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The Ring Road - new and
Heading north from
Egilsstadir the road leaves Jökuldalar and climbs onto the
plateau to skirt the interior on its way to Myvatn. All of this
run is impressive but, too be frank, after a while it becomes
somewhat boring. A fair chunk of this route is new. Consider
a detour onto the old Ring Road, now Highway 901. We did this
on the way back and it is worthwhile with some amazing views.
The road is good but appeared to have been resurfaced recently
and, with the little traffic it gets, was still rough. It passes
through Mödrudalur, the highest permanent settlement in
Iceland. We would have liked to spend longer there as it was
a lovely day, but the strong wind from the interior was beginning
to blow up a lost of dust. Not far from the current Ring Road
along here Highway 907 turns south. We had hoped to get down
there to the folk museum at Sænautasel. We knew that 901
was still closed when we went north, and unfortunately when we
came back along it at the end of the trip 907 proclaimed itself
closed at the junction.
A few miles before
Reykjahlíd and Myvatn there is a large car park by the
side of the road for the hot springs, mud pools and solfataras.
This gets busy, but usually if you have time to wait the coaches
clear and you have the place to yourself. There is a viewing
platform and you can wander round the pools, but under no circumstances
leave the paths. The surface here, when wet, sticks to footwear
and is difficult to remove. However once rain stops it seems
to dry out quickly. The same applies to the crater at Víti.
Hverir is impressive and always worth a visit, but even outside
the main season it was busy and there are less crowded sights
Near Hverir Highway
863 leaves the Ring Road and heads a few miles north to the Krafla
geothermal area with its futursistic power station. This has
been the site of relatively recent eruptions and some more may
be due before long. The road ends at a car park by the lake filled
crater of Víti. Most people stagger the few yards up the
steps to the viewing area, tick the box on their sheet then leave.
This is a pity as you can walk right round the crater (we didn't,
the far side was still blocked with snow and the path closed
to walkers) which is easy walking, although a little loose on
one or two of the steeper bits. We went round both sides and
found some nice little thermal springs and pools.
Just below Víti is
another car park which gives access to Leirhnjúkur. This
area fascinated us and we made two visits there. The first was
on a rather dull, damp day but this was very atmospheric as there
was a lot of steam issuing from the still warm ground in the
lava flows. The second was a glorious day with super views, but
much less steam. From the park a path heads across to some nice
hot springs and mud pools. From there the waymarks continue across
the old fissures to a cone. Having got there we thought at first
that the path ended, but in fact it runs round to the left of
the cone and through some incredible formations to climb to a
good view point before returning to the pools and car park. Not
many people seemed to go right round, which we think is a great
pity. There are paths from here to Myvatn but they were closed
due to snow when we were there in early June.
The main 'settlement'
of Reykjahlíd is a rather spread out affair with limited
facilities. However it is the main centre hereabouts, but we
were glad we were not stopping there. We tried the special bread
cooked in the ground, OK but certainly not special. Myvatn means
'midge lake' and it lived up to its reputation in places as near
the shore the flies were unpleasant, even if non-biting, and
driving through them in places they sounded like heavy rain on
the windscreen. Myvatn is famous for its bird life, especialy
at the south western corner. Myvatn, in aerial pictures, looks
lovely but at ground level we thought it disappointing, although
parts of the shore are very pretty. The pseudocraters are fascinating,
we walked round those near Skútustadir, but to be honest
you see them just as well from the road. However the little wooded
peninsula at Höfdi has some very nice walks and good views.
Just north of Höfdi
Highway 884 leads to a car park at Dimmuborgir. There are a series
of waymarked walks amongst the fantastic shapes of the lava here.
Further north still a track goes to a park at the base of the
Hverfjall cone. Whilst this is made of loose material the path
up to the rim from the car park is steep but stable. We walked
right round the rim, which gives good views, but it's further
than you realise. There is a path down the south side towards
Dimmuborgir but this looked nastily loose.
We stopped at the
farm guesthouse at Stöng for three nights. Initially its
location three miles down an unsealed, unclassified road caused
a little concern but the road was fine, the setting was splendidly
isolated and we thoroughly enjoyed it. One day we went back early
specially to go for a walk down the road beyond the farm along
the slopes of Sandfell just to see a little more of this sort
of country. It was barren, bleak, lonely - and we loved it!
A number of worthwhile
web sites are shown on the external links page for Iceland.