Hope you guys are all well as it leaves us in Aberdeen Scotland. Yes we are with friends with a fantastic laptop not our usual camp spot we have 240v power lights bath we have arrived to a spot of civilization so here goes.
It was a fantastic journey through Norway with lots of great wild camping far from the maddening crowd. We opted not to do the Nordcap with most plastic campers heading there for the midnight sun…you can see this much further south and the cost to get to this rip off attraction was not on our agenda. So heading north we decided to go to Grense Jakohselv near the Norway/Russian boarder great place for fishing. Also heading past Varde and onto Humningberg a small uninhabited village where a J/Bond movie was to be made… most interesting geology. Heading down south after surviving the quite a cold spell hoping to catch some warmer weather as camping for 5 weeks in sub attic of latitudes 700 plus north we are frosted out. Our buggy is running fine but the brakes are slowly getting worse and I am on the last set of pads and now looking at the old units I kept for spares as they seem to have more pad left!!
Down to Bergen we trot Narvak, Alta, Tromso and Lofoten all great spots Trondheim is a smashing spot and recommended to all. The weather was kind to us and it really got warmer as we headed south but Iceland was not far off the and with a latitude of 660 North a big difference, from the 700 plus north we had endured of late. We arrived in Bergen just as we usual do driving around casually and I spotted a ferry sign, so we fronted up at the office only to be told the ferry leaves in 15 min’s and does not return for another week!!! So we booked straight away and managed to secure some bunk seats way down in the depths of this Norwegian North Sea ferry in fact so far down Neptune would be in the same bunk!!! It is one thing to work with the public and Elayne and I have had our fare share of that BUT sleeping with the Public is at another level!!?? Our biggest disappointment was we in our rush found we did not have any sleeping bags or bedding and to our amazement we could rent blankets!! Sorry not in a good mood after it took me 4hrs to try to get the crew to open a shower compartment and walking up and down 7flights of stairs in rough weather was my limit… it was not long after my conversation to the ships Purser I convinced him it was against International Maritime Safety to expect passengers to rent sea blankets he insisted he was correct and it was not the ships obligation to supply blankets, I asked him to put this into writing so we could verify this and we were soon upgraded to a cabin on the top deck. Things started to look brighter but Elayne was not taking the North Sea to well, the cabin was a real blessing. The other slight problem is the ferry is heading for Scotland first and then the Faro island with Seyðisfjörður next (Iceland) and then back to Faro and then to Bergen… so we had no choice if we want to see Iceland we have no choice but to return to Bergen and re book to Scotland. We did know this before we left but the North Sea is notorious for bad weather and when the seasick cartons were dispatched by the hundreds we knew things were not so bright on the horizon.
We arrive after 2 days from Bergen in Scotland around 6pm and we will be back here in 3 weeks time hopefully, and we were not looking forward to all these sea miles and our cabin upgrade was for one leg only and then back to the depths of the hull for us…. you can imagine what Elayne’s face looked like when I broke the news to her! To buy the food on the ship was in Danish Crowns, we only had Norwegian Crowns and just to have a cup of boiled water was Aud2.50 yikes! So we managed to hook up a small heating element and boiled our own with the help of a New Zealand couple we meet on board (R&R). We also managed to gain access to the car decks where we raided our own supplies and fended of the scurvy for just a few more hours, days, weeks…
After leaving Scrabster (Scotland) another night and day and the Faro island appear on our radar screen covered in fog looming out of now an eerily clam sea we watched other passengers leave and arrive in various types of 4wds all heading to Iceland and its reputations and to venture where most dare to investigate, its interior. The scenery was bleak, even the Vikings hated this place, and you knew it was not going to get better as we headed north. Seyðisfjörður was a small port on the south eastern part of Iceland, it took some time for us to clear customs as this is not a full EU member and recently a large drugs haul had been found on a Dutch camper 2 tonnes the owner pleaded personal use as this was just the average amount for a pot smoker in Holland! After driving off we filled up with cheaper Icelandic diesel and lots of food to keep us going as we looked to explore what could be some of the most dangerous river crossings yet, as we had been informed the winter was wet with lots of late snow which was now melting due to the warmer spell. We had made new friends on the ferry a very nice family with 2 great kids Lucas & Lara. Clements, Anna and their family were the owners of the strange Pinzgawer 4×4 and were from Austria and this was their first outing. Clements had previously cycled Iceland 10 years ago but now armed with his new toy still 30years plus old a new adventure with the family was to be had. I thought he had the right spirit and friendly attitude to travel together and he wanted to learn all he could about his new vehicle, so another friendship was in the making. We camped at the very impressive waterfall at Delfoss our first night in Iceland and it was decidedly chilly. We certainly had the 2 most strange cars when you finally see the pictures you will agree, we renamed the Pinzguawer the Ice Cream Cone as their tent was a white cone shape which they raised by winding a small crank handle. It was a lengthy procedure and fascinating to watch Anna winding the tent up. Iceland is a wonderful place and already we were falling for its incredible scenery a big volcano with lots of Glacier’s sitting on top it could not be more fascinating.
