TEA BY THE SEA

We left campsite and the soulless beach bar of Aughris Head behind. Ahead of us was a long stretch of coast exposed to the swells. Yeah, if there wasn’t swell on the north west side of the Donegal Bay, it definitely found us here. And is we were following cliffs coastline there wasn’t respite until we came into a sheltered bay close to Easky. The forecast looked ok, so we decided to continue, maybe cross the Killala Bay before the winds pick up. We left and once we rounded a corner and paddled a fair distance from the last possible get out, the winds picked up, and so did the sea.

There’s not much to say but that it was a committing paddle in swell from the side then breaking on the shallows along the cliffs. We continued until the Lenadoon Point, and that became our destination for today. Deciding we need to be off the water ASAP, we landed on a tidal pavement of flat lying limestone, and made a decision to worry about low water launching when it will be happening.

The camping spot was a bit of Wuthering Heights, but apart from that, we were safe, and had a whole afternoon off.

The stoney platform was amazing, lots of fossils. And Zoe informed us it wasn’t just an ordinary windy hill, it was a drumlin. Now drumlin is apparently an elongated hill I. A shape of half-buried egg, it’s created by the glacier. Now she was excited as she never camped on a drumlin before, I still prefer ismuths more. Nevertheless the numerous fossils found in the limestone around us did make it quite exciting and entertaining place.

The forecast calmed for the following day, and we went through a time consuming routine of carrying several bags down to the low water mark, than wheeling the boats there, packing them, then leaving. Still at least we could use the wheels navigating then around limpets and across seaweed.

Our target today was crossing of he Killala Bay but as we went, the conditions didn’t worsen, and so we decided to continue. It led past impressive cliffs, however, we had to look more towards the sea rather than land as the waves were still impressive.

We rounded Downpatrick Head and surfed downwind past the stack. Now, the stack, Dun Briste, which means Broken Fort, was quite interesting, and apparently in the 14th century people lived on the stack, when it collapsed. We were hoping to get shelter and landing behind it all.

Then it happened. On the road on the land a spotted a white van pulling IT. I now recognise IT quite well. And it is my proof that there’s indeed coffee and tea available when one lands for a break from kayaking in Ireland.

This one was called TEA BY THE SEA. The owner was very friendly man and not only I managed to get my order through while he was still setting everything up, we were given the drinks for free. I didn’t have much time to hang around as our boats were slowly pushed up stoney ledges on the incoming tide. But the drinks were very appreciated by the rest of the team.

We discussed whether to look for landing for the day or continue, the conditions we seemed to be constant, not increasing, so we chose the next possible landing, and set off. The paddle was great, past many interesting cliffs, only downside was that we missed our landing place. However, I wasn’t disappointed much hoping that since the conditions are so great, a bit of swell, but wind pushing us along, we could make a bit of progress.

We have, and eventually landed in a small fishing village of Portulin. The camping was a little squashed on a tiny patch of grass right above the slipway, but it came with our own terrace. The evening was sunny, so the wasn’t much more that was missing from happiness.

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There’s no swell on the west coast

Before we left to come to Ireland I kept saying there wasn’t swell on the west coast. And the past two days it seemed to be truth. We left the Gweedore coast and it’s many island and the journey took us past some amazing cliffs.

And because there wasn’t swell on the west coast we got to go close to shore, into caves, and through tunnels.

Our plan was to go to Glen Head but then decided to finish in small harbour of An Port. No photos but the landing was on a impressive steep slip and we had to pull the kayak up on a little wooden rail track.

From here we paddled past many more caves, tunnels, and lots and lots of elephants. I did think about this as the land of elephants, as many of the rocks looked as big, small or baby elephants, elephants with trunks up and trunks down, and drinking. Why they were drinking sea water ai don’t know, but that’s what I saw.

We decided against crossing from Malin Beg straight across the Donegal Bay and decided to go further in into Teelin at the north west corner of Donegal Bay. What a wonderful place this was.

