Glaciers, Geysers, Great New Friends – Trek across Iceland for Beat

Posted 14/06/2017

My name is Bathsheba, and a few weeks ago I trekked across Iceland in aid of Beat.

This was my first proper trek, and I found that it was a challenge but manageable. My main piece of advice for anyone thinking of participating in the trek is to be prepared for anything the country can throw at you. A common Icelandic joke is that if you don’t like the weather, all you need to do is wait five minutes. River crossings were a novel experience, and though the water can be seriously cold it is also a welcome relief after walking for a couple of hours! The slopes – both uphill and down – can be tricky and sometimes steep, but nothing compares to the feeling of standing on top of a mountain and looking at how far you have come.

The landscapes of Iceland are the most beautiful I have ever seen. One of the things that I really loved about this trek was the variety in the views. On the first day of trekking we were walking up a mountain in the snow, but on the second we were in the black lava field desert. We started the trek among geysers and bare rock, and ended in the beautiful Þórsmörk forest.

I was accompanied by some phenomenal people. There were nine trekkers (plus a leader, guide, and doctor), all raising money for a variety of fantastic causes, from Help for Heroes to Meningitis Now. Everyone there had a unique and personal story behind their charity and their decision to participate in the trek, and through camping and walking together in such an intense experience we all got to know each other so well in a short space of time. I have made some wonderful friends who I very much hope to stay in touch with.

And it’s not all hard work. On the first day that we arrived in Iceland we had the chance to sit in a geothermal pool at the foot of a mountain in the midnight sun. During the summer months, the sun barely dips below the horizon, and so we could relax and enjoy the pool in full daylight to prepare for the challenge ahead. After the trek there was a celebratory meal in Reykjavik, with the chance to try some local delicacies and (for those who had the energy) enjoy the nightlife!

As someone with experience of an eating disorder, I found the whole experience of fundraising, organising, and completing the trek incredibly helpful for developing my confidence, independence, and self-esteem. I had never been travelling on my own without a school or family group before, and so the experience was very exciting! Skyline, the trekking company, is a great organisation for first time trekkers and solo travellers. They provide a kit list, an extensive itinerary, and lots of resources to help with fundraising.

While fundraising for the trek, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the people sponsoring me. People can be extraordinarily helpful if you give them the opportunity, not just friends and family, but people I barely knew who supported Beat and all of the wonderful work that they do. I discovered friends that I never even knew I had.

The bulk of my fundraising total came from a formal dinner. I am currently studying at Cambridge University, and every November my college (St Catharine’s) organises a charity Family Formal Dinner to which students can invite their friends and family. Each year a different charity is selected, and last year the college Charity Committee agreed to donate the funds to support my trek. With tickets charged at £20 and extra collection buckets available on the night, we raised an amazing £1,169.85! It made me feel so proud and grateful to be part of such a supportive community. I would definitely recommend arranging a formal meal or dinner party for anyone trying to fundraise; after all, who doesn’t love the chance to get dressed up every now and then?

This trek was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. I have met some inspiring people and been astounded by the generosity of those around me. It made me realise how far I have come in my own recovery, and was an empowering way to learn to love my own body for all that it can do.

If you have any questions or would like more information about future treks, call Andrea on 01603 753335 or email fundraising@beateatingdisorders.org.uk.