We started our road trip from Ólafsvík in the northwest of Snæfellsnes Peninsula. From there, we would drive anticlockwise around the peninsula. The weather was clear and crisp, rather different from the storms we had to endure on the way here the day before. It was Jan's turn to drive.
Our first stop was Ingjaldshólskirkja, a church and graveyard situated on the top of a small hill. The was neither a town nor people in sight, only a small road leading up to the red and white church.
We then drove around Snæfellsjökull to the southwestern coast of the peninsula, where Malarrif Lighthouse stood majestically on a cliff. The cliff was battered constantly by large waves, and small pools of seawater remained on the uneven rocky surface. Not far from the lighthouse was Lóndrangar, a pair of oddly shaped rocks, like statues reminding us of their violent volcanic origins.
In search of a better vantage point, we hiked up the small hill overlooking the coast. The wind grew stronger and stronger as we climbed, and by the time we reached the ridge of the hill, we had to lean at an angle just to stay still. Alas, not much hiking could be done in the Icelandic winter. The sun peered through the clouds, briefly shining directly onto Lóndrangar, making this short but difficult hike in knee-high snow worth the effort.
We descended the hill to the beach beside the cliff. Scattered on the smooth black pebbles were seaweeds, small fish, sea sponges, and live sea urchins. After admiring the force of the waves and having a closer look at the pair of rocks, we went back onto the road.
Driving further east, we arrived at Hellnar. I was immediately impressed by a row of pitch black houses under a pyramidal mountain, dramatically contrasting the surrounding white snow. Walking down towards the shore, we went past Hellnar Church, a rusty red and white church quite similar to the earlier Ingjaldshólskirkja, as well as a farm with several horses.
The hiking trail started at a hole in the cliff called Adam's Rock. The tide was low, and we could hop from rock to rock to approach the stone archway. Circling the sheltered cove, noisy seagulls had built hundreds of nests on the steps formed by sheets of volcanic rock.
Continuing on the trail, we reached a small wooden bridge across a stream, clearly flowing from the hill, and had a drink of freshly melted snow.
We followed the sharp cliff along the coast, watching birds rest on top of rocks that rose vertically from the sea. As we reached Arnarstapi, a stone statue that looked like a kiln stood out. It is called Bárður Snæfellsás and apparently commemorates a mythical half-man half-troll creature that lived in Arnarstapi.
Tracing our footsteps, we returned to the rusty church, now under bright blue sky. As the clouds cleared, the icecap on Snæfellsjökull was in broad view.
Due to poor road conditions, we decided not to go all the way around the east of the peninsula, instead cutting directly northward through the mountain range. The road was along the valley between snowy slopes, offering us ever changing scenery throughout the pleasant drive.
The northern coastal portion of the journey was the same route that we took the day before, so we stopped again at Kirkjufell, the Church Mountain. An offshoot from the main road led us to a pond that beautifully mirrored the side view of the entire Kirkjufell.
We then went to its front side. With stripes of black rock between snow, Kirkjufell from this more popular angle appeared to be a spiralling cone. A small icy trail led us to the postcard view—the mountain overlooking a small, partly frozen waterfall. The horizon is starting to turn orange, and we quickly returned to our car to feel our toes again.
As we drove westward back to Ólafsvík, the road seemed to take us directly into the setting sun. We arrived at an empty car park at the perfect time. We stayed here to take a time lapse of the sunset over an unobstructed horizon, as a neat row of clouds slowly drifted. By nightfall, we returned to our BnB, exhausted but satisfied.