According to information on local sign Teelin was one of the first settlements to appear on maps of Ireland, as it was an important port. And we could see why. It is a beautiful estuary, with river flowing through a very green valley. We followed it all the way to the village of Cerrick on our way to go shopping. We were very lucky we didn’t need to walk the road to Cerrick we actually acquired a vehicle for an hour or so. And if you ask Lindsey what was her favourite time in Ireland so far, she would say that driving the van.

We didn’t come to Teelin just to admire the peacefulness of the estuary. We chose it as our starting point on our way across the bay. It started this morning, half way through we decided for a stop at Inishmurry Island. One inhabited so much that a school has bee;set up there. Apparently the island was infamous for its poitin production and since landing has never been easy, it thrived as government inspectors could never just turn up on a surprise visit.

270°

Two hundreds and seventy degrees. Two hundred, according to definition is ten more than one hundred ninety while seventy is a number equivalent to the product of seven and ten, or ten less than eighty. For us it was simply the direction that my compass was showing over the past few paddling days.

It was 270 when I was towing Lindsey across the Lough Swilly into headwind and swell, so her boat keeps only twenty metres behind mine. The wind was pushing us more and more into the bay while we were trying to reach the Fanad Headland.

It was 270 when we were paddling again few days later towards Horn Head, and impressive headland with cliffs as high as 180 metres above the sea. The direction was pointing straight at the small incline in the cliff, which I chosen as my wee stop. It didn’t disappoint, it was there, and even sheltered enough from swell. Here Head was spectacular, birds, cliffs, waves, but fortunately now tideraces running. True is, we enjoyed two hours lunch while waiting for tide and swell to die down a little bit. On top of the cliff we can see a look out tower, and ai must say these towers are piece of art, built in napoleonic era.

It was 270 when we continued to island of Inishbofin (Innis Bo Finne) a small island once inhabited. It was very hot as we were approaching the island. Hot to the point that we had to take off the tops of our dry suit (don’t try this at home) in order to reach it and not to explode in the heath. That was fine for me, but a real first for Zoe.

People left here by the 1970’s and now only few come back for the summer. However here we got a nice flat grass for our tents, the church was open and had toilets!. We met the islands only artist, some fishermen and one former resident. He invited us into the village hall to show us pictures of himself as a very young man, then some of his neighbours.

Next our journey was towards a distant headland stretching far and long in the distance. It’s name was Bloody Foreland. It was 270 degrees to go to Bloody Foreland. When I looked at amp of Ireland and saw how far this point is, I thought, yeah, what a name. As we started to paddle to it, it seemed endless, so the name bloody seemed appropriate even more. Of course the name was here before us, and apparently the name but after that our direction slightly changed. Bloody Foreland gained it’s name from its rock colour which in evening sun is illuminated in red shades. That’s not what we saw.

For us this headland was significant in other way, too, as after rounding it our compass started to show other directions than west only. Bloody Foreland was our gateway to the west coast.

We paddled past the Gweedore coast and it’s many islands, Inishmeane, Gola, Owey until we ended on Cruit in close distance to golf club bar, open to non-golfers.

WILD ATLANTIC WAY – FANAD HEAD

If week one saw us paddling every day, week two seems to be a week of being weather bound. It might slow our progress but gives us opportunity to explore the unknown. First we stayed a day at Tullah Bay on Inishowen Peninsula and walked over to the village of Clonmany, known as the Cross as it is built on cross roads and in the past being a centre of the illegal poitín distillation industry. To us is known as the village of many pubs, we counted about six within one short street, as well as Tag of War club. Which apparently has been quite successful in its history of existence and won six world medals and many All Ireland titles. Lovely place with historic churches and waterfalls.

