Longing in Langanes

Forlorn terrain.

Close to the Arctic Circle, the far-flung Langanes peninsula on the northeastern corner of Iceland is a world unto itself. Not in Langanes the visual drama found elsewhere in Iceland with its cast of mountains, fjords, volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls and geysers. Instead, there is a subtle, staid beauty on offer here.

The headland tapers into the cold waters of the Greenland Sea, and when not lashed by ferocious storms, its still and lonely expanse evokes a sense of melancholy, what the Portuguese aptly refer to as saudade. Summer brings an astonishing array of birdlife to Langanes, including one of the largest gannet colonies in the world.

I have visited this area multiple times over several years, always accompanied by the local farmer Skúli Ragnarson of Ytra Áland, and my friend Börkur Hrólfsson. Their intimate connection with the land has given me a richer perspective not readily available to an outsider.

The photo essay that follows tries to convey some of the saudade experienced in Langanes.

Skálar in Langanes, Iceland

Skálar
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 Makro Planar

 
Route to Skálar, Langanes

Route to Skálar
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 Makro Planar

 

This cross memorializes 11 British fishermen who perished here in 1955 after their trawler “Daniel Quare” ran aground on the north side of Langanes. The hapless men tried to walk to Skálar but died from exposure. The inscription translates to, “Here rest 11 British seamen.”

Memorial to 11 British seamen, Skálar, Langanes, Iceland

“Here rest 11 British men”
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 Makro Planar

 
Driftwood in Langanes, Iceland

Driftwood washed up from Siberia
5D Mark III, TS-E 24L II

 
Abandoned far, Heiði, Langanes, Iceland

Abandoned farm Heiði
5D Mark II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

 
Fishing boat in Skálar, Langanes, Iceland

Alone, in still waters
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 Makro Planar

 

A long drive on a rough track brings us to the Fontur lighthouse at the very edge of Langanes, seen in the image below to the left of the vanishing point (barely visible at this image size).

Route to Fontur lighthouse, Langanes, Iceland

Final stretch to Fontur lighthouse
5D Mark III, TS-E 24L II

 
Fontur lighthouse in midnight sun, Langanes, Icland

Light of the midnight sun: Börkur Hrólfsson at Fontur
5D Mark III, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 Makro Planar

 
 
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