A Journey around Iceland’s Ring Road
Before she set off on her recent road trip around Iceland we sent Emma Lavelle (@fieldandnest) our warmest wishes along with a Old Harry knit to fend off the elements. This is what she encountered...
After ten days driving around Iceland’s infamous Ring Road, I feel completely overwhelmed and in awe of the dramatically diverse scenery. They don’t call it The Land of Ice and Fire for nothing. Where else in the world can you drive past sparkling glacial lagoons and bubbling hot springs in the same day?
We drove anti-clockwise, opting to begin our journey with the Golden Circle before slowly leaving the majority of our fellow tourists behind. As you drive further away
from Reykjavik, the coach tours begin to vanish into the distance, and you’re left more or less on your own with the landscapes and herds of Icelandic ponies. We drove past snow-capped mountains and lava fields, stopping to admire powerful geysers, dramatic waterfalls and the rift where two tectonic plates are slowly drifting apart.
Heading east, the scenery is ever-changing; black sand beaches and towering cliffs giving way to icy glaciers, snaking their way through cracks in the mountains. Miles of dramatic jagged peaks suddenly cease as the force of volcanic destruction becomes apparent with immeasurable deserts stretching as far as the eye can see. Waves of jet black petrified lava fill the plains, covered in soft and springy pillow moss, inviting you to stop and lie upon it.
The further you drive, the temperature drops, and a lambswool Old Harry jumper is the perfect garment to pull on to warm your cockles as you gaze in awe at gigantic icebergs floating in glacial lagoons and washed up like diamonds on the black beaches. Down by the sea, the wind whips through your hair as you breathe in the fresh Icelandic air.
Traversing the East Fjords involves winding up and down steep coastal roads whilst peering down perilous cliff faces to watch the waves of the Norwegian Sea crash upon the black rocks. Tiny villages pass in the blink of an eye, and the fjords appear to snake on forever. Take the time to pay a visit to Seyðisfjörður, only accessible via a steep mountain pass that leads you through the clouds within touching distance of ice and snow. Waterfalls tumble down the cliffs enclosing the fjord and down perilous ravines. Here, you will find a small but thriving arts & crafts based community where colourful buildings line the streets.
Heading north-west, take a detour to admire the ferocity of the cascading water at Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, before driving on through a lunar landscape. Suddenly, a flash of ochre can be seen in the distance, and plumes of steam rise before you. To the right, you’ll find a road leading to the geothermal power station on the slopes of the Krafla volcano, and immediately to the left of Route One, mud pools and steam vents emit the same sulphuric stench that reeks from most hot water taps and showers in the country. We spent three days in the north, taking our time to explore the area surrounding Lake Myvatn and the rocky peninsulas. One memorable night, we took to the seas on a wooden fishing boat to spot humpback and minke whales frolicking in the water and breaching before our eyes. On the way back to our remote cabin, we spotted rising steam and stopped for a warm swim under the midnight sun. Too exhilarated to retreat to bed, we drove further down the road to revel in the serenity of being the only night-time visitors to Godafoss, one of the country’s largest waterfalls.
During the summer months, it’s possible to sleep during the day and spend your nights exploring the landscapes without another soul around. The lingering sunsets and low midnight sun allow for perfect atmospheric conditions to take photos and admire the landscapes without any interruptions.