southwest Iceland: icelandic horses & keldur

Wednesday, August 24:  After leaving Seljalandsfoss, we continue west on the Ring Road until we reach the unsurfaced Rt. 264, which we take north through the Rangarvellir valley.  Our destination is the medieval turf-roofed farm at Keldur.  On the way, we see a sign for horseback riding and follow the directions down a long private dirt track through fenced pastures.  At the end we find a strange farmhouse that seems to have no entryway, and though we look around for humans, we don’t find a soul.  Feeling defeated in our attempts to ride the Icelandic horses, we at least stop to visit with them and take some photos.

Icelandic horse
Icelandic horse
Icelandic horse
Icelandic horse
Icelandic horse
Icelandic horse
Icelandic horse
Icelandic horse

We continue bouncing down this dirt road, seeing Iceland’s usual grand views spread out before us.

scenery along the route to Keldur
scenery along the route to Keldur
Icelandic views
Icelandic views

We arrive at Keldur and park our car, walking past a picturesque stream and what looks like an ice house.

at the entrance to Keldur
at the entrance to Keldur
farm at Keldur
farm at Keldur
icehouse at Keldur
icehouse at Keldur

Keldur is the site of a unique cluster of turf farm buildings from bygone centuries.  Most of the buildings date from the 19th century, although they include timber from older structures, some with decorative moldings. A sill in the hall, for instance, is carved with the date 1641.  A tunnel which leads from the hall down to the brook has been excavated; it was probably built for defensive purposes in the 11th-13th century, a period of conflict and unrest in Iceland.

Keldur
Keldur

Keldur and its inhabitants make appearances in various Old Icelandic sagas, such as Njáls saga, Sturfunga Saga and the Saga of St Þorlákr. The farmhouse was inhabited until 1946, since when it has been part of the National Museum Historic Buildings Collection.  The farmhouse contains domestic articles from the Keldur family.

Church at Keldur
Church at Keldur
turf houses at Keldur
turf houses at Keldur
church at Keldur
church at Keldur
cemetery at Keldur
cemetery at Keldur
turf houses
turf houses
turf house at Keldur
turf house at Keldur
Mike at the Keldur church
Mike at the Keldur church

After completing the loop that brings us back to the Ring Road, we stop to enjoy our last Icelandic gas station hot dogs.

me eating a hot dog at a gas station along the Ring Road
me eating a hot dog at a gas station along the Ring Road

The rest of our drive back to Reykjavik is uneventful except for one stop to wash off all the gravel and volcanic ash that coats the underbelly and wheels of our little red VW Polo rental car.