It was an early start on Friday for the 67 students and six members of staff. We left School bang on five and headed for Manchester airport and a two and a half hour flight to Keflavik near Reykjavík. And the adventure began as soon as we touched down. After meeting our guides and coach drivers we immediately headed off to location number one – the Reykjanes GeoPark museum. Here we learnt about Iceland’s geothermal past and how the electricity across the country is supplied. Also inside was an eclectic mix of objects and subject matter ranging from model boats to ceramic pots and militaria. There was even a small art gallery exhibiting photos of the relatively unknown NATO base here that US soldiers left abruptly in 2001.
After building up an appetite we travelled to a fresh fish and chip restaurant in Grindavík before we visited the land bridge between the Eurasian and North American plate boundaries. This was one of a very few places in the world where you can actually see the two plate boundaries rise out of the Atlantic Ocean! At Gunnuhver we visited the hot mud pots and steam vents where the air was filled with an eggy smell due to the sulphur produced by the geothermal activity. Our final stop was a tour of Reykjavik including Hallgrímskirkja church. Built in 1937 it was designed by the late Guðjón Samuel who was often inspired by the fascinating shapes and forms created when lava cools into basalt rock. After an exhausting day we checked into Hotel Cabin to have a quick 10 minute turnaround and get ready to go out for delicious pizza and a relaxing dip in the local geothermal pool.
After an early departure from Hotel Cabin we ventured onwards to the Golden Circle with our first stop at the Þingvellir. Situated on the northern shore of Lake Þingvallavatn, Þingvellir is the national shrine of Iceland. It is a key location in Icelandic history as the oldest existing parliament in the world first assembled there in 930 AD. Þingvellir has for this reason been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Following this breath taking scenery we made our way to the Laugarvatn Lake Fontana Spa. A fantastic place for relaxing in warm open air pools, saunas and steam rooms and admiring the beautiful scenery of the lake and the mountains beyond.
After a picnic lunch we travelled to the famous Geysir landform where we were treated to regular impressive eruptions of hot water and steam. Then on to the equally impressive Gulfoss; the ‘Golden Waterfall’. Here water plummets down 32 meters in two stages into a rugged canyon with walls reaching up to 70 meters high! Finally the group travelled east to the four star Hotel Laki in Efri-Vik where the group stayed in a variety of outdoor cabins and rooms.
After a hearty breakfast we all headed off on a day of truly stunning arctic scenery and glacial landforms. First we witnessed columns of basalt rock perfectly defined which have stood for thousands of years. Next we visited the Skaftafell National Park visitor centre with information about the country’s many volcanos, active and dormant. Then a walk around the beautiful Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon with its breath-taking backdrop. This was the setting for the James Bond film ‘Die another day’ and is where huge chunks of ice float down towards the Atlantic Ocean before settling on the beaches like huge ice sculptures. We were then lucky enough to visit the source of the ice – the massive Svínafellsjökull glacier – the biggest in Europe. Here we could walk along the side of the mountain that the glacier had eroded, giving us a rare chance to be so close to a moving glacier. There are not many places in the world where you can stand right next to a glacier and hear it creak!). A truly remarkable spectacle which we were privileged to have witnessed. Many thought this was the best experience of the whole trip.
But as if that wasn’t enough we were also very lucky to see the Northern Lights in the clear skies that evening.
Next day, after most of the group enjoyed a full English, we travelled to the famous black beaches at Reynishverfi to learn about coastal processes and landforms. It was also the day of the waterfall. We visited two impressive examples; the Skógafoss and the Seljalandsfoss. At the latter the group had the opportunity to actually go behind the cascading water which produced some great silhouette photos. We all got soaked!
Later the group travelled to the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano Eruption Centre and watched a video about the infamous eruption of 2010 which sent ash high into the air turning day to night for several weeks and causing chaos for the European air travel industry.
Sadly the trip had to come to an end and the group travelled back to Airport Hotel before flying back to the UK the next morning. Thank you to all students for impeccable behaviour & engagement throughout our time in Iceland. Thanks to parents for supporting the trip, we hope you have enjoyed following us on #IcelandGeog with over 75,000 impressions on Twitter! Finally huge thanks to Mr Bootherstone, Mr Lowe, Mr Machin, Mr Roberts, Mr Mace & Mr McDowell.
On Friday the 18th of March an intrepid group of Year 12 Biology students set off to Malham Tarn in the Yorkshire Dales, their mission to study the outstanding ecology of the Local area.
The Three day trip was a fantastic opportunity for students to discover the delights of Biology field work and use their mathematical skills to analyse their findings. On a cool Friday lunch the students wrapped up and headed out to learn how to use Quadrat squares to take samples of static populations such as the Flora of the Beech and Sycamore woodland.
As the temperature dropped and the evening drew in our fearless group added yet more layers of clothing and headed out to set mammal traps to collect samples of the local fauna. The highlight of the trip was to return the following morning and collect the sample. Despite the hopes of some students were unable to collect a sheep, badger or even a “bear”, we did however manage field mice, Voles and even a Shrew (a very rare beast in these parts I’m told). With all of the animals safely returned to woodland the students prepared for another day braving the elements in a river survey.
If the cool air temperature was not enough, a quick dip into the river to look at invertebrate populations soon cooled the feet our adventurous students. Throughout the day we learned to identify animals taken from the river and studied how the animals may change depending on the environment surrounding them.
Late into the evening students researched the ecological importance of some of the creatures which had been discovered, one of which was even the fabled ‘stick’ or caddis fly larvae as it should be known. They also looked at ecology and a more global scale. The students headed back to the field studies centre to collapse into a warm bed and get some well-earned rest to prepare for the following day.
On the final day the weather was with us and students removed the 17 or so layers of jumpers and headed off t-shirt clad to study succession on the Lithosere. After setting up a belt transect and studying the change in plants across the slope, the students collected samples of the local Flora, before returning to the lab to look at the pigments that maybe found in a variety of plants.
The party of 11 brave students not only learned a huge amount on the trip but were a credit to themselves and the school. Despite the cold weather and long hours the students were always cheerful were a delight to be around. Congratulation to all how attended and thanks to Ms Cole for her help on the trip.
A local magistrate came to talk to the AS Law class this month about his role enforcing the law in the area. Topics for discussion in this question and answer session included how often he sent people to prison and the sentences given for shoplifting.
Students then took part in a sentencing exercise where they had to decide sentences in a range of scenarios using the guidelines used by magistrates. It was fascinating to see if the sentences they chose were similar to the ones chosen by the magistrates.
We had a great assembly this morning by Britain’s Manliest Man
– RAF officer and testicular cancer survivor Flight Lieutenant Alun “Peps” Pepper 43, who visited the school to talk to the Year 10 students.
He was crowned “Britain’s Manliest Man” fighting off more than 1,000 fellow applicants to win the nationwide competition, which was organised by a men’s grooming brand, fitness magazine and cancer charity.
Alun, originally from Crewe, spoke to the students about how he became an RAF fighter pilot and the determination it took after several knock backs. He also spoke to the boys about his testicular cancer and raised their awareness of the disease.