We left Tullah Bay the following afternoon when the weather forecast suggested break in the wind. Still the headwind was quite strong and made our crossing from Dunaff Head over to Fanad Head across Lough Swilly entertaining by swell and wind. Lough Swilly, glacial fjord, and our gateway to county Donegal. We crossed and wanted to finish on the beach we watched every minute of the crossing. The beach was beautiful as beaches go, yellow sand, green grass high on the hill, whitewashed boulders, little stream going into the sea. However there wasn’t any chance to fit even one tent on anywhere. Still, we got our trolley and moved the boats above high water mark, looked around, but soon we were facing a decision. To stay and make it somewhere work, or to move on, as we could be here for few nights than just one.

Even the impressive view of the Fanad Lighthouse didn’t persuade us to stay. After quick snack, trolley dismantled back in the boat, luckily water was coming in, we got the boats back on the water in search of better place. Which could mean another 10 – 15 kilometres. The swell was playful, there and now a wave would wash over one of us and give us salty bath, surf was breaking heavily on the shallows along the shore.

Finally we spotted a sheltered corner of a large bay. Dunes, car park, we decided to stay.

Fanad Lighthouse stood on the cliff in its white glory. Built in 1815 and first lit in 1817, it was occupied by lighthouse keepers until automated in 1983. Fanad Head a strategic place at Lough Swilly, the lighthouse was originally built as a sea light rather than one indicating save passage into the lough’s natural harbour. And since the weather decided we would have few non paddling days, I went to see it. Two accidental events took place here today, first I was sold a tour of the lighthouse which I haven’t intend d to do first, but why not. It’s not very often one can visit working lighthouses, the last one I saw was on Flatey in North Iceland. It was interesting to see the difference in the size of bulbs used to light the lighthouse in the past and nowadays.

The lighthouse tower is 22 metres high from its foundation to the top not including the lantern. The light is 39 metres above sea level and there are 79 steps in the tower.

Second accident was bumping into Geoff from London, whom I last saw in Jersey three weeks ago. Which was great because I could get a picture taken.

A Sense of Déjà Vu

We reached Ballygally, and it’s great we did. Originally we thought we would stop just a village before, at the end of the north corner of Larne bay, it had a beach, take away van with coffee and apparently a campsite, too. However eventually we decided to give it one last push around the corner. Ballygally, little did we know it played its part in Game of Thrones, as none of us had ever seen a single episode. Ballygally had slipway, car park with very flat patch of grass, castle hotel with coffee, and later we discovered a great pub called Mattie’s a mile up the road. What’s more in the hotel they had the door. The door, which apparently were shown in the Game of Thrones. Something we didn’t know, so we didn’t take any pictures of it to show. We only learnt about its importance the following day.

The following day we got up early to catch the tide assistance to help us with progress against the strong headwind. We managed ten kilometres, and that was good distance considering Lindsey is still quite new to long sea kayak journeys in various conditions. But eventually it became clear we had to land and finish for the day. We did so in another harbour around another corner. And when we walked up the slipway I had a sense of being here before. Yes, I recognised the old marina building in front of which, seven years ago, Michal and I set up our tent on a concrete. We were on our trip round Britain, got to Northern Ireland, and without map didn’t really know about the coast. We stayed a night in this grey, fairly derelict town with one weird pub (https://homeseahome.com/2012/05/29/islands-hopping/).

Surprise surprise here I was again. Yet, this time things were to be different. Firstly, we found public bathrooms next to an information centre. And as we stood in front of them contemplating what to do next, a lady came out and invited us in for cups of tea and coffee. We now know her name was Christine, she set table and chairs in the middle if the small centre, and got to preparing our drinks while filling us and anyone else, who came in, on information about the place. For example we found out about The doors, about ten of them. We now missed most, but one is still attainable, it’s in Cushendun, which will be on our way up.

When two other ladies came in wondering where they could get coffee, Christine holding just boiled kettle over our cups said “not here, there’s a posh coffee shop in the castle”. We stayed for few hours as time passes quickly once one is back on land. Eventually we walked away with the following: information about the village, arranged storage place for Zoe’s kayak, arranged lift for Zoe to Belfast in the morning, and a rental house for the next 2 nights.

