A Wonderful Stay at Fossatún amongst the Trolls of West Iceland
In this travel-blog I am going to show you the fairy-tale world of trolls at Fossatún in West Iceland. It is such a fun place to visit and I always stop by it when travelling on the Silver Circle of Iceland.
Here you can find Tröllagarðurinn or the Trolls' Park which was created by the owners as a recreation for the guests at Fossatún.
Top photo: In Grýla's cauldron with my husband and his niece
Grýla - the mother of the Icelandic jólasveinar - the Yule Lads
The owners and farm stay operators of Fossatún, Steinar Berg, and Ingibjörg Pálsdóttir, have created a magical world on their land, which I love to visit.
I love it when people get good ideas and act on them, so kudos to the owners of Fossatún. They are former neighbours of mine and their son, Páll, was my brother's best friend when they were little.
The Troll's Park is for the guests of Fossatún, and I have stayed here a couple of times.
Alone in Grýla's cauldron
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 :) I always get the chills though when doing this as it is imprinted in us from an early age to fear Grýla.
Trying to get on Grýla's good side back in 2013
The Visitor's Guide asked me if they could use a photo of me in the cauldron. So I sent them another version of the first photo in this travel-blog of the 3 of us together by Grýla.
It is on page 222 in the 2022 publication of the Visitor's Guide.
I think that they have used this photo for 5 years now, which is lovely. So I find it appropriate that I publish it myself in my travel-blog as well since it has been in circulation for years :)
Naughty or nice?
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 places in Iceland named after trolls.
The trolls were living here in Iceland though way before Iceland was settled by us mere humans.
As those of you, who read my travel-blog, know already then I am a big fan of folklore and have written many travel-blogs about the Icelandic trolls through the years, f.ex.:
The gentle Troll Bergþór in Mt. Bláfell - Icelandic Folklore from South Iceland.
Ármann in Mt. Ármannsfell and the Troll Games on Hofmannaflöt Plains in South Iceland
Grímsá river by Fossatún
At Fossatún you will find Tröllafossar - 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 at Veiðifoss waterfall on the left-hand side closest to land.
Grímsá river is mentioned in Landnáma - the Book of Settlement in Iceland, and the Vikings went salmon fishing in this same river some 1,100 years ago.
Grímsá river by Fossatún
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.
I received a letter from Menntamálastofnun - the Directorate of Education in Iceland, where they asked me for permission to use the photo below in an educational children's book "Halló heimur", in a chapter about folklore and trolls.
You can see the photo here, they used more of my photos from other locations in Iceland in this wonderful book.
A troll at Fossatún
Back in 2005, Steinar Berg noticed two ogresses in the rocks by the 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.
Various trolls at Fossatún
The story goes that if trolls are exposed to sunlight they will be turned into stone - that is why the so-called nátttröll travel by night.
But several of them have been unlucky and have turned into stone, like these ones: The 3 Trolls who wanted to separate the Westfjords Region from the Mainland of Iceland - Icelandic Folklore - Vestfjarðatröllin
Mt. Skessuhorn - the Horn of the Ogress
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, Skessuhorn, 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.
A grim-looking troll at Fossatún
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.
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.
This is what Grýla looks like from behind - she has got a long tail
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.
A cairn at the Troll Park
If you are a guest at Fossatún you can go on an hour-long Troll walk 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.
The information sign by the Troll Park
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. Breath 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."
A goal at the Troll Park
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.
A miniature turf house at Fossatún
There is a lovely restaurant at Fossatún, the Rock 'n' Troll restaurant where you will also 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.
The record collection at Fossatún
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.
We had a choice between staying in the guesthouse or at the country hotel. We opted for the guesthouse as it has got a kitchen.
Our room at Fossatún
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.
My mother allowed me to use the photo of the two of us above after I had implored her for her permission to post it on my travel-blog ;)
By now I have written some 300 travel-blogs about Iceland and included a myriad of photos of myself travelling all around my country, so I love having my mother with me in one of my photos :)
With my mother at Fossatún
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 Krauma geothermal baths, the historic site of Reykholt, the beautiful Hraunfossar and Barnafossar waterfalls and many more sights of interest.
Hraunfossar waterfall is my favourite waterfall in West Iceland
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 places again with my mother :)
Back then there was no Hvalfjarðargöng tunnel, so we had to drive through Hvalfjörður bay, which made the day trip considerably longer, so we would find a place to stay overnight.
After a full day of revisiting Borgarfjörður, we returned back to Fossatún and my mother had dinner at the restaurant.
Soaking in a hot tub at Krauma by Deildartunguhver hot spring
Visiting all these beautiful historic sites in the Borgarfjörður region makes for a wonderful day tour. You can even do the whole Silver Circle tour from here.
I have written another travel-blog about the Silver Circle so that you can see what there is of interest in this area in chronological order: The Spectacular Silver Circle in West Iceland.
Here is the location of Fossatún on Google maps, and here is the website of Fossatún.
I have invited my mother for more trips to Borgarfjörður, as instead of giving her flowers on Mother's day I give her a hotel stay instead. Here is another travel-blog about one of our trips to Borgarfjörður with an overnight stay at a hotel.
Have a lovely time at the beautiful Fossatún in West Iceland :)
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