When I am heading north and I’m not in a hurry, I often take the Hvalfjörður road instead of the tunnel that goes under the mouth of the fjord. The tunnel is faster and cheaper, especially if you buy discount tickets or are a subscriber, but the route is very scenic and worth taking if the weather is good. It takes about 40 minutes longer to go around the fjord rather than under it, but there are compensations. For one thing, the road is fun to drive, especially the part that weaves and undulates like a roller-coaster. Also, the landscape is just fantastic. If you’re not in a hurry, you can birdwatch, or pick mussels, or take a walk (or a mountain hike). The area is also rich in history and of considerable interest to World War II enthusiasts.
There is also a Saga connected with the area, Harðar saga og Hólmverja (The Saga of Hörður and the Islet-dwellers), and a number of places around the fjord take their names from it, including Harðarhólmi (an islet that is correctly called Geirshólmi), Helgusund and Helguskarð. In my opinion, this Saga should be titled Helgu saga hugrökku (The Saga of Helga the Brave), because Hörður was not much of a hero (by modern standards) while Helga (his wife, by the way) was as brave and noble as they come and saved her two sons through a heroic swim followed by a hike over a steep mountain and then used considerable cleverness to get sanctuary for them. Maybe one day I’ll retell that part of the Saga here, but first I’d need to get good photos of the locations where the story took place.
This is a view from the south side:
And here is a panorama.
I made the panorama with the free online panorama-maker Dermandar (click to see full size):
This is not bad, considering the service is free, although the shoreline bulges somewhat in the middle.
As you can see, there was almost no wind that day, a rare occurrence in Iceland, a country that could very well have ended up being named Vindland (Windland).
Þyrill is a beautiful and striking mountain:
More from Hvalfjörður tomorrow.