So, we decided to stay in Glenarm until Friday, when the weather should become friendlier. The village shows signs of being a very busy prosperous town back at the turn of 19/20 century with grand houses. It also has a castle, lovely woodland, two pubs, and newly opened little shop. Somehow it also has planters made from old kayaks, this definitely wasn’t here seven years ago.

On top of that the place around the harbour is now covered in grass and flowers rather than concrete like before.

Tiger Who Came to Tea

We left Howght and slowly started to make our way up the east coast. The first few kilometres until Skerries seemed to be the land of Martello Towers. Unfortunately they finished before any picture could have been taken.

The first days were pleasantly uneventful, we spent most time on the water working out how to paddle together, and most time at landings and launching how to join our efforts to get boats on and off as easily as possible.

There and now Zoe and Lindsey still tried to go or at least to have an idea what it would look like if we went clockwise, but it was more and more obvious that land on the left is just fine.

Eventually we came to a place called Kilkeel. It was time for lunch and we picked out a landing place at the end of the bay. As we were coming closer to land a man, later known as Mike, came to shore asking us whether we wanted tea. Lindsey had not had a proper tea since the ferry, and her eyes just lit up. Soon we were sitting on chairs in front of his friend Adrian’s house, having coffee, biscuits and lunch.

Our next target was Newcastle. We didn’t get there the same day, but the following one after a night on a very bouldery patch of beach squeezed between high tide mark and fence. I have a feeling there would be more of that later.

In Newcastle we planned to do a quick refill of some lunch stuff, maybe get the first coffee of this trip for me, and Lindsey had her eyes set on chips. Little did we know how exciting the stop in Newcastle would be. First we stopped on the beach on the left side of town, at incoming tide, it wasn’t the best, so Zoe stayed by the kayaks while we went to quickly fulfil our tasks. Sadly this part of town had no chips and no food stores, just cafes. We returned to kayaks and decided to paddle to the right side of the town to get closer to the less touristy and more locals’ part of it. This time we decided to approach the high street by landing in the river and again leaving Zoe on shore. Again it proved to be not so easy, as the supermarket was even more out on the edge of town, but we shopped in the first very posh butcher, then bakery. Lindsey got the chips, so all was good. However the tide was coming in quite fast by then. And so Zoe became the poster girl of Peak UK eating her chips while holding her kayak on the tow line to stop it disappearing to the sea.

After Newcastle the big Dundrum Bay awaited us. We had headwind in the morning, and were dreading the long crawl along it. However we were in luck, while we were being entertained by Newcastle the wind died down, and eventually turned in our favour. It carried us all the way to St John’s point.

What an exciting place that is. The lighthouse shone at us the previous night, and during the crossing changed its colours from red and white, green and yellow to black and yellow. What’s more the stop we had to have had some local occupants on, who became very curious of us, yet made it very clear that we shall not step a foot further.

Lindsey even got in the water holding her paddle in her newly acquired wide grip shouting that she was a strong swimmer. Luckily we were allowed to do what we needed to do and proceeded further along the coast towards Gun Island. Tonight we are sleeping on a ismuth, and I am very fond of ismuths.

DROPSEAT ADVENTURE 2019 – The story has begun

The long awaited day has finally come. It’s Monday 03.06.2019 and our team is travelling to Holyhead on Anglesey to take a ferry tomorrow to cross over to Ireland. After few months of scattered preparation we seem to be ready to go. 

We are aiming to circumnavigate Ireland by sea kayaks over the two months in June and July 2019. We called our journey Dropseat Adventure in recognition of the very specific nature of the drysuits we use as women. 

The hardest part of the preparations are done. All of us, Zoe Robinson – university professor in sustainability, Lindsey Harris – a nurse, Natalie Maderova – teacher of students with special needs, managed to get a leave from our works for 8 weeks. 

All of us have been kayaking for a while, so getting the kit together wasn’t such mission. However we are delighted that as a team we received support from Kokatat providing us with our drysuits, and Peak UK. We have all chosen boats that we are comfortable to paddle in. 

