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HomeIceland TravelAn fascinating Hike into the craggy Kotagil Gorge in North-Iceland

An fascinating Hike into the craggy Kotagil Gorge in North-Iceland

Regína in Kotagil Gorge in North-Iceland

I like visiting gorges on my travels in Iceland, particularly gorges with rivers operating by means of them. As that signifies that you will see that a waterfall on the finish of the gorge. Kotagil gorge in Norðurádalur valley in Akrahreppur county (I do know it is a mouthful ;)) in North-Iceland is such a gorge.

And moreover – it’s a very particular gorge as it’s one in every of two locations in Norðurárdalur that are on the Pure Heritage Register. And you will note why if you go to it. 

High photograph: by Kotárfoss waterfall in Kotagil with my father-in-law

Kotagil Gorge in North-Iceland

Kotagil gorge

The identify of the gorge, Kotagil, means the gorge of the small farms – referring to 2 farms within the neighborhood, Fremri-Kot and Ytri-Kot. Kotá river, which runs by means of the gorge, additionally obtained its identify from the small farms and means, fairly merely, the river of the small farms.

I’ve seen 2 variations of the identify of the gorge, Kotagil and Kotárgil, relying on the gorge being known as the gorge of the small farms or the gorge of the river of the small farms. I all the time check with this gorge as Kotárgil, however use Kotagil in my travel-blog as that’s the identify on the official maps.

Kotagil Gorge in North-Iceland

Kotagil gorge

We adopted the river Kotá, which appeared extra like a creek on the day of our go to, into the gorge, stepping on stones to cross the river in some areas and attempting to comply with an unclear path into this craggy gorge.

It isn’t a troublesome hike per se, however very uneven and rocky, and the river runs by the cliffs so warning is required right here. And assist from fellow travellers.

Hiking in Kotagil Gorge in North-Iceland

Lending a hand in Kotagil gorge

I noticed many holes within the basaltic rock, which have been left there by fossilized logs, which as soon as belonged to an historical forest.

The holes are believed to have been created some 7-8 million years in the past, when piping scorching thin-flowing lava, reached a forest and coated the bushes, burning them within the course of.

The burnt bushes then disappeared with time passing leaving these holes behind. You may spot these holes near the doorway of the gorge.

Kotagil Gorge in North-Iceland - holes from fossilized trees

Holes within the rock from fossilized bushes 

Kotá river was low in water throughout our go to into the gorge, but it surely has been identified to swell. In 1954 in heavy rain there have been nice floods in Norðurárdalur and a landslip fell onto the hayfield of the deserted farm Ytri-Kot near Kotagil gorge.

A bit of bit additional is the farm Fremri-Kot, which outhouses obtained severely broken on this landslip. Fremri-Kot remains to be inhabited at this time.

Throughout Whitsun the next yr, the temperature rose leading to heavy rain, inflicting the riverbed of Kotá to be full of alluvium. The alluvium appears to have stuffed the gorge with 15-20 metres of excessive mud and gravel!

Kotagil Gorge in North-Iceland

Mountaineering in Kotagil gorge

The alluvium, rocks and gravel, buried the bridge from 1926 underneath some 3 metres thick gravel. That is fairly one thing as the ground of the bridge reaches some 4 metres above the river.

Because the temperature dropped once more the flood lessened. Bulldozers have been despatched to the rescue because the bridge was on the primary street, thus closing off the visitors from the south to the north (and vice versa) in the course of the holidays.

The bridges in Kotagil Gorge in North-Iceland

Bridges in Kotagil gorge

The bulldozers needed to pull the automobiles over the impediment to maintain the visitors, which was a lot much less again in 1955 than it’s now, transferring. This street is now known as ring-road 1, with the final connection in South-Iceland being opened in 1974.

Driving in Iceland was a lot completely different again then than it’s these days. 

It offers me chills desirous about this alluvium within the gorge. I might not have wished to see it coming roaring in the direction of me with nice pressure!

Kotagil Gorge in North-Iceland

Kotagil gorge

We hiked additional into the gorge for some 20 minutes and observed that my mobile phone misplaced all connection. This hike had been a spur of the second factor and a good friend was ready for us at Blönduós.

