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.
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.”
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).