Moorlands West Iceland,

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Hellisheidi is the lava area to the south of Mts Henglafjoll.  The eastern slopes of the area are called Kambar.  Most of the lava area is covered with moss, crow and blueberries and willow.   The main road around the country (# 1), which connects the capital area with the southern part of the country, lies across Hellisheidi.  The ancient route, which is still very prominent because of the cairns, the lava hut (1830) and the deep grooves worn into the lava by feet of domestic animals and people travelling trough.  The present road was opened for traffic in 1972.

This pass (481 m) is located between Mt Moskardshnukar and Mt Skalafell.  It was the most common route between County Mosfellssveit and County Kjos in the past until a road was built to the west along Mt Esja in 1930.

Moorland Mosfellsheidi (260 m.) stretches between Mt Esja and Mts Henglafjoll and rises highest in Borgarholar, the craters of this vast shield volcano, which created the Reykjavik dolerite during a warm epoch of the late Ice Age.  Ancient and new routes cross the moorland between Valley Mosfellsdalur and the National Part Thingvellir.

Uxahryggir are an ancient route crossing the undulating landscape between the lakes Reydarvatn and Uxavatn.  It starts at the crossing of the Kaldidalur Route near Brunnar and Hallbjarnarvordur and continues to Valley Lundareykjadalur in the west.  The present road passes near Lake Uxavatn, which is a good fishing lake.  It is the source of the stream Saeluhuskvisl, which runs allt the way to Lake Sandkluftavatn during the spring thaws.

The Cold Valley route is the shortest of the three main roads across the central highlands from south to north.  It crosses between the mountain Ok and The Long Glacier and its highest point lies 727 m above sea level.  Usually it is passable for most types of vehicles three to five months of the year.  Like the other mountain routes, The Cold Valley route was very busy in the past, especially between the highest located farms in the West and the Parliamentary Plains area.  It was the first one to be made permanent with road building in 1830.  The view from the highest lying points enroute is excellent on a fine day.  A few legends and Sagas are connected with this part of the country.  A side road to the east from the main route leads to a hut at the edge of The Long Glacier, where the glacier tours on snow scooters or snowmobiles start.

Geldingadragi is a mountain pass between the valleys Skorradalur and Svinadalur.  It was and is a much travelled route from the crossing near farm Ferstikla on the Whale Bay.  The name of the pass was derived from the Hardar Saga and Holmverja.

This is an ancient route across the Moorland Arnarvatnsheidi, which continued to the Huna and Skagafjordur Districts.  Starting from the west, it lies over a part of the lava field Hallmundarhraun past the lava cave Surtshellir, fording River Nordlingafljot, over the hill Thorvaldshals to the end of the Holmavik cove of Lake Arnarvatn.  There it forks towards the aforementioned destinations.  In the past, convoys of horses laden with dried fish and people seeking work, students, and those who were on their way to the Parliamentary Plains frequented this route during summer.  The old route is still very conspicuous in many places.

The heaths in the northwest corner of the central highlands, Arnarvatnsheidi and Tvidaegra, are the ultimate paradise for people, who treasure tranquillity, relaxation and angling for brown trout and lake char.  The lakes up there are considered innumerable and many a family has enjoyed spending a part of its vacations in those beautiful surroundings.  Most of the lakes abound in fish and a few of the best salmon rivers of the country originate there.  In earlier times, the farmers fished the lakes the whole year round, as a part of their livelihood and the catch has always been good.  The farmers also collected edible and wholesome lichens and grazed their sheep and horses up there during summer.  They also hunted birds up there and still do.  The area is also highly interesting for the bird watchers.  A few outlaws spent some time in the area in the past and there are several interesting legends about them.  The most famous one was Grettir, whose Saga is like an exiting novel to read.  The area is accessible by jeeps from the western and northern parts of the country and it is possible to continue from up there to join one of the three main roads, Kjolur, crossing the country from south to north.

