Borgarfjörður Eystri is quite a hiking haven, with a good number of marked trails heading up the valley from town. However, the possibility of dense fogs and atrocious weather with heavy snow on higher ground make it essential to ensure you’re properly equipped, and to seek local advice before setting out. To book hut space along the way, contact the local hiking organization (863 5813, [email protected]).
Prominent behind Borgarfjörður Eystri, Dyrfjöll, the “Door Mountain”, gets its name from the gap in its sharp-peaked, 1136m-high basalt crest. This is another abode of local spirits, mischievous imps that emerge around Christmas to tie cows’ tails together. A round-trip from town would be a major hike, though you could arrange a lift up to the top of the pass at Geldingafjall on the Egilsstaðir road, from where there’s a marked track around the upper reaches of the mountain, and then down to the end of the valley south of town – a full day’s walk.
A good introduction to the area is to hike 4km or so west to the next bay of Brúnavík, whose steeply sloping valley was farmed until being abandoned in the 1940s. This is a story typical of the northern East Fjords; as the herring industry fizzled out after World War II, and roads and services began to bypass the region, farms founded in Viking times were given up as people moved on. There’s a small shelter shed here today, and a further rough trail over loose-sided fells to Breiðavík, where there’s a hiking hut and campsite with water and toilets (bookings 868 5813, [email protected]) and a 7km jeep track northwest back to town – the round-trip via Brúnavík and Breiðavík takes about fourteen hours.
It’s also possible to spend a few days hiking to Seyðisfjörður, initially following another jeep track south down the valley from Borgarfjörður Eystri. One of the highlights is about 10km along where you cross a saddle below Hvítserkur, a pink rhyolite mountain, wonderfully streaked with darker bands and stripes. The next valley over sports lush meadows which once supported four farms; at Húsavík bay here, there’s the remains
of a church and another hiking hut. You then cross over a steep hillside to the next fjord, Lóðmundarfjörður, most of whose population clung on into the 1970s. A partly restored church remains, built in 1891, along with a final, brand-new, hut. Lóðmundarfjörður marks the end of the jeep track, but hikers can follow a rough trail through a pass over Hjálmárdalsheiði and then down to Seyðisfjörður.