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Iceland 2009 - The 'Baptism of Fire for a Lightwave' Tour

Part 3 - Siglufjörður, Dalvík, Herðubreiðarlindir, Askja and Víti.

09.08.09 - Hvammstangi to Siglufjörður

After a brief watch of the horse show that was still going on we were down at the petrol station in good time to catch the bus, which arrived on time. The bikes went in a trailer, which was convenient, as we didn't have to take the front wheels off! At Varmahlið we changed buses to a small minibus. There were only us and an elderly gentleman (who our lady driver seemed to know) on the bus. Not far up the road she turned off up a track and dropped the elderly gentleman at his front door. Now that's what I call service! It's the kind of thing you would find it northern Scotland. After she had dropped him off she turned to us and said did we realise that there wasn't a bus to Siglufjörður until 5.30pm. I said never mind we shall just have to wait. She then got on her mobile phone and when she finished she said she might have sorted something out. When we got to Sauðárkrókur we pulled into a petrol station. After we had unloaded the bikes she pointed to a bus and said that it would be leaving for Siglufjörður in 35 minutes so we sat on the grass and waited. Our driver and our lady driver dully arrived and we loaded the bikes and I asked to pay to the driver but the lady driver said there would be no charge as it wasn't a scheduled service.

It was a lovely day and lovely journey, in some respects it was just a shame that we weren't riding this section as the scenery was wonderful. As we got to a tunnel on the 76 just before Siglufjörður we were stopped by the police as there was so much traffic coming through, apparently there was a girls football tournament on that weekend and as it was Sunday afternoon everyone was leaving. The bus driver dropped us in the centre of Siglufjörður and we thanked him profusely. The town seemed one big campsite as every bit of space had a trailer tent on it. Down the side of one building there was a long display of photos and there were loads of girls in football kit eagerly studying them. The official town campsite was chocker block with trailer tents and camper vans but fortunately they were all packing up, we took the opportunity to get some food at the supermarket across the road. When we came out a chap on a 'folder' said "you don't see many Brit's up here ". He was an English guy who was off his yacht in the harbour. He had sailed single handed up from Scotland and was sailing around the coast of Iceland and had just come from Dalvík were had attended the fish festival. According to him there were 20,000 people there and any amount of free fish to eat should you care to. After our chat we headed back to the campsite which was rapidly emptying and spotted a reasonable bit of good flat grass next to a trailer tent that was just packing up. Luckily there was picnic table next to our spot so we brewed tea and people watched while we waited.

After dinner we cycled up to the end of the valley to find the 'Siglokassi' geocache so we could place our 'Compass Rose 5th Anniversary' geocoin. The cache was in one of the few forests in Iceland. The trees weren't that tall but they were tall enough that you felt that you were in a proper forest. In the geocache log someone had written 'what do you do if you get lost in an Icelandic Forest? Just stand up!'.

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10.08.09 - Siglufjörður

We woke to rain and had to do a wet pack. We held on for a while hoping it would stop however it seemed well set in. We decided that we would go and have a look at the Herring museum in the hope the weather might improve. The museum was very good and we could see why it had won awards. While we were upstairs using their internet the lassie from the ticket office came up to tell us that the painters had moved our bikes as they needed to paint the outside of the building. We didn't think much of it apart from thinking they would have to be strong as they were locked to each other!

When we left the museum it was still raining and we fancied a drink, a bite and a warm so we went around to the bakery, which had a cafe. It had stopped raining by then so we decided that it wasn't too late to try going over the hill. Just as we had got about 200 yd's from the cafe Frank yelled out that she had a puncture. We couldn't quite believe it when we examined the rear tyre we noticed a large diagonal gash, which went right through to the inner tube. We were amazed as these were Schwalbe Marathon XR's which were suppose to be pretty tough and puncture proof, we could have understood it happening as we went over the Arnavatnheiði as we had gone over some rough roads but we had been on tarmac the last couple of days. There was nothing for it but to change the tyre for our spare, just as I had the rear wheel off it started to chuck it with rain! Fortunately we were just across the road from the campsite and decided that we could use the shelter of the outside sink area 150m away. As you can imagine this involved a mad relay of panniers, wheels and bikes in the pouring rain whilst dodging the constant traffic in the street. Unfortunately our spare folding tyre was slightly narrower than Frank's rear tyre so we had to swap the front tyre to the rear wheel and put the folding tyre on the front. Whilst we did this we were watched by three Icelandic kids who asked us it perfect English what we were doing, where we were from etc. The oldest lad couldn't have been more than 7 or 8 years old, we just couldn't imagine kids of a similar age in England fluently conversing to a French couple in similar way! By the time we had done all our repairs and got Frank's bike fixed we realised that it was far to late to set off over the hill. As the town campsite wasn't that brilliant we decided that we would stay at the small out of town site we had noticed on the way up to place our geocoin last night. It was only a cold-water site but it had lovely flat grass, good views and above all it was quiet. When we got there for a while we were the only people there. Unfortunately whilst we were cooking a family turned up and their taste in music wasn't great, thankfully it didn't go on too long!

