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Review 2013

 

Chiltern Run
Click here for Pictures
We first became interested in the Icelandic Tour in 2005 when the inaugural running of the event was announced.  Unfortunately the date that year clashed with holidays already booked by work colleagues.  We joined the Owners Club on their second running to Corsica instead knowing that the MGOC Iceland event would be repeated two years later.  Just to keep our hand in, in the interim, we included trips to the tulip gardens, Keukenhof, Holland, Laon for their Circuit Historique, Northern Spain, et al.

2007 arrived and we reaffirmed our interest in the event and made a list of things that would require attention on the car over and above usual service items before we went.  These included a new clutch and rear springs.  Further problems with the former would come to the fore during tour but more of that later.

As time went by we learnt that five other cars and their crews would be joining us but for what ever reason they withdrew, so that just like the ten green bottles that fell off the wall one by one, there would be just one MG, our much abused MGB GT, KJO 333W, left in the queue to board the ferry that would eventually carry us to Iceland. However the opportunity to visit Iceland, that would include brief visits to Bergen in Norway, Torshavn on the Faroe Islands, and the Shetland Islands en-route was just too tempting.  We decided to go anyway but would it be our ‘Bridge Too Far’?

Saturday 30th July arrived bright and sunny.  Having packed the car with all the things that had accumulated on the hearth rug in the front room for the holiday over the previous week or so we left Aylesbury at 3:30pm in a very bright and shiny MGB GT on the initial 650 mile drive to Scrabster that is 20 miles west of John O’ Groats, where we would board Monday’s 8:00pm ferry.  We duly arrived at the Weigh Inn Hotel in Thurso, which is within a mile of the ferry, late morning the following day having stopped briefly for an evening meal and petrol just north of Penrith, 40 winks in the car park of a Little Chef north of Stirling and for one more tank of petrol.

As the ferry didn’t sail until late the following evening we took the opportunity to visit John O’ Groats that was little more than 21 miles away.  For those that haven’t been it is no way near as commercialised as Lands End at the other end of the country with just a few tasteful craft shops through which to browse and a café.  Now that the squally rain that we had arrived in had abated, after dining on a bridie, a sort of Scottish Cornish pasty, we took the coastal path for a mile or so in brilliant sunshine and a bracing wind.  Finally we returned to our hotel in Thurso and kicked our heals in the bar until it was time to present ourselves at the ferry terminal.
John O' Groats
John O'Groats from the sea
Waiting for the ferry Scrabster
Smyril-Lines’ Narrona sails continuously between ports in Denmark, Norway, Scotland (Scrabster), the Shetland Isles, the Faroe Islands and Iceland.  Therefore there were already a considerable number of cars on the car decks as we boarded.  We were to learn later that we would have to return to the MG once the ship reached Bergen on the outward journey and Torshavn on the return journey to move it to allow others on and off.  It was when we came to move the car whilst the ship was docked in Bergen the reluctance to start reappeared, all the symptoms of a flat battery.

This reluctance to start had first appeared once three weeks earlier when I picked up the car from the garage after the engine had been removed to investigate a strange rattling noise coming from the clutch.  I drove the car to work and it started normally at lunch time and every time afterwards until then.  The problem was to continue until coming to a head later in the trip.  Anyhow once we had relocated the car we set off for a brief tour of Bergen’s harbour and market.

After an extremely rough night crossing the Narrona docked in Torshavn on the Faroe Islands where we were able to spend some two hours exploring the town and its water front and where we were able to add yet another fridge magnet to our extensive collection.  The Houses Of Parliament with their turf roofs were particularly fascinating.  Once the ship had sailed we spent most of the remainder of the day on deck watching the handrail rising and falling some fifteen feet above and below the horizon in the heavy swell.
Torshavn Harbour
Torshavn Faroe Islands
The Narrona finally docked in Seyoisfjordur on the east coast of Iceland around 9:00 am the following morning.  On returning to the MG we found the car deck absolutely jam packed mainly with 4 wheel drive vehicles and motor homes to the extent that I had to carry our case head high and we had to wait until adjacent cars had moved before we could open the doors.  

