Iceland Mag

1 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Police investigating Scottish "adventurers" for criminal off-road driving

By Magnús Sveinn Helgason

  • Scottish off-road drivers promise more to come A screenshot from a video posted on the web page of Operation Ragnarök shows the team driving their 4x4 through moss growths and delicate vegetation, with no roads in sight. Photo: Screenshot from a video posted by Operation Ragnarök

Icelandic Police are currently investigating the adventures of two young Scottish men who style themselves as “Volcano hunters”. The two men are suspected of extensive off-road driving. Among the places the two are believed to have driven off-road in areas closed to all motorized traffic is the Holuhraun lava field and its vicinity.

The duo has set up a web-page where they chronicle their journey.

Illegal and destructive off-road driving
The two men, whose names are Matthew McHugh and Rhys Rowlands, have set up a webpage to document their journey which is called “Ragnarök”. On the page the two appear to brag about driving off road, and photographs and videos they have posted seem to document this off-road driving. It goes without saying that this activity is illegal. All off road driving is strictly forbidden in Iceland, as the wounds created by off-road driving in delicate vegetation and landscapes can take decades or centuries to heal or disappear.

Criminal behaviour in support of Charity?
The Police in North-Eastern Iceland told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service that the activities of the two men are being investigated with the help of Rangers from the Vatnajökull National Park. The two can expect high fines for their behaviour.

One of the most recent entries on the web-page the two describe how they entered a closed area to enter the Holuhraun lava field:

"Although we didn't actually see lava due to the eruption finishing, we did manage to sneak our way through the impassible 12km lava field to find one of the most recent lava veins. Still emitting sulphur at a dangerous rate we approached, respirators on and ultimately completed the mission we set out to achieve a year ago."

According to the web-page the goal of the “adventure” is to raise money for a charity, Poppy Scotland, which supports Scottish military veterans.

Message board flooded with anger
The message board of the web page has been filling up with comments. Many commenters attempt to make polite appeals to the men‘s conscience, pointing out that their behaviour is not only damaging in itself, it encourages others to follow in their footsteps. A commenter who calls himself “You are god damned idiots” wrote:

“You should not be posting this online and profiting from it in any way and you should be aware that distributing these images and videos will encourage ignorant tourists to also break the law in Iceland and destroy our nature! Thus your actions could cause so much more destruction than you have caused yourselves. Abandon this "Operation" and be ashamed enough and responsible enough to stop any further damage!”

Others are more pointed, leaving angry messages with strongly worded requests the two stop their destructive behaviour, turn themselves in to the authorities, take out their punishment and pay their fines and then leave Iceland immediately. One example read:

“Using your cause to defend your behavior is beyond pathetic. Turn yourself in and than leave for good.”

We can never emphasize enough that off-road driving is ILLEGAL in Iceland, and that driving off-road damages nature. You should always ask yourself when out in the wilderness: Are you enjoying the natural beauty – or are you ensuring that nobody else can enjoy it after you are done?

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