Jonathan’s Iceland Experiences 1966 - Present
My first experience in Iceland was on a 6th Form school expedition in the Summer of 1966. We hiked with packs through the Southern Highlands, located over 100 miles East from Reykjavik. We were led by then well know ‘Mr Iceland’ Dick Philips, a Brit who was living in Iceland and with his small team were developing hiking routes in remote locations which had never been explored. We were very much pioneers at the time. The experience was life changing – 10 days with packs in very wild country, crossing rivers up to your waist, soaking wet days ( no quality waterproof clothing; gore-tex hadn’t been invented yet!), and sleeping in caves, tents and primitive mountain huts. On the return journey to the UK which in those days was by a commercial vessel back to Leith (Edinburgh) which took 3 days, we saw the re-eruption of the island, Surtsey which was at the time the newest island in the world which had popped up in 1963. A sight I will never forget.
This 3 week trip left an indelible impression on me, so much so, I was determined to return to Iceland some day.
That day occurred 10 years later during the summer of 1976 when as a Venture Scout Leader, I led a group of 10 Venture Scouts aged 17 to 19 on a walking expedition with packs on virtually the same route I had been led around 10 years before. Once again, it was often wet but still an amazing experience crossing icecaps, climbing rhyolite mountain ridges, camping by volcanic steam vents and boiling mud pools, views of impressive waterfalls and fording glacial rivers. ‘Mr Iceland’ organised food dumps for us at all our pre-arranged overnight stops so we did not have to carry our food for 10 days. For me and the group an ‘experience of a lifetime’ which had a dramatic impact on future careers of some of the Venture Scouts. To this day, a slide show with narrative survives of this dramatic expedition.
More Scout trips followed in 1980 and 1984 as well as my development of independent 4 wheel drive trips with friends who were brave enough to accompany me. By the Millennium, I had been to Iceland 15 times and explored most of this amazing country.
Then in 2001, I was asked by the Norwood charity to organise a cycle ride in Iceland. I had recently discovered the North of Iceland which has proved to be a fabulous location for cycling and hiking. This first cycle ride in Iceland with 50 riders was a great success, and we were blessed with remarkably good weather. Apart from a walking expedition in 2003 through my old favourite territory of The Southern Highlands, I commenced my current Northern Iceland Cycling Adventure which I have successfully been operating with my expert Team from 2004 to 2017.
I have now clocked up over 20 Iceland visits and have a strong desire to revisit many of the Icelandic locations which I have not visited since the 90’s. Hence my intention to devise my Round Iceland Adventure in 2022 which will redress the balance. I look forward to assembling a group of friends to accompany me on this unique and I’m sure another ‘once in a lifetime’ trip.