Barely a kilometre outside Blönduós, where the Ringroad swings sharply inland to follow the course of Langidalur valley towards Varmahlíð, Route 74 strikes off north for 23km towards the Skagi Peninsula, a lonely, uninhabited landscape of desolate rocky moors and tussocky grassland studded with tarns. Beyond the peninsula’s one and only town, Skagaströnd, the unsurfaced Route 745 begins its tour of the peninsula proper.
SKAGASTRÖND is a rather ugly place dominated by a hulking fish factory down by the harbour and the brooding heights of the Spákonufell (646m) mountain, which bears down on the settlement from across the main road. Although trading began here centuries ago, there’s precious little to show for it, since most buildings date from a tasteless expansion during the 1940s herring boom.
The town’s new museum, Spákonuhof, focuses on the life and times of the area’s first named inhabitant, Þórdís the fortune-teller (c.932–75), who lived on nearby Spákonufell in the late tenth century. On entering the museum you’ll come face to face with a wax model of Þórdís (even though there’s actually no description of what she looked like), a couple of stuffed ravens and a mock-up of a wooden shack with a thatched roof – an approximation of the hut she might have lived in. Other than a tapestry portraying the key events in her life, notably efforts to raise Iceland’s first Christian missionary, there’s little else here to detain you.
From Skagaströnd, Route 745 follows the eastern shoreline of Húnaflói bay as it heads north around the peninsula. Roughly 15km north of Skagaströnd, the 10km-long cliffs at Króksbjarg and the glittering waterfall where the Fossá river tumbles down the cliff-face into the sea are an essential first stop. Beyond Króksbjarg, the road passes several deserted farms before reaching the sweeping bay of Kaldranavík, at the tip of the peninsula, which offers some truly magnificent ocean vistas. Having weaved past the remote farm of Hraun, at Hraunsvík on the northeastern extremity of the peninsula, the road finally veers south following the coastline of Skagafjörður fjord for the rugged sheer sea cliff Ketubjörg (signed from the road), actually the remains of an old volcano, and the accompanying rock pillar, Kerling, just off the shore to the northeast. From here it’s an uneventful and easy drive on towards Sauðárkrókur.