Departure day for Iceland on a different kind of Journey with Julia. Leaving Heathrow in glorious weather and with a window seat gave me time to about the challenge we were about to undertake…

“Looking down on a late summer’s Saturday afternoon over Scotland, the wind turbines far below look like tiny stick people waving up at us.  I haven’t been to Iceland for a few months and am very aware of the feelings of familiarity that I have when I think about being back again compared to most of the others in our group who are joining me in Iceland for the first time. Despite my numerous Icelandic trips, I’ve never spent so much time deliberating over the packing as I have for this trip. It’s definitely because we are camping and hiking, rather than relying on the luxury of a room and a bed each night.

Preparations for our special interest group trips always start early but deciding to arrange this hiking challenge has meant not just forward planning but also a whole programme of walk training, kit testing and engagement with charity fundraising. Gathering together a group of like-minded walkers has been entirely pleasurable and has brought about new and strengthened friendships and spawned a wider group of walkers who haven’t joined us in Iceland but have enjoyed sharing our training walks over the last 8 months. Collectively we’ve each already walked about three times the distance we’ll cover in Iceland, so what’s the challenge? Packing a rucksack, planning to keep everything dry, estimating how many layers and how wet we might get have all exercised us for some time. We’ll be camping out under what we hope will be a sky illuminated by the Aurora.

Valuing the gift of sight led us to consider those that cannot. The landscape across the whole of Iceland is a tapestry of great variety from place to place, season to season and day to day. The Thingvellir National Park is renowned for its landscape, geology and historical importance and we’ll be walking there over our 4 days. We’ll be dividing our route between the two spreading tectonic plates that form the Mid Atlantic ridge, uniquely visible above ground in Iceland.  Elsewhere, from the North to the South Pole, the American tectonic plate and its neighbour, the Eurasian plate are submerged beneath the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Taking on a challenge has been a key aspect of the hike for each of us, and for everyone the preparation and training has involved commitment and endurance. For some, the extra challenge of fund raising was too difficult to resist and it has added a special additional dimension to our trip.


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