© Anton Berger, 1998
All information presented within this webpage is taken from the small booklet "HVERAVELLIR" you get from Ferðafélag Íslands during your stay at Hveravellir. Ask the warden in the mountain hut!
Feel free to contact me for further information or
|HVERAVELLIR - Stopover in the mountains|
|Photographs : see the table at the end of this page!|
Figures give estimated walking time to the location and back again from Hveravellir or other points as indicated.
From platforms set up to protect the hot spring area near the older mountain hut of the Touring Club of Iceland, FÍ., the way leads to a refuge identified with an outlaw from former times (Eyvindartóft) and a shelter along the edge of the lava field. 15-30 min.
Follows markers past the shelter to a small cave in a lava mound called Eyvindur's cave (Eyvindarhellir). Farther on, a rift in a lava, blocked with fitted stones is called Eyvindur's sheep pen (Eyvindarrétt). 30-45 min.
The row of peaks called Strýtur forms part of the rim of a large crater 840 m above sea level. The path from Hveravellir is marked. 3-4 hrs.
730 m peak NE of Hveravellir offering a fine view. The Icelandic medieval Book of Settlements tells of a legendary horse race won by Þórir dúfunef (Dove-nose) on the flat plain Dúfunefsskeið south of the mountain. 30-min. walk from Kjölur trail or 3-4 hrs. from Hveravellir.
Follows the tributaries of the stream þegjandi north of the mountain StéIbrattur toward the peak Oddnýjarhnjúkur in the þjófadalir mountains, 1067 m above s.l. 6-8 hrs. or 3-4 hrs. if only circling StéIbrattur.
High up in þjófadalir is a mountain track passable for all-terrain vehicles by late summer. Please note that to prevent damage to vegetation all driving into the valleys themselves is prohibited. Several hiking trails lead out of þjófadalir, e.g. up to the ridge of þverfell and onto Rauðkollur, 1075 m. From Rauðkollur one can head back NE following the ridge of the mountain.
Along the former Kjölur trail, about 2 km south of Rjúpnafell. under a large hill of lava topped by numerous cairns, is a cave called Grettishellir. 5-7 hrs.
The monument commemorates the ill-fated expedition of the brothers from Reynistaður in Skagafjörður who died in a snowstorm here in 1780. The name Beinahóll (Bone hill) is said to refer to the remains of sheep and their horses. Please take care not to disturb any bones or remains.
To reach the site drive along the marked track which begins south o Fjórðungsalda (Geirsalda where the viewpoint marker is) until it ends, then wall the short distance remaining. To return, follow the same route or walk the trail northward marked by cairns which passes Grettishellir, then turn off the trail to reach Hveravellir. 4-5 hrs. 2 hrs. if walking back.
The trail from Hvítárnes to Hveravellir follows much of the former Kjölur trail. Starting from the FÍ mountain hut at Hvítárnes (accommodates 30). the first leg to þverbrekknamúli (accom. 20), takes 4-5 hrs. The next leg, into þjófadalir (accom. 12), takes 4-5 hrs. and the final stretch to Hveravellir 3-4 hrs.
The highland region between the glaciers Langjökull and Hofsjökull is called Kjölur (The Keel). The landscape in the region has been shaped by the glacier of the last Ice Age, which receded some 10 thousand years ago. Table mountains, stapar such as Hrútfell, of tuff were formed in eruptions under glacial caps. The shield volcano, or dyngja; Kjalhraun was formed by thinly flowing lava soon after the glaciers receded. In a hollow near its northern end is the Hveravellir high-temperature area (over 150 degrees C 1000 m underground), 630 m above s.l.
The oldest written description of the area, from 1752, describes the hot springs, from one of which (named Öskurhóll or Shrieking mound) rumbling and whistling noises issued forth. The water in the hot springs contains large amounts of dissolved substances and as it rises to the surface it cools and various substances are deposited to form crusts around the springs. The unusually colourful crusts formations at Hveravellir are mainly of silica.
There is no great variety of animal life in the area. Sheep graze here in the summer and fence prevents them from crossing between districts and thus inhibits the spread of sheep diseases. Arctic foxes make their homes here, in autumn ptarmigans can be seen and geese have been growing in number in recent years. The moorland waterfowl here are similar to those elsewhere in the highlands of Iceland.