We decided to go to Ireland for few reasons: to keep our carbon footprint low, the coast is of reasonable length to be doable in the time scale we have, and it’s meant to be pretty.

Natalie’s now excited to go to Ireland as for her it is the third European island by size around which she will paddle. 

It terms of experience, it can be said that Lindsey it the least experienced of us when it comes to multi day paddling, long crossings, and expeditioning. She is involved with the King George and Queens Hospital Charity, which supports people undergoing major lower limb amputations. Following the procedure patients engage in long periods of rehabilitation and are often wheelchair dependent up until the time that they are ready for prosthetic limb fitting. Through our paddling we would like to raise money towards an upper limb bike – ergometer for our amputee patients. The upper limb bike will allow individuals to keep as active as possible on the ward and to help build their upper limb strength for the use of self propelled wheelchairs.

Lindsey’s fundraising page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lindsey-harris10

Natalie continues to support young people at Shadwell Basin and their access to adventure sports within the city. So if you liked any article and want to let me know, please, do it here: 

Iceland – Let’s talk about it

The expedition to Iceland has finished a while ago, and finaly, recently we shared online our video from the trip. The clip is made to complement our talk about our adventures around the coast of Iceland. And even, if you won’t have a chance to listen to us talking about our experinces, it will tell enough.

Currently we are sorting out dates for talks in London and in Gent in Belgium. Our closest event is going to be at an outdoor festival Obzory in Prague on the weekend of 11-12 of November 2017. We will be presenting on Sunday.

Iceland – Summary of the expedition

The return to normal life after our expedition to Iceland could not have been faster for me. Having landed in London on Tuesday at lunch time, I was back at work the following morning. That was ok, only meaning, that I haven’t had much time to think through some of our trip experiences. However snippets of memories have been steadily coming back almost every day. And finally four weeks after landing I started to write down some summary.
When I looked back into the calendar and counted the days of our trip some interesting numbers came out. The whole expedition lasted 70 days from the first paddling day to the last one, when we arrived back to Reykjavik. Out of which we had 38 days paddling days and 32 non paddling days. The longest we waited for the weather was the 9 days at the end, the weather never improved and we finally decided to finish.
The distance we covered was approximately 1500 kilometres, and we were short of reaching Reykjavik, our starting point, by 300-350km. 

As we have been waiting for suitable paddling weather a lot, very often we would ask ourselves if we should have pushed harder, paddle longer, launch sooner. And every single time, as we paddled the stretch, for which we waited, we were really glad we didn’t attempt it earlier in bigger conditions. The risks we would expose ourselves to would be too great.

If I compare this trip to others we have done before, this was by far our hardest trip. Most days we would have fairly strong headwind for significant part of the paddling day. To make the most of the weather we started to paddle any time of the day or night. Actually, more accurate numbers would be 26 paddling days and 12 paddling nights. At one point we paddled 52Nm within a 24 hour period with 4 hrs of sleep. I don’t recall any significant weight loss during any of our previous trips and expeditions. Here I lost 10 kilos in 8 weeks.
Our boats were quite heavy, we had been carrying provisions for 4 weeks most of the time. We never knew when we would reach the next shop. In the end, due to careful planing, decision making and sometimes pure luck, we were able to restock every 10 days, the longest time between shops was 16 days.
When on expedition like this, number of things is a must. The really obvious ones are kayak, tent, paddle, sleeping bag and so on. Yet, there were few small things which made unexpectedly big impact on our wellbeing. I will name three of them.
We always struggled with latex neck seal and salt water combination. Every time we come back to work after a weekend of paddling, people would be asking if someone tried to strangle us. Therefore the prospect of wearing drysuit day after day wasn’t something we were looking forward to. Fortunately I managed to find 1mm neoprene collar that could be worn between our neck and latex seal. It worked magic! Now it lives permanently in a drysuit pocket ready to be used any time.

