Running fjord to fjord

Running fjord to fjord

Trip profile

In July 2017 we will be offering two fjord running trips in collaboration with trail runner guide Inga Fanney. The Hornstrandir Nature Reserve offers trail runners the perfect opportunity to fulfil their loftiest dreams, even for the most experienced or jaded of travellers. Situated on the NW tip of Iceland, the area has been uninhabited for more than 60 years and has allowed the wilderness to flourish. With no roads, boats represent the only way to access the area. On this trip we will use our expedition sailboat Aurora as our “mother ship” and basecamp to explore the region. The ship will allow us to experience new, inspiring trails every day, while anchoring in a different magical place each night. You will find lush valleys filled with wild flowers, beautiful sandy beaches, deep fjords and towering cliffs. Great running trails wind their way between the desolated fjords and bays, with spectacular views from the mountains to the sea. Hesteyri has a rich history and offers opportunities for wonderful runs to such enchanting places as Aðalvík Bay to the north. We will also sail along the northern capes from the spectacular landscape of Hornvík Bay. Two of the largest bird-cliffs in Iceland exist here, as well as the world’s largest colonies of Guillemots and major populations of Kittiwake, Razorbill and Fulmars. This is also the kingdom of the Arctic Fox and the only place in Iceland where they are fully protected, resulting in them having a fairly relaxed temperament around humans. We’re confident the time spent exploring the Hornstrandir will leave you fascinated and inspired. This is not a “sailing trip”. We will of course cruise under sail whenever conditions allow but the Expedition sailboat Aurora primarily serves as our movable backcountry hut, the best option to access interesting and exciting destinations and enjoy great activities on land and at sea. At the end of the day she will await us with gourmet meals, warm and comfortable bunks, and friendly conversation.


Even though we may not be far from “home“ this is still true exploration and the final itinerary will only be decided upon when we leave Ísafjörður harbour. Below is the most likely itinerary but we will take into account weather and other conditions and always look for the best possible option.

Day 1

We meet up after dinner, at 6:30pm with our expedition sailboat and our captain. We depart from Ísafjörður sailing at 7pm. Sailing to Lónafjörður Fjord which will take 3-4 hours, and we will anchor in the fjord.

Day 2

We do not sail today but go onshore and run towards the lighthouse of Hornbjargsviti on the other side of the peninsula. We will now be in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, where flora and fauna rule unchallenged and unspoiled. There are no roads in this area and the only access is by boat. Hornvík is home to many Arctic Foxes—we will be on the lookout for their dens, where we hope to observe the adult foxes and their cubs. From the lighthouse and the beautiful cliffs and water streams around we find our way to the bay of Hornvík where we will find our sailboat again.
Distance: 20 – 25 km running

Day 3

We will focus on the magnificent bird cliffs of Hornbjarg to survey the seabird colonies nesting here. We will run up and along the length of the cliffs, where we will primarily see in the cliffs Common Guillemot, Brünnich Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar and Kittiwake. It is estimated that there are about 1 million breeding pairs of Guillemot in Hornvík and Hælavík. Twice every day huge flocks of Kittiwake gather for a fresh water bath in the river and in a particular lake. This is a very captivating sight and we will try to make time for a short run into the valley to see this. We may also see Whooper Swans, Ringed Plover, Arctic Skua, Snow Bunting, Purple Sandpipers and Red Necked Phalaropes.
Distance: 25 km running

Day 4

We start the day by going onshore and start to run towards abandoned farm of Látrar further west. Látrar was a fishing village in the 19th and 20th century and it’s name derives from seals going onshore on the peninsula. It was a village with 120 inhabitants but little by little people moved away until it was completely abandoned in 1952. Today we will also witness rich birdlife although going further away from the well known bird cliffs of Hornbjarg.
Distance: 30 km running

Day 5

First run of the day is up a mountain by the bay where various war ruins can be seen. After getting to the top, we will be able to see two telecommunications stations built by the US military in the fifties but only used for few years. It is also possible to relax in the morning if you don’t feel like running the whole day and meet with the group at lunch. Continuing our journey we will enter Jökulfirðir and run to the abandoned settlement of Hesteyri, where we will anchor for the night. While the last residents of Hesteyri moved away in the 1950´s, many of them maintain their old residences and use them as summerhouses. We will explore the old village and take a short walk along its exquisite sandy beaches. We will be watchful for Harlequin Ducks, which are both beautiful and engaging to observe. Iceland is their only breeding ground in Europe. We also hope to see Purple Sandpipers, Ringed Plovers, Golden Plovers, Common Snipe, Oystercatcher and Long Tailed Ducks. Given this rich profusion of bird life, we expect to see the Arctic Foxes that inhabit this area.
Distance: 30 km running

Day 6

At Hesteyri the vegetation is surprisingly lush. Over two meter high Angelica grows down to the coast, and the lowlands and slopes are decorated by spreading patches of Wood Crane’s-bill, Fleabanes, Cotton Grass, Lady Smock and a profusion of other wildflowers. In the rocky and sandy areas we also have flowers such as Wild Thyme, Oysterplant, Arctic Poppy, Roseroot, Moss Campion and Thrift. Later in the summer and in the hills, we can find Crowberries (Blackberries) and Blueberries
(Bilberries). During the morning we have several options for wonderful runs. We can run to the ruins of the old whaling station where Norwegians processed around 12,000 barrels of whale-oil between 1894 and 1915 when the Icelandic government passed a law on the protection of whales in Icelandic waters. Subsequently, Icelandic companies processed herring in the same plant until it was finally shut down around 1940. After our morning run we start our sail back to the town of Ísafjörður. En route we may see Orcas,
Minke and Humpback whales as well as porpoises and dolphins. After approximately 3-4 hours of sailing we will conclude our journey in Ísafjörður, arriving around 4pm.
Distance: 10 – 15 km running

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