Picture by Francesco Perini

Tjörnes peninsula

The peninsula just North from Húsavík simply looks as a regular peninsula. Great views, high cliffs, green hills and some lava. But Tjörnes hides in itself some secrets: fossils. The cliffs are made up of layers and the most ancient one dates about 2 millions years. The presence of the fossil shells that can be found here shows something interesting. Those shells belong to creatures that require the temperature of the water to be 12°C or warmer. Now the average temperature of Icelandic coastal water is 4°C.  It seems the water was much much warmer some millions of year ago and, therefore, so the climate was. Just imagine all these creatures in their shells sunbathing in Iceland as they were in the Caribbean.

To find some real fossils reach the small beach from the main road, turning on at the junction where a blue sign says Hallbjarnarstaðir. There’s a gate, make sure to close it after you. And once on the beach enjoy your walk, enjoy your time, astonish in front of those little freaking old shells or do whatever you like. But don’t take anything to bring home as a souvenir. Rule here is “look but don’t steal”. To complete the fossil tour visit the Fossil Museum, quite close to the junction to the beach. Here a collection of locally found fossils, petrified wood, fossilized crystalline, whale and shark bones and lignite is displayed.

Picture by Francesco Perini

At the northernmost tip of Tjörnes called Voladalstorfa stands the orange lighthouse. All the way to the tiny headland is truly scenic and the lighthouse is reachable by foot from the little parking by the road. If Lundey is the Puffin place par excellence, you wouldn’t see these cute and colourful birds as close as here anywhere else. Walk slowly and silent and they will basically fly around you. But most of all respect them and don’t step on their nests dug into the earth (the cliffs and the farthest piece of land are basically riddled with holes like a fine Gruyère).

The northern coast of the peninsula offers excellent views of Mánáeyjar, the “Moon Island”, which is the remnants of an ancient underwater volcano part of Tjörnes Fracture Zone. Moreover, not far, is Mánárbakki farm with an unusual local culture museum in a usual turf dwelling, and a meteorological station.

How to get here:
From Húsavík, on road n.85 direction North-East, to Hallbjarnarstaðir and the Fossil Museum it’s 14 km, to Voladalstorfa it’s 22km, to Mánárbakki it’s 23km.
From Ásbyrgi, on road n.85 direction West, to Mánárbakki it’s 41km, to Voladalstorfa it’s 42km, to Hallbjarnarstaðir and the Fossil Museum it’s 50 km.

 

Text by Francesco Perini
Heading picture by Francesco Perini
Mid text picture by Francesco Perini

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