Both Norðurfjörður and Trékyllisvík are small communities; each comprises a small cluster of houses at Strandir in the West Fjords and part of the same municipality of Árneshreppur. Although this municipality is the least populated in Iceland, it has been around for a long time. A part of Strandir, it is reserved for the especially curious tourists. With a rich blend of history, phenomenal landscape, turmoils, and isolation, the place is simply alluring and magnetic. So, it warrants the attention of travelers from around the world.
Norðurfjörður fjord and the tiny hamlet with the same name are as remote as they can get in Iceland. In the fjord, there is a small cove with very few houses but with a history that goes back as far as the settlement of Iceland. Although the surrounding region is quite large, it is scarcely populated. In the winter, the only public transport linking the area to the rest of the world is one or two weekly flights from Reykjavík to Gjögur—another tiny cluster of houses close by and part of the municipality Árneshreppur. In summer, on the other hand, you can reach Norðurfjörður and Trékyllisvík by driving along the Strandir coastline. While driving, you will pass by many interesting places and at the end of your drive, guesthouses and campsites, a tiny grocery store, a swimming pool, and an excellent café. You can say that the whole place comes alive in the summer.
Moreover, unlike in the winter, a drive to Norðurfjörður is much less complicated in the summer. The fjord and its surrounding areas have many interesting places of attraction. But the number one is undeniably Krossaneslaug—the most popular geothermal swimming pool in the Westfjords. The swimming pool is located on a black pebble beach near the shoreline. With nothing ahead but the infinite blue of the Arctic Ocean, one may feel like one is sitting on the edge of the world.
With its one grocery store, Norðurfjörður is the last place where a tourist may stop to stock up before heading off on a hiking trip to Hornstrandir, the ultimate hiking challenge in Iceland. Norðurfjörður basically serves as a basecamp for this exotic and difficult hiking adventure. If you are interested in the hike, you can contact the Iceland Touring Association, which is in charge of organizing hikes to Hornstrandir and has a hut in Norðurfjörður.
Norðurfjörður is as far as you can get with an ordinary car at Strandir shoreline. But if you have an excellent 4X4, you can drive north to the next fjord Ingólfsfjörður fjord and even farther. However, take your time before heading off. The landscape surrounding the small settlement in Norðurfjörður is very unpredictable. Everything is vast, except us mortals and our buildings. A stroll on the beach north of the Krossneslaug swimming pool to view the sunset is a good idea for a relaxed evening during bright summer nights. Tourists can take a hike during the day to reach up to Mt. Kálfatindur peak to experience a great view of the surrounding landscapes.
Trékyllisvík is a cove in the south of Norðurfjörður in Strandir. It is surrounded by vast and towering mountains. Interestingly, Trékyllisvík is well-known as the place of emergence of an era of witch craze in Iceland—in 1654, the villagers and the local sheriff burnt three alleged witches at the stake. The people believed them to be responsible for, and then found them guilty of, the scandalous behavior among some women at mass in the Árnes church.
Trékyllisvík has a reputation for being the harsh and exposed backbone of the Westfjords. This might be due to the fact that the whole community almost starved to death at the end of the seventeenth century, with at least 120 deaths in two years. This was a massive blow to the small population of Trékyllisvík at the time, and they most likely never recovered. Nonetheless, it has been a thriving fishing community for centuries and at times has generated excellent incomes for its people as compared to other places in Iceland. Today, Trékyllisvík is still a lovely community with a primary school and a church with an old churchyard. The cove is unusual and inhabits a wide variety of wildlife. On any given day, you might spot seals and birds of numerous species in their natural habitats. Creativity is second nature to the locals, quite apparent in Kört with a museum/gallery that sells exquisite local artifacts made of driftwood, stones, wood, and textiles. The museum/gallery also has paintings and drawings that are based on the region’s tumultuous history.
Hydroelectric Power Plant or Natural Wonders?
Since the last century, there has been an interest in building a hydroelectric power plant on the backland of the fjord Ófeigsfjörður, north of Norðurfjörður fjord. In recent decades, the interest has been translated into a plan. A private company Vesturverk is the creator of this plan and has applied for permission to start the project. This has made Árneshreppur a center of the debate: should the preservation of nature, rivers, canyons, and waterfalls be prioritized over the economic advantages of a power plant? This has split the community of this tiny municipality into two, leaving the project at a standstill.