During Autumn, the land is in dynamic flux: whole mountainsides turn a shade of red as berries ripen, local farmers gather their sheep from the mountains. Weather systems can be wet and wild so rainbows abound and the first snow may even hit the mountain tops.
The trail will be a mix of walking and camping in the wild, foraging for berries, mushrooms and seaweeds, visiting a remote farm to help out with a traditional réttir (the annual sheep round-up from the mountains), 4-5 nights accommodation, local hospitality, storytelling and some facilitated solo time out on the land.
Walking and camping
During the first 5 days of the trip, we’ll stretch our bodies and set our minds to exploring the northern mountains of the West Fjords. We’ll be carrying our own equipment and food which will make us self-sufficient and allow us to reach some very remote spots that very few people ever get to explore. The routes we walk were once used by sheep herders and people walking between settlements before the introduction of roads to the region. We’ll climb up and down 600-700 metre mountains, trace the coastline, visit remote villages and once or twice take to the water to cross a fjord (courtesy of the local rescue service!).
Having walked the first 5 days, we’ll arrive at remote and beautiful valley that is home to just one remaining sheep farmer, Betty, and her family. We’ll base ourselves out of some recently renovated accommodation for the next 4-6 days and you might just fall in love with this place!
Whilst here we’ll take part in a traditional réttir which is the annual sheep round-up from the mountains. This is a high adrenalin and rewarding way to experience the landscape and traditional Icelandic culture; your efforts will be hugely appreciated and you’ll be fed well! Following the réttir we´ll take some time to fully appreciate and explore our connection to the landscape through solo time and foraging.
Time spent alone on the land has long been recognised a powerful way to get in touch with the deeper aspects of self. As trained wilderness leaders, we will create a space and run activities that will help you experience connection to the earth and sea, relax and be present, reconnect with your natural rhythms, and find inspiration and insight. You don’t need prior experience for this; the activities we offer are gentle invitations to explore and can be taken at your own pace.
Come September, the mountains provide a bounty of berries and mushrooms. Seaweeds are also available from the intertidal zone. As part of our accommodated time, we’ll learn to forage and how to process and cook with the ingredients.
Day 1: Guests should arrive in Ísafjörður by the evening of September 11th. You will be met at the airport / your arrival point, be transferred to a guesthouse in Ísafjörður to stay and share an evening welcome meal.
Day 2: The adventure begins with a short transfer to the trailhead, near Bolungarvik; from there, we’ll walk up a lush green valley that turns into a series of rocky plateaus near the top, and then descend into Selardalur (seal valley) to find our campsite for the night. The route will test your strength and help you to settle into your stride without completely exhausting you!
Day 3: The day begins with a descent through the birch covered slopes down to the shoreline where we’ll be met by a rescue boat to help us across the fjord. They’ll drop us off in Suðureyri – a sustainable fishing village with hot pools and good food. If time allows, we’ll take some time to explore and enjoy a quiet Icelandic village. Camping is a short walk from town.
Day 4: Walking becomes a little more challenging though still manageable for people with a decent degree of fitness. We’ll climb to about 600 meters and follow a line of cairns across the flat mountain top before coming down to camp above Flateyri.
Day 5: We will start the day with a rescue boat fjord crossing from Flateyri to the southern side of the fjord. Once landed, we have options to trace the shoreline or walk up and over on an old mountain path. Both routes are challenging and the day is likely to be a long one! The good news is the next day is a rest day!
Day 6: We will have arrived at Ingjaldssandur valley the previous evening, which is home to just one remaining sheep farmer, Betty. It’s an incredible valley and she’s a very entertaining and generous host. We will use this day to move into our accommodation, rest from the walking and orient ourselves to the land and sea.
Day 7: September is an exciting time of year and none more so than helping with the annual rettir – community sheep round up from the mountains. It’s an exciting and adrenalin filled way to experience the mountains; if fitness is your thing, you have a test! Betty is very grateful for the help and will reward all our efforts with a warm meal of lamb and stories!
Days 8, 9 & 10: During these 3 days, there will be opportunities to turn our attention inwards, reflecting and enjoying what the land has to offer us. This will be a carefully and non-intrusively guided process and will contain opportunities to practice foraging, storytelling and downtime, away from modern distractions. There will also be an opportunity to take part in a 12-24 solo experience to explore any intentions and/or questions that might arise through your time out on the land.
Days 11, 12: The trip finishes with 1 or 2 days walking and camping, the flexibility allowing for changes in weather conditions. We will finish back in Ísafjörður by the evening of September 22nd, ready for onward travel plans the following day.
Day 13: Morning transfers to local airport / departure point.