After frankfurters for breakfast – hot dogs are Iceland’s national dish for some weird and wonderful reason, we fired up Aurora (our hire car) and headed for the next town north of Fáskrúðsfjörður – Reyðarfjörður, via the 5.9km long road tunnel. Fortunately the speed limit within the tunnel is strictly enforced so I didn’t feel under too much pressure. It does feel long though, and a tad claustraphobic, so I had to do lots of deep breathing, and think calming thoughts.
We parked up in town near the medical centre, and followed the footpath along the Búðará river. The snow had not long gone, and big mounds of it were still blocking the footpath, from where they’d cleared the roads. Close to the Icelandic war museum, we met a very friendly local woman walking her dog, and two Norwegian cats! She explained that the cats follow her everywhere, and even love being outside in the snow, despite the gorgeous grey one only having one eye. After animal cuddles, she recommended that we follow the track upwards for a further 15 minutes to find Búðarárfoss – a waterfall. It’s not mentioned in any of the guidebooks but sure enough was stunning, and worth the walk.
Reyðarfjörður isn’t the prettiest of towns, but it has character, and for any ‘Fortitude’ telly program fans out there – well this is Fortitude, literally. Whilst we were there, they were busy filming series 2, although try as we might, we couldn’t see Dennis Quaid. We did however find some of the key locations. We’ll have to come back for our cameo roles another time.
After stocking up at the Kronan supermarket – more expensive than Bonus but still cheaper than eating out, we drove east to Eskifjörður. We’d planned on stopping at the Hólmanes nature reserve, haven for thousands of birds, but its footpaths were unfortunately a tad too precarious for Rich’s balance, so instead we drove on to the 954 gravel track east of town, parked up and walked a few miles along the coast. Despite the sun having come out to play, we only saw 2 other cars and 2 walkers. The gravel tracks make for brilliant walking out of season as they’re so rarely used by most tourists, who tend to stay on the ring road.
We found a drying shed for shark meat – I had to hold my nose whilst taking this pic, to avoid retching.
I was also fortunate enough to find a magnificent specimen of Iceland Spar, a variety of calcite. We could see some amateur rock hunters milling around the Helgustadir mine debris piles looking for minerals, but as former geologists we knew to look in the stream beds, and lo and behold…It now takes pride of place in my Scandi style study. Well it will be Scandi style eventually, once I’ve decluttered and finished upcycling the furniture. Baby steps.
Back in to town to enjoy Eskifjörður’s hot pool and swimming pool – without a doubt, now our second favourite hot pot location in Iceland. Grettislaug in the north of the country will probably always be our number one. Both are surrounded by high mountains, and are quiet. By the time it started snowing, we had the place to ourselves. Bliss.