Title: Walking and Trekking in Iceland Author: Paddy Dillon
Publisher: Cicerone/Latitude Press Ltd Price: £17.95 (UK)
Climbers. scramblers, ski-mountaineers and trekkers will be familiar with the popular Cicerone guidebook series. They have enabled many outdoor enthusiasts to safely enjoy their activities for many years. I can remember spotting challenging lines with the help of well thumbed guides in climbing meccas like Gogarth and Borrowdale as a young climber and later to navigate numerous alpine routes.
The guides are not necessarily designed to entice visitors to a destination they are usually purchased by those already intending to visit or actually in country. Adventure travellers seeking a proven reference source for more challenging activities than standard city or destination guides can provide. They are universally available, providing inspiration and detailed route descriptions for a variety of outdoor pursuits suitable for the active regardless of ability.
“Iceland is often referred to as ‘The Land of Fire and Ice’, and it doesn’t take visitors long to discover why”
It was with great interest I therefore received a copy of their new guide to Iceland. This adventurous destination seems ideally suited to their style of route planning. Initially flicking through the content there is the usual blend of facts and figures, combined with detailed route descriptions, useful map illustrations and tempting photography.
“Iceland is a new addition to the face of the Earth”
The initial section of the guidebook provides general information of the island, starting with a map displaying the various regions which are explained in dedicated later chapters. The usual travel advice is provided; getting to and travelling around the island, dining options, general and trekking safety tips as well as topics of interest including geography and topography. This information is concise but relevant and though not as detailed as less specialised guidebooks it makes an ideal all-in-one option for intrepid travellers that don’t wish to carry around their own weight in guides.
The historical timeline is an interesting addition, providing a chronological list of most of the significant events in the history of the island.
Towards the end of the introduction there is advice regarding trekking in Iceland including some map reading tips, a key for the included maps and how to make the most efficient use of the guide.
“Snæfell is the highest fell in Iceland that is not part of a glacier”
The remaining chapters are the real meat of the guide, each one devoted to a region of the island and providing detailed descriptions of a number of available routes. Every route begins with a summary; the start and finish points distance, total ascent/descent, terrain, map required and how to get there. This is then followed by a short paragraph describing the route and finally by the detailed description. The level of difficulty may not be immediately evident but is always clear by the end of the full description. This maybe intentional to ensure trekkers read the account properly before choosing a route commensurate with their ability and experience.
There is plenty of detail in the descriptions, which when used in conjunction with a map should ensure even the most navigationally challenged adventurer is able able to follow and keep to the prescribed route. There are map extracts provided for each route described but they vary in detail and size.
The guide provides a selection of walks for each region and a number treks on the island, these require several days to complete and therefore are split up into manageable stages.
“the nature reserves of Fjallabak and Þórsmörk are very popular with walkers, and indeed some might claim over-crowded”
The appendixes include summaries of all the routes in list format, a glossary of selected place names and a list of useful information sources or further reading with websites and some telephone numbers.
Guestbooks are popular on Iceland and one is included to enable trekkers to add their own comments for interesting locations, waterfalls, fjords or summits which inspire the poet (or comedian) within.
“Q – What do you do when you get lost in an Icelandic forest? A – Stand up”
The author Paddy Dillon is an experienced guidebook writer, having already authored a large number of Cicerone guides. He has also written for a number of outdoor magazines and appears to specialise in walking within the United Kingdom and Europe.
Iceland is an adventurous destination, the location, the barren volcanic landscape, low population, rugged coastline and varied terrain will appeal to intrepid trekkers. This is a comprehensive, high quality guide, it follows the tried and trusted formula that Cicerone has successfully employed with their earlier guidebooks. The concise and detailed nature of the series has built a loyal following and another valuable volume has been added. It may not provide anything particularly new or different but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Those considering trekking in Iceland should give it serious consideration. It may not be cheap but it will be a worthwhile investment.