We had rain and low clouds most of the day which curtailed some of our plans and had an impact on the scenic views.
The Vatnsnes Peninsula is probably best known for seal watching, and there were certainly a lot of people watching seals at the popular spots.
But our favorite stop of the day was at Kolugljúfur Gorge, where waterfalls tumbled into a short, but beautiful canyon.
It had been a chilly night and we started slowly. Linda had a leisurely morning in the camper van while I strolled through the village of Drangsnes where we camped.
The town has a hot swimming pool of its own, and I took this shot from the cliffs above.
The island you see in the photo above is Grimsey Island, and the large rock to the left of the pool is "Kerling" which legend says was a female troll that was, with others, attempting to dig a trench to separate the West Fjords from mainland Iceland. Apparently, the trolls mis-judged the rising sun one morning and they were turned to stone.
Iceland has many such stories about trolls, elves, sorcerers, and other phenomenon, and there are museums dedicated to them as well as murals, statues, and other artwork around the country depicting them.
While the pool has an entrance fee, one of the most popular things to do in Drangsnes, is to soak in the free hot pots built into the sea wall in town.
Across the street are WCs (toilets) and showers and a donation box to help maintain the hot pots and facilities.
Back at the campground, we had a little breakfast in the camper van, and headed out on another dreary morning. We made a stop at a grocery in Hólmavík and noticed a gas station with a place to wash vehicles.
We would later learn that gas stations all over the country had these free car wash stations with pressure washers and hoses attached to brushes. It was great as we went off pavement often, and I was able to wash the van numerous times in just a few minutes.
Hólmavík, by the way is home to The Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft. What I read about was just bizarre and it's not our kind of thing, so we skipped it. But if you are intrigued, you can read more and see some disturbing photos here: Guide To Iceland.
We continued south on Road 68 along the fjord that creates the boundary between the West Fjords and North Iceland.
At the end of the fjord, Road 68 intersected with the famed Ring Road (aka Hwy 1) where we turned left entering the North Iceland region. The difference in traffic and numbers of people was immediately noticeable as we left the West Fjords.
After driving on the Ring Road for a little while, we took Road 711 which traces the coastline of the Vatnsnes Peninsula. We approached the large village of Hvammstangi, home to the Icelandic Seal Center.
Again, we can't vouch for the Seal Center as we bypassed it as well - you can see a pattern here in our visit to Iceland. We didn't stop at any museums or other such places. Those admission fees add up, and we were simply more interested in the landscapes, natural beauty, and outdoor experiences.
As we reached Hvammstangi, it started to rain pretty hard, so we found a nice, quiet place to park overlooking the fjord to wait it out. Linda took a nap while I used the great 4G internet signal to upload photos.
Eventually, the rain let up, but it never stopped. We continued on Road 711 and it turned to gravel.
We passed a couple of popular seal-watching stops Svalbarð & Illugastaðir - where we noticed lots of cars parked. We could see seals from the road, but we didn't feel like getting out in the rain to battle the crowds for views of seals which we've seen often.
Don't get me wrong, we love to watch and photograph seals, but we've been fortunate to have had better opportunities in previous days and over the years.
Now we did stop at the third popular seal-watching spot on the Vatnsnes, but it was more to see the rock formation "Hvítserkur".
In the parking lot, you can walk left to an overlook, or you can walk to the right end of the parking lot and follow a trail down to the beach.
As we walked down, we could see several seals on the black sand across the water.
We could see some in the water, and a crowd was gathered up the beach to the right. But we turned left to walk to the rock formation.
There was a little waterfall near the overlook.
Unfortunately, we watched several tourists scramble down the steep cliff from the overlook rather than walking around and down the path to the beach. This was not only dangerous, but it is a reason many places in Iceland are now roped off.
Anyway, the Hvítserkur formation is pretty cool and it was low tide so we were able to get close. Here's Linda next to the rock for perspective.
Some say it looks like a dragon sipping from the ocean.
After a few minutes, we walked back along the black sand beach and up the trail to the parking lot.
After that, we finished up our loop of the peninsula and followed Road 711 back to the Ring Road. From there, we headed east and took Road 715 south for about 6k (3.7 miles) to Kolugljúfur gorge.
There is a bridge over the gorge where we had this view of one waterfall.
Here's a short video.
Here was the view on the other side, down canyon.
We walked down a trail along the edge of the gorge where we got a look at another waterfall.
Another video .... because waterfalls are better when you can hear the sound.
This is a photo from father down river.
They were building a new overlook on the cliffs on the left side of the gorge in the above photo. My guess is they will soon limit where you can go to take photos to protect the vegetation as they have done in many places where these former "hidden gems" are getting a lot more attention.
Kolugljúfur was our highlight for the day - it's beautiful.
We made our way back to the Ring Road and followed it toward Blönduós. One the way, we made a short detour based on a suggestion from our guidebooks.
We visited this little church called Þingeyrakirkja. This symbol "Þ" is called "thorn" and is pronounced like the "th" in .... thorn. And "kirkja" means church.
There is a small visitors center next to the church that was closed. When it's open, you can get a tour of the inside. We walked around and looked at some of the old grave markers before moving on.
There are so many small, pretty churches throughout Iceland, but I didn't want to get into photographing all of those in addition to everything else. So, this was our last church-specific photo.
In Blönduós, we stopped to wash the van again. After all the rain and our travels on several unpaved roads, Linda couldn't see out the back window, and it really needed a bath.
Beyond Blönduós was the Skagi Peninsula, but I couldn't find anything in the guidebooks compelling enough to drive around it in the less than ideal weather. Plus washing the van twice in one day was enough.
So we cut across the lower part of the peninsula through the mountains on the paved Road 744.
We made our way to the campground in Sauðárkrókur. This campground, which was on our Camping Card, was in the center of a fairly large town and was right next to the town pool.
So, today was probably our least favorite day thus far. Had the weather been better, we might have thought differently, but we certainly could have skipped the Vatnsnes Peninsula and the little church.
In my opinion, the best reason to do the Vatnsnes Peninsula is if you really want to see seals or your mind is set on seeing the Hvítserkur rock formation. Other than those reasons, there are much better ways to spend your valuable time in Iceland.
But, although it was our least favorite day to this point, every day in Iceland is special.
Day 7 Driving - 370k (230 miles)