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HVALFJORDUR WHALE BAY

Region: West Iceland
Coordinates: 64.3099° N 21.7909° W

The beautiful Whale Bay branches into the mountainous landscapes between the points Akranes and Kjalarnes. It is about 30 km (20 miles) long, 4-5 km wide, and quite deep (84m). The innermost part is framed with steep mountains, dropping almost straight into the sea, but further west are extended lowland areas.

In earlier times, large schools of fish entered the bay and in 1947-48 a part of the so-called “herring adventure” took place there. The topographical name “Sildarmannagotur” (Herring Path) reminds of the herring fisheries on the bay in the past. Whales were also spotted on the bay, the last time in 1998, when a family of killer whales was playing or seeking food in the Brynjudalur Cove. The names of the bay, the highest waterfall of the country, Glymur, the table mountain Hvalfell and Lake Hvalvatn are derived from the legend about the red headed whale “Raudhofdi” (Redhead).

Hvammsvik is an abandoned farm on a headland on the Whale Bay in the West.
A small lake there is constantly supplied with trout and char for the anglers, 9 hole golf course and kayak rental during the summer who enjoy their stay in that lovely area only a stone’s throw away from the main road (1).

There were two main trading posts on the bay during the centuries (Hvalfjardareyri and Mariuhofn). The merchants, who frequented them, probably also traded in the Parliamentary Plains during the sessions of the parliament. In 1402 a sailor called Whale-Einar brought with him and his crew the most deadly and disastrous epidemic, the bubonic plague, ever brought to the country. About one third of the population died as a result.

The allies (England and The United States) built bases on the headland Hvitanes, Litlisandur and Midsandur. Some of the barracks are still standing at Midsandur. The bay was an important station for the convoys from England and the States on their way to Murmansk during the Second World War. The Americans built a pier on the northern side of the bay, which was later used by the whaling vessels of the Hvalur ltd after the whaling station had been built. Remainders of an other pier at Hvitanes are still standing as reminders of the Second World War.

One of the interesting Sagas of the country, The Hardar Saga, has it s main stages of events on the tiny island Geirholmi in the proximity of the whaling station and elsewhere in the vicinity (Geirsholmur).

West Iceland Saga Trail
Place of Interest Whale Bay:
Thyrill – GEIRSHOLMUR – HVALFJARDAREYRI – Sanda Village – MARIUHOFN

 

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