Information about the Westfjords
If you have looked at the map - the Westfjords are on the northwestern tip of Iceland. The landscape is characterized by long, often narrow fjords that break through the rugged mountain landscape. The mountains above are mostly flat, but have steep slopes. In their wild ravines streams tumble down to the sea.
The Westfjords have the longest coastline of all regions in Iceland, because of the many long fjords about 1 /3 of the coastline of the country.
Here is the westernmost point of Iceland with one of the most beautiful bird cliffs of Iceland, Látrabjarg. This is the point closest to Greenland.
Many famous musicians were born here eg Emiliana Torrini
The Westfjords are the oldest part of Iceland: 16 million years old layers of rock can be found there. In Dýrafjord where our workshop is taking place, the mountains are 700m high and 13-14 million years old.
The highest mountain in the Westfjords, the Kaldbakur 998m and sits right in the middle of a long cooled volcanic centre in a mountain range behind Þingeyri. The area is called the Westfjords Alps because the mountains are much more pointed and jagged than anywhere else.
Water is something special, you can drink water out of the streams everywhere. Most rivers are collecting their water from both springs and rainfall.
Rain and melt water penetrate through ancient lava hollows deep into our mountains. It can reach very large depths, where it is sometimes heated and then comes as a hot spring to the surface. Often the water is stored for months or years in layers before it reappears cool and well filtered (and therefore sterile) above an impermeable layer as spring on the mountainside. Water from our streams takes very short time from its origin or snowfield down to the valley and therefore has no time to get warm and thus collect bacteria.
One of the old Sagas of Iceland, the Gisla Saga Súrssonar - the saga of Gisli Súrsson, has had its origin in Dýrafjöður, in Haukadal (-valley).
Gisli was on the run for 13 years after a homicide in the Westfjords before he died a hero's death. This saga is about the blood feud that followed and that got out of hand. The wealthier and more influential Vikings engaged in these feuds. In Þingeyri regional þings -Things were held between the annual intire Icelandic Thing at Þingvellir, when Iceland was still independent. The peninsula has been early a centre for trade as the foreign merchant vessels stopped here.
During colonization many powerful chiefs have settled in Dýrafjörður. The colonization happened from 870 to 930, here in the Westfjords mostly around 900.
Opposite Þingeyri on the other side of the fjord towards the open sea, Þórður Vikingsson occupied land in Alviðra, Vésteinn Végeirsson lived in Haukadal on the left side of Þingeyri out towards the sea. On the right side of the fjord, Eiríkur moved to Keldudal and the chief Dýri on the other side of the fjord right across from Þingeyri in Höfði. The fjord was named for him Dýrafjörður.