The off road adventures started and we soon enjoyed wild camping, but could not pass up the invitation of joining Clements and his family into the hot pool near Reykahlo we are still suffering the skin burns (hahahahha) as you venture into the hot zones of 40+ we have never been so clean while camping with all this hot spring water everywhere. It was not long before we were testing our driving skills through lava flows which spread km’s long with winding tracks and crossing which were not the sort for inflated rubber tyres……Lava is very sharp and cuts rubber like a hot knife through butter. It is hard for me driving a wedge shaped car in these conditions, open dunes for me, I thought what could the next problem be? Not long climbing through a pass near Langjokull Glacier we had joined up with a Swiss chap in a Disco with all the gear so all 3 set off for a difficult 120k track between the Langjokull, Hofsjokull Glacier and Kirlingarfjoll Volcano the weather was bad with high winds rain water every- where as we pushed along narrow tracks hanging onto the edge of crumbling Lava flows. We all stopped as we spotted ahead a large ice flow which was blocking our way. It was not going to be easy to cross as this frozen ice /snow was melting , and large holes under the ice which you cannot see are laying in wait for you .The Pinz went first only to venture 30mts and digging its frozen body even deeper into the ice. With diff locks on it hopped and bucked an impressive little car which was overloaded jumped over unseen rocks in the ice and clawed itself further into the frozen ice. We all held our breath as finally some traction was had and Clements crossed over onto more Lava rocks. The Disco was next taking a bigger run in the same tracks as left by Clements all wheels spinning fighting his way across, it all ended as finally the Disco went nowhere fast stuck in the centre. A line was attached and after some snatching the all spinning wheels the Disco was freed. The weather was not improving with the winds blowing even harder and visibility dropping, my only hope with 2 wheel drive was to go as fast as I could taking a new line further up the side of the Glacier climbing 15mtrs higher if possible as I thought the ice would be harder and not so deep, and then fingers crossed using gravity to help as I turned down. Was it all too much of a big ask for a 2 wheel drive buggy to make it across ….BUT….flat out in the short run up I managed to get second gear as I hit the snow and ice, I never need to worry the little Bug flew over 70mtrs of ice and snow making it look very professional!!! Weight is everything!!! Yes Clements has it on video so hope to see it one day. We camped not far from this crossing as the weather had deteriorated further and we had found a small sheltered spot. The evening was short as we all climbed into our tents hoping the relentless winds direction would not shift in the night.
The next day the weather improved and when the sun popped out the scenery was the best. Making our way down into the lower plains the track conditions just became wetter and deeper but driving in glacial rivers is fun… but when a real river crossing comes up it is something else. We had meet the Warden before we set off and had a detailed map of the track we were following, there were several river crossings to be made and one was deep and very fast flowing. Looking for a safe entry and exit point at this river crossing was difficult as the rivers rise rapidly when the sun is out. Gaining a meter in depth in a short time, the best was to cross was in the early morning before the melt. Well a diagonal track with the river flow was chosen with the Pinz first its massive ground clearance and the Disco’s rubber sealed doors, all was looking good for these two amphibian’s. The Pinz was buffeted by the river flow as the angle Clements chose was a little to 90 but he climbed the bank the other side with cheers from all of us Clements was filled with confidence and the Pinz had made a deep river crossing safely. The Disco ploughed through the water flowing over the bonnet yikes its deeper than we thought 1.3mts was our limit with a bow wave and what do we do when we find water pouring in?? Guess what, Elayne screams out, water hits the screen raps around the edges and poured in all over us as we forgot to at least pull the side curtains down!! Flooding in the freezing water took hold, Elayne grabbing the essentials camera and medication as I tried to make a dash to the other side all was looking grime as the bank still looked far off. I could sense the Bug was losing traction as the water pressure from the flow was pushing us off our line and down the river fast! Our plan looked grim and we are sitting with the water lapping at our feet and bums getting deeper and deeper. ‘PLEASE!’, I shouted shallow water YES….. at last we made the bank as the others cheered and laughed at out predicament.
More to follow….. and hope not to boring ……as it wasn’t for us!!
Love to you all safe travelling
Chris & Elayne xxxxxx