It is always easy to focus on paddling gear while preparing for long journey and overlook land based stuff. To select only one pair of land shoes which would do everything for two and half months proved to be difficult. In the last possible moment we found high ankle boots which were also incredibly soft to pack small to fit into the kayak. At the same time they provided comfort in rain, snow, sand and survived abuse on lava fields.

For years we had been sleeping on our trusty self inflatable mats, however as we are getting older, it was time to get something more comfortable. In the end we bought large dawn sleeping mats, incredibly expensive, but worth every single pound we paid for them. They were wide enough to take over most of our three man tent. They were high to give enough comfort to our backs, and provided amazing insulation on cold Icelandic nights, that the fleecy onesie never made it out of its dry bag. They packed small into the hatch, but in an emergency could be used as lilos to float us around. Natalie was convinced of that.

Of course this expedition would not happen without the constant support from Tiderace Seakayaks. We have been paddling Pace Tour for last four years and we knew that it was the best kayak to take on such a journey. Its capacity, comfort and efficiency makes it an incredibly well balanced kayak. It’s also fun to paddle fully loaded and is really reliable in big and messy conditions. We knew that our kayaks would have to go through lots of abuse, therefore we chose the strongest layup, thatTiderace offers. I remember being particularly glad to choose this layup when I had to seal launch fully loaded kayak from boulders through dumping surf. In the end of our trip we each had just one chip in gelcoat.

We expected to endure very complex and ever changing weather so went for the best and chose Kokatat wanting to stay dry, warm and comfortable. The expedition drysuits worked magic but our favourite piece of kit became their salopettes.  For years I believed it wasn’t possible to have just one PFD that would work in any environment and for any paddling. On this trip I discovered Maximus Centurion pfd, it gave me plenty of pocket space for all the gear and vhf, and offered the best freedom of movement compared to any BA’s I’ve ever tried before. It works perfectly on the sea and as it’s primarily designed for whitewater it works there well too.

We have been struggling for years to find kayak shoes which would work and mainly, last. I have been told few times that I expect too much from my paddling shoes and I should be more realistic. During last few weeks of our UK circumnavigation my shoes resembled more a roll of duck tape than shoes. Natalie’s shoes disintegrated completely on our Northern Four expedition. So this time we wanted shoes which would actually last. Astral shoes did more than just that. They have sticky rubber to stop them slipping on shore. They are just high enough to stay on even when trying to walk through horrible terrain, and mud, and most importantly they are nicely wide and comfy when paddling.

For most paddling trips, weather is the one factor with biggest impact on them. Having good and reliable forecast is an essential part of an expedition. We were lucky to be receiving very accurate weather forecast twice a day from Karel. It was making it easier for us to know when it was a good time to commit and when it was better to stay on shore.

We undertake long expeditions not only to explore places and enjoy the everyday satisfaction of miles covered. What we like most, is the various chance encounters with people. Paddling around Iceland has become memorable due to meeting people at the right time.
Firstly it was Gisli and Gudni, who helped us with logistics at the start and finish of the trip. Maggi in Isafjordur, who led us his SPOT, when ours started to play up.

Then is was all the people who shared their homes and food with us. Hefdis and Thor in Arnarstapi were the first, who took us in for few days, looked after us and showed us their area. Maggi’s mum invited us for lunch on a Sunday. In West Fjords, of which we were warned they would be deserted at the that time of the year, we met three brothers Frederic, Gudnar and Inky. Thanks to them we could stay in warmth and under a roof during a week of storms. Their distant cousin in Fljotavik invited us to stay for two nights after we helped him to unload of the delivery boat. Jon and his wife in Reykjanes let us to thaw in their living room after a particularly freezing couple of days. The farm lady on Skaggi peninsula not only invited us for coffee and snack, but gave us butter, which we used as butterometer ever since. Liney from Thorshofn invited us for great breakfast and gave us us books as ours were finished. Ari from Neskaupastadur kayak club waited for us and let us stay in the club house for two nights. Then, there were Kidda and Siggi we met on the south coast. Because of their openness, and them lending us their car and letting us help them on the farm, we could keep sane during the long wait for the weather. When the time came to make the sad decision to finish before completing the full circle, Kidda drove us all the way to Gisli’s in Reykjavik.

