When we first arrived at Langidalur to begin work on the hiking trails in June 2012, it was impossible to imagine that we would still be there more than 10 years later.
Following the success of the pilot project in 2012, the Icelandic Forest Service (Skógræktin) created the seasonal Trailteam programme to help maintain and improve the area’s hiking trail network. Volunteer camps were established at both Langidalur and Básar and a 3-month summer programme of practical group projects has been developed. Although the focus of the work has always been trail-building, our teams are also involved in landscape restoration and tree-planting tasks.
Since the Trailteam programme began in 2013, approximately 420 international volunteers have joined our groups and together we have completed more than 2000 weeks of trail maintenance and nature conservation work throughout Thórsmörk and Goðaland. Returning each summer has allowed us to steadily develop trail building techniques that are suitable for the area and to improve our practical skills along the way.
We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has joined us out on the trails and supported us over an incredible ten years. There is still a huge amount of work to be done and we look forward to returning to the trails with our volunteers in 2023 and to many more Trailteam summers.
Pictures from last summer…
Building log steps on the Elf-Church trail.
Trail repairs on Valahnúkur (Tobi Krumm).
Timber platform construction on the Fimmvörðuháls trail (Izzy Cadec)
Information about our 2023 programme including placement dates and application forms will be available here on December 15th. Placement applications will be open from December 15th – January 31st.
We were deeply saddened to hear the news that Tony Newby passed away on July 18th.
Tony was one of the founders of the Forest Service trail programme and had worked closely with our international volunteers for many years. In addition to programme development, Tony specialised in leadership training and gave his time generously to the establishment of the Thórsmörk programme. He brought invaluable experience from his career of managing conservation volunteers in the UK.
Since our arrival in Thórsmörk in 2013, Tony was at the centre of our team and had a huge influence on all those he worked with, trained and mentored over the years. He was a unique character and will be missed by his many Iceland friends.
We would like to offer our deepest sympathy to Tony‘s family and friends at this sad time.
2015 On the road to Básar
2017 With the volunteers
(Photographs by Andy Jefferies, Chas Goemans and Jade Alexis)
It is always exciting to get back on to the trails at the start of each season and see how our trail work looks after the winter. These early surveys help with planning for the season as we can prioritise damaged areas and also review the techniques that were used and see what has worked best.
Although the winter has had some impact on the network as it always does, the first trails and old worksites that we visited are looking quite good. There is still plenty of maintenance work for us to do however and we look forward to the arrival of our first volunteers and getting started on the practical tasks in about two weeks time.
Steps on the west of Valahnúkur, where maintenance work was focused last season.
One of the viewpoint benches added last summer.
Timber ‘ladder’ steps added on an area of slippery bedrock last summer (just waiting for additional landscaping at the edges).
We made an early start to the season this week with our first trip to Thórsmörk.
As well as delivering equipment ahead of the volunteer teams, it was a valuable opportunity to take a look at conditions on the trails and in the forest as the snow clears, and to make some final decisions about our work priorities for the season.
It was very nice to back at our volunteer camp at Langidalur (it felt like returning home), and exciting to begin preparations for another Trailteam summer. Our first international volunteers will be with us in less than 6 weeks time and we are looking forward to getting back on work on the trails.
Pictures taken at Langidalur volunteer camp on April 11th.
After weeks of applications and interviews, our summer teams are now finally (just about) ready.
Once again, this year we received a lot of interest in the placements with many strong applicants and there were some difficult decisions when making the selection. A couple of new teams were added to the programme so that we could include as many as possible.
Our 2022 teams are made up of participants from 18 countries and include first-time volunteers, returners and others with placements that were deferred due to travel disruption last summer. We are delighted that several of our most experienced volunteers will be returning as team leaders this summer and we very much look forward to working with them again.
We plan to return to Thórsmörk for preparations and trail survey tasks in April (when conditions allow) and our first volunteers will begin the practical work in May.