This area on the Landmanna Route could be called “The Circle” in English. Its flat areas (590m above sea level), former lake bottoms, are well vegetated and surrounded with close to 1000 m high and mostly barren mountains. There are a few good trout and char lakes in this area, better referred to on the angling site. Just to mention a few of them: Lodmundarvatn, Eskihlidarvatn, Domadalsvatn and Saudleysuvatn. The streams running through the area are mainly Klukkugilskvisl, the discharge of Lakes Lodmundarvatn and Raudufossakvisl, which create River Helliskvisl. A cave near Lake Lodmundarvatn called Landmannahellir was used as a shelter to accommodate the farmers upon their sheep round ups in the past. Now the modern travellers are accommodated there in simple lodgings, especially those who participate in the popular riding tours.
This river, running through the so-called Kringla area, is a collection of cold springs and meltwater from snow patches in the surrounding mountains. Its discharge area is about 90 km² and the volume of water is very varied. In 1913, a new lava field created by the Lambafit eruption blocked its course and a lake was created. It soon disappeared when the river started running around the lava field. For decades, the permeable lava swallowed the water, but late in the 20th century, it created a new course past the lava field to River Tungnaa. Later its course was diverted to River Thjorsa.
Kylingar are two low hyaloclastite mountains on the Landmanna Route and a relatively well-vegetated area around Lake Kylingavatn. The majestic Mt. Kirkjufell towers over the area with its obsidian precipices. The mountain road from Landmannalaugar to the volcanic fissure Eldgja lies on the banks of the lake. Late in summer, the vegetated areas are white like snow with cotton grass.
This hyaloclastite mountain (812m) bears no resemblance to its namesake in the Odadahraun Lava Field in the north. The view from the mountain shoulder stretching to the south is excellent on a fine day. The mountain road, which descends from the shoulder to the east, leads directly into the volcanic fissure Eldgja.
These shallow and relatively well-vegetated valleys are en route between the volcanic fissure Eldgja and Landmannalaugar. An old refuge hut, made of sod and stones, for the farmers rounding up the sheep late in summer or early in autumn, is situated there. Many farmers, who stayed there overnight, claimed to have slept badly or nothing at all because of the ghosts harassing them.
Jokulgil, as it is called in Icelandic, is actually a 13 km long valley carved into the rhyolite landscape to the southeast from the Landmannalaugar area. It is relatively easily accessible late in summer or in autumn when the water level of River Jokulkvisl has dropped.
There are no words strong enough to describe the colourful landscape and the rhyolite formations, which meet the eye in the valley and no pictures do it justice. It simply has to be experienced. River Jokulkvisl is a collection of many cold spring and meltwater brooks from the small glacier patches in the Torfa- and Reykja Mountains. It has been diverted with a dyke past the Landmannalaugar area to prevent floods. This, however, has created a new problem, because the ground water level has risen. This river represented the only real obstacle for the many travellers through this area in the past until the bridge was built in 1966.
According to the legend, a farmer called Thordur from the farm Klofi, fled to the valley during the period of the plague. The legend says that the valley was well vegetated and wooded at that time and surrounded by glaciers. Nowadays it is devoid of vegetation and no signs of a former glory. The farmers of the Land County grazed their sheep in the mountains and never bothered to seek them in the valley when they were rounding up. This cost them a few sheep every year and they claimed that the outlaws and evil spirits of the valley had stolen them. This area was thoroughly explored in 1852 and no signs of any dwellings of outlaws or other beings were discovered. Since then the farmers have included the valley in their round up program and more sheep were accounted for every year.
Bjallar are low, hyaloclastite mountains just north of River Tungnaa near the Landmanna Route from the hydroelectric power station at Sigalda. The so-called Bjallar-ford of River Tungnaa was commonly used by the farmers of the Land County to transport their sheep to and from the summer grazings north of the river. On each side of the river east of the ford are shelters for open boats, which were later used for this purpose. Such glacial rivers are dangerous and difficult to ford and nowadays there is no need for that because of the bridges near the power stations.
Holaskjol offers fine mountain huts and camping in a beautiful location just off the Landmanna Route, near the rivers Sydri Ofaera and Skafta and the magnificent “fire fissure” Eldgja. It is an excellent spot for a further exploration of the area on foot.
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