“That is Snaefellsjokull a mountain about five thousand feet in height, one of the most remarkable in the whole island, and certainly doomed to be the most celebrated in the world, for through its crater we shall reach the centre of the earth.” Jules Verne – ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’
Our plan was to drive north to the villages of Akranes and then Borgarnes and the swing inland and visit the Þingvellir National Park but for now we just kept driving north and keeping the sea close to the left. Eventually we arrived at a decision making point with a road around the Whalefjord or a toll tunnel underneath that would save eighty kilometres or so of hard driving.
So we took the second option through the only underwater tunnel in Iceland, almost six thousand metres long and reaching a depth of one hundred and sixty-five metres. It cost 1,000 Krona at the toll booth, or about £5, which seemed like good value to save the fifty minute alternative drive around the fjord.
The Tunnel received a bad rating in the latest European tunnel test (believe me, it’s true), which is carried out annually by the German Automobile Club ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club). Specifically mentioned were poor lighting (it was very dark I have to say), the absence of an automatic fire alarm system and poor ventilation.
“The distance from the surface of the Earth to the middle is 6,370 kilometres, which isn’t very far (relative to the size of the Universe)…. Our own attempts to penetrate towards the middle have been modest indeed. One or two South African gold mines reach to a depth of over 3 kilometres, but most mines on Earth go no more than about 400 metres below the surface.” Bill Bryson – ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’.