Rayburn Review with Cath Rule

Jul 01, 2019


In the second edition of Rayburn Review, we recently caught up with Catherine Rule, our Geography Tours Development Manager. During our chat, we spoke about Cath’s favourite destination in Iceland as well as her various insights into being a Field Study Tutor (FST). She also gave us some valuable tips into taking groups on tour and even shared her favourite stories and moments during her 20 year stint travelling to the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’.

 

Cath Rule

First of all, here’s some background. Catherine began her career as a geography teacher, where she regularly ran tours to Iceland and fuelled her passion for geography by passing her knowledge on to students for over 17 years. In 2014, she joined us here at Rayburn Tours where she became our Geography Tours Development Manager.

Aside from her obvious passion to enhance the student experience on geography trips, her day-to-day responsibilities lie in producing resources for teachers and students, as well as training our Field Study Tutors who accompany teachers on tour. The wealth of knowledge that our Field Study Tutors provide helps take the pressure off teachers, leaving them to focus more on the students and provide a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

With her extensive experience and regular trips to Iceland, the country soon captured a place in her heart, and she loves to pass this love and adoration onto the groups she travels with. Her favourite part of travelling with a group is seeing people’s reactions when they experience the country’s highlights for the first time, this is something which drives her to continue providing an excellent experience for tour groups each year.

When asked of her favourite moment as an FST, she began to tell us of what can only be described as a mesmerising and magical moment, both for her and the group. She was at the snout of Sólheimajökull (a glacier in southern Iceland) when a thunderous noise stopped everyone in their tracks. When the group turned around, they were in awe as they witnessed a chunk of the glacier detach and fall into the surrounding lagoon. Catherine’s passion truly showed as she described how exciting it was to see the bright blue base of the glacier radiating out from the ice.

 

‘’There was nothing but silence in that moment, it was a truly magical thing’’

 

This rather important moment in our chat then led to her top recommended excursions in Iceland.

Cath’s recommendations for a first time visitor to Iceland

 

  • The Blue Lagoon
  • The Golden Circle
  • Thingvellir National Park
  • The South Coast – Including the Waterfalls, Glaciers, Black Sand Beaches and Volcanoes
  • Try to get off the beaten track. Travel further east or head north of Reykjavik and explore the West Coast.

One of her top mentions was this…”Don’t always head for the most visited locations as they aren’t always the best!”

 

Why Western Iceland?

When asked more about Western Iceland, she couldn’t recommend it highly enough. As a destination, we currently offer the west as an addition to the standard itinerary we provide. This gives groups the chance to see sights that aren’t usually available when travelling to Iceland.

Cath spoke of the key pull factors behind the western part of the country. Glacier ice caves, gorges, ravines and waterfalls all made the list. It also boasts Europe’s largest hot spring and the Snaefellsnes Peninsula which prove very popular destinations.

 

Cath’s top tips for teachers
  1. Prepare the students in advance for the destination.
  2. Make sure the group is appropriately equipped – Waterproofs, Sun Cream etc.
  3. Find out about the culture of the destination beforehand – such as religious considerations and a general appreciation for how you should act in various cultural environments.

 

Story time

We finished our chat with story time. When on tour, Catherine likes to share stories with the group to chat with them and provide a refreshing break from the educational aspect of the visit. She also believes stories and fables really engage the group as they often link with the landscape they are visiting.

She gave us an insight into the Hidden People of Iceland, otherwise known as Elves. Incredibly, Icelandic people don’t deny their existence. They are taken so seriously that builders and architects account for them and build around their believed location so that they aren’t disturbed!

Crazy or justified? For more folklore stories and information on the hidden people, check out our blog.