We had a lovely evening last night in Faskrudsfjordur. We ate in the hotel restaurant, locally sourced salmon and lamb, both of which were delicious. Our room looked out over the fjord, and when at 2.30 am I woke for a pee, I looked out of the window to see that the sun was rising, casting a pink glow over the snow laden slopes of the fjord.
After breakfast, before leaving Faskrudsfjordur, we took a look around the museum, sited in one of the buildings now owned by the hotel, but formerly the French Hospital. I’m not a great one for museums generally, but this one was superb, displaying lots of the medical equipment used at the time. In the basement, was a really realistic mock-up of inside one of the fishing vessels, showing how the French crewman would have lived for months at a time – it was fascinating. There was also an old photograph showing all the French fishing vessels in the fjord – literally thirty or forty at a time, in this narrow fjord. All the fish caught were preserved in salt, and returned to Europe.
Eventually we headed on our way, and planned a coffee stop at Reydarfjordur, a small community along the next fjord northwards. We pulled into a lay-by just above the town to admire the view. Also parked in the lay-by was a red California, one of the few we have spotted on our journey around Iceland. The young couple came across to talk to us. They had just arrived on the ferry that morning, having spent a week on the Faroes. They were also planning spending a year travelling around Europe. The guy had fought in Afghanistan for the British Army, and lost a leg, so was taking this opportunity to travel. He had previously done an expedition to Greenland, trekking across the ice shelf. We spend quite a while chatting with them and comparing notes, and gave them some tips on good places to visit and stay whilst in Iceland. We have yet to meet a fellow California owner that we haven’t immediately bonded with – I suspect we all share a bit of an intrepid spirit.
After coffee, we continued on to Egilsstadir. Rather than head straight to Seydisfjordur, we decided on a slight excursion inland along Lake Logurinn. The whole route alongside the lake was lined with purple lupins, growing like weeds, but producing a profusion of colour. It turns out that these are not native plants – they are Alaskan lupins introduced in the 1800s. However, they serve a useful purpose, since they help re-vitalise eroded soil by fixing nitrogen and stabilising the soil. In addition, all along the lakeside, there has been a massive project of re-forestation. Throughout the whole trip, we have seen very few trees in Iceland. Previous generations had chopped all the native trees down for firewood and for boat and house building. The Icelanders are now starting to plant trees again, in an attempt to help soil erosion. So the fauna along this route was very different from anything we had seen on our travels around the island. The lake itself was a milky white colour, and, like Loch Ness, has become famous for sporadic sightings of a ‘Monster Worm’ seen swimming in the deep lake.
We came to a splendid looking turf-roofed house which had been home to Gunner Gunnerson, a famous Icelandic author. In the restaurant on site, they were offering a ‘cake buffet’, but neither of us fancied a mountain of cakes, so opted for a modest slice of banana bread instead.
We then re-traced our steps, through Eglisstadir and on to Seydisfjordur, crossing the high mountain pass Fjardarheidi, 620 metres above sea-level. Three weeks ago, when we had arrived in Iceland, we drove from the ferry in a snowstorm over this pass, which was white with thick snow. Today, on our return trip, the sun was shining, and the roads clear of snow. There was still plenty of the white stuff lying on the ground, but a considerable amount had melted in the few weeks since we had passed through. Seydisfjordur looked splendid as we drove down off the mountain, and into the town. Our ferry was sat there at the docks, in the shadow of the fjord.
Tomorrow we board, and head back to Denmark, via the Faroes. It’s sad to think our time in Iceland is nearly at an end. It has been quite an amazing experience, and nothing can prepare you for the totally awesome scenery. Undoubtedly one of the highlights of our trip. I somehow doubt it can be matched, but I’m prepared to be proven wrong.