Between Two Cliffs

Hornvík Bay in Hornstrandir lies between two of the largest bird cliffs in Iceland, Hælavíkurbjarg to the west and Hornbjarg to the east. In past centuries there were three families’ houses in the small bay: Horn, which was abandoned in 1946, Höfn, which was abandoned in 1944, though the rangers’ service house is still there at Hornstrandir, and Rekavík behind Höfn, which was abandoned in the same year. Hornstrandir is the northernmost part of Vestfjörður, and was made a nature reserve along with Jökulfjörður in 1975. A well populated community existed there, even though living conditions were very tough, until the middle of the last century, when the whole area was abandoned. There is no road transport to or in the reserve, so walking is the only option to view and explore this area, which is one of the most remote, coldest, and also the most beautiful parts of Iceland. Almost everyone who has been to Hornstrandir agrees on that. Hornvík is the best place to start exploring the area, though it involves both a steep climb and incredibly diverse nature. Whether in its dark cold fog, it’s calmness or sunshine, there is nothing to compare to it in the whole country. Boat trips into the area, Jökulfjörður and Hornstrandir are available from both Bolungarvík and Ísafjörður.

Hælavík Cliff above Hornvík Bay

The Horn house in Hornvík Bay was abandoned in 1946, but is now used as a summer house


Hælavíkbjarg in the foreground, overlooking Hornvík. Hornbjarg is on the far side of the bay

Hornbjarg lighthouse and weather observation station at Horn below Hornbjarg peak

Hornvík :  A7RIII – RX1R II R, A7R IV : FE 1.4/24mm GM- 2.0/35mm Z – FE 1.8/135mm GM

Photo & text : Páll Stefánsson