Landmannahellir

Day 75. 13th September. Landmannahellir and Landmannaleið, Highlands, Iceland.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

This is Landmannahellir at dawn in front of Hellistjall (the small mountains). There is also a formation of birds in the sky.

Landmannahellir was a major stopping place when the major route from the south east to the west ran through here, both for cargo transport and for sheep herding.  There is a cave here behind the houses somewhere said to be able to house seventy to eight horses and another side cave for the people to sleep in.  I did not know about this at the time so did not visit it.  These days you can stay in one of the cottages and go for walks from here.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

From Landmannahellir I drove to Landmannalaugar through the snow along the ancient route Landmannaleið.  Most of the images are near Landmannahellir and all well before encountering the F208 “main road” to Landmannalaugar.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

Looking in the other direction, towards the peaks of Sáta and Langasáta (from left to right).

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

A little later, a similar view from a different viewpoint with the dawn receding.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

Another view at Landmannahellir, probably to the right of the first image.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

Grass covered by snow and frost.  Many other places there is only moss but there is some degree of wetlands here, likely more water in the soil and therefore better growing conditions foe the grass.  Thus no doubt not a coincidence that this was a focus for sheep herding.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

Looking towards the nearby lake of Löðmundurvatn with some distant sheep in front of it.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

Here are a couple of sheep at the side of the road with a misty mountain background.

Iceland sheep are their own distinct breed, descending from the Norwegian sheep of one thousand years ago.  I suspect these ones are due to be rounded up and taken to a big barn for the winter.

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Delicate light through the foggy clouds.

The mountains in this area are generally hyaloclastic, a “hydrated tuff-like breccia rich in black volcanic glass”, deriving from volcanic eruptions under glaciers.  Conversely, the rocks a bit further south in the Torfajökull caldera are predominately rhyolite, a volcanic equivalent of granite with a high silica content, which also accounts for the high degree of colour variation in the landscapes of that region.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness .

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

A little further along I came across a car abandoned by the side of the road.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

Closer inspection reveals a broken exhaust pipe (maybe an incautious fording of a river?).

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

This was my vehicle.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

A wild landscape in snow.  A river runs across the mid foreground.  You can see the road continuing in the distance at the left.

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Another view of Löðmundurvatn (the lake) with Löðmundur (the mountain) in the background.  The scale is probably larger than it looks.  You can see the fence posts for a clue.  The distance to the far side of the lake is about a kilometre.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

And so we proceed….

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness .

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness .

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness .

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

You can see a cairn in the centre of the image.  The is probably an original nineteenth century cairn to guide people riding their horses along Landmannaleið with their cargo or sheep .

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

We are now a fair distance from Löðmundurvatn so that glint in the distance must be a view of Lifrarfjallarvatn or Dómadalsvatn (two small lakes close to one another).

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

Patterns in the rocks, covered in snow.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

No tyre tracks ahead but the road is clear enough.

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Landmannaleið

Day 74. 12th September. Landmannaleið, Highlands, Iceland.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

The images in this post are taken along Landmannaleið, an old route from east to west, now more prosaically known as the F225.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

The last two posts were at Ljótipullur.  I drove to Hrauneyfoss which is an hotel, a little island of civilisation in the wilderness.  I needed to fill up with petrol and also took the opportunity to have a meal in the restaurant.  Then I proceeded back along the F26 until making a sharp left onto Landmannaleið (or F225).  I stopped at Landmannahellir for the night.  The dotted line at the end roughly represents an alternative road that is not covered by the mapping utility I am using here.  The next day I would end up back at Landmannalaugar.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

We earlier saw posts from along the south east coast.  Now you can drive west from there along the coast.  Not that long ago there were no roads and bridges and it was not possible to traverse the lava and the rivers.  Even now, the road is cut sometimes by floods and potentially lava flows from volcanic eruptions.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

These are views as we drive along Landmannaleið.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

The old Landmannaleið route was marked by cairns.  Sometimes where there was a shortage of stone these were made of turf.  It was the main road then or perhaps I should say main track, and cargo and provisions were transported on horseback.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness .

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness .

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness .

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

By now it had got to late afternoon and the sun was beginning to set.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness .

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness .

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness .

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness .

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness .

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness .

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

Road conditions are variable and involve fords.  Here the road dips to go through a stream.  Some roads (not the ones I drove on) are notorious because of the drivers who undertake them in unsuitable rental vehicles (two wheel drive and some four wheel drive) and become stuck in them.  In those circumstances you can lose the car and have to buy a new one.  There is very little available in the way of vehicle insurance in the Icelandic highlands.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

Here I am approaching a ford crossing a river.  I walked across the river and selected the left branch in the road because the ford was quite safe.  You can just see that road disappearing in the distance (well, maybe you need to click on the image for a larger view).  It is the dotted line on the map but was no different for road conditions.

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Highlands, Iceland, Landmannahellir, Landmannaleið, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Wilderness

This must be Löðmundur, the mountain above Landmannahellir where I was to spend the night.

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