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map link11.08.09 - Siglufjörður to Ketilás

There was still low cloud on mountains above Siglufjörður when we woke up but at least it wasn't raining. It wasn't too far to the start of the road over the Siglufjarðarskarð. We climbed up to ski lift station, which was at 200m. This was quite hard work and we nearly decided to give up and go around by the road but Frank wasn't keen on going through the tunnel. The road zigzagged up and up, some sections were steep but ride-able others were steep and loose which made them difficult to ride and we had to push the bikes up them. We were soon into the cloud level, so we decided it was best to turn the radios on just in case we got separated. It was a good thing we did as we did indeed get separated as I managed to keep going for longer on one stretch. We seemed to climbing for ages and if it hadn't have been for the GPS giving me an indication of my height it wouldn't have been easy in the cloud to know if we were nearing the top. It was very useful being in radio contact as we kept each other going and when I got to the top I radioed to Frank that as soon as she saw a pylon and cables she was only 150m from the top. At the summit col I found a picnic bench for lunch and I waited there for Frank. From her comments on the radio she wasn't’t that far behind me so I got a brew on. The interpretive board at the top showed that the road from Dalvík had been started in 1935 and completed in 1946. It was the only road out of Siglufjörður until they built the Strákagöng tunnel in 1967. And from what we could gather was a cool the place to get married! As we were eating our lunch a 4x4 came up the hill and parked. I think the guy was a bit surprised to see us there with bikes. I got chatting to him and he said he was checking the electric cables buried along the ridge. On the way down we stopped to look at the wonderful flowers by the track side. It was a good ride down if a bit rough and loose in places so we were quite glad to reach the tarmac of the 76. We stopped at a picnic place overlooking Hraun for a brew and took at photo of the 'Message in a bottle' geocoin, which had found at the ‘Sugandisey treasure geocache’ with our favourite brew, a cup of tea freshly brewed by the side of the road. It was a good ride down but my front wheel thought otherwise as although it had been clicking a bit on leaving the col it really started to sound really bad as we sped on down the hill. We had intended to go on to Ólafsfjörður but we thought we had better stop at Katlias where there was a campsite marked on the map and check it out my wheel. At the junction of the 82 there was a petrol station, which fortunately had a good shop for milk and something for our tea. I asked the lassie who served us where the campsite was, "Oh just along on the left there is small white house, if you're going there could you take a parcel", “no problem” I said and she gave us a packet of toilet rolls. I laughed and said it was a special delivery. The campsite was just a field, which was obviously used as the local football pitch. It had a small toilet hut with just cold water but the site had lovely lush grass and was totally free!

Although it was late in the afternoon it was still sunny and there was still quite a bit of warmth in the air so we took the opportunity to get all the waterproofs out and give them a good airing whilst I checked out my front wheel and Frank cooked some tea. The noise from my front wheel appeared to be from the bearings, unfortunately grit from the gravel roads had got into the bearings and had caused some wear on the cups and bearings. Although noisy we decided that the bearings would last the rest of the trip. Whilst we were having our meal I spotted a couple of tourer's coming from west on the 76. I waved as they came past and they waved back as they headed off along the 82 towards Ólafsfjörður.