Some two hours elapsed before we had completed disembarkation, cleared customs and began the first stage of our journey, a 130 mile drive to our first hotel on the banks of Lake Myvatn for a three night stay.  As we left the outskirts of Seyoisfjordur we began the climb over the Fjardarh Pass in light rain, low  clouds shrouded the tops of mountains on each side.  At the foot of the pass we passed a sign that declared the pass open and we could expect maximum temperatures of +2 degrees centigrade.  With a thought of ‘what had we let ourselves in for’ we pressed on.

However as we descended the other side the weather brightened to the extent that by the time we reached hotel Reynihlid on the shores of Lake Myatvn, Midge Lake, so named after the hordes of gnats that breed there and provide perfect fish food for, according to the guide books the best salmon and trout that can be found in Iceland, bright sunshine heralded our arrival.  The scenery en-route was absolutely baron consisting mainly  of rolling multi coloured lava fields that spread into the distance as far as we could see.  Completely awe inspiring.  As we approached our destination we took a short detour to wonder at the bubbling mud pools at Narnafjall accompanied by a strong smell of sulphur.  We also passed a thermal generating station that provided local towns, etc. with hot water and electricity.
Narnafjall Mud Pools
Narnafjall Mud Pools
Lake Myatvn
View from hotel window Lake Myatvn
During the day we experienced our first section of un-surfaced road although the road travelled was Route 1, the main road that circumvents the country.  The surface of such roads degenerate into ripples, generally referred to as a wash board effect.  When travelling at the right speed the short travel of the B’s suspension harmonised with the spacing of the ripples and locked it solid so giving the car an almighty shaking.  The only way to halt the effect was to stop and pull away again.  

In contrast the surfaced roads were a sheer delight and suited the MG down to the ground being smooth, single tracked in both directions, closely following the contours of the ground with many hidden dips and blind summits.  At times the national speed limit of 90 kilometres per hour was difficult to keep to.  Another blessing was the almost complete absence of other traffic.  We soon became of the opinion that once away from ports or major towns any more than three vehicles within eye sight constitutes heavy traffic.  Due to the lack of traffic most bridges are single tracked.   

The hotel proved very comfortable, fitted out in a Scandinavia style.  We finished off our first day with an excellent meal in the hotel restaurant and booking a whale and puffin watching trip that would leave from Husavic some 85 miles away.

Having consulted the maps the following day we decided on a circular trip that would take in the falls at Dettifoss, the horseshoe shaped Asbyrgi Canyon and to return along the coast via Husavik.  Our trip would include 53 km of un-surfaced road but on the basis that the falls are on the list of ‘must see’ sights in Iceland we decided to go any way.  The first leg meant that we retraced our footsteps some 38 km until we crossed a mini suspension bridge over the river Jokulsa, fed by the Vatnajokul glacier before turning off Route 1.  We hit the un-metalled road surface almost immediately and found by keeping speeds to around 20 miles an hour and with the car un-laden we could make steady progress.  After two or three miles we found ourselves deep in a featureless flat Icelandic desert totally devoid of land marks or signs of civilisation.  Only the unmade road that stretched into the distance before us provided some comfort that we were not the only ones on the planet.  We stopped briefly to take some pictures and found the absolute silence to be deafening.

The sight that greeted us on arrival certainly didn’t disappoint. The falls are situated within a deep rocky gorge that has to be approached via a steep rocky path but the effort was well worth it.  According to the guide books, Dettifos is one of the mightiest falls in Iceland and in Europe.  193 cubic metres of water per second pour over the edge of the falls and plunge 44 metres vertically before hitting the bottom of the ravine.  Unlike the UK that is overwhelmed by reminders of health and safety issues the Icelanders seem to take a more pragmatic view.  The only guarding provided at the edge of the falls was a loose rope on the basis that if you were silly enough to approach close enough to fall over then so be it.  Enough to say the sight before us was nothing less than spectacular. The whole area was in its totally natural state un-spoilt by the usual trappings of tourism.  

