The journey so far:
20 days on the road:
1500 miles by land, about 1000 miles by sea,
Days without any rain 5
Nights camping 15 Nights in hotels 2 Nights at sea 3
Countries visited 7
Well, this is much more like the weather we expected. It rained all day on Tuesday, it rained about half of Wednesday and the sun poked out from the clouds a couple of times, the temperature varying from 8 to 5 degrees C. We have had to break out the blankets and the cold weather clothing and at the time of typing this I was in the tent wearing several layers of clothing, my hat, a blanket and our wonderful fleece-lined slippers.
The really encouraging thing is that, despite the fact that we have been both cold and wet at times, we are still having a great time.
We left Husavik quite late because we hoped that the tent would dry out. Fat chance! We gave up and had our first truly ‘wet strike’ of the trip, during which we decided that porridge would probably make a better breakfast than muesli with yoghurt and fruit. So with the Tentipi bundled in a large black sack, we drove to the lovely Myvatn Lake along yet another gravel road. The good thing was that the rain kept the dust down. The bad thing was that poor old Camel was totally spattered in mud. The gravel roads are even more interesting to drive along wet than dry because the surfaces become nicely slimy. We got to Rekjahid and found a garage where you can give your vehicle a complimentary hose down. Oh those Icelandic luxuries! After we found a campsite with more than one shower per 50 people, we decided to stay there for one night.
This area has had an awful lot of volcanic activity – the last big eruption was in the early 80’s. Everywhere you look you can see old lava fields that have been broken up as if a giant has stomped on them until the rock crust looks like like the surface of Tim’s brownies.
There are huge lumps of rock that have been tossed around and lava pipes standing like deformed statues.
We drove up into the mountains a short way and there was a landscape that could easily pass as Mars.
Every now and then you could see steam rising from the landscape along with the delightful whiff of hydrogen sulphide.
There were several major steam vents which were either being put to industrial use (probably to provide hot water and heating for the locals) and two swimming pools. They looked heavenly but they smelt just how I always imagined hell to be.
We drove around Lake Myvatn and the scenery did the usual Iceland thing of going from one extreme to another. It was if we had travelled from Hades to Shangri-La in just a few miles.
On Thursday we moved on and drove from Rekjahid along route 1 to Akureyri and then on round the Tröllaskag peninsula. The countryside again was full of changes, from generous and luscious valleys to frightfully steep cliffs to snow covered peaks to yet another green and wild flowered covered meadow.
We stopped at Godifoss, which is meant to be called the Waterfall of the God because a local chief decided to chuck all of the statues representing the local gods in there so Christianity could prevail. Whatever the story and despite the number of other tourists there, it was a lovely and powerful place to be.
We stopped for an hour or so in Akureyri, which is the second largest city in Iceland with less people than live in Bognor Regis. It’s a nice enough place with a range of decent shops, the first place we have come across where you can buy such basics as underwear and camping gear. They were gearing up for their major party weekend of the year, so we beat a hasty retreat. It may not be easy to avoid the shenanigans because, apparently, all of Iceland has a summer festival this weekend.
We stupidly passed a very good campsite halfway up the Tröllaskag peninsula, thinking it was too early to stop and there would be other ones, but having passed a shed in a field, an horrible site for RVs in a port and another one that had been taken over for the town festival we were getting a bit apprehensive. Just to add to the fun we had to pass through about 15 km of tunnels, the first of which was a stonker. It was a single lane tunnel with passing places!
The other way had right of way and we had to judge if we could reach the next passing place before the ongoing car came through. Tim did not enjoy the experience very much, especially as we were being closely followed by a car with trailer tent. We were extremely grateful to find a very pleasant, leafy site only 25 km off our chosen route in Varmahlid.
We stayed two nights at Varmahlid and it was lovely just to chill out. It is great to travel, but it was beginning to feel a bit like work or a task we had to complete and, ‘by the way is that just another mountain range’…. The weather at that nice little campsite was perfect, perfectly clear blue sky, hardly any clouds and the wind was not as bitter as it can get- mostly it comes here directly over the polar icecaps and it bites. We were pondering about what it would be like to live here. Varmahlid is situated in a wide, green flat valley, full of rich pastures with a pretty meandering river perfectly framed by beautiful mountains and wow! what a view every day. And then we realised that around here there is snow almost to sea level in the middle of summer. What on earth must it be like in winter? OK, we will stay in Bognor Regis because you can always get to the pub without a snowplough.
Lying in bed Friday morning I was happily enjoying the sun shadows on the canvas and thinking how cute it was to have birds perching on our tent. I changed my mind when I saw how many little presents they had left behind. Anyone fancy wagtail stew?