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From Stonehenge to Iceland’s Arctic Henge, by bike – picture essay | Travel

Like Stonehenge in southern England, Arctic Henge acts as a sort of big sundial, capturing daylight and casting shadows. It has 4 aligned six-metre-high gates with a 10-metre central column. When accomplished it is going to be 52 metres in diameter. It continues to be being constructed from regionally quarried basalt rock on an outcrop of land in north-east Iceland, overlooking the distant village of Raufarhöfn – the nook of the mainland closest to the Arctic Circle.

Motorcycle journey map

Once some of the vital ports for fish processing and the export of herring merchandise, Raufarhöfn fell into decline after the collapse of the trade within the 1960s. The late Erlingur Thoroddsen, a resident hotelier, conceived and started building of the Arctic Henge in 1996, partly to assist revive the city.

When I relocated to Iceland from London in 2015 to jot down a guide, I offered each my bikes. I had been using since I used to be 16 and withdrawal quickly set in. Then final summer time, I heard good friend from the UK was promoting a 250cc Kawasaki TR250. In September I flew to London and purchased the bike. I mapped a path to experience it again to Iceland, from Stonehenge to Heimskautsgerðið (Arctic Henge). To keep away from the motorways I made a decision to take the scenic route on what can be the longest solo journey on a bike I had ever made, three,500km from southern England by way of France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, the Faroe Islands and throughout Iceland.

Arriving in Amesbury, Wiltshire, visitors was bumper to bumper on the A303, however on the bike, I used to be in a position to make good progress. At Stonehenge, as an alternative of getting the bus to the precise web site, I doubled again and found a turning onto a potholed lane the place a couple of motorhomes have been parked up. I had a picnic, and from throughout the sector of sheep, peacefully noticed the traditional stones and their swarm of tourists.

After crossing the channel on Eurotunnel, I drove round 350km almost daily as I made my method by way of Europe to the ferry in Hirtshals, within the north of Denmark. I ended off on the houses of associates, or inns when wanted. As I drove additional north the land transitioned from the inexperienced finish of summer time, to the burgundy of autumn.

Telecom tower in Germany

B road through mid Germany

Germany is filled with surprisingly inexperienced fields, wind generators, and the occasional telecom tower

All 250km of tree-lined winding roads from Osnabrück to Hamburg have been bathed in lovely sunshine. National elections have been arising in a couple of weeks and posters have been festooned in all places. The occasional flawed flip had me driving previous farmhouses and cornfields.

In Hamburg I sailed across the metropolis’s waterways on the no. 72 harbour commuter ferry, taking within the sights and the soothing sensation of being on a ship in calm water. The smokestacks of factories puffed swirling clouds into the blue sky as we floated previous cranes and trendy buildings.

Hamburg

From Hamburg (above) it’s I drove to Puttgarden for the ferry to Rødby in Denmark.

Arriving in Copenhagen, I headed straight to Wrenchmonkees, a customized bike storage. Here Jonathan, who races professionally, invited me for a experience at Malmö Motorstadion the subsequent day. Driving from Denmark to Sweden throughout the towering, 8km-long Øresund bridge had my coronary heart pounding and an enormous smile plastered on my face.

Lars of Bolt&Volt motorcycles

Wrenchmonkees Custom Motorcycle shop, Copenhagen, Denmark

Speedway track, Malmö, Sweden

The likelihood to experience at Malmö Motorstadion made me realise that whereas my bike was constructed for grime observe racing, I used to be not.

The voyage from Hirtshals on the northern tip of Jutland to Tórshavn, capital of the Faroe Islands, takes 36 hours on the MS Norröna (Denmark to Iceland with a cease in Tórshavn from about €320 one-way off-season with bike and a few meals, single cabin, smyrilline.com). It was off-season so the ship was not very crowded. Other passengers included senior vacationer teams, younger European travellers, and commuters. We sat on the highest deck below heaters having fun with the view and draught beer.

MS Norröna in the port of Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

With eating places, bars, a pool, sauna, film theatre, a fitness center, and out of doors scorching tubs, it feels extra like a cruise than a North Sea crossing

A day and a half after leaving Jutland we docked in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands at 5am. I rolled off the ship in darkness. The floor was regular however my abdomen nonetheless swayed. I slowly made my method up the harbour to the close by Hotel Hafnia.