Wherever we parked the car it generated considerable interest and the car park at the falls was no different.  We spent the next hour or so as we ate lunch answering questions as to what it was, where we were going, were we on our own, etc, etc
Iceland desert en-route to Dettifos Falls
Aproaching Dettifos Falls
Dettifos Falls
Afterwards we continued on the un-surfaced road for a further 25km to our second destination, Asbyrgi Canyon,  The canyon is roughly horseshoe shaped, some 3.5km in length, 1.1km wide with walls anything up to 100m high. It is thought the canyon was formed by a catastrophic glacial flooding of the river Jokulsa a Fjollum, the same river we had seen tumbling over Dettifoss falls earlier.  The river has long since changed its course and it is possible to drive round the base of the cliffs.  This we did before continuing onto our next destination, Husavik.  Whilst the cliffs were stunning the natural beauty of the area had been spoilt by forestation that has taken place.

Husavik is or was the whaling centre of north Iceland and is from where whale watching trips now sail.  But it is also the home of a rather unique establishment.  Whilst at the counter of a gift shop the young lady assistant enquired completely unabashed ‘had we been to the penis museum’.  Caught off guard our response was ‘pardon’.  She then repeated her enquiry and followed up with directions.  Our curiosity having been aroused, if you will pardon the expression, we thought we might take a peek if only to use it as an interesting back drop for a photo.

And so we found it tastefully called ‘The Icelandic Philollogical Museum’, their spelling not mine.  We didn’t go in.  According to the internet Wikipedia encyclopaedia the museum is the home of 245 specimens displayed like hunting trophies, its aim among other things to collect such members from all species of Icelandic mammals.  Apparently Homo sapiens are not represented and they are looking for volunteers!.   After taking pictures of the GT with the museum and its external exhibits as a backdrop we came away with two questions, ‘why’ and, what would the female equivalent be called.  We continued the final leg back to our hotel that included another 35km of un-surfaced road.
The Icelandic Penis Museum
The next day, the day we had booked the whale and puffin watching trip, we woke to the prospect of driving rain, etc.  Whilst the receptionist warned that the trip might be cancelled we thought we would go anyway.  So we retraced our footsteps back to Husavik in light rain but the closer we got to our destination so the wind and rain worsened.  On arrival we joined fellow potential whale watchers at the assembly point from which we were to depart.  Unfortunately, unlike Queensland, Australia where we had last been whale watching that employ modern bespoke designed vessels, those that would set sail from Husavik were traditional ex wooden fishing vessels without stabilisers, covered vantage points and the like.  Due to inclement weather the organisers thought it necessary to cancel the trip.  So, disappointed, we retraced out steps back to the hotel.  On arrival the GT looked as though it had just finished a muddy stage of the World Rally series.

The following morning we re-packed the car, bade farewell to Reynihlid and Lake Myatvn and set off on the next leg of our journey, a 75 mile run to Akureyri, the capitol of northern Iceland.  Our itinerary suggested two places to visit en-route, Godafoss Falls (Falls of the Gods) and a family classic car museum at Ystafell.

The falls, on the river Skjalfandalfljot are just a short walk from the main road.  They are arranged in a wide crescent some 30m wide and are reported to be 12m high.  Legend has it that either in year 999 or 1000 law speaker Borgeirr Ljosvetingagodi threw his statues of the Norse gods into the falls after his conversion to Christianity, and so the falls were named.  As with the falls at Dettifoss the area remains completely in its natural state without the additions of hand rails, walk ways and the like.  The sight of white foaming water against black volcanic rock was impressive.
Godafoss Falls
Godafoss Falls
Our next port of call was a stop at the family run Museum of Transportation at Ystafell.  We were welcomed by the current curator Sverrir Ingolfsson, son of Ingolfur the original curator, who was surprised at the arrival of just one MG.  During the last MGOC Tour of Iceland five cars had graced the forecourt.

We spent the next hour admiring exhibits some beautifully restored some in remarkable original condition.  On leaving we donated our spare rally plaque to accompany the one on the notice board left by members of the 2005 tour.
Museum of Transportation Ystafell
We spent the next hour admiring exhibits some beautifully restored some in remarkable original condition.  On leaving we donated our spare rally plaque to accompany the one on the notice board left by members of the 2005 tour.

