The Icelandic Adventure Part 5…last chapter!

Back on the road again and heading back into the interior this morning after an extra night at the horseshoe camp. The weather has been mixed up here at the northern bit, we have basked in warm sunshine on lovely lush camp-site grass, walked amongst bleached white logs and branches then moved along in damp chilly clouds, today we were climbing slowly skywards making our way into the middle of the country towards the ice cap lava and volcano’s.

The tarmac of route 1 was behind us now as we made progress along a new road. The grader machine was busy on a corner turning the track into a proper road with two decent lanes! This was the road to Dettifoss and the route the tour coaches would come, The Iclandic’s are finally looking after the tourists, maybe there will be toilets here too?

We pulled into the new car park quite early this morning and well before the wave of tourists. Hey they have a TOILET block I smiled to myself, behind it was a trailer with another 10 blue portaloo toilets, these things were so rare they were like rocking horse shit! Daz was the first to go have a decco. Two lads were on cleaning duties and had the music turned up loud. Toilets AND happy locals? Wow this is too much to take in! We followed the wood sign pointing us the shortest track through the large filed of huge light grey boulders.

380

                                                On the winding track to Dettifoss

 

382                           Look at the people to get a scale of Dettifoss

We could hear the roaring sound and feel the damp as we got closer winding our way around the boulder field. Louder it got until we came out at the edge of one massive crack in the earth. The wide river poured over the even wider tear. My god what a huge thing to witness it was especially vivid we could hear the roar from a way off but saw nothing until we got to the edge and looked down.

386                                                            Magnificent Dettifoss

We had seen quite a few waterfalls on this trip but none as long ans as wide as this one and seemingly so secret (the new access road will soon change this)

We sat for a while on the boulders just looking at the sight laid out below it really was an eyeful! Slowly the volume of people increased as the morning ticked on, in fact by the time we walked back to the trucks about a dozen coaches were here and dozens of cars. Its a good job they laid several different winding tracks down to the waterfall it would have been nose to tail of walkers otherwise! Daz gave us his report of the earlier toilet visit too. it was brimming with a thick lumpy Oxtail soup substance and so to have a pee was delicate but to attempt a hovering crap would have been disastrous!  God hep the hundreds who would arrive today!

Our timing was excellent, the tourist horde came as we left. Back to route 1 for a few miles before hitting another F track. it was back to small rutted single tracks again twisting around piles of boulders and solidified lava and piles and piles of grey shale. We were near a stream or a river because we saw large patches of green on the banking, sure enough cresting the ridge we saw the small stream its bank was carpeted with light green moss and small flowers, we pulled over for a cuppa and a bite to eat.

393

Leaving route 1 to find the F track across the lava field, they were generally sunken below so very difficult to spot.

 

480c

                           Youve heard the saying “Where there’s water there’s life” ?

 

392                                            See? No sign of a track..but its there!  

391

                                           Liz packs her camera away after her shot.

390

                                   Julie starts her first river crossing.

Above is a photo of Julie’s first river crossing. The ranger sign is there to help and not to frighten! It gets a lot deeper at the middle but with the bow wave created it was low enough not to spill over the bonnet. Can you see the yellow dotted curve on the blue river? This is the recommended route across the river at the moment. Boulder and pot hole free it should be! The white 4×4 car waiting watched our crossing noting the depth then drove over slowly to this side with no problems.  We drove through quite a few more in rapid succession over the next few miles. Then we saw a large motorbike group, these guys were from Sweden and on a tour organized and supported by TOURATECH the sat nav equipment suppliers. We made the crossing pretty easy pulling over to watch the group paddle over one by one. two or three fell over but the support staff guiding the guys over were at hand to pick the big BMW’s back up and help the guys get moving again.

395

The Swedish bike touring group about to attempt the crossing, one by one.

394

      These two got over with assistance. Another ranger crossing aid was the rope, this indicated the shallowest route

 

 

397

They stopped what they were doing and kindly waved us over 

402

                                                       Doing very good so far….

