Iceland: The Magnificent North (Part 2)

Following on from the epic volcanic landscapes around Mývatn, we continued Eastwards and Southwardsish to our next campsite. On the way we had one bucket list item to tick off the list (well bucket list for me anyway), Dettifoss! We all know it from that epic opening sequence in Prometheus before everything went to shit and an apparently intelligent character ran in a straight line to escape a giant spaceship falling in a straight line…..I digress.

Now if you want to make a great milkshake or a delightful cocktail, I highly recommend the road to Dettifoss, I believe the Icelandic military may have used it as a bomb range at some stage as it is one hell of a bumpy road! It also is a rather long drive so if like your internal organs unscrambled then perhaps give this one a miss.

You’d miss out on the most powerful waterfall in Europe if you did however and boy does it have volume, in every sense of the word. The endless roar of water pouring down into the ravine below is incredible to see up close and it kicks up a constant mist that blankets the whole area downwind of the falls.

I’d definitely recommend taking a walk downstream of the falls as the landscape that’s been carved out by Dettifoss is stunning and wild in its barren rocky magnificence.

The carved by water ravine running away from Dettifoss is a sight to behold.
It’s hard to fathom that all the rock in Iceland came from volcanoes when you see how thick it is and how much the water has carved it down.
Approaching the falls, you can see people on the other side of the river. Depending on which road you go down, you’ll get a different viewpoint.
Getting closer, the roar of the water kicks up a never ending spray.
Incredible power and so much water. 193 m³/s on average. That’s 380,000 bottles of water going over the edge every second.

We returned to the main Route 1 road, our bodies still shaking and rattling for several minutes afterwards and ventured forth to the next campsite. On the way we passed some stunning scenery with a veritable carpet of colour splashed across the volcanic plains. It wasn’t like your superblooms or meadows of wildflowers, it was far more muted and earthy but stunningly beautiful all the same.

We were making our way to Möðrudalur, a farming settlement which used to be on the Route 1 highway before they changed it up and Möðrudalur got cut off. The campsite itself was wonderful and probably my favourite of all the ones we visited. There’s a whole bunch of the fascinating turf lined buildings that make modern insulation look like a wet paper bag and within the main building there’s a really nice restaurant/bar/cafe which stays open pretty late and had the most delicious Icelandic IPA.

In fact, this was my favourite part of the whole trip around Iceland as I got to do a little bit of walking off the beaten tourist track and get out into the landscape a bit. As soon as we arrived at the campsite I was intrigued by some distant volcanic peaks that just begged to be walked out to. More on that in a bit.

As we arrived into the township I did a double take as I could have sworn I had seen an Arctic Fox! We quickly set up camp and returned back to the entrance to investigate. Sure enough, there was not one but TWO little Arctic Foxes just hanging out on the grass next to some old farm equipment. They were obviously used to people as we were able to get incredibly close to them and they even seemed just as intrigued by us as we were of them. We had earlier in the trip ditched plans to visit the Westfjords and what we thought would be our only opportunity to see Arctic Foxes while we were in Iceland, talk about lucking out!! And yes they are absolutely adorable.

The following day it was time to give in to the urge that had been burning in the back of my mind since we arrived, I had to try and get to those amazing looking distant volcanic peaks! There was a trail heading in their general direction on the far side of the boundary fence. After crossing the sketchiest bridge I’ve ever seen, I found a trail (probably sheep) leading out across the beautiful wetlands and towards the siren call of the peaks beyond.

Along the way I passed some really interesting features in the landscape including bubbling streams filled with a slimy mould and a myriad of beautifully coloured native flora. I was excitedly walking the trail, hopeful that I’d actually manage to get to those peaks in the distance but alas the wetlands lived up to their name and the trail abruptly became soggy and underwater. Not having wellies with me, there was no choice but to turn back. I wasn’t disappointed though and I certainly wasn’t going to go off trail and look for another way round. You have to respect the landscape, if it doesn’t want you to go any further, accept it and just be glad you were able to experience the lovely ground under your feet.

The colours here were simply sublime, muted but still awash with colour.
Fair play to these two who we had seen struggling up the hills earlier in the day. On their way to a much deserved beer.
Hrossaborg or “Horse Castle” which featured as the abandoned stadium in sold Sci-Fi movie Oblivion. It’s named Horse Castle as horses used to shelter there….before they fell on hard times and couldn’t keep up the repayments on the castle and had to downsize to a small condo on the edge of town. Poor horses.
Oof. Icelandic views are the best views.
Cupcake Mountain! Also known as Herðubreið which means broad shouldered but totally looks more like a cupcake so that’s what we called it. It’s widely considered the most beautiful mountain in Iceland and it’s easy to see why, it’s a beauty!
What did the Arctic Fox say? No idea I don’t speak Icelandic.
Some funky old farm equipment with Cupcak….sorry……Herðubreið in the background.
Cute!! This was after the pair of them had been rolling around play fighting next to us.
A quaint little church in the town.
Heavy duty turf insulation keeps many of the buildings here toasty warm in the Winter. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Iceland (-38.0 °C) was right here so yeah..justified. Can you imagine walking outside in -38? “Honey I’m just popping out to the…..FROZEN TO DEATH!”
The siren song of this distant peak was too much for me to ignore. Kinda looks like there’s people climbing it.
Bridges regularly get swept away here by Winter floods so they don’t put too much effort into their construction. This one creaked and wobbled quite worryingly as I stepped across it. Cupcake Mountain photobombing cheekily in the background again. I know its real name, I just can’t take much more copying and pasting in the names haha 🙂
The trail towards my goal, the Wizards hat there in the middle.
Taken with a telephoto lens, it doesn’t look that far away. Just a short stroll right?……Right?
I did not pay these geese to fly through this shot but if geese accepted payment, I totally would have. Thank you geese.
If an evil wizard doesn’t live on top of that, I’ll eat my hat.
A Wizard’s hat too far, these peaks will have to remain a mystery.
A splash of red amongst the green and yellow hues of the Icelandic highlands.
Ew! Anyone for a dip?
I love this photo, it somehow looks like they’re stuffed and this is a museum display with a painted background. Gotta love Olympus colours.
Look at that toasty wool jacket, this fella looked nice and warm despite the Icelandic chill.
Spot the car? No me neither, gave up waiting for one to drive by haha. It looks barren but there’s always a splash of colour to be found.
It’s just stunningly primordial this place.
Life uh, finds a way. “What’s for dinner today Dennis?””Oh you know the usual, rocks probably”. “Great, I love rocks, delicious”.
Can’t for the life of me remember the name of this waterfall but with more than 10,000 of them in the country, that’s quite likely.

So there you have it, that’s the Northern part of Iceland done and yeah it was suitably epic. Onwards and Eastwards we shall venture for the next installment from our Iceland trip. Stay tuned.

One thought on “Iceland: The Magnificent North (Part 2)

  1. Well worth waiting for. Amazing scenery. And loved the sheep. Looking forward to another blog with bated breath.

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