Julia Lohmann


On tour in Northern Iceland

We went on a three day tour to Glaumbaer, Grettislaug, the Midfjordur Rettir and around the Skaga peninsula, to Kalfshamasvik and Ketubjorg.


Curious locals watch us as we head out on our weekend excursion.


On the way to the sheep roundup at Svinadalur we stopped at Graefekirkja near Hofsos, one of the oldest churches in Iceland. It is is set in a circular pre-Christian earthwork and built from turf, driftwood and basalt rocks.


Also near Hofsos is a modern farm, built using the same materials. Viewed from a few hundred metres away, it melts into the landscape.


Glaumbae is a 18th/19th Century farming estate consisting of 16 interconnected turf and driftwood buildings. We saw it in glorious sunshine and learned a lot about rural life and work, as well as architecture before the advent of steel-reinforced concrete, corrugated iron and other modern materials. Gero and also I indulged in homemade Icelandic pancakes, sherry cake and hot chocolate at Askaffi, an 1880’s Danish-Icelandic building near the farm.



Dotted around the country are small mounds and hills with nipples on top. We decided to investigate:


Here’s our theory: Soil is eroded from the rocky mounds. Birds use the uppermost rock as a look-out and mark their territory. They keep on marking and marking and marking, turning it into the best-fertilised and seed-richest spots in the area – nipples.


Rugged Icelandic countryside looking rather feminine.


Gero happy in his natural outdoor habitat, before we go for a quick dip in the hot spring Grettislaug. The legendary outlaw Grettir the Strong took a bath here after he swam ashore from the island Drangey when the fire in his hearth went out. To find out what happened next, have a look in the popular saga written about him.


In the afternoon, we stop at the sheep round-up in Svinadalur. Here’s one of the first arrivals, showing off the latest in highland woolens.


5 September 2009

Jule and Johanna, who worked as fellow farmhands during Julia’s first stay in Iceland returned to join us for a reunion and to ride in and watch the Bjargsholl horse and sheep round-up.


The horses come in from the highlands.


The Rett is full of new arrivals and the sorting begins.


A farming veteran directing horses to their enclosures.


A horse waiting to be ridden to its farm pastures.


In the afternoon, the sheep start arriving from the highlands, driven on horseback and by quad. They quickly fill up the valley and Rett, the traditional circular enclosures used to sort sheep.



6 September 2009

For the horse and sheep round-up near Bjargsholl farm we stayed at Balkastadir, the home of local farrier Sig Ingvi Bjornson and his sheepdog Fija. Both were totally exhausted, having walked more than 30 km driving sheep from the highlands. This and sorting sheep and horses all of the following day didn’t stop Ingvi from playing and singing with his family band at gig at another post-round-up ball until 6 am.

Walking along the beach the next morning, Fija couldn’t help but round up a few more stray sheep for us.


We went to see Kalfshamarsvik, an old fishing village on the Skaga peninsula. Of the settlement, only turf walls and a lighthouse remain, framed by huge coastal basalt columns towering tall like cathedrals.




Other abandoned seaside settlements.


The weather closing in over the lakes near Hraun.


An forgotten farmstead, somewhere near Hvalnes on the Skaga peninsula.


Ketubjorg with its waterfalls and cliff top seagull colonies offers stunning views along the northern coast.



And we found some huge mushrooms for dinner.




Along the route back to Siglufjordur we were treated to an amazing sunset and saw hay bale land art created by local farmers. The rocky island in the distance is Drangey, the home of legendary saga outlaw Grettir the Strong.



3 Responses to “On tour in Northern Iceland”

  1. Geraldine westrupp

    Hi I came across you site researching Ketubjorg waterfall for a photography workshop I’m putting together of Waterfalls of the North. I was wondering if you know if it is possible to get down to the beach where the waterfall is, to view it from the side and underneath? You take really nice pictures by the way.
    Hope you can help


  2. David Hopper

    Hello, Very nice pictures of scenes that will interest us on our 3 week June trip to Iceland. Now I have to find a detailed map and mark the locations of pictures that interest us. Thank You, David & Shari Hopper, Paradise, California

  3. Gail

    wonderful images! We’re headed to this area early September. Are there any farms you would recommend we stay at?

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