The red cottage in Fagridalur Valley, eastern Iceland

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While visiting Eastern Iceland, I fall in love with large sections of ring road 1 in this part of the country. Those vistas! SO beautiful to see how the ring road winds through the landscape; sometimes higher, sometimes lower … it makes for breathtaking views. This is also the case in Fagridalur Valley, a mountain pass between Reyðarfjörður and Egilsstaðir. As I drive through this Fagridalur Valley, it has just snowed which may make it look extra fairytale-like. I immediately understand why this valley got its name, which means “beautiful valley.” Striking is the little red house somewhere in the middle of the valley. What is this little orange house doing here so alone? There is no life to be seen for miles around. I go to investigate and find out why the red cottage is so abandoned here in Fagridalur Valley.

Fagridalur Valley

Fagridalur Valley in eastern Iceland is a long valley through which a stream flows. Next to the stream is ring road 1. The region in which Fagridalur Valley lies has a tundra climate. This applies to all of eastern Iceland. The average temperature in eastern Iceland is 4°C. There is a lot of precipitation; out of 365 days in the year, there are about 75 days that remain dry. Not surprisingly, it can also become beautifully white in Fagridalur Valley during the summer months.

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Neyðarskýli in Fagridalur Valley, the red house

Fagridalur Valley is mostly barren; there is hardly any vegetation except for certain grasses. Nor do you see any form of habitation here. All the more striking is the little red house in the middle of the valley. It turns out that the house is a neyðarskýli; a house for shelter (emergency shelter). Years ago, it was regularly used by people who were overwhelmed by bad weather while crossing the mountain pass. Nowadays, the mountain pass is closed during bad weather, so the cottage hardly needs to be used anymore. Today, the little red house especially makes for a very photogenic spot in eastern Iceland. No matter what season you visit this part of eastern Iceland, this red cottage in Fagridalur Valley will jump out of your photo in any situation.

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Hiking to Rauðshaugur from Fagridalur Valley

From Fagridalur Valley you can take a scenic hike to Rauðshaugur. Rauðshaugur is a rocky hill; according to a saga, a burial mound. In the saga, legend Rauður was buried here with all his riches. For more information about this hike, visit the website of Visit Austurland.

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Öxi pass (road 939) or Fagridalur Valley (ring road 1)?

Are you following the ring road while traveling through Iceland? Then in the east of the country you can choose to take the Öxi pass (road 939). This impressive mountain pass is open only when weather conditions are good. If you have a chance to catch it, I would definitely do it. Are you coming from a northern direction? Then to drive the Öxi pass from Egilsstaðir you must first take road 95. If the Öxi pass is suddenly closed, you can continue on road 95 until you get back on ring road 1. If you do not choose the Öxi pass and just follow ring road 1, you will automatically drive through Fagridalur Valley. Both beautiful, although it must be said that the Öxi pass is a lot rougher and more challenging. The real Iceland!

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