Vegetation at Hveravellir is characterized by the short growing season, snowbed plants, like Creeping Sibbaldia and Dwarf Cudweed, are common, along with a number of other species such as Alpine Lady´s-mantle, Common Cottongrass and Marsh Arrowgrass. In an older hot spring area south of the stream is considerable warm ground and this affects the vegetation. To the north and west patches of thriving Iceland moss can be found.
Ferðafélag Íslands (FÍ) built a mountain hut here in 1938 and another in 1980. The year-round weather station at Hveravellir was built nearby on the plain Breiðamel in 1965.
The shortest route between North and South Iceland lies over the Kjölur highlands. During the first centuries of Icelandic settlement the route was an important and much-frequented trail. The Book of Settlements relates that the first exploratory journeys over Kjölur were made around or just before the turn of the tenth century, and refers to Hveravellir as Reykjavellir (Smoky plains). In the 17th century, however, traffic along the Kjölur route diminished. One reason for this was the decreasing numbers attending the annual Assembly, the Althing, at þingvellir, which was disbanded just before 1800, so that fewer travellers had reason to cross the highlands. In addition, the grim fate of the Reynistaður brothers did much to increase fear and deter men from using the route.
Danish surveyor Daniel Bruun travelled the route near the end of the 19th century and urged that the Kjölur route be marked with stone cairns. All the rivers along the route are bridged but the trail is passable to vehicles only in summer.
The most famous of all Icelandic outlaws, folk who fled the law to live in hiding in the remote highlands, were the couple Fjalla-Eyvindur (Mountain Eyvindur) and Halla.
They reportedly fled into the highlands shortly after 1760 and spent some 20 years living in the wilderness. At Hveravellir, as in many other areas of the highlands, numerous place names recall their stay. On the ridge west of the hot spring area is Eyvindur's refuge, considered to be the remains of a hovel in which they dwelt.
A nearby hot spring named Eyvindarhver has a fitted wall of stones around it to facilitate the boiling of meat.
Because of the unique hot spring area, Hveravellir was declared a nature preserve in 1960 in accordance with the laws on natural conservation. The Iceland Nature Conservation Council has jurisdiction over the area but FÍ is permitted to maintain its mountain huts.
Hveravellir is a highly suitable location for travellers to pause in their journey. The mountain huts, heated with hot spring water, can accommodate 70 persons. South of the older mountain hut there is a small hot pool (visitors may not use the hut as a changing room). There are toilets here and washbasins at the camping area.
FOLLOW THE VISITOR RULES!
Visitors in the mountain huts and campground are to refrain from disturbing others from 11 pm to 7 am. Exercise caution in the hot spring area, keep to the platforms. The water is from 70-100 degrees C so children must be kept under constant observation, even near hot springs which are not boiling.
All damage to the natural environment is prohibited. Treat the geological formations and vegetation with care, and refrain from building cairns, breaking off pieces of the hot spring crusts or altering their appearance in any way. Do not throw rocks, turf or other objects into the hot springs, they will become blocked. Camping is only permitted in the campground area. Do not drive off-road. Take refuse back with you, or put it into refuse containers. Bathers are reminded not to take soap or glass containers along to the pool.
An increasing number of travellers head for Hveravellir during winter months. As the weather can quickly worsen in the highlands, travellers should always be well outfitted and notify others of their journey. All traffic is prohibited in spring once the snows begin to melt until the highland tracks re-open for summer traffic. Maps indicating the openings are printed each spring.
The wardens of the Iceland Nature Conservation Council and FÍ are on the job at Hveravellir from the time the mountain tracks open in late June -early July until the end of August. They look after the campground and mountain huts, provide information, and make sure rules are complied with. Weather station attendants look after the mountain huts during the winter months. Reserve mountain hut accommodation in advance at the Touring Club office. Tel. 568 2533 (85 41193).
Náttúruverndarráð, Hlemmi 3, 105 Reykavík
Ferðafélag Íslands, Mörkinni 6, 108 Reykjavík
All information presented within this webpage are taken from the small booklet "HVERAVELLIR" you get from Ferðafélag Íslands during your stay at Hveravellir. Ask the warden in the mountain hut! Also these photo´s were scanned from this booklet.
High resolution photos:
|Mountain Hut Hveravellir
Low resolution photos:
|Mountain Hut Hveravellir