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Julia Bradbury’s Icelandic Walk

Sunday, 6th April 2014

Destination Specialist

iceland landmannalaugar

TV presenter Julia Bradbury was astounded at the other-worldly landscapes of Iceland when she walked the 60 km of the country’s most famous trek – Laugavegur – in August 2010, describing the scenery she encountered as “heart-stopping” and “extraordinary”.

Below we take a look back at the programme, and explain how it is possible to visit this amazing landscape for yourself on a holiday to Iceland, and it needn’t be quite as challenging as Julia’s walk!

The ‘Big E’ – Eyjafjallajokull

Julia set the scene by interviewing volcanologist Ari Trausti Gudmundsson about the now infamous Eyjafjallajokull eruption in April 2010, located in region the Laugavegur Trail follows. This began as a ‘tourist’ eruption producing spectacular flowing lava, but a few weeks later the summit crater exploded underneath the icecap, creating a plume of ash, due to the combination of magma and ice, which caused worldwide disruption to northern hemisphere flight routes.

Day 1 – Landmannalaugar

The ‘Laugavegur Trail’ was established in the 1960s, and has been compared to Peru’s Inca Trail, or New Zealand’s Millford Trek. The 60km route takes in various wilderness huts, offering simple refuge to intrepid walkers. A dip in a natural hot pool amidst the colourful rhyolite mountains of Landmannalaugar provided Julia with a relaxing start to her adventure. Then setting off with her mountain guide companion she hiked to a massive lava field at Laugahraun (‘hraun’ is lava in Icelandic), and was captivated by the Storihver geothermal area, comprising colourful sulphur crystal-encrusted rocks and bubbling pools.

Day 2 – Dust and Ash

Despite inclement weather, not uncommon in the Icelandic highlands even during the height of summer, the hardy walkers continued to Emstrur ash desert – where she witnessed how extensively the ash plume from Eyjafjallajokull had covered the landscape. Here she met a hut warden – a resilient and colourful character, who spoke to Julia about his experience of living in such a remote location.

Day 3 – Thorsmork

Reaching the lush valley of Thorsmork, which translates as ‘Thor’s Wood’, Eyjafjallajokull comes into view as well as secondary craters to the east. Extraordinary footage of the ‘tourist eruption’ echoed the experiences of Discover the World’s Managing Director, Clive Stacey, who witnessed the ‘fireworks’ first-hand.

iceland south west thorsmork valley haifoss hr

Day 4 – On the world’s newest hills at Fimmvorduhals

A tough 5-hour climb brought Julia and her travelling companion to Fimmvorduhals; the area of the initial eruption in April 2010.  It was incredible to see the heat and steam swirling across the rivers of lava – almost like a scene from a JRR Tolkien novel – where the raw power of the earth was clearly visible and truly humbling. Steaming landscapes and bubbling mudpools can be visited across over 250 locations in Iceland, including Namaskard in the north, and just close to Keflavik airport at Krisuvik, on the Reykjanes Peninsula.

The final scenes of the programme were simply breathtaking, with aerial footage of the infamous Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

And Julia’s final conclusion on Laugavegur…

“That it was the ‘best walk of my life… utterly absorbing.”
Julia Bradbury

Plan your own hiking adventure

To plan your Iceland adventure or discuss any aspect of the itinerary and locations that were included in Julia Bradbury’s Icelandic Walk, contact our team of Travel Specialists for a tailor made quote.