403

Whats Swedish for Oh sh*T!

 

 

 

398

                      Lifted upright again he carried on to get to the other side

399

      The last man to cross had plenty of time to assess the best line to take. The motorbike were all BMW GS 1200s and probably included in the tour price

401

                             The gang found it an entertaining 20 minutes break.

404

We found ourselves committed to an afternoon of river crossings. 

The whole afternoon was dotted by river crossings as the last eruption and flowing lava fields had altered the landscape forcing the river to find another path it split several times as you could occasionally see from rare vantage points. After the next eruption it would all change again!

405                      The changing landscape between grey / black lava fields

We were heading for Dyngjufjoll volcano mountain region, in fact we would be standing right on the rim of it! We parked and walked the couple of hundred metres on the black ash and up onto the lip of this small volcano which also stood in a huge 2 MILE wide crater of a previous volcano! It must have been cataclysmic when it erupted don’t you think? So all afternoon we had been driving on miles and miles of what had spewed out, it was difficult to get a grip of the size and scale of things I have to say.

408

               Following the yellow poles across the lava field to the volcano

 

413

                                                         I may be some time…

Eager to walk upto an actual volcano we began to don warm cloths and put big boots on. Pete insisted it would be damn cold so we all wrapped up well before setting off across the snow and up that volcano we would be walking perhaps 20 minutes of so but that cloud that was sat just above us could suddenly drop and tip water all over us so we stuck to the idea of walking just to the lip of the small volcano. before turning back.

411

Stood on the lip of the little volcano looking at the larger 2 mile wide crater of the much LARGER volcano.

 

409

      The distant mountain range is the far lip of the mother of all volcanos

 

412

Atlas Overland team members walking where dinosaurs once roamed!

It was bloody cold up here the wind bit through me and drew the moisture from my eyes, we could see walkers returning from their journey to the other side. The sky was grey the ground was grey the wind was cold the ground very uneven so we decided we would camp here for the night. Really?

Tp be honest the camp site looked very uninviting, it was a stony flattish bit of hard ground that would have served better as an overnight stopping area for heavy trucks! I sat for a while looking at the stones and which way the ground sloped and what cover from the elements we had, the answer to that was actually none at all. We had the volcano to our back just a stones hurl away, to our side and front we had the elements and if the cloud had had lifted we would have been able to see for miles, the wind had a long run up to get to us dragging with it showery conditions.Welcome to Camp Dreki comrade!

A shallow dip near the stream was found before it dropped away so we turned our ass to the prevailing drizzle and wind then put the truck in its way too. so I kicking the stones and stuff away from where the base of the tent was going to sit. Ian and Chris with their one man tents pitched at the side of us. The roof tenters problem was trying to find somewhere level enough so used their vehicle wedges to get themselves level.

426            The OZ tent has never sat in such harsh ground before.

 

415Daz and Rosie  got their roof tent and sitting area sorted pretty quick as usual

 

417                                                         Tonights pub…

The OZ tent was treated carefully on the harsh stony ground in fact we lay bags under the camp bed legs as extra protection for the ground sheet and we used a large towel as a carpet between the beds to step on thus minimising the risk of puncturing the ground sheet.

The drizzle abated  so we knocked up a quick hot evening meal on the table at the side of the truck. This was a “needs must” kinda camp, we were too late in the day to drive all the way to the better camp site and would have added lots more hours to the already long day. no need for that, we would make do. Over to the other 110 to join Chris and Liz for evening drinks we toddled and stood under their roomy roof awning. Chris lit a fire in their mobile barb-a-Q unfortunately the damn smoke seemed to follow wherever one stood!

418

                                                   Chris was our fire-starter tonight

425

                                                        European hotel on wheels

 

464

The view behind was spectacular but short! The mountains and volcano’s that attract the low cloud and the damn rain!

