Unless I go back there, I will always associate the northern coast of Snæfellsnes peninsula with high winds and generally bad weather. On both occasions that we went exploring thereabouts we were practically forced by sleet and gale force winds to seek shelter in roadside stations and eventually back in our rented hut.
But not before having braved the elements, caught various glimpses and taken a great number of photos in between bouts of stormy weather.
Situated at the tip of a small peninsula sticking out of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, about 10 km north from our cottage, this small fishing port was the closest inhabited area where we could obtain supplies, for instance petrol, a local SIM card and paper napkins.
From a rocky islet topped by a lighthouse and joined to the mainland by a breakwater, there’s a magnificent view of the remote Westfjords in the north and the body of water with numerous islets that separates Snæfellsnes from the Westfjords.
Meaning holy mountain. Guarded at ground level by a typical Icelandic chapel. Gianluca and I braved the strong wind here and climbed up the hill. The girls preferred to stay sheltered in the car.
Berserkjahraun lava field
Go west… to Grundarfjörður, a village next to a fjord dominated by an iconic mount with a unique shape. The storm was becoming fierce now. Wind had reached gale force and snow and sleet were pounding the windscreen, with the defective wipers of our rented car unable to provide proper visibility.
We drove through the surreal black landscape of a young lava field, consisting of lava produced by a volcanic eruption about 6000 years ago: Berserkjahraun. The surreal aspect was enhanced by the snow and the green patches of moss.
Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss
Grundarfjörður was as far as the storm allowed us to progress. The road westwards from here was closed due to dangerous wind levels. We came back two days later, in more variable although still windy conditions.
Just beyond Grundarfjörður we got lucky: the sun broke through the maelstrom, just in time for a proper view of Kirkjufell and the waterfall, Kirkjufellsfoss, across the road from it.
What a 360° panorama from the footbridge on top of the falls.
We pressed on towards the western tip of Snæfellsnes. This area is dominated by a volcano, Snæfellsjökull, rendered famous by Jules Verne in his Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Along the way, the coast on one side and the mountains on the other offered a continuous and ever changing spectacle.
But Snæfellsjökull was unreachable. We went down to see a cave instead, Vatnshellir, with a guide and torches and with 30 euros less each person. I’ll be kind. No comment. They were kind in return by advising that climate conditions were NOT suitable for a visit to Snæfellsjökull. Neither was the lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula, we figured out for ourselves… Much. Too. Windy. But gale force.
We had to drive back to the shelter of our cosy little hut, for a coffee or a tot or two of Brennivin – “burning wine” or “brandewijn” (Dutch for brandy) a.k.a. Svarti dauði, i.e. Black Death, although I’m still alive to recount the tale. On the way back we tried to visit a couple more waterfalls, which we managed to view from afar.