No, the title is not a spelling mistake. I woke up today to a grey sky and a light drizzle. The plan was fairly simple – drive from Isafjordur in the north of the Westfjords to Paktreksfjordur in the south. Setting out, I noticed people playing golf in the rain. I remembered what I had been told in Reykjavik – “Icelanders never change their plans because of the weather”. I had a feeling that this saying would apply to my day today.
The road led through a long tunnel through the mountain of the Isafjord peninsula. At the other end of the tunnel, the drizzle had turned into steady rain, but the magnificent scenery still impressed me.
My next destination was very much off the beaten track – the tiny botanical garden of Skrudur. I found it after a short drive up a lonely road, and was not surprised that I was the only visitor. Skrudur will never make it onto a list of “top ten things to do in Iceland”, but I was curious what a botanical garden in this utterly remote location near the Arctic circle might be like. As expected, it was small, nestling discretely in a valley under huge mountains. To my surprise the gardeners has succeeded in growing trees – in the rest of the Westfjords there is only grass and bushes – and some wild strawberries that were nearly ripe. There was a sundial (I suppose some days this might be useful) and an interesting archway been made from the jaw bones of a blue whale. The place had a quiet charm and felt like a Garden of Eden in the middle of a barren, wild wilderness.
My next stop was the Pingeyri peninsula. Its south coast is closed to cars and can only be discovered by foot or by bike – neither of which appealed to me, so I contented myself with a short drive up the north coast. I discovered a small café owned by Danes which served excellent coffee and cookies.
The road continued, turning into an unsurfaced bumpy track. My next stop was Dynjandi – possibly the most impressive waterfall I had seen so far in Iceland (after ten days here, a waterfall has to be VERY special to impress me). There are a series of small waterfalls, each with a different name, along a path the mountain leading to the final, huge, fan-shaped Dynjandi falls. I was lucky that the rain eased off during my visit, and I had lunch admiring the torrent of water pouring down the mountain.
From Dynjandi, the road got even worse, and the rain and clouds returned with a vengeance. Not knowing how deep each pothole was, I drove slowly, battling my way slowly towards the last big fjord of the Westfjords, Patreksfjordur. The scenery might have been pretty in the sun, but in the rain, I could only see a few tens of metres in front of me. After an hour of painful driving, I finally regained a paved road, and drove the rest of way without incident. The road looked like it might have been scenic….. had I been able to see anything. It was a relief to find my accommodation for the night.
Despite the rain and difficult driving, I was happy with my day. The garden and the café had an intimate feel, as if I was the only person to have discovered them. Dynjandi ranks as one of Iceland’s top sights and was worth the effort to get there. One or two washed out days on an active holiday are inevitable. Still, I was hoping that the next day’s weather would be a bit better – there is only so much rain a bear can take – and anxiously checked the forecast before going to bed. Hmmmmm….”cloudy”…..that was also today’s forecast, and in Iceland it usually turns out to mean “rainy”.