Iceland 2009: The South

Friday 19th June: Skˇgar - Flu­ir (115 km)

You know you are cycling in Iceland when ... you eat skyr every day.

In every supermarket you will find skyr, a delicious dairy product that is unique to Iceland. It is similar to yoghurt but it is set with casein, like a soft cheese. It comes in lots of flavours; our favourites were pear and forest berries.



Soil erosion

A farm gate near Hvollsv÷llur. Soil erosion is a problem over much of the country


A fine stand of trees near Hvollsv÷llur - not a common sight in Iceland.

Karen's diary:

By some miracle the sky was a clear, flawless blue this morning so we rose early to make the most of it. We left lovely Skˇgar at 6.30am but sadly we had only one hour of wind-free cycling. At the road junction where Route 249 turns off to ١rsm÷rk we stopped for a short rest. Above us was Seljalandsfoss, a high, slender waterfall. We had already decided not to go to ١rsm÷rk - we knew that the road might be difficult with its multiple river-crossings and that traffic might be very heavy on a holiday weekend. Besides that, we didn't have very much time to spare. So we stayed on Route 1 and continued west.

After the turn-off the cliffs receded and the road headed across open, grassy plains. The road was flat but without the shelter of the cliffs the wind was fearsome. It came blasting down out of the interior and tested our nerves and strength all day. We found ourselves, once again, leaning hard to the right in an attempt to balance against the crosswind. It was exhausting work. We stopped for rests and food at Hvollsv÷llur and Hella. The road steadily got busier as we approached ReykjavÝk.

After crossing the river ١rsß we turned left on Route 30 and headed inland. The ١rsß is a big river and the valley was like a wind-tunnel. We worked hard but our average speed was only 10kph. The first part of the valley looks like a godforsaken place - a windswept landscape of eroded, lumpy, brown grassland - and the road was busy with heavy trucks. Little by little it got better... greener, prettier and more prosperous-looking, and eventually the traffic calmed down.

The last few kilometres were challenging; the road was hilly and the strong, gusty wind kept changing direction. Fl˙­ir itself is quite nice; there were plenty of trees, it seemed sheltered and for the first time today we felt the warmth of the sun. The supermarket was well stocked and inexpensive. The campground was 1km out of town. It was a strange, windblown place, full of caravans but with few facilities. When we arrived the tent area was almost empty but by late evening it was crowded.