Not long after we had settled in our room in Hotel Kia with views over Eyjafiodur in the centre of Akureyri, we received a phone call from Icelanders Ellen and Kristojan with whom we had exchanged e-mails not long before our departure.  They are the proud owners of a white 1966 MGB Roadster that Kristojan had restored after it had spent some twenty years in storage having been badly damaged in an accident whilst in the ownership of an American Serviceman.  We met them later in the hotel’s car park and were taken to a fellow classic car enthusiast and restorer’s garage to inspect his pride and joys.  Ellen and Kristojan introduced Jon with a totally unpronounceable surname and his MGA Twincam coupe, Jaguar XK 120 MG TF (a real TF not the hair dresser’s variety)  They are possibly some of the best examples of restoration I have ever seen.  

Unfortunately he enjoys working on them more than he does driving them so they rarely turn a wheel.  His current project is a Jaguar Series 3 V12 E Type that is about four years away from completion.  He took quite an interest in our GT with its subtle modifications that turn it into a comfortable long distance with tourer.
Sharon, Kristojan, Grand Daughter, Ellen & Jon
The following morning we ambled down the west bank of the fjord with the GT purring away in very rood health to Dalvik for a brief stop before driving on to Olasfjordur at the mouth of the fjord.  After a quick snack and to feed the ducks and ducklings on the village pond we retraced our footsteps to Akureyri via a 3.5km single track tunnel with passing places.

In the afternoon we went on to Ellen and Kristojan’s house on the east coast of the fjord that he had built himself to view their MGB.  It was stunning but sadly underused.  We took the opportunity to raise our GT on  Kristojan’s trolley jack to inspect the connection to the starter motor in an effort to cure the reluctant starting that was otherwise spoiling our motoring.  We tightened the connection which seemed to improve matters.

Later they took us to Laufas Gamli Baerinn, further along the fjord that is home to a settlement dating back to the 16th century.  The centre of the settlement is a large single storey turf structure.  Up until 1936 it had formed the vicarage to the adjacent church.  A village fate was in progress during our visit with various home made products on sale including dried fish which proved to be quite tasty.  Kristojan’s family had lived in the area since the turn of the previous century and he seemed to be related to almost every body that we were introduced to.  We finished the visit with a coffee in the on site café accompanied by a piano accordionist and snare drummer.  A thank you to Ellen and Kristojan and their grand daughter for their hospitality and an interesting day.
Dalvik harbour
Feeding the ducks
Village fate Laufas Gamli Baerinn
The following morning we repacked the car for the longest single day’s drive to our next hotel on the shores of Hvalfjordur for a four night stay at hotel Glymur.  Our drive included crossing the snow covered Oxnadalshiedi mountains and huge expanses of farmland hinterland.  As changeable as ever the weather for this leg of the journey was brilliant sunshine that brought out all sorts of fat flying bugs so that by the time we reached our destination the windscreen was almost completely covered.

On our arrival we were greeted by the owners of the hotel and given a guided tour.  The hot tubs were out of action as it had not rained for nearly three months and the streams that fed them had dried up.  Our immediate  thoughts to this were just wait now that we have arrived the rain wont be far behind us and it wasn’t.  Our room was a split level affair with the bed on a mezzanine above a small sitting room and bathroom.  The whole external elevation was glazed providing a uninterrupted view of the fjord whether lying in bed or lounging in the sitting room.

We were also told during our tour that the winners of a Swedish tv reality programme ‘The Farmer Wants A Wife’, a spin on Cilla Black’s ‘Blind Date’ where the ‘farmer’ gets to choose a ‘wife’ and takes them on a ‘honeymoon’ would be arriving complete with tv crew.  They duly arrived and were shepherded off to a private dining room.
Hotel Glymur
View from our room window
Anther view from our room
During our own dinner a father and son arrived asking for us.  They turned out to be two fellow MG enthusiasts who had been in touch with the Owners Club to ask of our whereabouts.  Bogey, pronounced Bo’ie, who was in the boat business and travels extensively, had bought a Midget in Birmingham and shipped it back to Iceland for his son and which they had driven to the hotel.  During the remainder of the evening we told them of our disappointment at missing out on our whale and puffin watching trip and our interest in the The Antique Automobile Club Of Iceland.  We were told not to worry as he would take us out to Puffin Island off Reykjavik harbour in his company’s boat the coming Saturday, and, as his other son was a member of the classic car club, he would arrange for us to attend a meeting later in the week.  Eventually we went out to have a look at their Midget that turned out to be a very tidy 1500cc example in Vermillion. The same colour as our GT.
Bo'ei his son and their Midget
After consulting our maps we decided we would visit the three sites that formed the ‘Golden Triangle’, Pingvellir National Park, Geysir and Gulfoss falls, an estimated drive totaling 180 miles.  Our run to the first of these venues commenced with a trip around the top of the fjord before turning off the surfaced road onto one that was un-surfaced for some 13km.

