Friday, June 23, 2017

Midsummer in Iceland

I love the time of midsummer. The dark blue colour of the northern late evening sky is so captivating. I have noticed that I tend to head north during the summer for cooler climes rather than the hotter shores of the Mediteranean. As I write this, the UK is only just being released from a major heatwave. I'm glad to have escaped that.

I met Magnus at the offices of Arctic Adventures to get an idea of what I had let myself in for. Arctic Adventures is a huge company that offers a range of adventurous activities in Iceland including sea kayaking. The first task would be to guide 12 teenagers from the USA on a two day sea kayaking trip with a night of camping on a wild and remote island near to the fishing village of Stykkisholmur. At times it was like herding cats but actually they were a great bunch and Iceland's cold, drizzly weather was like water off an eider duck's back to them.

Over the following few days we ran a couple shorter trips in a huge fjord called Hvalfjordur (Whale Fjord) and another 2 day trip from Stykkisholmur with guests from Germany, Italy, Switzerland and China. The variety in the weather was stunning. Apart from plenty of soggy grey weather we got sunny weather that made it uncomfortably warm to wear a drysuit and a screaming gale through which we needed to tow 2 novice paddlers.

On my days off I took the time to stroll around the parks, coastline and city streets of Reykjavik. It is a delightful city. There are very few tall buildings giving Reykjavik an open and airy feel with big skies. The parks are well-kept and well used. Wildlife is everywhere. Lupins were introduced in the 1940s to improve the thin, gritty Arctic soils but have now gone a bit out of control.

One of my favourite birds here is the redwing; a winter visitor to the UK but breeding here in Iceland. They dart between digging for worms in the grass to foraging for grubs and berries in the bushes and undergrowth.

In just a few days now I will be heading back home to 'old blighty'. In the meantime, I have another day trip in Reykjavik and one more overnighter from Stykkisholmur to keep me busy.