We were a day ahead in our schedule and had pushed on to Höfn, a fishing town on the south east corner of Iceland, with a welcoming vibe.
It just so happened that we were there for the first Saturday in June, which is Fishermen’s Day throughout the country. The boats in Höfn harbour were dressed with flags for the celebrations, locals competed in feats of strength and a procession of vessels headed out to sea and back to the accompaniment of much tooting and cheering.
We had been made aware of the festivities twice; once by the proprietor of Höfn’s only campsite, situated on the main road in to town, who, amongst other pieces of advice, warned us against direct discussion of the fantastic weather, lest it run from our words. The other occasion was by the owner of a small stand in the supermarket car park which sold delicious local langoustine wraps and chips. Details of the programme of events were given in the same breath as telling us that the potatoes would take a few minutes to cook as we were the first customers of the day.
Fortuitously arriving during a festival is one of the joys of travel, particularly when you are headed under your own steam and can allow your plans to change. Stumbling across memorable sites by accident is another and this also happened to us that Saturday in Höfn.
Whilst we waited for the party to get started, Mr S announced a desire to go fishing. I consulted our map and identified Stokksnes Head, about a half hour drive from the town, a peninsula with a lighthouse. As we pulled up we were disappointed to find a chain across the road and a sign advising that entry to the headland was only available after paying roughly £5 per person at a café located in a hut just shy of the spit. Annoyance turned to intrigue when we discovered that, as part of the fee, we could also visit an abandoned film set in the adjacent valley. Built to replicate a Viking village, the set has not yet been used but lies nestled in dramatic scenery, 20 minutes walk from the car park. It was a very surreal experience.
An added bonus was meeting reindeer on the path and, when we made it to the fishing spot, there were seals amongst the rocks. It seems to be that such serendipitous occurrences only happen when you are not looking for them.