I had for the longest time wanted to visit the peninsula north of Snæfellsnes peninsula. It is a lesser travelled peninsula called Fellsströnd and Skarðsströnd. This peninsula has got many historical places which are well worth visiting. So off I went to explore the peninsula. I had already booked one night at Vogur country lodge in Fellsströnd, as I knew that exploring this peninsula would take me more than one day.
Our first stop was by Krosshólaborg, where a big stone cross stands tall on a hill. This monument was erected in 1965 in memory of the Norwegian Auður djúpúðga, one of our most influential settler women. She settled down in ca 890 in Hvammur in Dalasýsla county, close to where the stone cross stands. Before she came to Iceland she married Ólafur hvíti or "Olaf the White" the king of Dublin, who was killed. So Auður djúpúðga was an Irish queen.
Auður djúpúðga was one of the few Christian settlers in Iceland and raised crosses on a hill close to where she lived and there she went to pray. Thus the name Krosshólar or Cross-Hill. Her name djúpúðga means "Deep-minded". Auður had one son by Ólafur, Þorsteinn rauður, who was later to marry the sister of Helgi magri, who settled Eyjafjörður.
Auður djúpúðga was the daughter of Ketill flatnefur and the sister of Þórunn hyrna, who married Helgi magri and settled in Eyjafjörður. The children of Katell flatnefur settled a great parts of Iceland, Helgi bjóla settled Kjalarnes and Björn austræni settled Snæfellsnes and lived in Bjarnarhöfn.
It was so windy when I visited Krosshólaborg that I could barely stand on my feet. I wanted to show you a photo of me next to the stone cross, so you could see how big the cross actually is.
Our next stop was at Hvammur, which was the leading manor in this area. Here was the home of Auður djúpúðga settler woman.
Later on Hvammur became the home of Hvamm-Sturla Þórðarson and here his son, Snorri Sturluson, by far the most influential man in Iceland´s history, was born in 1179. There is a monument by the church at Hvammur in the memory of Snorri Sturluson. I am going to write a separate blog on Snorri Sturluson and his life and achievements. Snorri was the author of the Prose Edda and Heimskringla.
We visited several old churches on our way and reached Vogur Country Lodge at Fellsströnd in the evening. My aunt had stayed at this hotel on two occasions and was raving about it, telling me that I had to visit Fellsströnd and stay at this hotel. And that I should write about this area on Guide to Iceland :)
I was thrilled when I saw my room and now know why my aunt had liked staying here so much. Everything is new, modern and spotlessly clean. And very tastefully decorated.
Vogur Country Lodge was renovated in 2012 and opened in January 2013. It is a converted barn, beautifully renovated. There are 24 rooms and 4 suites here!
We dined at Vogur in the evening in a luxurious dining hall with excellent food. My husband and I were celebrating our "2-years-together" anniversary and it just hit the spot staying in such a beautiful place. There is also a barbecue hut at Vogur, where one can grill one's own food.
There is an outside hot-tub at Vogur and sauna, free of charge.
The hotel offers boat-trips to the Breiðarfjörður islands and rents out bikes to their guests. There is a horse-rental close to Vogur so there is a lot to do for fun in this area. I was here to explore the area and the history of the peninsula, which is also fun to do :)
Above Vogur Country Lodge is a lovely waterfall so after dinner we went on a short hike (15 minutes) up to the waterfall and enjoyed the breathtaking view of Breiðafjörður bay with its innumerable islands.
The day after we made an early start so we would be able to visit all the major sights in this area. I take a lot of photos, so travelling with me can be trying as I want to stop so often ;) Our first stop was just outside Vogur Country Lodge at a beautiful Memorial Grove in memory of Bjarni from Vogur.
Bjarni from Vogur (1863-1926) was a well- known Icelander, a politician, writer and a university teacher. He has, funnily enough, a cigar brand named after him ;) On every box of cigars was written "Bjarni frá Vogi" with a photo of Bjarni and the Icelandic flag colours.
After visiting the memorial grove and making many photo stops we drove to a peninsula called Dagverðarnes cape. When the settler woman Auður djúpúðga and her men were looking for their high-seat pillars, they went to this cape and had breakfast. The peninsula got its name from the lunch "Dagverðarnes" cape meaning Breakfast cape :)
There is a small church on the very end of the cape. It is now abandoned and locked. It is kind of surreal standing by the church. One gets the feeling of being alone in the world, looking at the innumerable Breiðafjörður islands. It is so silent and so remote.
