Two men from Scotland who are traveling Iceland for charity in a modified 4x4 are under investigation for the crime of off-road driving. They set off intending to drive up five Icelandic volcanoes this August.
The pair have a website about their trip, where they are open about driving off-road, saying they have driven into the middle of the Holuhraun volcanic eruption site by driving 12km over the virgin lava. The police in Húsavík say they knew nothing of the men’s planned trip before it started, and are now investigating.
The men are former British military personnel, though Matthew McHugh left service with a heart condition, and Rhys Rowland left after being wounded in Afghanistan. Both maintain very strong and passionate connections to the armed forces.
Their expedition is called Ragnarök, from Norse mythology, and they call themselves ‘volcano hunters.’ Their website contains details of the modified Mitsubishi L200 vehicle they are driving, and also has a message board, which has recently been hijacked by angry Icelanders—some of whom use offensive and unnecessarily aggressive language.
Their newest blog post says that they drove over 12km of dangerous new lava into the Holuhraun field, having to travel through poisonous gases which are still rising up from the earth.
The expedition is being made for charity, with donations being taken for Poppy Scotland; a charity supporting former soldiers and those who have been injured in the theater of war.
Northeast Iceland police were not informed of the expedition ahead of time, RÚV reports, and the police chief in Húsavík says the case is under investigation in partnership with Vatnajökull National Park rangers to see what damage has been caused to the sensitive landscape.
The police chief says that all motorized traffic in the area is forbidden and if the men did indeed drive there, they were in a restricted area. The case would fall under nature protection laws.
Any punishment will depend on how much damage the alleged off-road driving has caused and could result in heavy fines.