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map link12.08.09 - Ketilás to Dalvík

After the lovely sunshine of the previous evening we woke to a rather overcast and slightly drizzly morning. It didn't take us too long to strike camp and get on the move and we were soon heading up the 82 on our way towards Ólafsfjörður. I say up as it was indeed up, not steep but a long steady up to the head of the Stífluvatn where there was a small hydro station. Although it was drizzly the waterproofs were soon abandoned, as it was just too warm with the climb. As we skirted around the side of the Stífluvatn we came across the tourer's we had waved to the night before. They were camped just up from the road and we waved at them as we went by. It was nearly 12.00 by then so they had probably arrived late and were having a late start, it could easily have been us as we had intended to press on last night. That is one of the problems with touring in northern countries in mid summer, you have so much daylight in the evenings that it is so easy to just keep going and get out of sync with your day.

At the Stífla valley near the end of the lake we started our climb up over the Lágheidi. Just after a small farm we met a solo tourer coming down pulling a trailer. We stopped for a chat he was from Italy and had come over from Dalvík that morning and I asked him what the road was like over the Lágheidi. He said it wasn't too bad just a little loose in places. We wished him well and headed off. Frank wondered about his load as he had front and back panniers plus he was pulling a trailer. We often think we take too much but this seemed a lot, we concluded that coming from Italy he was a coffee fanatic and the trailer must have had an Italian Espresso´ machine in it! The climb up to the top of the Lágheidi wasn't too bad it was just one of those hill grinds that seem to go on a bit. When we saw the emergency shelter we knew we were at the top. We decided it was a good place and time to have some lunch and found a grass knoll just off the road to have a brew and cook up some super noodles. Whilst we were there who should come past but the touring couple we had waved to earlier. Whilst we were having lunch the sun was trying to get out and we saw some lovely momentary rainbows. The run down to Ólafsfjörður was rather good as although the road had a gravel surface it was reasonably good and you could let yourself go without too much worry. When we got down into Ólafsfjörður we stopped at the N1 petrol station and who should be there but the tourer's we had waved at several times earlier. They turned out to be a German couple and were headed for Dalvík as well. After stopping for some refreshment we headed off towards the Dalvík as we left Ólafsfjörður we could see across the fjord to where the new tunnel through to Siglufjörður was to start. It would certainly make it easier for the locals to get to Akureyri. We had our own tunnel to content with and that was the 3400m long Múlagöng tunnel which was a single lane tunnel with passing places. Fortunately for us priority was to traffic coming from Ólafsfjörður. We stopped just before the tunnel and put our lights on just as we saw the German couple entering the tunnel. The tunnel is reasonably well lit and the there is little gradient so you can keep up a good speed. There was little traffic and what there was seemed to be coming from the opposite direction and pulled into the passing places for us. This rather made us press on hard, as we didn't’t really want to hold up the traffic, as we were sure they must have had to stop for the German couple ahead of us. We were quite glad to meet the only really big vehicle a tanker just as we were nearing a passing place and he slowed only a little pulling into the passing place as we passed. We were quite glad to reach the end and pulled into the picnic and viewpoint just after the tunnel entrance. There was a good view looking across Eyjafjörður to the mountains of Látraströnd. The run down the 82 to Dalvík was quite easy with lovely views across to the island of Hrisey. Just outside Dalvík by the side of the 82 we came across a monument to the legendary outlaw Eyvindur Jónnson. The campsite at Dalvík was at the far side of the town, we were just in time to get some provisions at the supermarket on the way through. The German couple were already at the campsite and were just off to use the showers, a luxury we were all looking forward to!

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map link13.08.09 - Dalvík to Akureyri

We woke to another overcast morning. It looked like it might rain at any time so hurried with our breakfast so we could pack and the tent down dry and luckily for us it just started to rain as we were packing up the tent fly sheet. Unfortunately this meant we were in full waterproofs to start off which was OK until we started to climb and even with Gore-tex we were getting a bit warm. Fortunately the rain eased off and so did the gradient as we headed past Krossar. The 82 passes through many hay meadows with some good views across the fjord. There was a final last climb to get up and join route 1 but from there it was an easy run down to Akureyri. We decided that we had better try and find a bike shop and buy a spare inner tube as we had used our spare in Frank's rear wheel. There was a large retail complex just as we came into the town on the left where there was a sports shop. They sold a few bikes but even fewer spares. I asked the assistant where else I could try and she gave us directions to the only proper bike shop in town. Fortunately they did have a suitable sized inner tube. I did have a look to see if he might have a Schwalbe Marathon XR or similar to replace Frank's rear tyre but he didn't. As he said Icelandic people aren't into touring and can't quite get to grips with why so many people come to Iceland to ride their bikes. To them if you want to get around there are these things called cars that have engines! From there we headed into town. As it was mid afternoon and we still hadn't had any lunch we found a nice cafe for something to eat before heading to the bus station to buy our tickets for the bus to the start of our journey to Askja in the morning. Fortunately the weather had improved by then so when we got to the campsite we could pitch the tent in the dry. The campsite unfortunately doesn't have showers but you can get a nice shower at the swimming pool which has the usual Icelandic hot pools.