My father-in-law makes view dials and my husband and I stop by every viewing dial in Iceland, given that they are not located on mountain tops, and photograph them and the surroundings. There is a view dial at Klofningur west of Dagverðarnes cape with a beautiful view of the Breiðafjörður islands.
From here, and in other places at Fellsströnd, one can see two cones in the ocean. These cones are called Dímonarklakkar islands and they are the highest islands in the Breiðafjörður bay, 39 meters high. I have sailed right up to them on a boat trip on the Breiðafjörður bay.
Unfortunately it was not sunny when we visited, but my aunt tells me that it is breathtaking watching the sunset on a clear day from this place. I hope I will be able to visit again on a sunny day.
Klofningur means a split and the road lies through the split. It makes for a good photo opportunity to drive the car through the split and turn around and take a photo of the car driving through the split again.
Now we had reached Skarðsströnd and our next stop was at the well known farm, Skarð. Skarð is a historical place and used to be one of the splendid manors in Iceland. Here lived Björn Þorleifsson, governor, and his wife Ólöf-the-Rich Loftsdóttir from the Icelandic Sagas.
Englishmen killed Björn in 1467 at Rif in Snæfellsnes peninsula and Ólöf-the-Rich is quoted to have said: "Eigi skal gráta Björn bónda, heldur safna liði og leita hefnda..." - meaning "Shed no tears for farmer Björn, but gather men to avenge him...". I think almost every Icelander off age knows this quote.
Ólöf revenged her husband and had her men kill a lot of Englishmen and she imprisoned 50 of them. She kept the men imprisoned at Skarð and used them as slaves. She forced them to build a pavement of rock, which can still be seen at Skarð. She then had them all killed.
The church at Skarð was the main church for this area and in it treasures can be found. There is a beautiful alabaster picture above the altar dating back to the 15th century. It was given to the church by Ólöf-the-Rich and in the middle picture we can see Ólöf herself to the right giving blessings to the congregation.
Ólöf is buried beneath the altar and her husband, Björn, is buried beneath a rock on the south side of the church.
There is also a beautiful pulpit in this church dating back to the 17th century. It was given in memory of Daði Bjarnason and his wife, Arnfríður, who were farmers at Skarð.
The same lineage has been living at Skarð since the 11th century and the farmers at Skarð today are the 27th generation from Húnbogi Þorgilsson, who lived at Skarð in the 11th century. I have also met the 29th and 30th generation, as the granddaughter of the farmers at Skarð was working in the reception at Vogur Country Lodge (and she was carrying her daughter, who is the 30th generation). The farmers at Skarð specialise in eiderdown production, which they sell to Japan.
The farmers at Skarð gave us a guided tour of the church and told us the amazing history of Skarð. I thoroughly recommend stopping at Skarð for a guided tour of the church.
After an hour's visit at Skarð we visited the remaining sights on Skarðsströnd. We passed a big rock called Grafardrangur, where the sword of the Viking settler, Geirmundur heljaskinn, is supposed to be buried.
Geirmundur heljarskinn has been called the noblest of the Viking settlers, but he was the son of a Norwegian king and a dark skinned princess from Bjarmaland. Geirmundur lived at Skarð.
We next stopped by an abandoned coal mine by the seashore. Coal was mined here from ca 1890 until the middle of the 20th century. Here one can see a small railway track and the remains of a bridge, which makes for a good photo opportunity.
Nowadays the algae factory at Reykhólar harvests seaweed from the ocean and if you look closely you can see them working on orange machinery harvesting the seaweed from the ocean below the road on Skarðsströnd.
Now we had come to our final stop on this tour around the peninsula - Saurbær. There below Staðarhólskirkja church is a monument, 3 different pillars in remembrance of 3 great poets, the Dalaskáld poets, who have had links to this area. These poets are Stefán from Hvítidalur, Steinn Steinarr and Sturla Þórðarson.
We now turned back onto road 60 towards Búðardalur and stopped at Guðrúnarlaug hot-tub as always before continuing on our way to the Snæfellsnes peninsula. It had been lovely and informative visiting the peninsula and I am glad we didn't rush through it and stayed at Vogur Country Lodge for the night.
This peninsula is off the beaten track and it has been said that time stands still here. So if you want to see a different side of Iceland do pay Fellsströnd and Skarðsströnd a visit. You can visit this area by renting a car in Reykjavík and drive to the west. The road number for the peninsula is 590.