On our second day on the Melrakkaslétta peninsula in North-East Iceland we headed for Hraunhafnartangi spit, which lies at 66° 32′ 9.6″ N, 16° 1′ 31.08″ W, making it one of the northern most points on the mainland of Iceland, together with Rifstangi, which is also close by here on Melrakkaslétta.
In July 2016 it was confirmed by Landmælingar Íslands - the National Land Survey of Iceland that Rifstangi is actually located 68 metres further north than Hraunhafnartangi. So I will have to pop up there next summer and write another blog on Rifstangi!
Only the island of Grímsey is located a little further north. This was the closest we could get to the Arctic Circle on the mainland (or so we thought back in 2014), but it lies ca 3 km north of Hraunhafnartangi spit in the middle of the ocean.
Hraunhafnartangi spit is located only 10 km away from Raufarhöfn village, where we were staying for 2 nights at Guesthouse Hreiðrið - Nest. We drove by the beautiful seashore in sunny and still weather, enjoying the sight of the blue, still North-Atlantic ocean. Everywhere driftwood could be seen by the seashore. For the longest time nobody was around and we felt like we were alone in the world, it was so peaceful and I felt ever so serene.
When we reached Hraunhafnartangi spit we saw a couple of people, who had camped for the night in this northern most point of the mainland of my country. But everybody was quiet and taking in the peacefulness of this beautiful place. Our aim was to walk to the Hraunhafnartangi lighthouse. And to put up an imaginary Arctic circle and step over it.
The walk to Hraunhafnartangi lighthouse from the parking lot took ca half an hour by the rocky seashore, which was covered in driftwood and pieces of net that had been washed ashore.
Hraunhafnartangi lighthouse is a funky square lighthouse, which stands alone 19 meters tall. It was moved in 1945 to Hraunhafnartangi spit from the other northern most part of the mainland of Iceland, Rifstangi spit.
We found a rope on the seashore and decided on making our own Arctic Circle on the northern most parts of Hraunhafnartangi spit we could reach - and step over it to symbolise our accomplishment of standing so close to the Arctic Circle, which is located ca 3 km further north.
Next morning we got a certificate from Hotel Norðurljós in Raufarhöfn village that we had been this far north. They offer these certificates free of charge. Bring a photo of yourself on Hraunhafnartangi spit and show it to them. I think it is fun having a certificate of this kind :)
Sadly the hotel manager, Erlingur Thoroddsen, died in December 2015. He was the instigator of the Arctic Henge above Raufarhöfn village, which has now become the biggest tourist attraction on Melrakkaslétta.
We spent a couple of hours at Hraunhafnartangi as it was such a serene place and I didn't want to leave. But we had one more place to visit here before we continued on our journey on Melrakkaslétta. Close to the lighthouse is an ancient burial mound, Þorgeirsdys or the Burial Mound of Þorgeir, a Viking Age warrior.
Þorgeirsdys Burial Mound is mentioned in the Saga of Sworn-Brothers (Fóstbræðrasaga), where one can read about the sleighing of Þorgeir Hávarsson. He defended himself bravely and killed 14 of his enemies. The burial mound (a huge heap of stones) is said to be the burial mound of Þorgeir, i.e. his torso is buried here, as he was beheaded and his enemy carried with him his head to Eyjafjörður fjord as a proof of his victory over Þorgeir. The other victims of this gruesome battle are also buried in this burial mound.
Maybe I should not have walked on the burial mound, but I wanted to show you how big it is. The burial mound has grown in size as it is an ancient custom to greet the "dweller of the burial mound" by throwing a stone onto their burial mound. It is also said that people should walk clockwise around the burial mound, contemplate and wish others well.
It is amazing really to find such an old burial mound. It is not marked, but there is a small information sign by the parking lot, where one can read up on it.
After spending a couple of hours at Hraunhafnartangi we headed west on Melrakkaslétta towards Rauðinúpur cape, where there are two magnificent sea stacks and a crater bowl. I will tell you more about that beautiful place in my next blog :)
Here you can see the location of Hraunhafnartangi cape - it is located some 613 km away from Reykjavík, the capital city of Iceland. You can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive up there in a couple of days.