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Islands of the North Atlantic Trip report

Shorter drives, longer walks to Siglufjörður

Nice quiet start at the stables this morning. Easy, as we hadn’t done a full unpack: we’re overnighting for several days now, so most of the luggage is staying in the car. (No auroras seen, last night. Significant disappointment.)

The first stop was the small town of Blönduós, which is the home of the Hrútey nature reserve. The town has a supermarket, and we needed some milk and things, so that was the first stop. Just over the road from the supermarket was a cafe, and we needed coffee, so that was the next stop. Good coffee, and nice cakes.

Blönduós is on the banks of the Blanda river, at the mouth. Hrútey is an island in the river, near the mouth, a little up-stream from the Blönduós town centre. There is a small footbridge connecting it to the mainland, and the map showed a carpark near that. The carpark was closed for renovations, so I did a five-point turn on highway one to head back towards town: I’d spotted a caravan and camping grounds nearby that seemed to have a carpark, and turned out to have a short walking track along the river to the footbridge. The island had served as a cow paddock until the 30’s, when a local school teacher had suggested that it be replanted to forest, to encourage birdlife to nest there. It’s not like your usual river-mouth island on a colonised mud bank, either: it’s a perched forest, protected from the roiling river below by sheer cliffs most of the way around. Quite unique. I have no idea how the cattle thing would have worked. Had a lovely walk around there: there are tracks along the edges, near the river, and in through some of the denser forest. Not that many birds, but the different trees have descriptive plaques, with official latin names, just like a botanical garden.

Headed on towards our overnight, but by Sauðárkrókur, after crossing the mountain pass between fjords, I felt like lunch. There was a lookout just off the highway, looking back at town, that would do. Very cold picnic, with the wind blowing down the fjord at us. Town not much to look at, although the picnic spot had a monument to the ferryman who had worked there into the thirties. Did I mention cold? It was a quick lunch.

Tootled up the east coast of Skagafjörður, through new varieties of breathtaking scenery until we saw Þórðarhöfði, an island in the fjord connected to the mainland by what looked like causways at each end. Wanted a closer look, so found a turn-off and drove until the road became private. Then Cath and I got out and walked down tracks beside horse paddocks and swamps until we got more or less near the coast, where we could take some (hopefully) nice photos. Very interesting. On closer inspection the causeways don’t look man-made. Perhaps some variety of glacial marais? Don’t know.

From there it was a bit more driving, a one-lane tunnel and we were at Siglufjörður, which claims to be Iceland’s most northerly town. Not sure about that, but it wouldn’t be far off. Serious fishing town. There was a fishing boat at the dock larger than anything that I’ve encountered personally. Also several more “normal sized” fishing boats. Lots of fishing related activities, including the fork-lifting of tubs of cod, and size-sorting cod into tubs. They had a variety of the automatic-line fishing boats that we’d seen on the Faroes, but with a covered cabin over the working back part of the boat, with openings for the lines and reels. I guess the weather must be worse here, somehow.

Our guesthouse is very quirky and individualistic. Really nice feeling, actually. After looking around town at the options, we settled on having dinner here too, on the strength of the menu, which was a variety Moroccan tagines: their chef is from Morocco. Not disappointed: both the fish and lamb tagines were excellent, in their own ways. Wine from Spain, also very good.

Too tired to deal with photos tonight: I’ll sort through them and add one here tomorrow, with luck.

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