Sunday 8 July 2012

Snæfellsnes at a not-so snail's pace

It was a gloomy day of rain as we set out north from Reykjavik to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Low clouds draped across everything and annoyingly obscured what I imagined to be spectacular hills (or possibly even volcanoes!), lifting their skirts only occasionally to reveal tantalising volcanic scree and rugged rocky formations.

Mt Búðaklettur - Snæfellsnesvegur
I had finished my whinge and was snoozing in the passenger seat (having given the day up as a non-eventful "travel" day) when a flash of whitewater caught Ben's eye. Ah yes! Rainy days make waterfall days, and this was a lovely rush of it not far from the highway. We nodded to the lone local fisherman in his waders as we wandered around the quiet banks of the clear stream.

Random waterfall, I was told off by some locals that were not happy with me there, was quite odd - Snæfellsnesvegur
Ben did his usual rock-hopping thing and was on top of the waterfall in a matter of minutes. Straddling two of the rocks on the righthand side of the falls to line up a shot, he was suddenly interrupted by a couple of not-so-friendly local men in an SUV. I thought, Icelandic hillbillies perhaps? as they gestured wildly and yelled at us to get ourselves away from their fishing stream and back to the highway from whence we came.

We took a break on the southern shores of the Snæfellsnes, appreciating the wide sandy beaches under the slowly clearing sky.

Rivers in the Sand - Snæfellsnesvegur
Strolling back to the car, Ben managed to startle a large flock of arctic terns, who took to flight over our heads and promptly dropped three fresh sloppy ones on me, much to my chagrin. Driving home the extent of my luck later that day, he then inadvertently walked through a field of nesting arctic terns on the way to shoot another waterfall. The birds instantly went into defence mode, screaming and swooping at him from all directions, diving and dropping their faecal bombs with frightening force and deliberateness. Somehow Ben managed to escape both poop-free and with this awesome shot of an arctic tern in military action.

Dive Bombers - Arctic Tern, Snæfellsnesvegur
We overnighted in Grundarfjörður, a sleepy fishing village overlooked by the impressive layered lines of Kirkjufell jutting out into the bay.

Waterfalls at Kirkjufell - Grundarfjörður
The spectacularly beautiful blue of Iceland's water wasn't lost on Ben, who endured the ridiculous 3am wake-up for a sunrise shoot just outside the village.

The flow - Grundarfjörður
Soft waterfalls - Kirkjufell, Grundarfjörður
The road to Stykkishólmur continued through Helgafellssveit where the landscape began to really show some drama.

View from Kothraunskúla - Helgafellssveit, Snæfellsnes
These awesome looking volcanoes had that "I've just popped out of the earth recently" look; two angry pimples whose eruption had perhaps rendered the immediate vicinity the barren Mars-like field of brown dust and red rocks that it was. We couldn't resist climbing the crumbling track up the side of one of them, Kothraunskúla, to get a breathtaking view of Berserkjahraun across the road and beyond.

View of Berserkjahraun from Kothraunskúla - Helgafellssveit, Snæfellsnes
A short stop in Stykkishólmur revealed a pleasant little seaside town featuring a fascinating basalt island called Súgandisey. These sure were some funky Icelandic rocks.

Ben taking photos of a Basalt column sea stack - Stykkishólmur
Basalt column sea stack - Stykkishólmur
So excited about the rest of this island.

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