Moorland, or rather desert Storisandur is an undulating, barren area north of the Langjokull Glacier between the Arnarvatn Moorland and the Kjalvegur Route.  It comprises mainly the glacier-eroded remains of an ancient shield volcano, which are relatively easily passable and was frequently travelled by the people of the Skagafiord District (until about 1890), especially when they were transporting dried fish from the southwest.  The Icelandic Mountain Road Society cleared the track and marked it with cairns during the years 1831-34.  The pinnacle shaped hill “Grettishaed” in the area probably is the “Grettisthufa” mentioned in the Gretti’s Saga, where Thorbjorn ongull buried Gretti’s head after his slaying on the Drangey Island.   Another legend has it, that Grettir fought his enemies there.  Along the edges of the area are rich cold spring areas, which feed the rivers Vatnsdalsa and Vididalsa in the north and River Nordlingafljot in the south.  The most prominent mountain of the area is Mt Krakur (1167m) just north of Glacier Langjokull.  A 4wd mountain track crosses this area between Lake Reykjavatn and the Kjalvegur Route and sidetracks continue to the valleys in the north.

Moorland Holtavorduheidi (407 m.) lies between Valley Nordurardalur (Mts Trollakirkja/Snjofjoll) and the
Hruta Bay.  A memorial cairn was built on the northern part of the moorland to commemorate the visti of the Royal Danish Family in 1936.  The road across was rebuilt during the last three decades of the 20th century.

Brattabrekka (392 m.) is a mountain pass between the districts Myrasysla and Dalasysla.  The road starts at the corssing of road # 1 just east of the Business University at Bifrost and Craters Grabrok.  The name of the present route was derived from the old postal route.

Heydalur is the lowest of the passes of the Snaefellsnes Mountain Range.  It crosses the Moorland Raudamelsheidi past excellent fishing lakes between County Skogarstrond and Valley Hnappadalur.  It has served as a winter route to and from the Dalir and Westfiord Districts.

Mt Pass Kerlingarskarð (311 m.) was one of the most travelled routes across the Snaefellsnes Mountain Range before the so-called Vatnaleid Route was opened in 2001.  Both roads start and end at Vegamot in county Miklaholtshreppur in the south and county Helgafellssveit in the north.  The ogress, after which the pass was named, still stands petrified carrying a string of fishes on her back on the northernmost shoulder of Mt Kerlingafjall.  The emergency hut in the pass was muched used during winter and is said to be haunted.  The new route lies considerably lower and passes through a lovely somewhat vegetated area with lakes and lava fields.

Mt Pass Frodarheidi (361m) lies between the Lava Field Budahraun in the south and the crossing in the Froda Valley in the north, just east of the town Olafsvik.  This pass is sometimes closed because of snow during winter.

The mountain pass Jokulhals touches the eastern edge of the Snaefell’s Glacier on the Snaefell’s Peninsula.  A road across it, which is only passable during summer, connects the hamlet Arnarstapi and the fishing village Olafsvik.  Hikers also use it for a 4-5 hours’ walk across and those who want to climb or drive in snowmobiles or on snow scooters to the top of the glacier, drive up from either village.

In 1937 pumice mining started near the edge of the glacier and an open pipeline was built all the way down to the small harbour at Arnarstapi.  The pumice was floated down with water and ground down by the harbour before it was shipped to Reykjavik or directly abroad.

Valley Laxardalur cuts into the moorland from the Hvammsfiord Bay in the west.  It is rather narrow and the landscape monotonous, but well vegetated and good for grazings.  Accoriding to the Laxdaela Saga, the valley and the moorlands were wooded in the past, but nowadays one can hardly find a three there.  River Laxa runs through the valley and the road across the moorland lies along the valley floor.  It continues to hamlet Bordeyri in the Strandir District on the Hrutafjordur Bay.  Lake Laxarvatn is located on the western part of the moorland and other small and large lakes dot the landscape in all directions.  The largest one is Lake Holmavatn on Moorland Holmavatnsheidi.

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