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Leggjabrjótur/Breaking Legs Path

There are many old historic routes in Iceland. These once important paths were replaced by modern roads, so many of them have only historical significance today. These routes are therefore excellent for hikers that want to hike between places of interest in the peaceful wilderness, only with the sounds from birds and the occasional sheep.

One of the most famous is Leggjabrjótur (breaking legs path). Despite its name the path is not difficult and suitable for most hikers in good shape. The name derives from a rocky hill in the middle of the path where horses were more likely to suffer leg injury if you didn’t go through it with caution. I have never heard of any special risk of injury of hikers when passing through.

Leggjabrjotur, the Breaking legs path.
Leggjabrjotur, the Breaking legs path.

For more than a thousand years Leggjabrjótur was an important path connecting travelers from the western part of Iceland to the Parliament in Thingvellir or to the south part of Iceland. The path does not reach high altitude, as the highest point reaches 500 m and the path is around 16 km, so 5-6 hrs is plenty for the hike.

The path leads to Öxara river and for quite a while you walk past the river and in the Öxará valley with the mountains of Búrfell (783 m)and Syðsta Súla (1093 m) of Botnssúlur on either side.

The view to Hvalfjörður (Whale Fjord) is stunning.
The view to Hvalfjörður (Whale Fjord) is stunning.

An old tale of the river Öxara tells of the stream turning into wine at midnight on New Year’s Eve. No harm in checking that out and it sounds much better than the tale of the fish in Myrkavatn Lake where Oxara River flows from. The fish there are supposedly to have fins that point in the wrong direction called “öfuguggi” (wrong pointing fin). Fish like that were considered awful creatures and no one wanted to catch something like that. In recent times the word “öfuguggi” has gained a new meaning in Icelandic, it’s used to describe a man who is a pervert.

We will have a splendid view towards Þingvellir once we reach the highest point and to the beautiful fjord of Hvalfjörður. We go through Bishops swamp, past Lake Sandvatn and see Brynjudalur valley. Many people lost their lives fighting over the cow Brynja and no wonder they decided to use the name for the valley.

Breiðifoss í Botnsá
Breiðifoss í Botnsá

Next to Brynjudalur is the valley of Botnsdalur, with the highest waterfall in Iceland and the second deepest lake hiding behind Hvalfell mountain. Two farms were in the valley of Botnsdalur, but they are both deserted and only two brothers still live in the valley. With only a handful of cottages this is an ideal area for hiking and sightseeing.

Please leave your details if you are interested in more info or would like to join us in a hike or two.