In Iceland they call it Þórsmörk, most visitors call it Thórsmörk, and those who are bad with languages, like myself, call it Thor’s Valley. It’s the incredible spot the Outdoors Magic team visited last September to shoot the product review videos for this year’s Winter Outdoor 100, our guide to the season’s latest and greatest pieces of outdoor kit.
We wanted a location that would help to demonstrate the capability of the gear we were profiling; somewhere with harsh terrain, unpredictable weather, but also with the kind of beauty that stays long on the mind. And Thor’s Valley really delivered.
After arriving late at Reykjavik airport, we had a 120km drive with our guide Pálmi to get to the start of the valley, located on the southern tip of Iceland, then it was another 20km in the darkness along a narrow dirt track. We were faced with a river crossing almost immediately after leaving the main road and, despite being in one of the biggest 4x4s I’ve ever laid eyes on, the rushing water ahead seemed far too big a challenge. But Pálmi, without hesitation, stepped on the accelerator and ploughed straight through.
“Will there be any more of those,” I asked him. His chuckling told me all I needed to know.
Thórsmörk: Northern Lights, Canyons and Infamous Volcanoes
The next morning, waking up in one of the bunkbed-filled wood cabins at Útivist which is a sort of outpost for hikers, I was able to finally see the mountains that we had driven into the night before.
On either side of us were green and black jagged ridges and crown-like peaks leaning over a valley floor that was completely flat and several miles wide. A loud, white river cut through it. I could also just about see the glacier cresting over the eastern horizon. This was Eyjafjallajökull. It covers the top of that volcano that erupted back in 2010, halting 107,000 flights in Europe. Remember that?