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map link14.08.08 - Akureyri to Herðubreiðarlindir

We were up early to catch the 8.30 bus and down in good time to get the bikes loaded on the bus. We arranged with the driver to drop us off at the junction of the F88. The bus was on time and dropped us of at just after 10.20. Initially as we set off it was a little overcast and with a chilly wind, so we donned fleeces and waterproofs to keep old the cold wind. To the left of us was a large outcrop that had a profile that looked like a sleeping Icelandic Pharaoh. It was quite open and barren as we crossed the Grojót ash fields but there was a little greenery from the large grasses as we headed around the Ferjuas outcrop where there were some large lava outcrops. The road surface was generally not too bad but we had the usual washboard surface, which made it a little uncomfortable on the derriere. Fortunately after a stop for a brew and a bite to eat the weather started to improve as we twisted and turned our way south along the F88. As we were cycling along near Beinaalda 2 Jeep’s came towards us. The front jeep slowed down and the driver was waving something at us in his hand. As I got close to him we both stopped. “For you” and handed over two Lion bars. Well thank you I said that is very kind of you. The Jeep owner was from German and related to us the story of last year when he met a German cycletourer who was trying to cross the Sprengisandur on just 1000 calories a day, apparently he looked dreadful with a very gaunt look. He gave him all the food he had which unfortunately didn’t amount to much and vowed he would always carry a stock of chocolate bars and give them out to all the cycletourer's he met in the future. It was a nice gesture and we thanked him and his daughter who was in the other Jeep and wished them a great holiday.

Just after Ystafell we eventually got a view of the massive Jokulsá á Fjöllum river with the Möðrudalsfjall mountains as a backdrop. A few kilometres on we came across a lone tourer who turned out to be a Dutchman he had spent the last week crosing the interior. I asked him if he had met a German bearing gifts? Oh yes he said he had frightened him as he had not heard him with the wind and had hooted at him, but let him off when he gave him a Lion bar. A few kilometres on we came to our first ford at the Grafarlandaá river. It was a fairly deep and fast flowing river and fortunately someone had placed a marker board showing that the best and shallowest route was a curved route on the down stream side. We decided that it was too deep to push the bikes across so we both ferried the panniers across and I carried the bikes across on my shoulder.

The weather had pulled in a bit and clouded over but there were still the odd bright spells as we crossed the Grafarlönd austari with the Brárjökull glacier in the far distance and Herðubreið 1682m our constant companion at last getting closer. I must admit we were both getting tired by this time and it didn't help when we came to the rather rough road section of the Ódáðahraun lava field. It seemed to go up and down and the surface was basically crap with large rocks and loose gravel it also started to rain a bit. We were quite grateful to get to the Lindaás river ford as we could see that the road surface was flat and a much better on the other side. The Lindaás ford was very similar to the Grafarlandaá ford and we crossed it in a similar style but the water was quite cold and with only our Teva sandals on we were both glad to get our socks and boots back on. After a couple of km’s we could at last see the campsite beneath Herðubreið and noticed that there was another ford to cross. Being a bit tired and having only just got our feet warm we didn't really relish taking them off again and going through the hassle of ferrying the panniers and the bikes across. I had seen a sign a few hundred yards back that pointed to the place for 'Camping groups'. I wondered if there might be a better way across. It was a good hunch as there was a narrow footbridge that we could push the bikes over. There were several tents at the campsite but we found the last flat grassy spot for our tent. We were quite grateful to get ourselves there and were soon fed and bedded down. Boy were we were tired but nicely tired, it was a good days cycling!

