The Western Fjords - robertwill
The Western Fjords. Few visitors to Iceland come here – the Ring Highway skips it altogether. Hólmavík at the eastern gate is home to the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft. Látrabjarg is beloved of birders who come to see the puffins , and where I was kicked out of the westernmost pub in Europe at closing time. To the south lies the Baldur Ferry connecting the Western Fjords to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula - picking its way through the 40 or so islets of the Breiðafjörður.
© Robert Will 2013<br />
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Only a fraction of the tourists that visit Iceland go to the Western Fjords - the Ring Highway skips the Western Fjords altogether. This is a pity as the landscape is spectacular. Látrabjarg is the westernmost point in Europe.<br />
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The Baldur Ferry connects the Western Fjords with the Snæfellsnes Peninsula by picking its way through the 40 or so islets of the Breiðafjörður.

© Robert Will 2013

Only a fraction of the tourists that visit Iceland go to the Western Fjords - the Ring Highway skips the Western Fjords altogether. This is a pity as the landscape is spectacular. Látrabjarg is the westernmost point in Europe.

The Baldur Ferry connects the Western Fjords with the Snæfellsnes Peninsula by picking its way through the 40 or so islets of the Breiðafjörður.

We weren’t sure about coming here either. It felt way out of the way, and our roadmap showed a long stretch of twisty unpaved road through the mountains between Ísafjörður and Breiðavík that we were dreading. To our surprise, it turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.Turn after turn, the landscape unfolded, vista building on vista, as if to say “See – I told you it would be worthwhile”. We are left with a stunned appreciation of the pure, unfinished splendor of this environment.
© Robert Will 2013<br />
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When we saw this long stretch of unpaved road on the map, we were dreading it - but it turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.

© Robert Will 2013

When we saw this long stretch of unpaved road on the map, we were dreading it - but it turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.

Occasionally, the landscape opens to reveals roadside quirks - a beached ship, a WWII transport plane lying by the side of the road, and a tribute to lost ships - a Christian cross surrounded by pagan standing stones. Eventually, we arrive at our hotel at Breiðavík. Our goal is Látrabjarg, and its famous bird cliffs. By nightfall on our day of arrival, the gorgeous weather of the previous day has given way to gale force winds and horizontal rain. We decide to forgo the cliffs until the next day.
© Robert Will 2013<br />
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Breiðavík Church

© Robert Will 2013

Breiðavík Church

We wake to faintly improved weather - still very windy and cold, but not yet pouring rain. I walk in the surrounding hills with a pair of sheep herding dogs who evidently feel that I look like fun. One of them brings a rock in his mouth and drops it at my feet. In a landscape where there isn't a stick for miles, I guess that you use a rock to play "fetch". Its feels very poignant, but there is no lack of enthusiasm for the game until their master calls them away.

We head for the bird cliffs, in a wind so strong that you have to approach the cliff edge on hands and knees. Strangely enough, there are no puffins in attendance - what the heck? I am subsequently told by an Icelander that there has been a significant decrease in the bird population there over the last few years. The fish on which the puffins feed are not coming in numbers to Iceland. Nobody knows exactly why, but climate change is the prime suspect. No fish - no birds. In a land with such a fragile environment, the effects of ecological change are immediate and visible.
© Robert Will 2013<br />
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The bird nesting cliffs at Látrabjarg - the westernmost point in Europe. Extremely high winds, frigid temperatures, and not a puffin in sight.<br />
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We were subsequently told that the fish on which the puffins feed are not returning to Icelandic waters, and as a result, puffin numbers are greatly reduced. The fragile ecosystem of Icelandic is feeling the effects of climate change in a very real and immediate way.

© Robert Will 2013

The bird nesting cliffs at Látrabjarg - the westernmost point in Europe. Extremely high winds, frigid temperatures, and not a puffin in sight.

We were subsequently told that the fish on which the puffins feed are not returning to Icelandic waters, and as a result, puffin numbers are greatly reduced. The fragile ecosystem of Icelandic is feeling the effects of climate change in a very real and immediate way.

The next morning sees us heading back to Reykjavik. This massive four wheel drive truck in line at the Baldur Ferry is an excellent example of the modified vehicles built to navigate the rugged interior of Iceland. This one looks like it was a military transport in a previous life. Our rental car is the little red job sniffing the Super 4x4's tail.
© Robert Will 2013<br />
<br />
This massive 4 wheel drive truck is an example of the custom vehicles that are built to navigate the rugged interior of Iceland.<br />
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Our rental car is the little red job that is sniffing the Super 4x4's tail.

© Robert Will 2013

This massive 4 wheel drive truck is an example of the custom vehicles that are built to navigate the rugged interior of Iceland.

Our rental car is the little red job that is sniffing the Super 4x4's tail.



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