East-Húnavatnssýsla

Vatnsdalshólar

Large and peculiar cluster of hills stretching right across the mouth of Vatnsdalur valley. They are thought to have been formed by a catastrophic landslide from Mt. Víðidalsfjall. The three hillocks called Þristapar on the northern side of the main road were the site of Iceland's last public execu-tion, on January 12, 1830. The block and axe used are preserved at the National Museum in Reykjavík, and the spot is marked with a memorial. Marked hiking trails.

Þingeyrar

Church site, for a long time considered one of the best estates in Iceland. The present church, built in 1864-1877, was made from stone transported during winter from Nesbjörg on the other side of Hop lagoon. Iceland’s first monastery was founded at Þingeyrar and remained a major cultural and educa-tional centre until the Reformation in 1550. Many Sagas are thought to have been written there. Facilities and exhibitions are in the new service building near the church. Guided tours of Þingeyrarkirkja church are available.

Stóra Giljá

Farm by the bank of a river of the same name. It was here that the first Christian missionary in Iceland was brought up: Þorvaldur the Widely-Travelled. Just by the Ring Road north of the meadow is a rock called Gullsteinn (Gold-Stone). Þorvaldur's father, Koðrán, refused to be baptised, not wanting to enrage a guardian spirit that he thought lived in the rock. Þorvaldur's fellow missionary is said to have sung hymns until the rock shattered, whereupon his father agreed to be baptised. They began their mission in 981 and Christianity was officially adopted in the year 1000. A memorial was set up beside Gullsteinn in 1981.

Hof in Vatnsdalur

Hof is a town in the eastern part of Vatnsdalur valley. Ingimundur Þorsteinsson the Old claimed this land, which leads from Helgavatn lake to Urðarvatn, in the year 900. Ingimundur joined Haraldur Fairhair in Hafursfjörður, and gained his friendship. It then occurred that, in the middle of a winter sacrifice festival, a seer made a prophecy to Ingimundur that he would live in a land called Iceland, become a man of honour and have a great clan in that country. Ingimundur was a chieftain of the Vatnsdæla family while he lived. In the pasture outside Hof is a small hillock, Goðhóll, which is said to be the location of Ingimundur's place of pagan worship. A beautiful tree grove has been growing there since 1927 and includes the Icelandic poplar tree.

Hveravellir

Geothermal area north of Kjalhraun, one of Iceland’s largest geothermal areas with numerous hot springs. Hveravellir are located in a hollow between the lava field and Breiðamelur at 650 m. The hot spring Öskurhólshver is situated there. It once made such a loud noise that it could be heard for over a quarter of a mile, according to the travel log of Eggert and Bjarni (around 1760). These springs behave in different ways. Öskurhólshver spouts steam, Bræðrahverir and Eyvindarhver spout little jets of water, and Bláhver and Grænihver are filled with still water. There are numerous deposits from the hot springs and water flows over the edge of them. Eyvindarhver is named after famous outlaw Fjalla-Eyvindur who lived here for a while with his wife Halla. There are existing tales of other outlaws seeking shelter there. A ruin known as Eyvindarkofi (Eyvindur's hut) is in a lava crevasse near Eyvindarhver. Around 1 km south of the Ferðafélag mountain hut are stacked rocks known as Eyvindarrétt. The Icelandic Meteorological Office raised a meteorological station on the gravel bed north of Hveravellir in the summer of 1965. People have lived there until 2004, making daily meteorological notifications when automatic equipment was installed.

Spákonufell

At 646 metres high, it is one of the most noteworthy and magnificent mountains in these parts. It is named after a seeress called Þórdís who lived on a farm at the base of the mountain in the 10th century. She’s the first person to have lived in Skagaströnd. From the top of the mountain you can see far in all directions. A walking path up to the mountain is marked out from the Brandaskarð farm.

Kálfshamarsvík

Small bay on the northwest shore of Skagafjörður, and just outside are beautiful columnar basalt formations. Kálfshamarsvík was a fishing centre at the turn of the century, but was hit by the great depression and abandoned by 1940.

 Hiking trail: Geitaskarð, Langidalur - Laxárdalur

An ancient trail taking 3 hours to walk lies from Geitaskarð in Langadalur into Laxárdalur, which was also part of the route to Skagafjörður. The trail has been marked properly and a horse track can still clearly be seen. The most difficult part is up the Skarðsbrekkur slopes where the trail starts. There is a watershed at the westernmost point of the pass, with two lakes and sizeable sedge marshes. East of these are some ruins of an old sheep cote (Sel), where Brunnardalur cirque opens to the south/southeast. The terrain is rather difficult and should be avoided; instead, the best route is to head east and follow the horse track to Laxá river in Laxárdalur. The same route is taken on the way back, although the hike can be extended by going south along the western bank of Laxá to Strjúgsskarð pass, which was also once a much-travel-led place for crossing into Laxárdalur.






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