Across from us was a busy group of people from Germany I think, they had a sturdy purpose-built camper /hotel coach the back bit was the kitchen. An awning covered their dining room and I think they slept at the back of the coach as the front bit had seating arrangements. To be honest I didn’t take it in much detail, standing around in the drizzle I didn’t think about doing that in order to describe to you in the blog! I have seen these kind of things before from Eastern Europe where the folk slept in a line pods cut into  the bottom of the truck, another I saw once towed a big box with rows of hatches and looked like the human version of a pigeon carrier! We turned in before long quite happily I have to say because there was nothing much to look at and the wet drizzle had returned, Tomorrow would be better.

Wrong! It was exactly the same as 7 hrs previously, low grey cloud with poor visibility and that bloody damp drizzle! Still, I was feeling fresher for the sleep and so set out for the wooden building that housed the showers and toilet facilities. Getting a hot shower first thing does wonders for the system in these conditions I find. I found the Germans busy washing and cleaning teeth..it was 06.15 and they were in fine spirits chatting and generally quite happy, how one can talk with a gob full of frothy toothpaste was beyond me! In the next building slept a large group of young American girls.

surprisingly quite a few folk were bobbing about at 06.30am and I noted a few more small tents erected at the side of some late visitors vehicles and a couple of mountain bikes too. The drizzle was still with us on and off as was the low cloud, ignoring this I cooked bacon and beans and coffee, the world was OK this morning, a warm shower and hot food makes you see the world through rose-tinted specs! Striking camp was a brisk 40 minutes job for us we than got in the truck turned the engine on and put the heater on and got dry, we sat here for about an hour, doing some front cab “house-tidy” and watched the guys wrap their stuff up.

419

                                               Liz doing her morning chores

420

     Rosie goes for a shower and washes away her little hangover..

423                                             Hugh waits for the jetboil to..boil!

 

421                                                             Daz strikes camp

The morning map meet revealed an extra bit this morning. There would be a little tour and chat onto a recent lava flow just a couple of miles away at 10.00hrs. We would go have a bit of that and as we were all ready we turned the keys, all the engines fired up and off we went. We had only been gone twenty minutes but had soon dropped from the high ground into better weather looking back we could see the murk hanging around the mountains and volcano’s

We took our detour from the twisting track through the boulders and rough lava field onto an expanse of black sand, it was as far as the eye could see, from one mountain rang on the far right to the other on the far left and as far to the front as we could see, in fact just visible was another group of volcano’s and that huge ice cap.

427                 Following the occasional orange poles that marked the track

 

429As you can see not many had come this way for a while as we cut into the top layer of dust revealing the jet black sand.

 

451                                                                           Moonscape!

We drove past some measuring instruments on poles and other scientific looking stuff a couple of hundred yards away, it was a but of a puzzle, learning later that it was a small airstrip and NASA trains..or used to train for moon missions here. It also explains how we could get the internet practically anywhere inland, it was provided initially  for the scientist fraternity to send their data back to HQ throughout the world and so us ordinary folk were allowed to benefit from it too.

We drove on looking for a couple of vehicles, this is where the rangers would give their talk and take us onto the lava field. The two girls were donning extra clothes and gloves too? Not cold at all so this looked odd to begin with, we were advised to wear stout boots and dress warmly after which the too girls took us onto the lava, wow! it was so sharp and rough the ground didn’t have a single smooth square inch it was so sharp and jagged with holes tears slips and undulations, one had to walk carefully with both eyes firmly on the ground in front of you. Imagine if you will being an ant walking across the roughest grade of emery cloth then you will have an idea what Im talking about! If you fell down your hands and knees would be ripped to pieces, aha so that’s why they are wearing gloves and extra clothes! Hardly would the say that for fear of putting folk off I suppose?

