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A frozen Öxarárfoss waterfall, November 2008

A friend and I spent a few days in Iceland in 2008: we hired a car and set off on the ‘Golden Circle’, a well-trodden tourist trail. First stop was Þingvellir (I returned and shot exactly the same scene in the midnight sun in June 2013

Þingvellir is an extraordinary place even by Icelandic standards. Here you can see the river Öxará flowing over a cliff which marks the edge of the rift valley between the North American and Eurasian plates: you couldn’t ask for a better demonstration of continental drift if you tried. Apparently the valley gets wider by 2cm every year: I can empathise with this case of middle-aged spread.


Rather than facing the tribulations of a coach tour, we hired a car and drove through the increasing wild countryside before getting to the National Park, about 40km east of Reykjavik. I caught a glimpse of this waterfall as we arrived, and so we parked up to take a look. The car park was like a skating rink, and the path up the hillside to the cliffs was perilous, but the ensuing view of the falls was worth every gingerly-taken step there. Best of all, the place was deserted (Þingvellir is central to the Icelandic psyche and society, but a wet Sunday in November was obviously not the most popular time to visit) so we got to clamber about and take a load of photos of this extremely picturesque waterfall, before wandering under the brooding cliff face to view where the national assembly met for almost 1000 years. The clouds hung low and obscured the scale of the site somewhat, but there are few better ways to appreciate the raw beauty of this landscape than to see it swathed in snow and cloud.

(Originally published in 2008 on my blog)

Copyright: Joby Catto
Type: Spherical
Resolution: 8038x4019
Taken: 02/11/2008
Uploaded: 30/12/2013
Updated: 06/01/2019


Tags: waterfall; day; iceland; snow; ice; geology; landscape; parliament; tectonic; sunset; thingveller; Þingvellir; park
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