Saturday, 2 January 2016

Iceland 2.2: Reykholt to Stykkishólmur

The combination of perpetual daylight and a one hour difference compared to the UK (Iceland does not have the concept of "summer time", for reasons which I hope are obvious) meant that I was awake stupidly early.  Since there was a French coach party also staying at the hotel, I grabbed an early breakfast before they appeared.  I then headed back into the church I'd visited the previous evening, but this time armed with a tripod in the hope of capturing the beautiful simplicity of its interior.

My original plan had been to visit the Snorrastofa, but soon abandoned this idea when I discovered that it was closed for some reason.  Instead I decided to wander around taking pictures for a while before heading off on my travels.  It was extremely windy with the sun appearing occasionally from behind scudding clouds; the temperature was a bracing 10C, but it felt significantly colder in the wind.

Having exhausted pretty well everything which Reykholt had to offer, I headed east along a dirt road towards Húsafell.  It wasn't long before I found a field containing my first set of Icelandic horses for the trip, so I stopped to take a few pictures.  One of the horses wasn't moving very much, and the others appeared to be nuzzling up to it and licking one of its back legs.  It was only when I downloaded the pictures from the camera and looked closely that I spotted a huge gash in the horse's knee - presumably caused by barbed wire - so no wonder it wasn't going anywhere.  The way in which the other horses were looking after the injured animal was rather touching, and I just wish I'd been able to report the injury to someone who could have helped.

It was clear that some serious weather was heading my way, but before the rain started I managed to get a couple of pictures of Strútur with Langjökull in the distance.

After a brief downpour the weather cleared for a bit, so I decided it was time to hit my first waterfall of the trip.  It turned out to be two for the price of one, since Hraunfossar and Barnafossar are practically adjacent to one another.  Hraunfossar is a series of waterfalls which cascade over a lava field (Hraun is the Icelandic for lava, and also gives its name to an excellent chocolate bar).

A short walk up the hill led to a canyon which narrowed abruptly to form the Barnafossar.  The name (literally "children's waterfall") comes from an old Icelandic tale of two brothers who decided to take a short-cut home by walking over the narrow stone bridge which crosses the falls.  Needless to say the boys fell in and drowned, and the story goes that their mother was so distraught about what had happened that she cursed the bridge to stop anyone else crossing it without also falling in.  Iceland is full of such folk-lore...

Having gone east as far as I could, it was time to start heading towards my next destination: Stykkishólmur, a fishing town on the Snæfellsnes peninsula.  There was some serious driving in the meantime - accompanied by some even more serious weather - meaning that there were precious few places to stop.  I did manage to pull over once in the dry, however, in order to photograph a farmstead with its own church.  Red roofed, naturally.