Julia Bradbury’s Icelandic Walk

Monday, 7th 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 “heartstopping” 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

We found the programme to be a detailed and fascinating account of how Julia spent four days walking through the wonders of Iceland. Julia began by interviewing volcanologist Ari Trausti Gudmundsson, who talked through the first Eyjafjallajokull ‘tourist’ eruption phase in April 2010 on the flanks of the volcano. A few weeks later the summit crater exploded, underneath from the icecap, creating a disruptive plume of ash, due to the combination of magma and ice.

Day 1 – Landmannalaugar – the starting point

The ‘Landmannalaugar Trail’ was established in the 1960s, and has been compared to Peru’s Inca Trail, or New Zealand’s Millford Trek. The 60km takes in various wilderness huts, offering a cosy and simple refuge to intrepid walkers. Starting at the colourful rhyolite mountains of Landmannalaugar, with a dip in a natural hot pool, gave Julia a memorable and relaxing start to her adventure! Julia and her mountain guide companion hiked to a massive lava field at Laugahraun (‘hraun’ is lava in Icelandic), and were captivated by the Storihver geothermal area, where they admired the colourful sulphur crystal-encrusted rocks, and fizzing puddles.

Day 2 – Dust and Ash

Despite the inclement weather, filming continued with the hardy walkers reaching the Emstrur ash desert – here it was possible to see how the ash plume from Eyjafjallajokull covered the region. Iceland is full of colourful and hardy characters like the hut warden who spoke to Julia about his experience of living in such a remote location.

Day 3 – To Thorsmork

Today the pair reached the lush valley of Thorsmork; ‘Thor’s Wood’. From here it was possible to see the secondary craters to the east, and Eyjafjallajokull itself ahead. Some 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 out of a JR Tolkien novel – this is where the power of the earth is truly humbling. Steaming landscapes and bubbling mudpools can be visited across over 250 locations in Iceland, including Namaskard in the north, and just outside of Reykjavik (close to the international airport) at Krisuvik, on the Reykjanes Peninsula.

The final scenes of the programme were simply breathtaking, with aerial footage of the infamous Eyjafjallajokull volcano.  As Julia explained, due to instability in the area it is very difficult to see the eruption site; but the effort to plan an excursion there is well worth it.

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.

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