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, 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 pace our minds against 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 invention of roads. 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 local rescue service!).
Accommodation: having walked the first 5 days, we’ll arrive at remote, beautiful and powerful valley that’s 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 guarantee you’ll fall in love with this place!
Whilst here we’ll take part in a traditional réttir – 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, the accommodation will allow us to shift attention inwards. We’ll appreciate and explore our connection to the landscape through solo time and foraging.
Solo time: 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; allow you relax and be present, connect back to 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.
Foraging: 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 a welcome evening meal.
Day 2: The trail begins with ashort transfer to the trailhead, near Bolungarvik; from there, we’ll walk up a big 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 days 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: The walking becomes a little more challenging though still manageable for people with a decent degree of fitness. We’ll climb to about 600 metres, follow a line of cairns across the flat mountain top before dropping 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 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 orientate ourselves to the land and sea.
Day 7: September is an exciting time of year and none more so that 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 just some good old time out, 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. Some flexibility to adapt to 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.