Flash
The Gorge - Flash Bristow's Website
Saturday 28 October
Vik - Arnes - Selfoss - Hveragerdi - Kerid - Aurorae
Us at Kerid
Us at Kerid. [Photos below the journal. Take me straight to the photos!]

I woke at 5.22am to the sound of wind and rain lashing, although curiously I suspect I woke because I was too hot... I only slept on and off after that.

We left around 1030, to head to Hveragerdi for the last night in Iceland. At least it was near Selfoss, so we knew we would eat well again! We stocked up with hot water in our flasks (they don't supply kettles in Iceland, remember) and set off. It was only a short drive, so we decided to liven it up with a detour. We left the route 1 around 30km from Selfoss, heading inland along route 264, before crossing a river, then returning on the other side of the water.

Driving was fun, unmarked gravel tracks with nobody in sight. I had a spell at the wheel myself, something I hadn't done since Wednesday. As we progressed, slowly the blanket of grey sky lifted and brightness slid in from the bottom. I began to think maybe it would clear up and we would see Northern Lights on our last evening after all, just maybe!

Our three hour detour was pretty, we followed signs for "place of interest" to find stopping points for views and photos. We also found that where we crossed the river, there was a dam and an HEP station, surrounded by lots of pylons!

We stopped in Arnes at 2.40pm for lunch and not only was the petrol station open, but it sold a very tasty egg salad sandwich on brown bread, just the sort of thing that a Flash likes best! Mike had a shrimp sarnie, apparently their most popular sale. By this time the sun was out, it was warming up and the views were spectacular. In fact, road signs said it was 7C, not bad for late October in a country where the annual average is 5C. It felt even warmer in the sun.

We went back through Selfoss and on to Hveragerdi, where we looked at a Christmas decoration shop and their famous greenhouses (apparently they even grow bananas). You could see the steam rising in the distance from another geothermal site, where you could fry eggs on the rocks - but the visitor centre was closed for the winter, so we couldn't stop there.

Finally to our last stop, the Hotel Eldhestar, which means "Volcano / Horses". It was a fantastic place to stay - a large horse riding centre where every room is named after a horse, complete with their story by the door and a photo over the desk. There were even horseshoes holding the curtains open! We stayed in Faxi, named after their safest horse - and I was amused to find that this was the accessible room with rails in the bathroom! Very safe indeed!

We were also happy to find that there was free broadband, and they gave out cat5 cables at the desk. Spaceweather.com told us that we were hitting a solar wind stream that night, and the skies were clearing... I began to get quite excited!

It was still quite early, around 4pm, so the receptionist recommended a trip to Kerid, a local volcano crater only 3000 years old, so very well defined relative to the rest of the landscape. We drove there as the sun set, and everything was beautiful yet again, and yet differently to every other view we'd seen. So instead of a depressing last day, it had been one of the best we'd had.

We packed (to save time in the morning) and then went into Selfoss, and saw a Thai restaurant and a few bars, but we decided to stick to something that had worked before, and had another Subway sarnie.

On the way back, at only ten to eight, I could see light bands starting to dance in the sky... We spent ages watching and photographing, I was very pleased I'd brought my camera manual on my laptop because it meant I could google on the best settings for photographing aurorae and then work out how to make my camera comply! Unfortunately we did not have a tripod, and in addition I had an up to 15 second exposure but I had to keep the button pressed throughout, which increased the potential for wobble! Still, we got a few acceptable photos to remind us of how it was. The bands danced, moved, reformed... at one point I looked straight up and saw them radiating out in all directions... it was a fantastic end to the holiday.

The clouds came out at half eleven, and we retired to bed with the last bottle of wine.

I wrote in my notebook "I love Iceland!"

The full set of today's photos are here.

The detour from Vik to Hveragerdi

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We headed towards Skogafoss but the road only led to a farm. The sheep ran to the road and then hurried in front of us, so we ran away, not meaning to herd them!

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The remaining sheep shelter, sensibly.

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The rain was beginning to close in again. I was actually photographing flocks of birds flying over the hillside.

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The end of tarmac, as gravel roads recommenced...

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An attractive cluster of hills surrounding us.

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Think you've seen waterfalls? They are EVERYWHERE in Iceland, and think nothing of a 60 metre drop from the cliffs.

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In the middle of nowhere we found this sign for Heklubyggd, which seemed to be plans for a new town - some plots appeared to be marked as sold on the map.

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A traditionally insulated turf hut.

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This road looks very boring, but I was driving along it so it was exciting for me!

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The HEP station where we crossed the river.

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They had coated the rock in something like concrete, presumably to prevent slippage.

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Looking down the river to the dam and HEP station.

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At last the sun was breaking through, and the blanket of cloud, while still covering the top of this hill, was lifting.

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Yet more attractive scenery to which a camera cannot do justice. As we stopped at another "place of interest" and looked across the water to the hillsides opposite, we were glad we'd taken a detour.

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This rock took my interest, by a sign for Midhus.

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A little fluffy cloud, sitting over a glacier.

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Approaching a pictureque village on the outskirts of Hveragerdi.

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Yet another church!

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The greenhouses of Hveragerdi.

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Steam, seen nearby. Anyone got any eggs?

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An abandoned greenhouse. It seems that, when Icelandic people are done with buildings, they just leave them to disintegrate.
On the way to Kerid volcano crater

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A mountain, beautifully lit up as the sun sets.

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A coloured hut across the valley.

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Another "special interest" site gave us this panoramic view, with the clouds reflected in the water, such a beautiful place.

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View of Kerid's crater.

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An information board near the crater.

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As we returned, a gorgeous sunset.
Aurorae

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Looking north over the stables.

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And again - more northern lights.

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Ditto.

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My favourite shot.

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Final shot over the stables as the aurorae danced.

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Green light around the plough. This picture more realistically shows the level of light we saw; the photos are all taken with long exposures but the aurorae looked like this.

Continue to Sunday...




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