• Einar Páll Svavarsson

Drangey island


Drangey island
Drangey island

When driving in Skagafjörður fjord in the North Region of Iceland you can't help but be impressed by a huge rock or an island towering majestically in the middle of the fjord. The rock is visible from the Ring Road as you approach Vamahlíð coming from the mountain pass Vatnsskarð between Húnavatnssýsla and Skagafjörður. Geologically the island, Drangey, is a remnant of an old volcano and mostly made of volcanic tuff. Of course, to the Icelanders this geological explanation of the island's origins was somewhat dull, so, they came up with another explanation: Two night-prowling trolls were crossing the fjord with their cow in tow. They were rather slow in their movement and were caught in the early morning sunlight. It is, of course, common knowledge that the Sun turns trolls into stones. Man, woman, and cow turned into stones on the spot. The cow turned into Drangey island; the woman became Kerling (Old Hag) which is the stack south of Drangey, and a stack north of the island Drangey became Karl (Man). Unfortunately, some centuries ago the man collapsed and disappeared into the ocean as a large earthquake shook Skagafjörður some centuries ago.


Map of North West Region in Iceland
Map of North West Region in Iceland

A place where the outlaw and famous Icelandic bad boy Grettir Ásmundarson found sanctuary

The path up to Drangey island
A steap path up to the top at Drangey island

Drangey is first mentioned in the Icelandic Saga Grettis Saga. The island is the place where Grettir found refuge after being outlawed. Grettir is considered to be the strongest man ever to bear the title Icelander. Also, he was as mean-tempered, grumpy, and ill-spirited as they come. He was also a miserable and unlucky person, so when he experienced a lack of trouble, he could rest assure that misfortune would find him. From early childhood, he was in trouble and continued to search for and create problems for himself and others throughout his whole life. After being outlawed he survived in Drangey for three years until he was slain in a dramatic sequence of events.


A steep path to the top

The view on top of Drangey island is spectacular in the middle of Skagafjörður fjord
The view on top of Drangey island is spectacular in the middle of Skagafjörður fjord

Drangey is a mass of tuff, flat on the top, rising almost 200 meters out of the ocean. The cliffs serve as nesting sites for around a million seabirds, among them a Puffin colony. Throughout the centuries the locals have visited the cliffs for egg collection and bird netting. There is only one trail leading to the top. It is quite steep and not for the faint of heart or those who have some fear of height or have acrophobia. For those who are interested, there are tours to Drangey during the summer from the farm in the town of Sauðárkrókur. You can also visit Grettislaug, the hot pool some 30 Kilometers north of Sauðárkrókur. There you can relax and also camp at Reykir.



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