Iceland summer 2014: The West Country

Sitting in my tent yesterday evening got really cold so I decided, difficult as it was, to go and warm up in the hot tubs, which I didn’t at all have to myself this time (and everyone else had brought alcohol of some kind).

Today I explored around the west of Iceland. First stop, Hraunfossar, unusual waterfalls which kind of aren’t waterfalls. Instead of a stream or river falling down, the water pours out from under the lava field and into the fast-flowing glacial river below. A little further upstream are the Barnafoss where the fast-flowing river crashes through twists and turns and arches and all kinds of dramatically eroded shapes. At the end of the footpath were two idiots – one more idiotic than the other – who had climbed over the chain, ignored the “you shall not pass” sign and were scratching their names into the rock. I gave them disapproving looks and then when the idiot got out his phone to take a photo of how clever he was to be able to write his own name, I stared at him and shook my head and to my astonishment, he put the phone away, came back to the path and wandered off downriver.

Next stop – in order to kill time – was Reykholt, Icelandic cultural centre and home to Snorri Sturluson. I wanted to paddle, or at least dip my feet, in Snorralaug, Snorri’s private pool but it was too cold. Still, time had been killed and now I could go to the Icelandic Goat Centre. Of course, had I known how long it would take to get there, I wouldn’t have bothered going to Reykholt. The map looked like it was just off the main road. It turned out to be a good half an hour down a gravel road – or ten minutes if you’re one of these people who can drive a gravel road at the speed limit instead of 30kph.

Still, I got there eventually. I met and played with many of their nearly 200 goats. I met a few “men” who had acted in Game of Thrones – you know the goat that gets eaten by a dragon? I met him. I also met a friendly if scatterbrained goat who enjoyed some attention but had lost her baby (they wandered the field bleating for each other in adorable high-pitched voices) and Molly, whose name is somehow pronounced with two ls in a way I just can’t manage, who wanted to eat everything and wanted all the attention. I bought some mint-flavoured goat milk soap and then I had to drive another 10km back to paved road, getting overtaken by a milk tanker along the way.
The last stop was at Deildartunguhver, the biggest hot spring in Europe. It springs out 180 litres of boiling water every second and provides heating and hot water for the entire west of Iceland, as well as leaving plenty bubbling and sloshing and steaming for tourists. I went there briefly last year and this year discovered that the dog really does live there.

Back at Fossatún, I have eaten cheese sandwiches and now I’m still sitting in the inside kitchen because it has electricity and my tablet is not charging very well in the car.

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