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15.08.09 - Herðubreiðarlindir

Due to our late arrival and long hard cycle yesterday. Frank was mightily relieved when I felt the same as she did about moving on to Askja that day. We just lay there in the tent feeling shattered, apart from making a cup of tea and having a bowl of 'gull droppings'. We dosed in our pits before the Askja tour buses arriving at about 10.15am which rudely awoke us. The first one was obviously the Italian tour bus, as they seem to explode off the bus in an effervescent fusillade of noise and gesticulation. Sat in the tent it was like being caught in the crossfire of a talking firefight, which only seemed to lessen with their departure. Don't get me wrong I love the Italian people but boy couldn't they beat the pants of any other country in a world-talking contest! Things did eventually quiet down after the tour buses left and we took advantage of the showers that we weren't expecting. In the afternoon the park rangers were putting on pancakes and coffee to mark the 35th birthday of the national park. So we had a great afternoon sitting in the hut eating yummy freshly cooked pancakes and homemade jam. A German party struck up a conversation with us about cycle touring in Iceland and wanted to know how we crossed the fords. They also said how sorry they felt for some of the cyclists they had passed and I pointed out that we had in fact chosen to come on our bikes and that we hadn't been made to do it as an act of penance for past wrongs. They thought this was really funny and joked about cycletouring being like a stairway to heaven where you made up for past sins. One of the group then mentioned that he had seen some people walking into Askja and I quipped that they must have done something really wrong to have to walk in to repent for their sins. They were also concerned that we were feeding ourselves well and eating enough. This seemed like shades of the German Jeep driver we had met the day before. Frank told them that we had both lost a stone each on our trip last year. This caused a bit of confusion and mirth as they couldn't quite understand why we were carrying stones until we explained it was an English measure for weight. Then there was the maths at trying to convert into kilo's for them, maths not exactly being Frank's strong point!

We also got talking to a solo Spanish tourer who arrived in time for the pancakes. He had left his tent some where near route 1 and ridden in from there and had hoped to ride up to Dreki and back that day. Even un-laden I think he had under estimated how tough the cycling is on the gravel roads and just how long it would take. He was just loving the vast open vistas that Iceland had to offer and as he pointed out you don’t need a camera with a zoom just a wide-angle lens! After our chat he headed off and we decided to have a wall around the marked trails behind the hut. Part the way around we came a cross the shelter that the outlaw Fjaila-Eyvindur's stayed in for the winter of 1774-75. He had no fire and lived off raw horsemeat and Angelica roots. It hardly looked big enough but he must have been a tough cookie to survive an Icelandic winter in those conditions.

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map link16.08.09 - Herðubreiðarlindir to Dreki

Fortunately the weather looked good for the next part up to Dreki as we set off along the road through the lava field, the surface was rough but ride able. About a couple of km's out from the campsite we came close to the Jökulsa á Fjöllum river and you could hear a waterfall and as we got closer you could see the spray. There was a small car parking area so we parked the bikes and had a wander. It was like a mini Dettifoss with glacial water running over similar coloured rocks into a canyon. After exploring it for bit we found another car park a bit further on.  All became apparent when we got back to the bikes.  As we were walking I noticed that one of the screws on the cleat plate on my right boot must have been loose as I heard it clicking as I walked over the rocks, so we sat down on some rocks and sorted them. Whilst we were doing this two Askja tour buses turned up, these obviously were not an Italian tour group as they hardly made a sound as they got off and dutifully followed the tour guide as she led them off like some pied piper. The buses then drove off obliviously to the other car park to pick them up again. As we sat watching them walking away I noticed one guy taking a photo of us and then give us the thumbs up, he must have been a Brit so I gave him a wave back. Fortunately the lava field didn't last too long and as we headed south towards the wonderfully named peak Upptyppingar 1084m the road surface improved and as we headed west towards the long thin mountain of Herðubreiðartögl 1070m the surrounding area was covered in white cinder ash which binds well and makes a good smooth road surface to ride on. The views across the Vikursandur to the Vatnajökull were absolutely stunning.

As we got to the foot of Herðubreiðartögl I reckoned that it was about halfway to Dreki and lunch was in order. Fortunately there was a large rock just off the road and Frank was soon sat on top of it making tortilla and cheese spread roll ups while I brewed some tea. Suitably refreshed we set off again started to hit a sandy section where there was a little looseness to the surface, which caused us to skid about a bit and loose traction. As we came up to junction of the F910 and I wondered if it would continues like this on the last 6km through the lava field to Dreki or would it be a similar rough surface to the one coming into Herðubreiðarlindir. Fortunately this part of the Ódáðahraun lava field is covered in the white volcanic cinder ash and so road surface was actually quite good. There are a couple of small fords as you approach the campsite but these were shallow and can be ridden over at the side.

