Iceland
Moglet in

© Copyright Moglet 2011

2-5th October

After a total of three nights at the seal bay, the wind had dropped enough for us to be comfortable moving on.  It was still gusty at times, but nothing like what it had been before - we could at least stand up without getting blown over.  As luck would have it, the owners of the campsite showed up in the morning too, rounding up their sheep for the winter, so we could pay them directly for the camping rather than trust to an honesty box, which was good.
Debts settled, we carried on along the coast road, getting shoved around from time to time by gusts but the wind was generally dropping.  Unfortunately the mist and low cloud seemed determined to hang around so there wasn’t much by the way of views to be had.  We found ourselves a layby to call home for the night and called it quits pretty early.  The weather reviews for the next few days were a little bit dodgy - potentially heavy snowfall and cold weather for a week or so, and we were fast approaching a crossroads where we’d have to decide whether to commit to driving into the West Fjords, or turn around and head south to avoid the weather and bypass the whole area until another trip.  Rather than drive blindly on, we decided to stop a little earlier than usual and give the weather a chance to move in overnight, so we could see what was going to happen for the next few days.
Next morning the weather was much the same, and forecasts had mellowed out a little, looking more and more like maybe things might get a bit more chilly, but nothing too much to worry about.  After a bit of discussion we decided to carry on to Holmavik, the next small town on the coast, and stop there for a night. That would really be the last chance we had to turn around before committing to the West Fjords, and they also had fuel and a supermarket so made sense to go there anyway, even if we did eventually do a u-turn.

I called ahead to the campsite there and asked if it was open - closed for the winter.  But the camp warden was a really nice chap and said it’d be no trouble to
turn the power on for us.  Arriving at the site next to the swimming pool, I had a chat with the man I spoke to on the phone and not only had he turned the power on but also opened up the room with the washing machine and dryer in it - perfect!  The campsite was set up with areas for parking and camping separated by raised banks to provide some shelter from the winds, so we settled ourselves as close to a bank and possible and put a load of washing into the machine.  And then another load.  And another...  Where does all this washing come from??

We ended up staying in Holmavik for a few days - the combined lure of electric hookup, a washing machine, supermarket and swimming pool with hot tub proving too much to resist!  Plus the weather did it's best to convince us to sit tight - the expected cold front arrived and, although Holmavik itself was quite well protected by the natural harbour it sits in, many of the surrounding roads didn’t fare so well, with snowfall and icy patches causing varying degrees of problems from slippery patches to snow ploughs being required, and in one case a road being declared completely impassable - and that takes some going in a country like Iceland where most people seem to drive superjeep-type vehicles with oversized tyres and jacked up suspensions.

Jason went for a wander at one point and took some photos of the quite bizarre things people decorate their gardens with in Iceland.  The miniature house in one of the images below is designed as a lure for the ‘hidden folk’ that many of the Icelandic folk believe in (as per the Asbyrgi pages, with it being their capital city etc).  Belief in the hidden folk runs so deep that it's not uncommon for roads to be narrowed or diverted altogether where the proposed path runs though something that locals believe is the home of hidden folk - a stand of rocks perhaps, or a stream.  New build projects are also often subject to approval by hidden folk experts confirming that no hidden folk homes will be disturbed by the new property.  Hmmmm.......
At the recommendation of the man running the swimming pool, we decided to have a dip in the hot tub one evening. We’d also thought about maybe using the outdoor pool too as it's heated, but they have a chart to refer to when it's cold outside and the wind is blowing, so they can easily tell what the ‘feels like’ temperature would be, once the wind chill was taken into account - turns out that the evening we’d planned on a dip, the relative temperature was around -14degrees, so the pool was unsurprisingly off limits.  The hot tub was still open though - once we’d worked up the courage to leave the towels in the changing rooms and dash 50 yards across the freezing cold wet concrete floor in our swimmers and bare feet to reach it! We’d not been in it long before six or seven local chaps turned up - seems like they meet there pretty much every evening for a gossip and catch up (although I’m sure they wouldn’t call it ‘gossip’!). They were all very friendly and welcoming, and were particularly impressed by Jason when he followed one local mans example and took a ten second dip in the icy cold water of the plunge pool next to the hot tub - I was happy to leave that kind of thing to the men!

All in all I’d have to say that Holmavik is a teeny little town by UK standards, but has everything you need and very  
welcoming locals.  If you’re thinking of heading into the West Fjords you could do a lot worse than stop off here on the way.  And we only got charged 500Kr a night for camping and no charge at all for the hot tub, so that's bound to leave a good impression :-)