After a refreshing night’s sleep at Guesthouse Flúðir, Aurora – our lovely hire car, ferried us back to Selfoss to stock up at the Bonus supermarket – it’s the last one before we hit the Eastern fjiords, and then on to Seljalandsfoss. This is without a doubt one of the most photographed and popular waterfalls in Iceland, and I’m not being blase about it but we’ve seen it several times before, and today the car park was so full that tour buses were parking on the road. If you want to see it at its best, go very early or late in the day. We stopped because we knew that there were public toilets in the car park!
On to the next stop of the day, and one of today’s highlights – Seljavallalaug, a thermal swimming pool which is literally in the middle of nowhere, but so worth a trip. I’d read about it recently and found directions on the interweb posted by some friendly locals. It competes with The Secret Lagoon for the title of Iceland’s oldest swimming pool, but is very different to the lagoon, and feels that much wilder. It’s off the main tourist trail, but is quickly becoming popular, so go sooner rather than later.
There’s a parking area near Seljavellir farm, and then it’s a reasonably easy 20 minute hike across ash fields created by the Eyjafjallajökull eruption – the one that stopped flights across the world a few years back. You then come across this wonderfully remote pool. There were only 4 other swimmers there when we arrived, but after changing in the basic changing room, which is a bit grubby as it’s only maintained once a year by volunteers so if you’re alone you might decide to get changed outside, we jumped in to enjoy the not hot but comfortably warm waters. At 25 to 30 degrees C it’s cooler than the swimming pool hot pots, but as it’s fed only by one small natural thermal spring, we can’t complain. The water has a green tinge thanks to a little algae, but as far as we know it’s not made anyone ill, and we enjoy wild swimming in ponds and lakes anyhow, so it’s not something to phase us. Your skin and hair will also thank you – they’ll feel wonderfully soft afterwards, and you’ll be left with a healthy glow. We floated around for almost an hour, before getting changed and ambling back to Aurora just as a large group turned up to enjoy the waters.
Unfortunately a migraine had by now well and truly set in so after an hour’s nap in the car, Rich drove us to our stop for the night, a farm stay near the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Not surprisingly, it’s known locally as Klaustur for convenience. Dalshöfdi Farm and Guesthouse lies two miles down a gravel track, and we had the place to ourselves. Think of farm stays as hostelling for adults who can no longer face hostelling. The gorgeous bedroom had views out over the marshland plain, and the kitchen and dining room were spacious and well equipped. There’s even underfloor heating.
After settling in, and letting the tryptan do its migraine thing, I went for a stroll up and over the hill behind the farm, and found tracks leading inland to the mountains. Iceland really is a walkers paradise. Back to a tasty dinner of sweet and sour chicken cooked by Rich, before heading out again as the light faded to enjoy a brief stroll together. With the wind chill it was by now a cool minus 5 degrees celsius, and the ground was frozen underfoot. Our sort of weather.