Guest blog from the Glacier in a Greenhouse team
Around three months ago, seven geography students from Durham University put together an application for the Land Rover ‘Go Beyond’ Bursary, and to be honest we were slightly sceptical about our chances, taking into account the amazing trips that this bursary has made possible over the past four years. As it happens, the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and Land Rover decided to award us the bursary, which has provided us with £10,000 funding and the use of a Land Rover Defender 110. So here we are now writing our first blog, just as we head out to Iceland for a month long expedition.
The primary purpose of our expedition is to carry out research on the Klofajökull glacier, which is located in a region that has received very little previous research attention, due to its poor accessibility and harsh climate. Throughout the course of this expedition we are looking forward to not only pushing our academic boundaries by gaining firsthand experience of undertaking new geographical research, but also the many personal challenges that we will face along the way.
Back in late June, we were lucky enough to spend two days at the Land Rover Experience Centre at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire. This was our first chance to get behind the wheel of a Defender 110 under the invaluable instruction of the guys at the centre. After a few early teething problems, we soon started to feel at ease, and even went as far as thinking we had mastered this whole off-road driving malarkey! Whilst this feeling of extreme self confidence turned out to be somewhat premature; many wheel spins, slides and failed hill climbs later we have emerged ready to tackle whatever terrain Iceland has to throw at us!
The first time it properly hit home that this expedition was really happening was when David and I went down to the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in London and picked up our lovely shiny new Defender 110. After a few photos, we set off on our convoluted journey to the docks at Immingham, via a stay at mine in Cambridge, a day’s first aid training in the Peak District, and a trip to the Geography Department at Durham University, where we picked up our scientific equipment (along with what seemed to be a lifetime supply of crackers…).
The journey started off in an ‘interesting’ manner. The first challenge we encountered was the fact that our Landy is a left hand drive, which left me rather embarrassed as I tried to get into the wrong side on more than one occasion. Finally sitting in the correct seat, we set off out of the car park, and, in true geographer’s style, managed to get lost within the first five minutes of setting off. However, having taken evasive action on several occasions for the countless ambulances and police cars that seemed to be appearing out of nowhere, we eventually made it out of London! From then on the journey went smoothly and ended with us waving goodbye to our Landy as it set off on its journey via boat to Iceland.
In the week before we departed, we sorted out the last few preparations, which in my case involved a buying a large shopping list of new kit. We will also be received an Iridium satellite phone and Explorer 500 BGAN terminal, which have been provided by AST Systems, and will enable us to keep updating our progress through this blog and also our Facebook page. Whilst we are fully aware of the challenges that await us, we couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity that this bursary has opened up to us. After all, how many 20/21 year olds get to spend a month driving a Land Rover through Iceland, and have it count towards their university degree?!
That’s it for now; speak again once we have arrived in Iceland!