Starting to explore north Iceland – Sauðárkrókur and Grettislaug Hot Spring


After exploring the Kjolour Highland route for a couple of days Maurice and I completed our F35 highland crossing and descended into  Sauðárkrókur, a regional service town in the Skagafjörður region of north Iceland.  After the barren highland landscape it was nice to see green again.

One thing I have learned about Iceland is that you are always coming across something unexpected and Skagafjörður presented us with two pleasant suprises.

The first was a local tannery that specialized in drying fish skins.  The Gestastofa Sutarans, which I think may just translate as  ‘Visitor Centre” offers tours of the tannery so visitors like us can see how they dry not only fish skins but also lamb and fox skins.  We had no idea it was possible to dry fish skins, it was really fascinating to learn that the primary customers are upscale fashion houses like Gucci, who use the skins to make designer shoes, handbags, etc.  My watch had broken a couple of days earlier and I was able to  snap up a watch with a strap made from salmon skin, together with another piece of unworked dried piece to take home to Laura to integrate into one of her fabric creations.

Coloured fishskins drying
Lots of Lambskin

The second great surprise about Skagafjörður we discovered as we were exploring  out along the peninsula north of Sauðárkrókur.    Grettislaug, literally Grettis’ Hot Pot, is a natural hot spring located at the end of the gravel road about halfway up the fjord.   It is associated with one of the Icelandic ‘sagas’. .   Written in the 12th century about life in the “Settlement Era” (870-1200+ ) the authorship of the sagas is uncertain but they  are now apparently considered to be one of the great examples of world literature. Certainly they are the source of much of the knowledge of the history and culture of the period.  Grettis Saga is about an  outlaw who apparently hid in the Skagafjörður area to  evade others seeking revenge for his misdeeds and who spent time in the hot pool.   Today there are two hot pots set in stone, with simple change and shower facilities.  There is also a café and a wonderful campground with a toilet and kitchen facilities set in turf houses.  Really cool.

Another Defender at Grettislaug
The third of many hot springs we enjoyed in Iceland

From Sauðárkrókur we made our way east towards Akureyri, the so-called ‘Capital of the North’ and the second largest city in Iceland.

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