450                                      Ranger 1 waiting for us to come forward

453

                                                   At the edge of the lava flow

 

455                        Ranger 2 explains that we are stood on lava just 2 yrs old

 

457                                       Jo and Carrick move around carefully

 

459

                                                            Our very own imprints

Kneeling down carefully and going Ow Ow Ow! as the sharp bit stabbed at me knees..to stick my hand down the narrow fissures it felt warm the water the Rangers brought was poured into various cracks to hear and see the reaction, unfortunately we didn’t find a hot enough crack. I had actually seen this stunt in a lava park in the Canary Isle a couple of yrs ago. It was called Timanfiya I believe?  The visit this morning was fascinating I have to admit, the rangers filled in some knowledge gaps and it was easier to understand how things began and how stuff first begins to grow turns into what we see now. I could see too why there are no bleeding moles over here!

The last eruption in 2014 and bleeding out of millions of tons of lava had disrupted the river, it was trying to find a new way and split into many smaller streams that in the deeper crevasses turned to steam we could spot the river’s course by these lines of steam, ahead just a few miles away and towering above the distant mountains stood the Ice cap of the Vatnajokull National park a week ago we were at the other side just starting our adventure.

Thanking the Rangers we retraced our route north and spent the rest of the day driving the spectacular and wild landscape. Occasionally coming across a road sign at a crossroad…or should I say cross track.

462

                           Camp Drekki to the left, our new destination 6 hrs in front

The camp at Moodrudalur seemed very modern compared to Camp Drekki, it had one or two houses and a church! It also had a fuel pump with its tank hidden in a shed that took some locating to begin with then we were like bees around honey, we emptied his tank, some of us getting enough only for the run to the last camp, Oh yes and a village goat that was very friendly! Here too is where tour buses had started to use on account of a lovely large restaurant. Tonight we would dine out so we made sure we booked a couple of large tables.

The field for the tents was large and oblong alongside it ran a road and a large stream at the other side. a large communal building were here for campers to do the cooking inside in more extreme conditions, today though it was just fleece weather with a gusty mild wind and not what you’d call cold, certainly nothing to get worried about.

470

 

                                            Friendly resident goat plays with child.

468

  The fuel pump took some locating….the hut on the left had the nozzle the other two had the one and only tank! We were rationed but still practically drained it.

Well I can report back that reindeer is very very tasty, I was lined up for lamb but they ran out. There are four lamb for every human on Iceland so hows that worked out?? Im told its exceptional but Im not normally fan of lamb, hey ho next time I suppose!

469

Peddling Icelandic Jumpers, all very nice but marked up at £100+ Aimed at the more brainless tourists…..and the Americans.

A fuzzy head was owned by some this morning as we bumbled around in the breezy dawn tripping over grassy tussocks. It was a good night with lots of flowing wine and some really great food. I’m not even gonna think how much it must have been! The tent was dropped again and wrapped up wet for the umpteenth time, its not a good thing to do and by now the material was pretty well sodden, Is in need of a good drying out and a fresh coat of fab-seal. Before we left we needed fuel and after locating the elusive pump we managed to buy enough to get us to our next camp and the town with ease, We all but drained the not too huge fuel tank in spite of rationing. Waving goodbye to the village goat we turned around and made our way east towards the first camp site of the trip.

We found ourselves with a huge fragmented river ahead of us, this meant river crossings and lots of them today! From the ridge we could see it had split itself into many.

 

476a

                                                     River crossings ahead!

It looks daunting from the ridge but none were that deep, besides we were all experts now! We crossed them all with care and under guidance from Pete but mostly with no apprehension at all.

476b

                                                               Carrick as the rear 

 

479

                            Carrick brings up the rear at a deeper crossing

 

480b

 Waiting for folk to catch up, nobody crossed a river alone or out of sight

 

483

                         Julie doing some calculations, without her shoes on…

It was time for lunch and after a run in low cloud going in a different direction we retraced a bit and turned for lunch at Largerfelt..Or by its proper name of Laugarfell a huge pot of soup and a shed full of huge white door stop bread certainly hit the spot. Chris stripped off and went for a dip in the hot springs for the last time, the site of him tip toeing in speedo’s across the rocks nearly put me off my soup! We said goodbye to Chris and Ian here, they would drive back to the capital and prep their truck for shipping back to the UK. Today their adventure on Iceland would end, its been nice to meet them and enjoy a few.. erm a lot of tinnies with them, maybe we will meet again who knows?

