What a beautiful day it was for a trip down the south coast! Many of the most iconic photographs of Iceland were taken on this south coast and I witnessed some of these stunning geographical features.
Seljalandsfoss; Skogarfoss; the black sand and basalt columns at Dyrholaey, all set against an exquisite background of white glistening snow and wall-to-wall blue sky. The odd snow shower passed overhead, just to remind us that it was still there, but it simply added to the atmosphere, creating a majestic scene.
There were sounds of amazement and clicks of cameras as the students from Bury C of E High School arrived, so I took the opportunity to ask some of them how this differed from their expectations. “It’s just so much bigger than I imagined” they answered. “We’ve seen it in a textbook but to see it in real life is just so different!” And that’s what it is all about – those moments when the students get to witness what they have been learning about in the classroom and suddenly they realise what live geography is all about! They spoke of case studies and GCSEs and how this trip to Iceland will help them. The moment when I was really shown the benefit of school trips such as these.
A trip to Eyjafjallajokull visitors centre was the highlight for many – as it was for me. We watched a 10 minute film that told the story of a farming family who lived underneath the volcano. We saw how they had to leave behind their home, their livestock and their life as they were evacuated in April 2010. We learnt how the volcanic ash effected them in the days and weeks that followed and how they are still effected by the event almost 5 years on. It’s visits like these that help students to realise the real power and perhaps unpredictability of live geography.
Today, the 35 students and 4 teachers from Bury C of E High School have said their goodbyes to Iceland as they head back to the UK. Speaking to them this morning as they left, I am confident that they have all had a fun, exciting, educationally-rich and eye-opening time in Iceland. One student told me that “other kids should come to Iceland because it’s a one-in-a-lifetime experience!” If that doesn’t sum it up I don’t know what does!