The Majestic Skarðsvík, Saxhólsbjarg & Svörtuloft on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland

On the westernmost point of the magical Snæfellsnes peninsula, you will find SkarðsvíkÖndverðarnes, Svörtuloft and Saxhólsbjarg.  I want to show you Skarðsvík, Svörtuloft and Saxhólsbjarg in this travel-blog. There are many places of interest in this area as you can see from the sign above. The road leading to these ruggedly beautiful pearls of nature is called Öndverðarnesvegur road number 579 and leads from Útnesvegur road number 574. 

Skarðsvík 

The Majestic Skarðsvík, Saxhólsbjarg & Svörtuloft on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland

Skarðsvík is a lovely, secluded golden beach on the Snæfellsnes peninsula which to us Icelanders looks like a beach in Spain. As I have told you before then we Icelanders are ever so impressed with golden beaches, as most of the beaches in Iceland are black. Only in the west have I seen golden beaches in Iceland. Skarðsvík is thus very popular amongst Icelanders and on sunny days you can see people sunbathing, swimming in the ocean and jumping off the cliffs.

There is a good picnic area here and a lot of lava clefts - reminding me in places of a miniature Þingvellir National park.

A pagan Viking grave from the 10th century was discovered here in 1962. The well-preserved skeleton of a young man aged 18-25, and his belongings, are now preserved at the National Museum of Iceland.  Some of his earthly possessions were put in the grave with him like was customary at this time, we call it "haugfé" - men were buried with their weapons and women with their jewellery. 

The old things found in the grave of this young Viking were:  a 95 cm long sword, a broken knife, pieces of iron, an elaborate boss from his shield, a spearhead and a pin made of bone.

The Majestic Skarðsvík, Saxhólsbjarg & Svörtuloft on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland

The road to Skarðsvík is paved, but further on it is a bumpy gravel road.  Here you can see the exact location of Skarðsvík on the map.

In a little while, the road splits in two, the road to the right will take you to the orange coloured Öndverðarnes lighthouse and the road to the left will take you to the orange coloured lighthouse on Saxhólsbjarg cliff - Skálasnagaviti lighthouse and Svörtuloft.  Let's first take the road to the left.

Saxhólsbjarg cliff - Skálasnagaviti lighthouse

The Majestic Skarðsvík, Saxhólsbjarg & Svörtuloft on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland

Having driven down road 579 and visited Skarðsvík cove we now take the road to the left and drive to Skálasnagi and Saxhólsbjarg cliff where you will see a lighthouse and the infamous Svörtuloft or the Black Ceiling. This is a ruggedly beautiful place to visit. 

The name Svörtuloft sounds ominous and has always been so scary to me, but the name stems from the cliffs being formed of pitch black lava, like in so many other places in this area. Here the lava flow didn't stop until it reached the cold sea and the surf has eroded the pitch black lava through the centuries.

If you are out at sea Skálasnagaviti is called Svörtuloftaviti lighthouse. Bear that in mind that it has got two names - one from land and one from the sea. The concrete lighthouse, which was taken into use in 1931, is 12,8 meters high is the successor of the first iron bar lighthouse, erected in 1914, which had eroded.

There are at least 14 places in Iceland by this name, Svörtuloft. The lava here looks like it has been cut and made into a massive, sheer black wall, almost 4 km long.  If you visit this area from May until end of August you will see many seabirds in the cliffs and even some puffins. Just be very careful not to lose your balance while having a look at them and taking photos. 

The Majestic Skarðsvík, Saxhólsbjarg & Svörtuloft on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland

A viewing platform has been put up by Skálasnagaviti lighthouse, but not at Hvalrauf just before you reach the lighthouse. At Hvalrauf you can see an old landmark between the land of Saxhóll and Öndverðarnes. I do not think many people stop here anyway, but I stepped out of the car and had a look at the birds below. One really needs to lie down on one's stomach as not to lose balance here. You can see Hvalrauf in my photo below.

From the Settlement of Iceland and until the 20th century these breeding birds were a food source for the inhabitants of Snæfellsnes peninsula. They would collect the birds' eggs in June and the grown birds in August.

Collecting eggs in these craggy black cliffs is dangerous and they would rely on ropes to lower themselves down these cliffs.  

The Majestic Skarðsvík, Saxhólsbjarg & Svörtuloft on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland

Ships don't stand a change against this black lava wall in bad weather and when I was standing on this spot looking out to sea I felt fear creeping over me when thinking about ships crashing against the infamous Svörtuloft. There are so many dangerous places in Iceland, which we who live here, are brought up to respect and fear.

Here, by Svörtuloft the mailboat Anne Dorothea stranded and the whole crew perished - and only one hand was found. And only as recently as back in 2001 the fishing boat, Svanborg from the neighbouring village, Ólafsvík, stranded by Svörtuloft, with 3 fishermen losing their lives and 1 saved. Many more ships have been wrecked here and too many people have lost their lives.

The Majestic Skarðsvík, Saxhólsbjarg & Svörtuloft on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland

The name, Skálasnagi, stems from a cliff which was connected by a stone bridge to land. The stone bridge collapsed in 1973 and now this cliff stands alone and majestic looking - it even looks like it has got a head. I hope the surf will not manage to destroy this beautiful headed cliff, but that is to be expected as the surf is so strong in this spot. 

The Majestic Skarðsvík, Saxhólsbjarg & Svörtuloft on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland

Don't visit this place in really bad weather, it is better to be safe than sorry in these dangerous places.  

Here you can see the location of Skálasnagaviti lighthouse a.k.a. Svörtuloft lighthouse on the map. Close by is Öndverðarnes, the westernmost tip of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, on which I have written another travel-blog.

Also, check out these guided tours to the Snæfellsnes peninsula.

Have a lovely time visiting the beautiful Snæfellsnes peninsula :)

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