I left my truck in gear on the hill just in case the start fault returned, but it had dissipated as soon as we left the really rough ground, confirming to us that in all probability it was a loose wire and probably in the starter barrel.. this fault has NEVER shown itself since I have to say ( its now three months since the Iceland trip)

We rolled into the last camp site just an hour or so later making it a shorter day and allowing a last shop and a clean out of the truck ready for the ferry Europe bound in the morning. We saw some familiar vehicles as we had done all through the trip, the Austrian white 110 for example Id seen a few times and noted for the two old hippies!

487

  The Austrian Defender 110

488

                                                             Three different types

485

One of the many Continental bikers, love the cheap but sturdy panniers!

The last meal in the last of the Icelandic drizzle was had tonight and another early night.It had been another great day exploring the tracks and the F roads. We would be asleep in no time. An early rise was on the cards for the run to the ferry.

Unzipping the fly-sheel I saw Pete skipping to the washroom with towel over his shoulder, the same as he does most mornings, Daz was up and about too, across the green the other 110 was still quiet as Chris and the family rose a bit slower. Carrick slithered out from the back of his Disco and set out his ablutions, carrying his stuff following Pete to the building at the far end of the packed field. Most of the campers were all heading for the ferry and all were up and about making ready to leave. We got ready breakfast would be some warm pastries and buns from the take out at the garage. Using the wet wipes and toothpaste this morning made things move along quicker. Once again we dropped and wrapped the damp tent after stowing everything else away, we had things laid out in the truck and packed most things away as our last job last night so a quick turnaround was easy. Grabbing the pastries and coffee pulled out of the camp at Egilsstadir, drove round the edge of town and up and over the lip of the half circle of mountains that shielded town from the coastal weather. Over the other side it was a steady downwards wind to the small port of Seydisfjordur and our waiting ferry.

492

                     Smooth tarmac all the way to the ferry terminal now.

The usual hurry and wait activity was waiting for us at the terminal we had to get sorted into rows according to height thus prizing Pete and Jo away from us, we would meet up again once on board. Once again we spotted some familiar vehicles from all parts of Europe. This ferry is one busy ship and probably full on every trip outside of the winter months, today was no exception.

Today was a smoother booking unlike the inbound trip where it transpired Id omitted to book the vehicle on line and had to rush around to the terminal HQ, booking and paying whist having a heart attack! Hugh and I had done the same thing, all the team were on board except us. Id booked us on..the room and the meals but not the fekkin truck! Id booked the ferry six months previously so couldn’t think what had gone wrong. Thinking back I was having trouble understanding the booking system, and resorted to picking up the phone and ringing direct to the ferry HQ on the Faeroe Island and letting them complete the booking, I remember Id started the process with booking the truck I recall measure the height to and adding extra height for tent and other equipment, I’m sure I pressed ENTER but obviously didnt. The ticket sheet was so full of information about meals and in what restaurant and a hefty cost left me assuming the truck was in there….Only to find it wasnt as I tried to drive on in Denmark!! Comparing the sheets with the guys later its turns out I paid £80 less for the truck than some.Carrick found he had been charged for several rooms instead of just the one. Hugh found find his meals had been cancelled, all the problems were ironed out by the staff who funnily enough didn’t act very surprised at these glitches.

493

                                                             Goodbye Iceland!