Went we got to Dreki we went straight to the warden’s hut to book in as there were some black clouds looming over Dyngjufjöll and thought we had better get the tent up quickly. On entering the hut who should be there but the lassie ranger who had been at Herðubreiðarlindir yesterday. "So what time are you serving the pancakes?" I asked "Oh hello, unfortunately not today" "what a shame we enjoyed them yesterday ". She then tried to teach us how to pronounce 'Herðubreiðarlindir' which caused at lot of merriment. There is virtually no vegetation at Dreki and the surface was volcanic ash cinder. We had to kick the large bits and small chucky stones away to get a reasonable surface to put the tent on. The volcanic cinders are fortunately not that sharp although we were glad we had a groundsheet protector. We were also grateful that it wasn't very windy as the surface is so friable it just didn't’t hold the pegs in very well. Whilst we were cooking our evening meal a snow bunting came quit close.

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map link17.08.09 - Dreki to Herðubreiðarlindir

We woke early to a lovely bright morning and decided to get going up to Víti as quickly as we could to avoid being there when the tour buses arrived. We left the tent at the campsite and went up un-laden. There were a couple of small fords to cross as we headed up the F894 at the second one we were caught up by the Dutch couple on their motor bikes and the Dutch man very helpfully showed us the shallowest way through. They sped off as we steadily cycled up through the Öskjuop lava field. The road surface wasn't’t too bad as we twisted our way through pitch black twisted and contorted lava on either side. Although the gradient wasn't’t too bad we were glad we had got the panniers with us. We arrived at the parking area at the end of the road, left the bikes and headed along the 1.5km trail towards Víti. The Askja crater is quite extensive and fortunately for us the weather was good and we got some wonderful views. The Öskjuvatn was beautiful as there was hardly any wind and the snowy mountains around made for some lovely reflections in the blue waters. We quickly circumnavigated the rim of the Víti crater before descending the rather slippery and steep gully to get down to the bottom. There were only 5 people there, the Dutch couple and 3 French girls who were bravely skinny-dipping! The French girls got out just before we arrived so there was only us and the Dutch couple for a long while. According to my watch the water temperature was about 29ºC, it wasn't as hot as swimming in the Blue Lagoon but it was very pleasant and there were places where you couldn't’t stand on the bottom mud for too long, as it was just too hot. The water was an amazing milky turquoise colour and there was the usual sulphurous smell! After about an hour of swimming about more people arrived and we decided to get out as we needed to get going. Climbing the gully was a little easier than descending. As we headed back along the trail to the car park Frank spotted a snow patch that she thought looked like a chicken, she does this with clouds as well! The crater floor has some wonderful coloured rocks, from black and browns to some vivid rusty reds. Half way along the trail we met the tour bus parties, the guys at the front were almost running to be the first to get to Víti!

The cycle down the F894 through the Öskjuop lava field was lovely with the Brúarjökull glacier in the distance with some lovely sunshine on it.  When we got to Dreki it clouded over and started to rain and at first we thought we might have to delay our trip out. However the rain soon stopped and the grey clouds had passed over so we decide to head out. As we left Dreki there was a lovely rainbow in front of Herðubreið 1682m. Our ride down the first part of the F910 was great as it is a nice gentle descent and the road surface is quite good so we could keep up a good speed. However our plan had been to take the F910 and then the F905 through to Möðrudalur. However after turning at the junction of the F88 after a few hundred meters the surface was quite sandy which made it difficult to ride, after pushing our bikes for about a kilometre it didn't’t seem to be getting any better. We had heard that this part of the road was pretty bad for sand so we decide we didn't’t wish to push our bikes all the way to Möðrudalur and turned around and headed down the F88 back to Herðubreiðarlindir. At least we knew that the surface of the road was OK. It had been a long but enjoyable day and we were both glad to see the campsite!