Pingvellir National Park is the site of the meeting of the North American and European tectonic plates that are reported to be moving apart by some 2cm a year.  The rift is marked by a deep ravine and large out crops of lava.  The view from the top of the ravine over the park was remarkable.  Also in view was the ‘Farmer and his Wife’ in a romantic clinch being filmed from afar by the film crew.
Pingvellir Nation Park
Anther view of Pingvellir National Park
Our next point of call was Geysir from which we get the word geyser – the old fashioned water gas water heater not the bloke.  Geysir is the site of the Great Geyser that shoots boiling water anything up to 60m into the air at 5 – 6 minute intervals.  Having parked the GT we crossed the road and entered the geothermal area where we were soon amongst bubbling mud pools, steaming vents filled with brightly coloured water and of course the Great Geyser.  The sight of the eruptions was yet another magnificent sight we had encountered on our travels.
Great Geyser
The last venue on our Golden Triangle tour was the falls at Gullfos, the Golden Falls, on the river Hvita.  These are located within sight of Langjokull ice cap which in itself was worthy of a picture or two.  The water flows over a wide curved three step staircase and then plunges into a 32m deep 20m wide crevice.  As before it was possible to approach the edge of falls as close as we dared for some stunning pictures.  And there, perched on an outcrop was the ‘Farmer and his Wife’ in yet another posed romantic clinch.  Back to the car and back to the hotel.
Gullfos (Golden) Falls
Another view of Gallfos Falls
On return we found the e-mail we had been expecting from Bo’ie had arrived confirming arrangements to attend The Antique Automobile Club Of Iceland’s meeting that evening.  We duly met up with Bo’ie, his two sons, the Midget and the other son’s Trabant in a petrol station en-route and set off in convoy to the meeting place in a traditional timber structure on the outskirts of Reykjavik.  The club has a vast membership, its own industrial sized workshops and car store and is currently building new clubhouse facilities.  It caters for just about any make of car many of which are American sourced from American Servicemen when they were based on Iceland.

We added our three cars to the thirty or so that had arrived earlier. We were made very welcome and accompanied them on their evening run.  The line of thirty plus classic cars ranging from a Fiat 500 to a Cadillac must have made an interesting sight as we cruised through the centre of Reykjavik.  Not very long ago their number plate system changed from silver letters on a black back ground to black lettering on a white reflective back ground.  The venue for the evening run was the factory that made the early plates.  These are now much sought after.  Talks ensued in Icelandic that regrettably went right over our heads, with a buffet to finish with.  We have since noticed a picture of our GT on their web site amongst those of other cars that attended the meeting.  Unfortunately we clouted the exhaust on a kerb as we left.
This picture appears on the Antique Automobile Of Iceland's web site
The Antique Automobile Club Of Iceland’s meeting
The Antique Automobile Club Of Iceland
The next morning we decided to visit Snaefellness, a remote area in which Jules Vernes, ‘Journey To The Centre Of The Earth’, was filmed, their journey beginning from the bottom of a volcano.  Our own journey included an arduous climb on yet more un-surfaced roads and a scenic drive along the north coast of the Snaefellness peninsular.  It was quite easy to appreciate why this particular area had been so chosen.
Jules Verne's Snaefellness
Jules Verne's Snaefellness
Jules Verne's Snaefellness
On our return drive to the hotel disaster struck.  The exhaust sheared at a joint.  As it was a nice clean break, probably the result of hitting the kerb, all that was needed was a splice.  A bake bean can with the ends cut off and a couple of exhaust clamps would suffice.  Not being England I couldn’t find a discarded can anywhere.  So I removed the silencer completely which is a big bore system with only a single silence at the rear, and drove to a large garage in the centre of the near by town of Borgarnes.  The noise generated by the GT on an open pipe certainly turned a few heads.  We eventually repaired the exhaust by removing the tail pipe trim, cutting off the turned end, cutting slots in one end and hammering the other onto the silencer with a piece of rock borrowed from a rock garden.  Strange, this was the first time in many foreign trips I had included a junior hack saw and a throw away set of overalls in the tool kit.