So I felt dangerous not having a connection, to inform him that we’d be late. And I have to say that I’ve began to really feel insecure when I’m not always linked – trendy occasions, eh 😉

I had learn someplace that the fulmar nests within the gorge, however the fulmar is my favorite seabird after the lovable puffin. However I did not hear any sounds from birds whereas climbing within the gorge.

Regína by Kotárfoss waterfall in Kotagil Gorge in North-Iceland

By the attractive Kotárfoss waterfall in Kotagil gorge 

Lastly, we reached our vacation spot, and I used to be not disillusioned with the sight that awaited me by the top of the gorge – a fairly, serene waterfall, which falls right into a small pond – Kotárfoss waterfall. This waterfall jogged my memory of one other waterfall I had visited in Nauthúsagil gorge in South-Iceland, regardless that visiting these two gorges may be very completely different.

The Mystical Nauthúsagil Ravine in South-Iceland & its stunning Waterfalls

You by no means know what the waterfall on the finish of the gorge goes to be like, and that’s the shock issue, which I look for. We stayed for some time by Kotárfoss and took images after which headed again the identical manner. I used to be so pleased with this hike as seeing these waterfalls on the finish of gorges is one in every of my favorite moments in life 🙂

Kotagil Gorge and the bridges in North-Iceland

My father-in-law photographing the stays of the bridge from 1922 – 2 newer bridges within the background

There are older bridges over Kotá river belonging to older variations of the primary street. The oldest one is a concrete bridge from 1922, but it surely collapsed in a flood in Kotá river solely 3 years later, in 1925. That flood might need been much like the flood in 1955. You may nonetheless see components of it within the riverbed (to the left within the photograph above), but it surely changed a wood bridge from 1897.

The following bridge within the photograph above was in-built 1926 and that’s the bridge, which obtained buried within the alluvium in 1955. The most important bridge (37 metres lengthy and three.9 metres large) was in-built 1961. You may see that the newer bridges are constructed additional and additional away from the gorge.

Kotagil Gorge in North-Iceland and the bridges

Testing the bridges over the river Kotá

The bridges over the Kotá river have been an accident lure with many accidents taking place on this space. Automobiles have been identified to collide in the midst of the one-lane bridge because the view from each ends was dangerous. And by now there was growing motor visitors.

The ultimate answer was to maneuver ring street 1 additional away from the gorge. In 2007 a brand new street was laid over the river and now the river runs by means of a 7 metres large tunnel underneath the street. This could stop the ring street from turning into flooded and coated in thick layers of mud and gravel.

I’m glad that I obtained the chance to go to Kotagil gorge with my father-in-law as he labored for over 50 years at Vegagerðin – the Icelandic Highway Administration and his speciality is – bridges 🙂

A map of Kotagil and the surrounding area

A map from the Nationwide Land Survey of Iceland of the world

Permit for an hour for visiting Kotagil gorge. You will notice an indication by ring street 1 and a small parking zone the place you possibly can depart your automobile earlier than you hike into the gorge. However as is all the time the case then automobiles parked by gorges entice different travellers and on our manner again we met a number of different hikers.

There are lots of different dramatic wanting gorges on this space. I additionally hiked within the gorge by Króká river on Öxnadalsheiði heath shut by. And I visited the preserved Bólugil gorge, which lies on the boundaries between Blönduhlíð in Skagafjörður and Norðurárdalur valley.

Króká river and the gorge opposite the road from Kotagil gorge on Holtavörðuheiði heath

Króká river and the gorge reverse the street from Kotagil gorge on Holtavörðuheiði heath – within the nightfall

And never distant is the scariest of the gorges on this space, Merkigil gorge, however the final farmer at Merkigil farm fell into that gorge and died.

That gorge is in regards to the scariest wanting gorge I’ve seen on my travels in Iceland! 

An interesting Hike into the craggy Kotagil Gorge in North-Iceland

To go to Kotagil gorge you possibly can hire a automobile in Reykjavík and drive up north. Norðurárdalur valley connects the historic Skagafjörður with Öxnadalsheiði heath which in flip takes you to Akureyri, the Capital of the North.

A really fascinating drive with a whole lot of stops by stunning sights on the best way.

Have a beautiful time in Iceland 🙂


Vegagerðin – the Highway Administration

Vegagerðin- Baldur Þór Þorvaldsso,n – pages 8-11

Timarit.is 1955



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