From glacier to shore
Þingeyjarsveit is a large rural municipality extending from Víkurskarð pass in the west all the way to mount Eilífur in the east, and from the island of Flatey in the north to Vatnajökull glacier in the south. This vast area is rich with diverse natural and cultural attractions.
The population consists mainly of farms dispersed around fertile lowland valleys. The municipal centre is in the small village of Laugar in Reykjadalur valley, which was established around the local school and offers all basic services to visitors. Besides farming, people engage in fish processing, forestry, food production and tourism, which is a growing industry because of the area’s many attractions.
In the fertile valley of Fnjóskadalur runs Fnjóská, Iceland’s longest spring fed river as well as Vaglaskógur, the largest forest in northern Iceland. In Skjálfandafljót river, which runs through Bárðardalur and Kinn, are the waterfalls Goðafoss and Aldeyjarfoss. Þingey island is in that same river, carrying remnants of a “þing”, the ancient district assembly.
Laxá river and Aðaldalur Valley
The river Laxá flows from Lake Mývatn through the valleys of Laxárdalur and Aðaldalur in a particularly lush and attractive environment, characterised by varied bird life and diversity in vegetation. On its journey down Laxárdalur, the river has sculpted a deep canyon, at the lower end of which is Laxárvirkjun Power Station.
The valleys of Laxárdalur and Reykjadalur merge into Aðaldalur valley which is largely covered by Aðaldalshraun lava field, originated from an eruption in the Mývatn region some 2300 years ago. There you can see pseudo craters and remarkable igneous rock formations jutting out of the birch brush. Out by the bay are extensive sands.
Places to explore
There are countless possibilities for healthy outdoor activity. The peninsula between Eyjafjörður and Skjálfandi bay features the two of the region’s more isolated gems; Flateyjardalur valley, which is only accessible by large 4WD vehicles and Náttfaravík, which requires a healthy challenging hike. Off the coast is the island of Flatey, which was settled from the 12th century until 1967.
Culture and history
Þingeyjarsveit is rich with culture and history. In Ljósavatnsskarð pass, which connects Fnjóskadalur with the valleys of Kaldakinn and Bárðardalur, a church has been built dedicated to Þorgeir, chieftain of Ljósavatn, and the adoption of Christianity in Iceland the year 1000 (see pg. 36). The church is open to visitors in the summer.Grenjaðarstaður is an ancient farm and church site which constituted one of Iceland’s amplest clergyman’s benefices from the earliest Christian times until the 20th century. In the churchyard is a mediaeval stone with runic inscriptions. The old farmhouse dates back to 1876 and is part of the National Museum’s building collection. It houses an annex from the Þingeyjarsýsla Regional Museum.
Also part of the National Museum’s building collection is the old farmhouse at Þverá in Laxárdalur, where Iceland’s first Co-op was founded in 1882. Twenty years later, the Association of Icelandic Cooperatives was established at Ystafell farm in Kinn, now the location of a museum of transportation.