We spent our last day during our stay at the Glymer Hotel at the geothermally heated natural pool some forty miles away at the Blue Lagoon near Grindavik.  The heat is a by-product of the near by geothermal power plant.  The facility has modern changing rooms but you have to sprint across timber decking in biting winds, about +6 centigrade, before plunging into water heated to 34 degrees and more.  Another by-product of the power plant is a white clay.  It is said to have medicinal benefits as a face pack.  We therefore found ourselves swimming amongst fellow swimmers with faces covered in a white mask – rather like Aborigines in full traditional war paint.
Blue Lagoon geothermal pools
The following morning we repacked the car, took our leave of hotel Glymer and headed off to the boating marina in Reykjavik where we were to meet Bo’ie for our trip out to Puffin Island.  After a quick coffee in the boat house we donned life jackets and were shown to a small white open speed boat.  Whilst the weather on shore was bright and sunny, as we approached the island sea mists began to descend.  We did however see a large number of puffins that circled the boat all the time we laid off shore.  The boat ran out of petrol on the return journey but luckily there was a spare can in a locker aboard.  On return to the marina we followed Bo’ie to retrieve his daughter from work and then joined his sons to be treated to lunch.

After lunch we headed off to our next hotel at Skogar some 135 miles away.  This leg of our journey would commence our drive along the south coast of Iceland, passed Mount Hekla, Iceland’s most notorious volcano and be the beginning our return to the ferry at Seyoisfjordur.  

The 60m high Skogafoss falls are situated within a 5 minute walk from the hotel so after registering we set off to explore.  The falls tumble down a cliff face that use to form the coastline before the shoreline receded some 5km.  We climbed the steps at the side of the falls and followed the river for at least a mile or so before turning back and found yet more spectacular falls.  Before returning we built our own cairn, pile of stones, to mark our passing.
Skogafoss Falls
We left our cairn at the head og Skogafoss Falls
Falls above Skogafoss Falls
The next morning disaster really did strike.  Because of the reluctance to start I would take one load out to pack the car, start it to warm it up a little before returning for the remainder of our luggage.  It started but when I depressed the clutch it went straight to the floor.  On inspection I found that the flexible steel braded hydraulic hose had split and deposited all the fluid on the ground.  Problem two, you seem to need gas fitter’s tools to work on hydraulic pipework.  Problem three, it was a Sunday morning.

Whilst I was the phone to our recovery insurers Sharon went off to find details of the small classic car museum that was just up the road as they might be able to assist.  She came back moments later accompanied by a man who turned out to be the owner of the Icelandicair chain of hotels, one of which we had just spent the night.  Having explained our predicament he announced not to worry, he too was a classic car enthusiast and would arrange for the garage that looks after his Willies Jeep to pick the MG up later in the day for repairs.  As the present hotel was fully booked for the next few nights he also arranged accommodation in another of his hotels that was closer to the garage and drove us there personally.  When we arrived we were invited to join the staff for lunch.

Later I phoned Bo’ie just to let him know what had happened.  His response was to ask me to ask the garage to give him a ring as soon as they had removed the pipe and its connections from the car.  He would pick them up.  As he regularly had hydraulic pipes made in Reykjavik in connection with his boat business he would have a new pipe made up first thing on Monday morning and return it to the garage to be fitted, each journey being a round trip of 240 miles.  The result, the car having broken down at about 9:00am on the Sunday morning was fully operational again by 12:30pm the next day!

Oh, and the reason for the pipe failure.  The garage that removed the engine to fix the rattle coming from the clutch that they had fitted earlier omitted to re-fix the earth strap between the body and the bell housing.  The electrical system was earthing through the steel brading around the hydraulic pipe to the clutch which over heated and eventually burnt through the inner rubber one.  The lack of a proper earth was also the cause of the reluctance to start.  The garage fitted a new strap and normal services were restored.

