Fossatún in West-Iceland is such a fun place to visit and I always stop by it when travelling in this area. The owners and farm stay operators of Fossatún, Steinar Berg and Ingibjörg Pálsdóttir, former neighbours of mine, have created a fairy-tale world of trolls on their land.
Here you can find Tröllagarðurinn or the Trolls' Park which was created by the owners as a recreation for the guests at Fossatún.
I have stayed at Fossatún a couple of times and often stop by it on my travels in West-Iceland to say "hi" to the trolls. After visiting the trolls I pop in at the restaurant at Fossatún to get some coffee to pay for my visit and show my appreciation for the wonderful work that has been done here at Fossatún. But the Trolls' Park is meant for the guests of Fossatún only though.
I love it when people get good ideas and act on them, so /kudos to the owners of Fossatún!
Some of the trolls in the Trolls' Park are quite scary looking. One of them is Grýla, who is the mother of the Icelandic Yule Lads. She is not the nicest of trolls, maybe the worst - and she eats naughty children and cooks them in her cauldron. I always climb up into her cauldron and have my photo taken. I have a collection of photos of myself sitting in Grýla's cauldron through the years :)
The belief in trolls in Iceland is probably as old as the settlement itself when the Vikings settled Iceland in around 874 - and you will find myriad of places in Iceland named after trolls. The trolls were living here in Iceland way before Iceland was settled by us humans.
At Fossatún you will find Tröllafossar or Trolls' Falls and in the vicinity, a peak of the mountain Skarðsheiði is called Skessuhorn or the Horn of the Ogress.
The Trolls' Falls are small waterfalls/rapids in Grímsá river, which is one of Iceland's best salmon rivers. Sometimes salmons can be seen jumping in the falls, especially in Veiðifoss waterfall on the left-hand side closest to land. Grímsá river is mentioned in Landnáma - the Book of Settlements in Iceland, so the Vikings went salmon fishing in this same river some 1,100 years ago.
The waterfalls are beautiful and the troll surroundings are so magical. By the falls you will notice the head of a troll in the rocks (see my photo below). It is man-made but it fits perfectly into the troll landscape.
Back in 2005, Steinar Berg noticed two ogresses in the rocks by Grímsá river as it falls into the Trolls' Falls. The owners had lit up the waterfall on the occasion of hosting their first Christmas buffet, and the stone faces of the ogresses suddenly appeared in the rock. One of them is said to be a friendly-looking ogress with a beautiful smile.
Are the Trolls' Falls named after these 2 ogresses? Nobody knows, but it is very likely. The story goes that if trolls are exposed to sunlight they will be turned into stone - that is why they travel by night. But several of them have been unlucky and have turned into stone...
Steinar Berg was fascinated by these ogresses and after seeing them in the rock he started inquiring about the origin of the name of the Trolls' Falls and of the Horn of the Ogress in the vicinity. He didn't find a story related to the Trolls' Falls so he decided on writing his own story about the Ogress Drífa by the Trolls' Falls in a book called Tryggðatröll - the Last Troll, with beautiful illustrations by Brian Pilkington.
The Last Troll is a fairy-tale for children and adults alike and has been published in Icelandic, English, French, German and Norwegian - it is an excellent read. As those of you, who read my travel-blog, know already then I am a big fan of folklore, so I love the books on the trolls :)
Steinar Berg started digging into this matter further and got so inspired by the trolls that he ended up writing 3 more books on trolls in Borgarfjörður. His second book is called Tröllagleði and then a sequence to the second book was published called Hringaló og Grýla, which is the name of two trolls, Grýla being the worst of all of the trolls as she loves eating children, as I told you earlier in my travel-blog. In 2015 his book Trunt Trunt was published.
Steinar Berg wanted to start a troll related tourist industry and created a Troll Park with troll statues from his books. You can go on an hour-long Troll walk at Fossatún with information signs in 5 languages from the troll books leading the way.
You will amongst other interesting troll related things find a cairn from the book the Last Troll, where the ogress got rid of her worries into the cairn and you can still see the imprint of the ogress's hand on the cairn. You can also get rid of your worries by putting your hand into the ogress's imprint and there are instructions by the cairn.
