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Trip of a lifetime for UCLan students

23 April 2013

Rachel Atkinson

Arctic visit to see Northern Lights is an experience they won’t forget

A field trip with a difference has seen a group of UCLan students travel to the edge of the earth.

A field trip with a difference has seen a group of University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) students travel to the edge of the earth.

The team, which consisted of eight students and one lecturer, went on a remote arctic expedition to view the Northern Lights to gather breathtaking material for a UCLan Publishing project.

The group, who are studying photography, creative writing, publishing, film production and astrophysics at the Preston Campus, spent the week taking photographs, filming footage and writing stories for a documentary film and book about the search for the Northern Lights, which is due out later this year.

Debbie Williams, Head of UCLan Publishing, said: “It’s been the best project I’ve ever been involved with. It really was a once-in-a-lifetime trip.”

"It’s been the best project I’ve ever been involved with. The students worked so hard to capture the aurora in all its glory, often existing off a few hours sleep so they could get the best footage and images."

The project took over a year to plan and before flying out the team had to learn how to survive in harsh -38 degree Celsius conditions. With assistance from specialist adventure travel company Off the Map Travel, the group practised working with the six layers of thermal clothing on. It then took them three flights, a bus and a dog sled to reach their destination of Bjorkliden in the Arctic Circle.

They worked alongside experts and the Sami People, the only indigenous population in Europe, to study the Northern Lights. They also learnt to harness husky dogs and drive a sled, braved an hour’s jaw-dropping ski lift ride to reach the aurora sky station and spent their nights tasting reindeer and slept in traditional Sami mountain huts.

Two students got even closer to the spectacular light display as they were invited to the fly over the aurora.
Lorna Hargreaves, who was one of the lucky students, said: “I couldn’t believe it when they offered us a chance to actually fly to see the aurora. It was an amazing experience which I will never forget.”

Debbie added: “To be able to offer this international trip to students is fantastic. It’s not every day you’re witnessing the breathtaking lightshow, travelling at 40mph on a dog sled, crossing a 70 mile frozen lake or visiting an ice hotel. The experience they had will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

"To be able to offer this international trip to students is fantastic. The experience they had will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

The students are now working on bringing their footage and findings together and will publish the book and documentary, both of which will be completed in August and will be available through major retailers including Amazon.com

The project is a being produced by UCLan Publishing, a not-for-profit trust set up and run by students. Previous books have raised funds to give eight Maasai orphaned children in Kenya the chance of a secondary school education.