Being outside of the Ring Road and on a peninsula jutting out toward Greenland, the Westfjords are one of the more remote regions of Iceland. which may seem like an oxymoron since remote is an appropriate term for much of Iceland and the whole sland itself relative to Europe or North America. South of the sound of Patreksfjordur, the southernmost peninsula of the Westfjords bears the distinction of being home to the westernmost point of the island. Near there, the cliffs of Latrabjarg, Europe's largest bird cliffs, are located and that was my first destination in the Westfjords.
I set an ambitious goal for the day and after visiting Snaefellsnes Peninsula in the morning, I really needed to cover the distance to Patreksfjordur ( Google map of the trip; Google's default directions suggests taking a ferry though its schedule is seasonal and quite limited, making it impractical without careful planning) A brief stop to refuel in Budardalur taught me that foreign credit cards were not accepted at the pump stands and I would end up buying prepaid cards, which could be used outside. As I traveled the Westfjords later on, I learned to actually come inside and get a hot dog, which seems to enjoy the status of a national dish, and some coffee, which is also very popular and consumed in copious quantities. It was always good to get something warm before heading back into the cold and wind...
As I entered the Westfjords, the pavement on Highway 60 ended, the wind picked up even more if at all possible. The highway would follow the coastlines around the fjords, and later on cut them off across mountain passes. Snow showers hung to the tops and snow drifts showed that the crossings could be considerably hairier in the dark of snowy winters. Along with the ubiquitous cell phone signal, which seemed amazing given the desolate mountainous terrain, a survival shelter at the top of one of higher pases was there for just such occasions. I reached Patreksfjordur around 6pm, and after taking a brief break, headed out again toward Latrabjarg.
|Fence on Hvammsfjordur||One lane bridge on highway 60||Entering the Westfjords||Heavy-duty transmission towers||Survival shelter|
|Interior of the shelter||Visitor log||Tidal waters||Road construction||Into the nowhere||Farm machinery|
|Nissan in the fjords||Curve||Truck||Snowy pass||Snowy pass||Kleifakallinn|
|Kleifakallinn||End of Patreksfjordur|
It was getting late as I headed from the town of Patreksfjordur toward the southermost peninsula on the other side of Patreksfjordur, I had two destinations in mind - Latrabjarg and Raudasandur. Since it is more than 60 km to Latrabjarg, some of it on some winding dirt roads I realized I could likely only see one of them during the low light of the evening. I chose the former and postponed the red beaches of Raudasandur till the next day. Along the way, a wreck of Gardar BA 64, Iceland's oldest steel ship built in Norway in 1912, makes a scenic stop. Further along the peninsula on the south side of Patreksfjordur is Orlygshofn, featuring nice sandy beaches and a farm with a museum. Continuing steeply up over the middle of the penninsula, the dirt road passed some snowfields before dropping to Breidavik where a small church and a hotel are located. It was just a few more miles on a dirt road mostly along the western shores to Latrabjarg.
|Hiwhway along Patreksfjordur||On the road again||BA 64||Scenic shipwreck||Rusty||Landed|
|Reflection||Gardar BA 64||No highway for a ship||Bay|
|Driving in the fjords||Orlygshofn valley||Fence||Highway to Latrabjarg|
The largest bird cliffs in Europe start at the westermost point of Iceland (and Europe if Greenland and the Azores are excluded) and continue east along the southern shore of the peninsula for some 14km, They reach over 1400 ft (440 m) in height. They are almost vertical in places and walking up to the very edge is not recommended since the ground can be unstable. Even though it was still two hours from the sunset, the sun was low in the sky and the light was great for photography.. There were scores of puffins and numerous other birds on the cliffs. Even after an hour of admiring the scenery and taking photographs, I had a hard time separating myself from the funky looking puffins.
|Photographer||Latrabjarg cliffs||Latrabjarg cliffs||Puffins on the cliffs||A puffin couple|
|Latrabjarg cliffs||Latrabjarg cliffs||Footpath||Photographing photographers||Flyover|
|Flyover||Beak to beak|
|Stretching?||Calling||Nest gathering||Puffins at work|
After taking a picture of the westernmost lighthouse in Iceland, I reluctantly said goodbye to the puffins and cliffs of Latrabjarg. On the way back, the church is Breikjavik drew my attention. After crossing back to the north side, I took a detour along "Dirt Road" 615 to watch the sunset just after midnight into the ocean above a lighthouse near Haenuvik farmhouse. I drove back in the dusk following the sunset and only the moon kept me company. I went to bed around 2am, 24 hours and 621 shutter clicks since I got up, having driven almost 700km, many on dirt roads...
|Lighthouse at Bjargtangar||Road from Latrabjarg||West shores||Highway 612||Church in Breidavik||Prayer|
|Church in Breidavik||Orlygshofn valley||Glowing cliffs||Lighthouse near Haenuvik||Lighthouse||Lighhouse sunset|
|Dusk||Road||Moon over Patreksfjordur|