on the local community. Here, we watched a documentary containing striking images of the eruption, and learnt how devastating the effects were for local people. We spoke to the family living in that area at the time who were evacuated to prevent life-threatening situations. From there, we travelled to our third and final waterfall of the trip. In some ways, this was the most impressive waterfall as we were able to walk behind it, and therefore could examine it from very close. However, this led to everyone getting soaked.

Day 5: Our final day came all too soon, and we were off back to the UK at 3:30am. We saw so many amazing sites in the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ that I will cherish and remember for years to come. A huge thank you all the teachers that accompanied us, looked after us and ensured that we all had a brilliant time.


Sophie Crooks