The two and a half day crossing back to Denmark was quite uneventful and I never had to go anywhere near the information desk, the officer i/c did recognize me and asked how things were! Smooth and sunny was most of the crossing. We hit the bar on the first night after dinner, Jo got a bit tipsy with a lovely double Jaeger I asked for a single honest Jo… Hugh hit it of on the dance floor with some of Norways finest lesbian biker chicks, oh it was a good evening. I remember sitting with Daz sometime after midnight just pondering the bottom of the glass and commenting how that ship was coming a bit close, it was ages before it dawned that we were docking at Faeroe and I was looking at the harbour lights! In my defence it was actually pitch black now and yes I was a bit drunk! Next morning we sat about eating breakfast reading a bit drinking coffee then read a bit then had lunch the weather became bright and cloudless so wrapping up against the wind I climbed topside and stood near the windy bows, I spent hours watching the birds as they came with us. I didn’t think I would see so many Gannets and so close they came too, these next couple of shot I took with the camera phone. I think I saw most as we passed the Shetland Islands on day two, I watched occasional Gannet spear into the sea to catch a fish, it was just like the documentary wild life series I love so much, I was spellbound and gutted at the same time, fancy NOT bringing the long camera on board, I WILL the next time it was truly amazing.

495

                                                      Gannets off the starboard bow!

 

496

 Gannets came so close, if only Id brought the big camera up from the truck. I saw baby-faced Fulmars too, it was brilliant!

 

497                                                             Radar and stuff…

Denmark came into view after two and a half days, the docking and the unloading was pretty quick, we paused to catch everyone and to say goodbye, There is a chance we will bump into folk again on another trip or probably at a show back in the UK? We got half an hour down the road before the right hand mirror started flapping about. Pulling off the M-way onto a side road and a pull off we brewed up a cuppa then got the old gaffa tape out and “fixed” the mirror. Back onto the M-way we went and bashed on southwards. about a hundred miles down the road we exited and drove to Aarhus, we booked earlier from the ferry a room for the night for around £50.

499                                                                  Nooo not again!

Up and gone for about nine after a good old continental breakfast of bread and jam with pastries and coffee. For £50 the hotel was more than fine and on site parking with the truck in site and under good lighting. Now we returned to the N-way and the short run to the Danish/German border the long stop start haul to Hamburg over a hundred miles away. The ever efficient Germans had decided to widen the M-way road from Hamburg to Denmark this meant closing a lane at EVERY bridge as they lengthened those too. It’s an old two lane carriageway and in need of this upgrade. It was busy and slowed to around 30 mph practically the whole way but at least it never stopped, the roads narrowed around Hamburg and it got busier. Was I glad when got through the other side, Id thought about a detour on the way up three weeks ago but this narrow neck of land didn’t offer much alternative. Its a project of 3 to four yrs I’m told and will be excellent when finished. Meanwhile if your planning a journey to Denmark through Hamburg add some extra hours to your journey time and pray for no accidents.

We had turned south-west now and entered Holland after leaving Hamburg things got quicker and had a better run through Germany. We pulled over in Holland for another coffee and decide where to stay tonight. We chose Apeldoorn and decided on another budget hotel, it had on site parking which mattered more than the bed to be honest.

500                      Please note the lamp-post is bent on a purpose an not by me…

The leafy town of Apeldoorn is a place I have passed but never stopped at so today was good. What I like about Dutch towns is their wide open space, you don’t feel cramped in, possibly because the roads have cycle lanes and appear wider than normal and they line many of their roads with trees. We opted for large sarnis in our room for the evening and a big brekki in the morning. We had a full day free as the ferry wasn’t until late evening and wasnt far away. So we hatched a plan to head south the west to the coast about 50 miles below Rotterdam this area is called Zeeland (Sealand)and ANOTHER place Ive never looked at, always heading to or from the Rotterdam or Zeebrugge ferries. The lad had been reclaimed by the ingenious Dutch from the sea, we hopped across wide estuaries across long low bridges and row upon row of locks all built into the long road bridges, there were as many boats on the water as cars on the road. its a really nice place to go see, not industrial at all, very flat yes I grant you that but such a pretty part of Holland.

502

You can see rows of regimented lock rams on the left of the bridge, they have opened the sluce gates and sea water is flowing to the inland side.

 

504                                       The view at the other side of the same bridge

 

506

                                         Holland and its more modern windmills

508Finally into Rotterdam and on board the more familiar P&O ferry, and home to a shave and the new truck, its goodbye and thank you for the fun times little red truck and goodbye (damp) tent you’ve served us well!

 

                                                               THE END….…right where next?