Today was really going to be a bit of an unknown we were heading out of the West Fjords and would overnight at Grundarfjörður on the Snæfellsnes Peninsular. However the in order to avoid another heavy driving day we had booked the 18:00 Ferry from Brjánslækur -Stykkishólmur. This 2:30 ferry ride may not have been a lot faster but it saved another 285 km slog in the Duster.
This meant we had a long day to explore this side of the West Fjords but who much we could see was a little unknown. The first port of call was Dynjandi.
I must admit I was pretty psyched about this one. We had seen ALOT of waterfalls, some incredible, some less stunning than hoped, but Dynjandi would be our last scheduled falls. And I was pretty sure we has saved the best till last!
However, Iceland gives with one hand and takes with the other. Yesterday’s weather had been epic. Today, on this side of the Fjords it was diabolical. The Cloud was low, the rain hanging in the air and as we pulled up at the Falls it was just miserable.
Maybe I just had a bit of a strop as I had really looked forward to this Waterfall and there was just nothing redeeming about it in this weather. So we grabbed a few snaps from the lot and pushed off. I just didn’t have the inclination to hike up with all the gear, get myself, Kate, and all the gear wet, and all for pretty crappy grey and lifeless photos.
It’s a shame, this one will haunt me, but you make your choices.
The Next on the list was the road over the mountains to Flókalundur. This is itself an attraction. It is a tight loose dirt road that winds up into the hills and down to the other side of the fjords. The Weather was really closing in and it was pretty wild at the top with very limited Visibility.
As we began to decent the other side the clouds cleared a little and the Sun burst through just a touch. This stretch of road was pretty hairy but perfectly manageable and the weather was just starting to pick up.
Before long we were at the dock having cut across the peninsular a fair bit faster than originally planned, the vile weather driving us onwards. The ferry was in the dock loading up, the only issue was we were 7 hours early!
The weather on this side was still pretty poor, but there was less rain the cloud level higher and there were breaks in the murk. So we decided to head off to explore. The main target being the remote and distant Látrabjarg
The Sea Cliffs at Látrabjarg are the most westerly point of Iceland and there is nothing from here until you hit the Atlantic coast of the Americas, or more accurately as we are so far north that really Greenland is the next landmass along with the Icey water of the Arctic Ocean in the way.
These Sea Cliffs are the breeding ground of a huge number of birds over the summer but they have largely left by now. Meaning there was not much there really apart from the cliffs themselves for us to see. But the Journey would be an adventure.
And What an Adventure it was. This was by far the worst road we had driven on so far. Very dirty, rutted, and riddled with potholes. At times there was more pothole than road, and speeds were very low and progress uncomfortable. But the remote and wild setting was staggering.
The Storm winds of the last day or so had mostly died down but there were still huge swells breaking into the fjords. Giant Arctic Breaker rolling in and pounding on the shore. There were some really epic breaks going off on the reefs and serious surfers would have a whale of a time if they could put up with the frigid water temps!
After a long and tiresome slog, we arrived at the furthest point west and parked up for a hike out along the cliffs. The wild ocean and peculiar uptick of the cliffs are really spectacular and while maybe not worth the arduous journey we were glad we came as, after all, the journey IS the destination sometimes!
The thought of backtracking along the same never-ending dirt road was less appealing, but we couldn’t stay here. So we headed back, in total it would be over 200km drive (both ways) mostly on dirt roads! This included taking the detour out to the other must-see in the area, Rauðisandur Beach on the way back.
This Pink Sand beach is a picture-perfect remote sandy expanse that delights visitors through the summer. As we arrived a rainstorm moved in, visibility was practically zero and the wind was picking up steadily. The light had robbed the scene of any color and beauty and it felt decidedly miserable. So we beat a hasty retreat. Again looking for the positives, the short detour over the mountain was pretty spectacular as the pink dirt track winds down the canyon via a series of hairpins.
With that, we were pretty much done with the WestFjords. They have been a wild and visceral location and we were very happy to have made the detour from the ring road. We know we should have devoted more time to them but the lateness of the year meant there was a good chance we wouldn’t make it all so did not want to devote too much time here.
As we headed to the port, the rugged landscape had one last surprise for us. Around 10km out, back on good quality tarmac, a light came on the dash…ignore it, it will go away, as we got closer the blinking persisted and as we pulled into the port the dash illuminated like a Christmas tree. The previously indestructible Duster was in trouble and we were a long way from Civilisation, but at least we were at the port.
The Good news was, firstly we had an entire day built into our schedule just in case something like this should happen, and secondly, all indications point to nothing but a flat tire. We still had nearly an hour until boarding the ferry, so more than enough to swap out the spare. Luckily the Dister CArries a Full-Size Spare, not a Space-Saver or repair kit so swapping it out would be a doddle and cause us no issues going forward.
The howling gale and sideways rain made the job pretty miserable, but At least that speeded me along. Soon enough the new Tyre was on, the old tucked into the boot and we were away. We would have to deal with the Rental Guys later.
Brjánslækur -Stykkishólmur Ferry Crossing
The Ferry was a little late into port, it was clear it was battling some pretty strong winds. These winds would help us make up the time during the crossing. We boarded in an orderly fashion and headed out into the wild water of the Breiðafjörður
This was certainly a rough crossing in several ways. The Ferry has certainly seen better days, it was pretty dated inside and the fixtures and fittings had taken a beating. The Clientele were a little rough around the edges too. The majority, 90%, were tourists just like us, but there was a local contingent too and they certainly made themselves known.
They boarded drunk and continued the party right through the voyage. It was all lighthearted fun, singing, and banter but at all at volume 11. Entertaining, to say the least. We had also not eaten and the on-ship cafe was again pretty rough. Pizza and Burgers were the offerings and these were pretty basic at the least, and not in any way cheap.
Finally, there were the ocean conditions. It was certainly a wild old night and the big old girl was getting knocked around a fair bit. Darkness fell pretty quickly and there was very little to see or do, just relax and take in the show the locals put on.
The cruise is a good 2:45 mins so does not save much time over the drive but it would have made for one hell of a day if we had taken the long road around the Breiðafjörður instead.
Finally quite late on, just before 9 we arrived in the port of Stykkisholmur and disembarked. We had a short drive in pitch black to our overnight accommodation in Grundarfjörður. We had chosen Grundarfjörður Bed and Breakfast and nice and basic accommodation that was contact-free check-in so it didn’t matter how late we arrived.
The town was very quiet and dark when we pulled in so it was pretty much straight to bed.
This was very disappointing for us as We had high hopes for Aurora tonight. I so wanted a shot of the lights dancing over Kirkjufell but low KPIs and thick cloud meant there was no chance tonight. This also marked the last opportunity to see the lights in the north. We had not had one showing since leaving Vik. The General wisdom is the south is the worse place to see the lights and the north offers much better opportunities.
We are sure this is right in the long term, but for us, the exact opposite had occurred. The North of the country had been Aurora free whereas the south provided shows almost every night. Also, the General Forecast was showing that the lights would pick up again once we arrived back in the south tomorrow evening…we shall see.
Live Blog – Trip Report
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