#vatnsnes

Photo of Illugastaðir by ©MICHAEL LEVY - INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER

Illugastaðir, a scene of a crime in the early nineteenth century. Photo by: ©MICHAEL LEVY - INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER

The seals at the Seal Colony at Vatnsnes in Iceland are, as are we, fascinated by the goose and the flock of young ones following her.  We wonder if it is a teacher or a mother? How many young ones does she have?  And we are looking at the seals.  Even if we try to read their mind, we have questions. Our best shot is that they are simply enjoying the view.  Finding pleasure in seeing the life of the young ones and her pride in her teaching as she swam back and forth. She has chosen to live in this Seal Colony at Vatnsnes.

The seals at the Seal Colony at Vatnsnes in Iceland are, as are we, fascinated by the goose and the flock of young ones following her

 

If you were to build a perfect fortification and place it in a strategically important place, you could probably not match the rock formation Borgarvirki. That is to say, if you were also in medieval times where weapons of choice were a sword and a shield.  Located approximately 180 meters above the sea level with a magnificent view in every direction it has a perfect placement.  Although it looks very much like a man-made fortification when you approach it, it is actually a natural formation. 

More interesting as a natural wonder of basalt columns

Borgarvirki or The Rocky Hill Fortification as it could be translated into English is a rocky hill made of basalt columns.  The rocky hill is 10 to 15 meters high with a hollow in the middle, surrounded by 6-meter walls and has an entrance to the east. It is not big and probably never housed a large group of armed men.  Although much of the time from settlement to medieval times are quite well documented in Iceland in the Sagas, no battle is mentioned at Borgarvirki. So the taught that it was ever a fortification are only speculations. One of the reasons that stories about fortification have developed is the fact that at the entrance is a stonewall built hundreds of years ago. But as a natural wonder, Borgarvirki is interesting to visit and an interesting geological formation.

Easily accessible from the Ring Road in Iceland

Borgarvirki is located only 10 kilometers from the Ring Road or Road 1 in Iceland on a turn to the north on Road 716. It is also only a short walk from the parking lot up to the top of Borgarvirki. There you can both enjoy the magnificent view over Vatnsdalur to the south and Vatnsnes to the north.  You also have a good opportunity to see the magnificent basalt column formation.

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Below is the location of Borgarvirki on the map of Iceland

If you were to build a perfect fortification and place it in a strategically important place, you could probably not match the rock formation Borgarvirki.

 

Although this majestic rock was never a popular sight or attraction among Icelanders in the past, it has become an important tourist attraction today.  The reason is not a big puzzle as it is a magnificent work of nature and its origin has both geological and supernatural explanation.  When visiting Hvítserkur the neighboring Borgarvirki and Kolugljúfur are also interesting places to visit.  Blönduós town and Hvammstangi village are both good places to stay if you want to take some time in this part of Iceland. 

The evil troll a place to visit

Rising from the beach 15 meters above the surface of the beach located on the east side of Vatnsnes peninsula, Hvítserkur (The White Caftan) resembles a large animal or a fossilized creature from another dimension.  According to an Icelandic folklore, Hvítserkur is an evil troll late on a night mission attacking a neighboring church, grabbed by the early ray of sunlight and turned to stone. The only enjoyment the troll has in its petrified situation is to make a home for hundreds of birds, who apparently return the hospitality by shitting over the cliff and giving it the white color.  Probably helped to name the rock as it sometimes looks like a white caftan and the locals wanted eagerly to forget it is a troll.

Interesting to see from a geological point of view

The rock is a basalt cliff that has lost parts of its foundation to centuries of a battle with the powerful forces of the Arctic Ocean, severe storms and constant temperature changes. Currently, Hvítserkur stands like a three-legged creature, with its two holes in it’s footing.  Most diffidently doomed to lose the battle for centuries to come if not for the human intervention of fortifying the substance with concrete. Possibly because the locals fear that a fall could help the troll to lose its spell and renew its evil presence in the area.
In high tide, it is surrounded by sea, but when the tide is low, it stands on the beach resting from the battle with the ocean forces.

Hvítserkur is easily accessible on Road 711 approximately 30 kilometers drive from the Ring Road.

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Hvítserkur on the map of Iceland

Hvítserkur at Vatnsnes in Iceland

When you are driving in North Iceland, there is just no way you'll miss Vatnsdalur (The Lake Valley) in Húnavatnssýsla. At the very mouth of the valley is a swarm of hills known as Vatnsdalshólar. Rising like hundreds of gigantic boobs in the landscape, many wonder why it isn't simply called Boob Valley. Especially as the lake the valley derives its name from, Vatnsdalsvatn (Lake Valley Lake) is small and rather insignificant.

Vatnsdalur is quite and interesting valley. It has one of the greatest salmon fishing rivers in Iceland, Vatnsdalsá. (Best keep it simple and not complicate things with loads of confusing names). The river cascades from the Highlands into a magnificent canyon in the southernmost part of the valley. From there it weaves its way along the valley, plunging from hills and circling farmlands.

Vatnsdalur is quite fertile and was inhabited from earliest times. It is the setting for Vatnsdælasaga (The Saga of the People of Vatnsdalur) when Ingimundur the Old settled in the area around the year 900.

Later on, Vatnsdalur was the setting for the last execution performed in Iceland in 1830. A couple, Friðrik Sigurðsson and Agnes Magnúsdóttir, were beheaded for a double murder. At the execution site, a memorial has been erected.

Below is the location of Vatnsdalur on the map of Iceland

Vatnsdalur is quite fertile and was inhabited from earliest times. It is the setting for Vatnsdælasaga