This is how it is done: "Lay your right hand on your heart and your left hand on the rock slab on top of the cairn. Breathe deep, close your eyes and think of all the good things that have happened to you in your life".
It has become a common practice for people to recite the lines of one of the poems of the noted Steinn Steinarr (1908-1958) as they release their worries into the stone:
"Yes, it is a long and difficult road
and life is brief and much will go astray.
But graceful through temptation and hardship's load
your goal will always shine and bide your stay."
On the Troll walk, I found many troll games, the Troll kick and the Trolls' Play on words - and a miniature turf house for children with large farm animal bones instead of toys. You can see the Troll walk trail on the map above.
Children love this place - I have visited Fossatún with my husband's niece and I couldn't tear her away from the Troll Park, there was just so much fun stuff to see and do. She is from London, so she is used to all kinds of entertainment, but I gather that her Icelandic genes made her fall in love with Fossatún :)
There is a lovely café and a restaurant at Fossatún called Tíminn og vatnið or the Time and water, named after one of the best-known poems of Steinn Steinarr, who was one of Iceland's great poets and the great-uncle of Steinar Berg.
In the restaurant, you will find a large vinyl collection and gold records hanging on the walls.
Steinar Berg was a well-known record producer and the owner of the music company, Steinar Records before he moved to Fossatún and became a farm stay operator and a troll specialist.
Steinar Berg's record collection includes more than 3,000 records and you can choose one of the records and ask the staff to play it for you while dining at the restaurant.
My mother and I once stayed at Fossatún on our way north to Akureyri. We usually drive to Akureyri in one go, only stopping at selected locations during the 4-5 hour drive up north. But this time around we decided on pampering ourselves and take it easy and booked one night at Fossatún, which is only 84 km away from Reykjavík, where we live.
There is so much to see in the vicinity of Fossatún, so it is a great location for an overnight stay. Apart from the troll surroundings at Fossatún, you can visit the Saga town of Borgarnes, the agricultural community of Hvanneyri, Europe's most powerful hot spring Deildartunguhver, the historic site of Reykholt, and the beautiful Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls.
My mother and I visited all the sites I mentioned above, but during my childhood, my parents made several family trips to Borgarfjörður, so I really felt like a kid visiting these beautiful areas again with my mother :)
After a full day of revisiting Borgarfjörður, we returned back to Fossatún and my mother had dinner at the restaurant. We had a choice between staying in the guesthouse or at the country hotel. We opted for the guesthouse as it has got a large kitchen. I always opt for having a kitchen during my travels in Iceland as due to my food allergies and limited diet I cannot eat in restaurants and have to make my own food.
We loved our stay among the trolls of West-Iceland and our stay at the guesthouse, where we had a large communal dining room and a cosy living room, was impeccable. Our room had a flat-screen TV and there was free-Wifi in the guesthouse and in the restaurant. The Wifi key was the name of one of our best-known trolls.
My mother allowed me to use the photo of the two of us above after I had implored with her for her permission to post it in my travel-blog ;) By now I have written over 250 travel-blogs on Iceland and included myriad of photos of myself travelling all around my country, so I love having my mother with me in one of my photos :)
There used to be a popular campground at Fossatún. Since I stayed at Fossatún the campground has closed down and small cute cottages have been put up - they are called camping pods and are ever so lovely, like little hobbit houses. I must stay in one of them for one night, just to try them out.
These camping pods have become so popular that Steinar Berg plans on adding up to 60-70 of them, but there are currently (2018) seventeen camping pods at Fossatún. So, later on, you will find a camping pod village here :)
Fossatún is a true hidden gem, where you get to visit the fairy-tale world of the trolls. Don't miss it on your travels in West-Iceland. It is a wonderful place to spend the night, especially if you are travelling with kids.
Fossatún is located in the centre of the West-Iceland region, only some 84 km away from the capital city, Reykjavík.
You can rent a car in Reykjavík and take ring road 1 north towards Borgarnes town. Then turn onto road 50 before crossing the bridge for Borgarnes. You will find Fossatún a little further on, some 18 km down road 50. It is well marked and visible from the road; stop when you see a troll :)
Also check out this guided tour of this area: West-Iceland Upper Borgarfjörður Region.
Have a lovely time at Fossatún :)