Einar Páll Svavarsson
Although Hvítserkur, this majestic and fascinating rock, was never a popular sight or attraction among Icelanders in the past, it has become an important tourist attraction today. The reason is not a big puzzle as it is a magnificent work of nature, and its origin has both geological and mystical explanations. As there are not many highly interesting natural wonders in the northwest part of Iceland, it is fully worth taking the time to visit Hvítserkur. And when visiting Hvítserkur, the neighboring Borgarvirki and Kolugljúfur are also interesting places to visit in northwestern Iceland. Blönduós and Hvammstangi villages are both good places to stay if you want to spend some time in this part of Iceland and possibly drive the Vatnsnes Peninsula. Both have excellent camping sites and offer numerous accommodations.
Folklore of the evil troll
Rising from the beach 15 meters above the surface of the beach located on the east side of Vatnsnes peninsula, Hvítserkur (The White Caftan) resembles a large animal or a fossilized creature from another dimension. According to Icelandic folklore, Hvítserkur is an evil troll late on a night mission attacking a neighboring church, grabbed by the early ray of sunlight, and turned to stone. The only enjoyment the troll has in its petrified situation is to make a home for hundreds of birds, who apparently return the hospitality by shitting over the cliff and giving it the white color. Probably helped to name the rock as it sometimes looks like a white caftan and the locals wanted eagerly to forget it is a troll.
Interesting to see from a geological point of view
From a geological perspective, the rock is a basalt cliff that has lost parts of its foundation to centuries of a battle with the powerful currents of the Arctic Ocean as it reaches into Húnaflói bay, and to severe storms and constant temperature changes. Currently, Hvítserkur stands like a three-legged creature, with two holes at its base, most diffidently doomed to lose the battle for centuries to come. The only thing that will come to its defense is the human intervention of fortifying the substance with concrete, which has been done once in the sixties, possibly because the locals fear that a fall could help the troll lose its spell and renew its evil presence in the area.
The time to visit and photograph
On high tide, it is surrounded by seawater, but when the tide ebbs, the seawater disappears and Hvítserkur stands on the sand beach, resting from the battle with the oceanic forces. So, if you visit Hvítserkur during low tide, you can walk around and even under it. As the sea stack is quite photogenic, there is an advantage to walking around it, placing the camera to capture it from different perspectives. In summer, the midnight sun even enhances this further and so does the low colorful light in winter. Although Hvítserkur is not difficult to visit, there is a steep path from the parking lot to the beach, which can be a bit slippery. In winter, don’t forget the crampoons. Needless to say, it is much more difficult and less attractive to visit in the winter than in summer. Hvítserkur is on the other hand easily accessible year round on Road nr. 711, approximately a 30-kilometer(19 miles) drive from Ring Road nr. 1.