The Faroes are an archipelago made up of 18 islands related by sea tunnels, bridges and ferries. The subsequent morning I drove to the island of Vágar in close to zero visibility and robust winds. The winding mountain roads alongside rocky cliffs (with out railings) have been breathtaking however terrifying on the bike. I used to be grateful for the windless 5km sea tunnel that joins the primary island of Streymoy (the place Tórshavn is) to the island of Vágar.

Sørvágar, Faroe Islands

Locals within the Faroes spoke in regards to the rising variety of guests and hoped the inflow wouldn’t overwhelm their lives and infrastructure

On Vágar I took a stroll from my resort. I may see roads snaking like a distant continuation of the trail I used to be on, simply past the ocean’s bay. Sheep and conventional black homes dotted the fjord which felt extra sombre than the pictures I’d seen on Instagram.

Island of Vágar, Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands have an otherworldly really feel to them. This picture, taken on the island of Vágar, is photographed in infrared

The 19-hour voyage to Iceland was forecast to be extra turbulent than the one from Denmark. As quickly as I checked in, I took movement illness drugs. With remedy on my aspect, I spent the night having fun with a meal of fish tempura and roasted greens regardless of the boat taking up six-metre swells.

Place setting at dining room aboard the MS Norröna

Hot tub on the bow of the MS Norröna

I used to be informed that sitting in water may assist with movement illness so I employed one of many out of doors scorching tubs for a soak

A relaxed dawn arrival into Seyðisfjörður was overshadowed by news storm was as a consequence of hit the world that night. I used to be booked into Grásteinn (doubles from about £150 B&B) on Holt sheep farm in Þórshöfn, 225km to the north (5 hours drive away) on a working sheep farm in Þórshöfn. If I left instantly, I might make it. The promise of pleasant faces and roast lamb was sufficient to galvanise me. On simply a few hours’ sleep, I started the ascent from Seyðisfjörður.

Taking the ring highway out of Egilsstaðir, the wind picked up and the chilliness started to penetrate. There was snow on the peaks forward. After 83km I turned off onto Route 85 and climbed to Vöpnafjörður. This highway traverses gorges and rivers. I felt like I used to be driving into limitless sky.

A rear view over a bridge in north eastern Iceland

Riding is a meditation. So a lot of recent life is constructed to maintain us out of our environments, disconnected from them, or one another. “Safe”. This is an antidote to that

I used to be greeted at Grásteinn guesthouse by the canine first, then the farmers Hildur and Siggi, their kids and their German “workaway” Romi who confirmed me to my cabin. Unplugged from world media for weeks, I discovered that the Iceland soccer group was as a consequence of play a key World Cup qualification match in opposition to Kosovo. Needless to say, the nation was dizzy over it.

The ram public sale that Saturday in Raufarhöfn meant we might all go collectively. The farmers loaded their rams right into a truck and I readied my bike for the one-hour drive to the Arctic Henge. After winding my method by way of the inexperienced and burnt-orange moss-covered lava fields, I was the stark space round Raufarhöfn. Not many vacationers make it this far off the ring highway, however the Arctic Henge is altering that.

Departing the city limits of Akuyeri, Iceland

Leaving town limits of Akureyri, northern Iceland

As the triangular peaks of the 4 gates emerged on the horizon, the hairs on the again of my neck stood up. A handful of vacationers have been strolling among the many stone columns and marvelling at their dimension with outstretched arms. I parked the bike and Romi drove up behind me. Grinning, I requested her to take a photograph of me in full gear.

It was October 7 and I had coated greater than three,500km. After yet another evening’s relaxation, I accomplished the journey to Reykajvík through the northern ring highway stopping in a single day in Akureyri. I then drove the acquainted majestic winding blacktop roads in the direction of Borgarnes on the west coast, throughout the bridge spanning the Borgarfjörður fjord, and was home. Iceland certified for the World Cup two hours later.

The road to Borgarnes.

End of the highway – heading to Borgarnes on the west coast


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