Land of fire and ice – and lots of water, too

Boys relished the opportunity to sample the unique natural attractions of Iceland during a Key Stage 3 Geography trip.

During the five-day tour, pupils explored a geological environment which does not exist in the UK, visiting natural wonders including boiling mud pools, a volcanic crater, geysers, a canyon formed at the meeting point of two tectonic plates, a volcanic fissure and a geothermal power plant.

A trip to the Solheimajokull glacier even gave the boys first-hand evidence of the impact of climate change: the glacier had retreated several hundred metres since the previous QE visit three years ago.

""Geography teacher Helen Davies said: “It is fantastic to be able to offer our boys the opportunity to visit such exciting and unique environments as Iceland. Throughout the trip, we heard many of the boys applying knowledge they had learnt back in the classroom at School to help them to explain the features that they could see in front of them in the field. They were clearly engaged with the subject matter, as well as having a wonderful time enjoying themselves and getting out in the great outdoors.”

""Having flown in to the island’s Keflavík International Airport, the boys wasted no time before enjoying a swim in the Blue Lagoon, a natural geothermal pool, with steam rising off the water.

From then on, the trip involved packed days stretching from 9am until 9.45pm. Highlights included visits to:


    • Selijalandsfoss waterfall, where boys walked behind the cataract. “Despite getting soaked in one place by the waterfall, the boys were so wet from the rain all day that it didn’t make much difference!” said Miss Davies
    • An exhibition about the Northern Lights, during which boys learned about the chemistry of this colourful phenomenon
    • Reynishverfi black beach, with its volcanically formed basalt columns
    • Hellisheidi geothermal power plant, where a very knowledgeable guide explained to the boys exactly how such power stations work
    • A series of geothermal features seen on a single day, including mud pools where the water temperature topped 100C and a spectacular fumerole (an opening in the earth’s c rust), which was spewing out a huge amount of steam
    • Laugardalslaug geothermal swimming pool, where there were many pools heated to different temperatures, as well as slides and a basketball ring by the water
    • Reykjavik for a few hours’ sight-seeing in the world’s most northerly national capital on the final day.

Miss Davies, who led the Iceland tour, was accompanied by four other members of staff. Reflecting afterwards on the boys’ experiences, she said: “I think that memories of the trip will stay with them for many years to come.”