Iceland: A Hunt For Waterfalls and Hot Springs

January 1, 1970

by Julie Faulkner

As you may well know, the weather in Iceland is little to be desired. It is very cold, even in the Summer season, which is when we decided to embark upon a 2 week road trip in this beautiful country. From day one the skies were grey, moody yet somewhat mystical. The days are long with only 3 hours of dusk before dawn approaches at 3am. This gives a wonderful energising feeling and a lot of energy to embark upon many wonderous journeys to some of the most beautiful waterfalls and hot springs one could find. The cool misty air from the towering falls leaves you feeling refreshed and ready for the next hot pool to relax in. The two following places can be seen in one day, and truly are two of my favourite places I’ve visited in Iceland.

Finding the Ice

Driving along endless winding roads of this majestic country is like being on a different planet. Not knowing where we will be staying from one day to the next brings about a new found excitement within. A true sense of unknowing is when you really feel alive.

In the South of Iceland on the ring road that leads to Þórsmörk Road, we find ourselves right next to one of the most powerfully beautiful waterfalls I had ever seen. This one was different to the rest.. well, aren’t all waterfalls unique in their own way? We always seem to travel far and wide to witness the beauty of “water falling” down over cliffsides, along river beds, across mountain tops, into deep valleys. But no matter how many we lay our eyes upon, there is always a call for more. The power coming from this particular waterfall was intense.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Meet Seljalandsfoss. “Foss” means “Water Fall” in Icelandic. A rocky path lead us right close and personal to this powerfully vertical stream. As we got closer and closer we couldn’t help but feel a constant breeze of mist hitting our face, gently and in a refreshing way even if it was only 8 degrees. No matter what the weather is like, waterfalls always seem to cleanse us. Whether the wind is high like it was this day, and the water comes rushing at your face, or whether it’s just gently trickling down, you always feel a sense of comfort, of ever present sensations running through your veins, goose bumps covering your skin from the intense energy these powerful beauties emit. The path to this waterfall in particular lead us right behind the waterfall itself, almost like a cave, we stand here completely dry now, watching as the water rushes past our faces and straight down into the river below, feeling as though we are a part of it completely.

Here in this moment, it is still. As much noise as it makes, it just becomes a part of you. A sense of complete contentment. Walking the rest of the path around and back to the front of the falls, it’s as if we have come out from a time machine. Standing back, we appreciate its beauty. There is something about a waterfall that draws you in and takes a piece of you with it, mesmerising you so that the only choice you have is to be present.

Finding the Fire

Being summer time, the sun sets very late in the evening, midnight to be precise.. but never really setting completely. As the sun goes down, it remains dusk, and the eternality of the sun’s light seems to charge and replenish us with all the energy we need and more. So bedtime doesn’t exactly feel necessary just yet, even if it is 10pm. An illusion it very well may be, as it only feels like 5pm.

What is down the road past this wonderful stream of magic? We hop in the car and go on a night mission, because what else do you do in this magical land of fire and ice when energies are running high at 10:17pm?

As we head East along the winding road, hugging the coastline on our way, with views of a misty grey ocean crashing against the rocks to our right and beautiful towering green hills to our left. The landscapes of this serene country have not yet failed to amaze, and the journey has only just begun.

Seljavallalaug Hot Pool

We approach a path on the left after only driving for about 20 minutes, and make our way down. An eagerness for what lies ahead, we can only hope is warmth, as the path seems to last a lifetime and it is sure to only get colder as the night gets on.

The old concrete pool, Seljavallalaug, is nestled in amongst a narrow valley within this intensely dramatic landscape. This pool is the oldest in Iceland. Built next to a rock wall in 1923 to provide the locals with a place they could learn to swim, a hose runs into it from a streaming hot river above, and straight into this 25 by 10 meter wide pool. A mixture of hot and cold as we jump in, temperature changing constantly with heat staying in just one corner so we all huddle around to keep warm. Silence prevails as we soak up the healing energies of this beautifully enchanted evening.

A few more people arrive, a couple being locals, who use the pool regularly. Such a beautiful experience to share, watching as a cascading wide and rocky river with freezing temperatures rushes past along the right, a night sky above with stars trying to make their presence known amongst the eternal light.

It’s 3am when the sun makes her presence known, and we head back to the car where our new local friends offer us their favourite snacks of dried fish dipped in butter! We might stick to our chocolate spread, bananas and pancake-like Icelandic bread! We make a list of the “must try” local foods before taking a beautiful drive back to camp. The ocean glistens now mirroring a reflection of the “night” sky as dawn quickly approaches. Arriving back at our camp, eye masks and thermals a must as we drift off to sleep, listening to the sounds of the cleansing waterfall ‘Seljalandsfoss’ in the distance, waking only when we please, a true reminder that time is simply an illusion.

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Sue Whitworth

October 30, 2018

Beautiful. Have you visited Middleton In Teesdale in North Yorkshire on the borders of Northumberlandere. If not you must visit ne