Miðfjörður Church

I’m really quite taken with Icelandic churches.  The smallest of hamlets will have a church, many created from the same set of architectural drawings it seems.  This particular church was on the banks of Miðfjörður in the northwest of Iceland.

Miðfjörður Church24mm f/8 1/160 sec. ISO-50

It had been our plan to tour the Westfjords during our first few days in Iceland but the weather beat us unfortunately.  It was touch and go whether we’d make it to the northwest at all following the journey I wrote about in my first post from Iceland which you can see here.

Arriving in the northwest we were treated to three days of near hurricane force winds.  Gusts of wind were making it impossible to open the door to our cottage and when parking the car, I had to park broadside to the wind so that Chris could get out on the lee side and then turn the car around to allow me to get out.

It was crucial to get this right; the best that could happen if you got it wrong was you simply couldn’t open the car door.  The worst was a real risk of having the car door ripped from your hands and blown open causing a great deal of damage.  This is the most common type of damage that occurs with hire cars in Iceland apparently.

For the two nights we stayed in Hvammstangi, a red alert was in force. This meant the wind was gusting at speeds greater than 27 metres per second.  That’s a force 11 on the Beaufort scale, a wind that is very difficult to stand up in.  The advice from the Icelandic road agency is that when a red alert is in force, driving is hazardous and vehicles of all kinds risk being blown off the road.  Thankfully we didn’t get blown off the road but with snow and ice covering the roads, it really didn’t make sense to travel too far afield.  These were the conditions we encountered just a few minutes after taking this photograph. You can hear the snow flakes hitting the windscreen they were driven with such force.

I had wanted to revisit Arnastapi and Snaefellsness where this picture of another very similar Icelandic church was taken but the sadly the weather was against us..

Icelandic Church24mm f/11 1/50 sec. ISO-100

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64 responses

  1. You certainly had some weather, Adrian!

    March 12, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    • We did Sue, that’s for sure but it was a fantastic experience. So wild and beautiful. :-)

      March 12, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      • Oh, I must say I’m envious!!

        March 12, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      • I’m absolutely shattered Sue, I’ve slept 12 and 13 hours the last couple of nights with a couple of hours napping thrown in. My eyes are playing up, I’m stiff and sore beyond belief but it was all worth it! :-)

        March 12, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      • Why am I not surprised? Things do come at a cost, but I’m so pleased you found the experience worth it…. Keep resting….

        March 13, 2015 at 7:18 am

      • Thank you Sue!

        March 13, 2015 at 8:13 am

  2. I lost the door of my wife’s grandmother’s Ford Fiesta in high winds in St. Merryn once, so can understand your concern!

    March 12, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    • I was prepared to a certain degree, living in Cornwall and driving to the coast in high winds and parking accordingly but even so, I was shocked at the ferocity of the wind.

      March 12, 2015 at 8:51 pm

  3. Amazing photo’s of Iceland and a videoclip of the bad weather.

    March 12, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    • Thank you Lou! The weather was interesting that’s for sure! :-)

      March 12, 2015 at 8:51 pm

  4. I love Icelandic churches and this one is beautifully lit against that fabulous sky. Sounds like quite a trip Adrian :)

    March 12, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    • It was Jude, thank you! :-)

      March 12, 2015 at 9:31 pm

  5. Despite this crazy weather report (wow!), Iceland is on my “must go” list— beautiful photos!

    March 12, 2015 at 9:10 pm

  6. Wonderful serie! Iceland is great!

    March 12, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    • Thank you Hans. I couldn’t agree more! :-)

      March 12, 2015 at 10:23 pm

  7. Yvonne Theze

    Such a lovely little church. A very pretty picture x

    Sent from my iPad


    March 12, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    • Thanks Mum! :-)

      March 12, 2015 at 10:23 pm

  8. You are a daredevil Adrian and your testicular fortitude surpasses mine. Great images.

    March 12, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    • Thank you Mike, it was interesting at times that’s for sure! :-D

      March 13, 2015 at 8:08 am

  9. These solitary churches are so starkly beautiful – especially the way they’re depicted in your amazing photos and imagine that they can withstand the kinds of winds you’re describing! I was fascinated with the single white cross in the graveyard – was there one lonely grave or don’t they have markers on every one? That video set my teeth on edge – yuk to that weather although we get our share here in winter too.