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map link18.08.09 Herðubreiðarlindir to Grimstunga

It was a bright morning as we packed up the tent. There was cloud just covering the top Herðubreið but the weather didn't look too bad for our ride to Grimstunga. Although we had to go back the same route as we had come in at least we knew what to expect and you do get a different perspective going in the opposite direction. One thing we did know was that it would be a gradual downhill run apart from the small ups and downs in the Ódáðahraun lava field. When we got to the Lindaás river ford and were sat taking our boots off a 4X4 came carefully through from the opposite side it stopped to chat us and it turned out to be an English couple. They were going up to Víti and were grateful in the knowledge that apart from the ford at Herðubreiðarlindir that there were no more after that. They wished us a good trip  and we started ferrying our panniers across. I was on my way back with my bike on my shoulder and was half way across when two 4X4’s appeared at the opposite bank and the idiot in the first one revved her engine and started down the sloop to go across. I put my hand up to indicate to her to stop and fortunately she did. If she had crossed while I was carrying my bike across I would have got soaked from her bow wave. I gave her one of my best teacher stares, judging by her facial expression she got the message! She didn't have a clue and went straight across instead of taking the circular shallow route downstream. Just after she when through another 4X4 turned up and with out hesitation plough straight through he only just made it and nearly stalled as he hit the deep part. What do they say about checking for the best route first before proceeding, there was even a sign but they didn't stop to read it!

The road across the Ódáðahraun lava field didn't seem so bad as it had been on the way in, well the last time it was at the end of the day when we were tired. We got some lovely views of the Jökulsa á Fjöllum River as we headed across the Grafarlönd austari. It didn't seem to take us long to get to Grafarlandaá River although the weather was starting to pull in a bit and the wind was quite keen. It was about lunchtime, so I suggested to Frank that we seek some shelter this side of the river opposite the falls to have some lunch so we didn’t have to have lunch with cold feet. She agreed and while we were brewing a Gray lag goose came wandering over the top of the falls and with a bit of stalking I managed a reasonable close-up photo. Although it did mean my cup of tea was a bit cold by the time I got back!

Fortunately there were no idiot 4X4 drivers to content with as we ferried out panniers and bike across this ford and we very quickly changed back into our socks and boots to get cycling again as the water seemed much colder than the Lindaás river ford although that might have been down to the cold wind that had whipped up. We certainly had our fleeces and waterproofs and hats on by then but in typical Brit fashion still had just our cycling shorts on! Although that section is fairly barren we got some good views of the Jökulsa á Fjöllum River with the Mö∂rudalsfjall Mountains as a backdrop. We passed familiar landmarks such as the Ferjuas outcrop as we headed north and we were soon crossing the Grojót ash fields again. We were grateful to reach the junction of the route 1 but just hadn't realised just how strong the wind had become until we turned into it to head for Grimstunga. We were down to a crawl and were glad to turn north down to the bridge over the Jökulsa á Fjöllum River. At the bridge we stopped to find a cache and were soon heading up the F864 to Grimstunga. When we got to the campsite we found it was a very sparse and windswept cold-water site. I could see that the weather was pulling in and that we were in for some rain and high winds. Being a bit cold I mentioned to Frank that there was a bunkhouse just as we had come into the campsite and did she fancy a bit more comfort for one night? She didn't’t seemed to object and we headed around to it and were just reading the notice at the entrance when a guy who had been sitting in a car came over and asked us if we were wanting to stay in the bunkhouse because it was full but if we wanted accommodation then his wife might have a room at his house. 'I will ring and ask her' and got on his mobile. 'Yes she had would you like an evening meal as well?', 'How much will it be?' I asked. It sounded reasonable and as we had only the remnants of a dehydrated meal to eat it sounded very tempting. 'Yes we will take it'. 'Go up the the road to a gray bungalow and ask for Siggy'. It was only after we set off that Frank said I wonder if she takes credit cards as we don’t quite have that much cash. When we got to the bungalow Siggy was waiting at the door. I asked her if she took credit cards, as we didn't’t quite have the cash. 'No problem' she said 'where are you going next? I said Akureyri,  'no problem she said I will give you my bank details and you can pay the money into my account at a bank in Akureyri.

Well it was a lovely room and we had a wonderful lamb stew soup and fresh bread for our evening meal, which we shared with the other guests who were staying. A father and his daughter who spoke little and a Italian couple, the wife of whom was an English teacher and was happy to speak to us to practice her English.

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