Whilst the unscheduled stay in hotel Ranga on the banks of south Iceland’s premier salmon river, the East Ranga within sight of mount Hekla, was very comfortable, we should been 120 miles further east at hotel Skaftafell on the periphery of Skaftafell National Park for a two night stay.  With just one night we missed the opportunity to visit the attractions within the park itself.  
Hotel Ranga
Mount Hekla ready to erupt
The following morning we were back on schedule for the next 145 mile leg to hotel Framtid in Djupivogur.  The attraction for the day was the glacial lake Jokulsarlon at the foot of the glacier Vatnajokull.  The lake is reported to be 200m deep, covering 18 square kilometres.  It is separated from the sea by a shallow narrow exit that traps icebergs that break off the face of the glacier.   Once we had crossed the narrow exit via a single tracked steel bridge that carries Route 1 and parked the GT dwarfed by huge 4x4s we set off and walked along the shore line for a considerable distance.  The ice flows against deep blue waters complete with seals either fishing or lolling on the ice set off by the bright sunshine and clear skies presented yet more spectacular views and photo opportunities.
Jokulsarlon at the foot of the glacier Vatnajokul
Seals lolling on ice flows
Ice flows on lake  Jokulsarlon
Once on our way again we drove around the base of the Vatnajokull ice field that towered above us looking like a gigantic iced bun, all be it without a cherry on the top, until we reach Hofn.  Beyond Hofn the mountains of Austurland province approached the shore line leaving just a strip of land wide enough for the road that ran below magnificent cliffs that must be some of the highest in Europe.
The Vatnajokull ice field
After a comfortable night, an excellent meal and yet another tank of petrol we set off for Egilsstadir and hotel Gistihusid Egilsstadir.  We had been warned of high winds at the reception desk on our departure and we weren’t to be disappointed.  It required considerable effort and concentration to keep the GT from being blown off roads that had very few crash barriers.  The road continued to follow the coast line, heading inland to circumvent fjords before reaching a long tunnel at Reyoarfjordur.  Changeable as ever we made crossing of the Skagfell pass in driving rain that began to clear as we descended into Egilsstadir.

The next day marked the last on Iceland and our return to the ferry at Seydisfjordur.  Eventually we were directed the end of the queue of vehicles that were destined to disembark at Lerwick on the Shetland Isles to be loaded on the bottom deck along among very smelly fish transporters.
 Waiting to board the ferry at Seydisfjordur
On the outward trip we noted that puffin was on the menu in the ships restaurant.  Since it was still being served we thought we would give it a go.  The meat was very dark and gamey in a fishy sort of way.  It got its own back on Sharon who ended the day with an upset stomach or maybe it was a combination of eating the puffin and the rough crossing.

After a brief stop the next morning in Torshavn we docked in Lerwick late in the evening and had to wait some time for the island’s customs officer to make an appearance.  When we arrived at The Shetland Hotel we found Maurice Mullay and Trevor Scantlebury from the Shetland Classic Car Club waiting for us.  Maurice was instrumental in setting the route for the Iceland Tour and knowing that we wouldn’t embark on the Northlink ferry for Aberdeen until 5:30pm the following day had kindly arranged a tour of the south island accompanied by Trevor and his dog.

We duly met up with Trevor and his MG Midget the following morning for a guided tour that kicked off in the centre of Lerwick for a bit of shopping and yet another fridge magnet before driving the length of the south island stopping at various vantage points for pictures in bright sunny weather.  After a fish supper in Scalloway we returned to the ferry and said our good byes to Trevor and Maurice who had come to see us off.  
Trevor Scantlebury's Midget Lerwick
MGs on Shetland
We arrived in Aberdeen the following morning.  Unfortunately we had left the clement weather on the islands. Our drive to Dundee to visit family I hadn’t seen for several years was extremely wet.  We spent the day at a family gathering before leaving in the early evening.  With just stops for petrol and coffee we arrived back in Aylesbury at 4:30 am the next morning.

Apart from the exhaust and the hydraulic problems that were somewhat due to human error the GT performed perfectly, covered 3,500 miles and consumed some 130 gallons petrol together with 1.5 litres of oil.

Finally I would like to thank everybody for their hospitality and assistance in making this one of our best MG adventure yet.

Alan Cumming
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