Day eight was my last day in the Westfjords. I had booked the last ferry across to Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula so had a full day to explore the south-western fjords. I only had one place on my list for the day though - Rauðisandur. I'd had a disappointing visit there two years earlier - failing to check tide times and arriving at high tide when you can't see the amazing orange swirls. This time I checked and planned my timing accordingly, setting off just before 10am.
Before I left, I cooked the last piece of salmon that was left over due to getting supper made for me the previous night, and added it to the salad packet for my packed lunch. Árni gave me a couple of tips of things to visit locally on my way out, together with a rather haunting story. First stop he recommended was a beach not far from the farm where a few seals lived; unfortunately they all scarpered as soon as I approached. The views on the far side of the fjord were wonderful, though, as patches of sun would light up the rocky hills. It was still extremely blustery - winter was on its way!
Not far from there was a farm where the owner - for some reason - had to sell up and move to Ísafjörður. He didn't want anyone else looking after his sheep, so he shot them all (ugh!), and then built a burial mound on the farm, buried them all underneath it, and then got two gravestones made, dedicated to his favourite of the sheep. I drove along from the house and wandered down to the graves. What a sad and strange story. Surely someone else would have looked after them? Oh well, they were at least resting in a beautiful spot.
I continued on along the road towards Dynjandi, stopping to take a few more photos along the way - I just love the way the gravel road winds off into the distance.
I was humming and hawing about whether to get the early ferry, and then spend the afternoon near Stykkishólmur, but decided to carry on with my original plan and head up to Rauðisandur, passing along the pretty stretch of coastline before climbing the big hill and over the Kleifaheiði pass.
The road up to Rauðisandur isn't as bad as it Árni had warned it might be, and it didn't take all that long before I was driving slowly down the massive hairpin bends on the far side. Finally I reached a viewpoint where I could pull over (the road is quite wide) and took a few shots of the wonderful swirly sand banks below. It's not exactly red sand, but orange, so some people are disappointed by it. I love it, though, and it was even better when the sun came out and the sands were lit up. I walked along the road a bit to get different views. This is one place I wish I had a drone so I could be right above to capture a proper bird's eye view of the sand patterns.
I didn't go right down to the beach as it's not actually very accessible and you have to drive far to get close to it. Besides, I just wanted to see the patterns from above, so I headed back up the hill just after 1pm. I had quite a few hours left before the ferry departure, so decided to explore a bit more and turned left when I reached the main road, driving past the wonderful sandbank opposite Patreksfjörður and on to Tungurif, where I had to stop and take a few shots - I just love that massive expanse of pale yellow sand.
I continued on past the beach, heading inland, and at the far end instead of heading up to the Latrabjarg cliffs I took a right turn, not knowing where it would take me. I knew that there were some cottages to rent along that stretch and it couldn't go anywhere other than to the end of the headland, so I thought I'd give it a go. It was a fantastic drive, with the usual Westfjords big cliffs and inlets, the odd beach, and a nice winding gravel road.
I reached Brjanslækur at 5.10pm so drove on a little to take some more photos as I had some time to kill. The light was occasionally spectacular, with dark clouds and very brief patches of intense sunlight.
After about 45 minutes we reached the little island of Flatey, and docked there briefly to deliver some goods and pick some more up. And then it was on to Stykkishólmur, my home for the night.
Northern lights were forecast for that night, so I was keen to get to the port, check in to my guesthouse and grab something to eat before heading out to find some darkness away from the town. I was staying in the Comfort Guesthouse, where I was greeted by very friendly owners. I dumped my stuff and drove back to the town centre, hoping to eat at the recently reopened Narfeyrarstofa. There was a queue, but they had an enclosed waiting area at the back of the restaurant where I waited. I looked up and noticed that the lights were already out - I even managed to capture them with my crappy iPhone8!
Finally my table for one was ready and I had a tasty-ish bowl of fish soup and some decent bread. I should have given the meal a miss and gone out shooting the lights, but I was hungry, so that won me over!
Day 7 - Exploring Arnarfjörður