Iceland’s Fish

Posters in Reykjavik’s harbor of the fish found around Iceland.

Seltjarnarnes

July 20 continued. We visited the Seltjarnarnes peninsula in Reykjavik, Iceland again in the misty rain. The area around Grotta Lighthouse and Bakkatjorn pond on Seltjarnarnes are natural reserves, surrounded by black sands and a rugged coastline, you can see across the water to the Reykjanes and Snæfellsnes Peninsulas.

There has been a lighthouse at Grótta since 1897, and the one currently standing dates back to 1947. It was connected to the electric grid in 1956 and has remained more or less unchanged since. A farm existed on the site in the 16th Century. Grótta is thought to derive from the old word for a wheat-grinding mill. 

Throughout summer, many species of birds nest in the area. Arctic Terns, tufted ducks, can be found in Bakkatjörn pond. Some areas are cordoned off to protect the birds during nesting. Terns will dive-bomb you if you are too close to their eggs or young, and you are likely to receive a fine. Seals are occasional visitors.

In winter the area has little light pollution, making it a popular spots to view the Northern Lights.

Grótta is connected to the mainland by a thin spit that becomes submerged at high tide. Those walking over to the lighthouse need to be aware of the tides, so they do not become stranded. See the tide chart.

Valahnukamol

July 20 continued, We stopped at the Valahnukamol cliffs, a renowned birding spot, on the Reykjanes Peninsula in Southwest Iceland south of Reykjavik. By late afternoon it was getting foggy and stormy. The statue of a Great Auk is a memorial to the extinct bird by Todd McGrain. Part of his Lost Bird project.

The last stop was at the Reykjanes Lighthouse. The first lighthouse in Iceland was built on Valahnúkur in Reykjanes in the year 1878. By 1905 earthquakes and surf had damaged Valahnúkur so much that there was the risk of the lighthouse falling into the sea.

A new lighthouse was therefore built in 1907-1908 on Bæjarfell hill in Reykjanes and the old one was demolished with an explosion on april 16th 1908. A survey which Rögnvaldur Guðmundsson supervised in 2007 for the Icelandic Maritime Administration led to the conclusion that Reykjanes lighthouse was the most popular lighthouse among Icelanders.

The light is 69 meters above sea level the height of the lighthouse is 26 meters. Reykjanes lighthouse also has a radio beacon with a correction signal. There is carved rock and concrete in the lighthouse. Architect Frederik Kjørboe and engineer Thorvald Krabbe designed the lighthouse. The operation of Reykjanes Lighthouse is under the supervision of the Icelandic Maritime Administration. visitreykjanes.is – reykjanes lighthouse

Kryusavikurbjarg Cliffs

The horses near Kysuvic were a treat. We explored the coastline and stopped at the cliffs of Krýsuvíkurbjarg. The Krýsuvíkurbjarg cliffs are renowned as a birding spot. The weather was a bit rough so we didn’t see many birds. The terns are nesting and they bombarded us when we came near.

Kyusavic church belongs to the Hafnarfiord benefice in the Kjalarnes deanery. It was built in 1857, renovated and reconsecrated in 1964 and handed over to the National Museum.

Arsonists set the church on fire during the night of January 2nd 2010. It burnt totally down. During the last few years, the church was used for services twice a year and was popular among tourists according to its guest book. Krysuvik Church was built again 2020.

Krysuvic

On July 20 the official self-guided trip was over, so I chose where to go. We went to Valahnuamol point. On the way we stopped at Krýsuvík geothermal area. The colors there are magnificent. The solfatara fields of Krýsuvík are near the center of Hafnarfjörður. We saw steaming volcanic vents and boiling hot springs, framed by multi-colored hills. A boardwalk winds through the bubbling and hissing geothermal area, with signage explaining the geology.

Areas like this are national treasures. There are signs saying stay on the paths. It was upsetting to see footprints in some places. Those prints will not go away.

Hraunfossar and Barnafoss

Also on July 19 we stopped briefly at Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls.

The Hraunfossar waterfalls (Lava Falls) in Borgarfjordur are a beautiful and unusual natural phenomena. The water seems to magically appear from the lava but is actually a clear cold spring that surges through the ground and runs in rapids down into the Hvita River.

The nearest settlement of significance to Hraunfossar is Reykholt. This tiny village has a huge history, being home to the legendary writer, chieftain, lawspeaker and poet Snorri Sturluson. Without Snorri, huge amounts of Icelandic, Nordic and even British history would be unknown. He catalogued a history of Norwegian kings and their relations with other monarchs in his work Heimskringla, as well as the Norse mythological beliefs in Prose Edda. It is believed that Snorri first wrote many of the sagas still read today.

An Icelandic folk tale associated with Barnafoss, is about two boys from a nearby farm, Hraunsás. One day, the boys’ parents went with their ploughmen to a church. The boys were supposed to stay at home, but as they grew bored they decided to follow their parents. They took a shortcut over a natural stone-bridge above the waterfall. They fell into the water and drowned. When their mother found out what had happened, she put a spell on the bridge saying that nobody would ever cross it without drowning himself. A little while later, the bridge was demolished in an earthquake. There is another stone bridge there now.

We stayed at Hotel Klettur in Reykjavik for the second time. Dinner was at the Sjavargrillid in Reykjavik seafood grill restaurant. We had the lamb dinner there which was one of the best in the trip. The waiter said jokingly that it was best not to tell me how they make lamb so tender in Iceland.

Hraunfossar, Iceland by Marc Felix 7/19/2021
Barnafossar, Iceland by Marc Felix 7/19/2021