The expedition is now finished, and while we are still reminiscing in the moments and memories, many people seem to need to ask us what next. The answer is the same, next, we go back to work. And only when the right time comes and we come up with new plan and save enough money we will know where to next.

In the shade of Katla

The first two nights we spent in the vicinity of the Alvidruhamrar lighthouse had two things in common, we wanted to leave as soon as possible, and we were not impressed by the black sand and landscape covered in low clouds of rain, and wind.
Before we started to paddle in Iceland and before we tackled the south coast, we were looking at the maps a lot trying to picture how the area would look like and what might be like to live there. The reality completely overwhelmed us. Despite the fact that we never resumed our kayaking from the Alvidruhamrar lighthouse, we feel very fortunate to be able to spent so many days in this region and explore it with the help of Kidda and Siggi.

We were in the land of ice and fire. The glacier, Mýrdalsjökull, could be seen clearly in a distance. Underneath is the volcano, Katla. Together they have been shaping the landscape into a mixture of lakes, meadows, powerful glacial rivers, lava fields, waterfalls, and black sandy beaches.

The day after we arrived to the farm and hostel Nona and Brynjuhus at Kirkjubaejarklaustur, Kidda took us to a nearby town, then gave us her car so we could explore further. We went to a canyon Fjaðrárgljúfur. It’s 100 metres deep and 2 kilometres long created by water erosion. 

In a strong contrast to the green rocky landscape is Myrdarsandur, where most glacial rivers of this area reach the sea. It is an ever changing landscape, in the past, the rivers formed large estuaries, and ocean going vessels could sail up the rivers further inland. The little church in Þykkvabæjarklaustur in Álftaver stands on the former location of a monastery founded in 1168 close to which the ships could sail. 

This area has been affected by many eruptions, mainly of Katla, which so far erupted 21 times, last one in 1918. The story of Katla says that in the time of the monastery Katla was a kitchen maid, and a witch. She had magic breeches, which allowed her to run very fast without getting tired. Most people, including the abbot, were afraid of her temper and powers. One day Katla and abbot went away to a market, and Bardi, a shepherd at the monastery was meant to herd all the sheep. Unfortunately he was quite lazy, so decided to use Katla’s breeches. Of course, when Katla came back, she wasn’t impressed and angrily killed Bardi by drowning him in a barrel of whey standing by the main door and leaving him there. Towards the end of the winter, when the level of whey in the barrel was getting low, Katla realised that she may be found out.
She run away, north west in the direction of the glacier and threw herself into it. Later, an eruption came out of the glacial and headed towards the monastery.

People living in the area are aware of the powers of nature. When the volcanos erupt, the one thing that everyone is aware of, are floods that would come. Kidda told us a story of her grandfather witnessing the 1918 eruption. With his friend they were up in the mountains rounding sheep, when it started, they managed to escape on horses and hide on the highest mount in the area. Evacuation plans are made for the region, but still the locals say, they won’t be driving away crossing glacial rivers, when it happens, they will go to the same higher points like their accentors. 

After each eruption flowing lava and tephra covered large areas changing the landscape causing many farms to disappear. We went to see a farm from 11th century which was covered after an eruption, and is now being excavated by archeologists. And also had a look at some old farm buildings dating from 15th century. 

We were offered even a closer look at what it means living under volcanos. When the Eyjafjallajökull erupted in 2010, as always everything was covered by volcanic dust. The hay that was made in 2010 after the eruption was deemed uneatable by the farm animals. And it was only this summer, that it was being dispose off, with our help. 
The hay was being taken out to the areas of sand to help the grass to grow and prevent further erosion of the landscape. The area is also covered by the so called rootless cones, which make interesting formation, where one’s fantasy can just wonder.