Iceland Day 3: Ólafsvík – Drangsnes

I would wake up at regular intervals throughout the night, shivering uncontrollably. I felt unpleasant, to say the least, as I fumbled my way out of my tent in the morning; but a breakfast concoction of oats, granola, seeds, dried fruit and nut milk soon brought me back to life.

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Eager to get moving, we packed up and set off. The weather was grey and damp and the wind continued to beat down on us in sharp gusts. From Ólafsvík, we headed around the Snæfellsnes Peninsular in an anti-clockwise direction and soon stumbled across Saxhóll Crater.

We wrestled with the gales, which were now making it increasingly challenging to even exit the car, and jogged up the metal staircase neatly wrapped around the crater’s edge. At the top, we were met with grim views over the Atlantic Ocean and the Peninsular’s vast lava fields, sculpted by the magma which once erupted from where we stood.

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The wind whipped so viciously at my face, it drew streams of tears from my eyes and nose and took my breath away. I could barely hear anything Jim was saying as my hood flapped angrily around my ears; though judging by his joyous expression, I could only assume that it was something about his undying love for geology.

The whole experience rendered me temporarily blind and deaf and I was soon forced to wobble my snotty, red-faced self, back down the staircase to the safety of the car.

On we went, enduring heart stopping side winds, which would send us careering across to the other side of the road. The sun would occasionally burst through the clouds, heating up the car like an oven and sending our bodies into confused frenzies. I lost count of how many times my clothes came on and off. But it was all worth it; the scenery around Snæfellsnes was simply spectacular.

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We eventually met back up with the Ring Road and travelled north, turning onto Route 60 towards the Western Fjords. Along the way we passed countless waterfalls, canyons, mountains and beautiful expanses of water.

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In a moment of spontaneity, we turned onto the 608, an unpaved road which lead us on a bumpy, bum-clenching journey into the highlands. We quickly left the immaculate views of one of the many sparkling fjords behind us, and disappeared into the clouds.

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The route, which is used as a shortcut for those with less time to explore the fjords, was unbelievably barren. The only signs of life came in the form of the odd stone hut, presumably built to shelter hikers overnight or in emergencies. Fat, wet snowflakes began to slap against our windshield and we noticed that the landscape was becoming increasingly waterlogged with icy pools, some home to the odd pair of geese.

We gradually descended, turning right to join Route 61, before heading along the 643 and 645 to Drangsnes, a minimalistic fishing village overlooking Grímsey Island.

We pulled up at the towns campsite and attempted to set up our tents between the shelter of a hedge and the Jimny. By now, the weather was showing us its very worst. The wind was tearing aimlessly at a piece of loose tin on the roof of the amenities block and freezing rain was pelting down from the darkening sky.

We showered, ate and sheltered for as long as we could in the warmth. It wasn’t long before we had company in the form of a fascinating Spanish man, who was travelling around Iceland on his motorcycle.

He warned us about the upcoming weather (as if it hadn’t already been bad enough) and informed us that there were no other campsites open in the region, meaning that our spontaneous drive across the highlands had actually saved us from a night or two stranded in our car!

We eventually plucked up the courage to venture back to our tents. Little did I know that I was in for the coldest night’s sleep of my life.

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Overnight:
Drangsnes Camping Site

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