    March 13, 2015 at 12:41 am

    • Thank you Carol. There were other graves in the graveyard, I was able to frame the picture to include just this one. I thought it made for an interesting composition.

      March 13, 2015 at 8:10 am

  10. Gorgeous little churches, Adrian. I don’t envy you that wind at all. Every day would be a bad hair day for me. :D When is the best month to visit Iceland, weather-wise?

    March 13, 2015 at 1:41 am

    • Thank you Sylvia. I would recommend May or October. In the mid-summer months, midges are a problem. :-)

      March 13, 2015 at 8:12 am

      • Oh no……midges! That would necessitate me keeping my mouth shut, which I find quite difficult. :D

        March 13, 2015 at 11:16 am

      • Pesky little blighters.. :-D

        March 13, 2015 at 11:21 am

      • That’s for sure. Do they have mosquitoes? They adore me. 8O

        March 13, 2015 at 11:29 am

      • No mozzies Sylvia :-) “Entomologist Erling Ólafsson is surprised that mosquitoes have neither settled in Iceland nor the Faroe Islands while they exist in the island states’ neighboring countries. There is no definite explanation as to why these two countries remain mosquito-free.” Iceland Review Online

        March 13, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      • That’s really interesting. Maybe when hubby has finished the house, I’ll suggest we emigrate again. :)

        March 13, 2015 at 5:23 pm

      • You might find the winters a little harsh Sylvia.. :-)

        March 13, 2015 at 6:43 pm

  11. Magnificent skies…..really looks like a most amazing place!

    March 13, 2015 at 3:25 am

    • It is Therese, thank you!

      March 13, 2015 at 8:12 am

  12. poppytump

    Loved those little churches ! One in particular passed me by I’m not sure how that happened – scrutinising the map – or more likely swigging from my Thermos :-D I’m sure you have it in your collection ChillB .
    This account of the conditions has reminded me of the slight trepidation I felt after hearing about it first time round as we were preparing to pack :-o

    March 13, 2015 at 8:26 am

    • I love the red roofs making them stand out so well, espcially in the snow.. I was in two minds as to whether to forward the links to those videos I’d uploaded to Dropbox, before you made the journey north Poppy, but I could see that conditions were calming down and would have eased considerably by the time you arrived.. That’s not to say they didn’t deteriorate again later but you were committed by that stage! :-D x

      March 13, 2015 at 10:47 am

  13. this is very extreme climatic conditions ! I’ve heard about the wind causing damages to rental car, it can happens quite easily I think. You did well taking care while parking.

    March 13, 2015 at 9:51 am

    • It was extreme but I’m glad I experienced these conditions. It was all new to me. The UK is so temperate in comparison! We were warned when we picked our car up about the wind. As I said in the post, wind causes more damage to hire cars than anything else..

      March 13, 2015 at 10:58 am

  14. anroworld

    Photos are super, weather is extraordinary! Nice experience!

    March 13, 2015 at 10:06 am

    • Thank you very much, it was an incredible trip! :-)

      March 13, 2015 at 10:59 am

  15. Fantastic. You can see you had to be a viking to live in such a landscape.

    March 13, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    • Absolutely Bente.. I can’t imagine how it must have been to live in this landscape without all the modern comforts!

      March 13, 2015 at 2:04 pm

  16. visually stunning ~

    March 13, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    • Thank you Mary! :-)

      March 13, 2015 at 3:39 pm

  17. I wonder of those churches were all built during one long construction road trip around Iceland. I didn’t realize They had such strong winds – my goodness! That last photograph, the one of the church at Arnastapi and Snaefellsness, has such a wild look to it. Beautiful!

    March 13, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    • Thank you very much Dave! The wind really was quite something. When I first checked the Icelandic Road Agency website. I couldn’t understand why they had wind predictions on all the roads. Now I understand the need for it! :-)

      March 13, 2015 at 4:33 pm

  18. Those bright red church roofs make a lovely contrast to the moody skies, don’t they. As for your holiday weather, can you imagine what would happen here if we encountered conditions such as those here? Mind you up in the hills you can get them, not usually quite as ferocious winds, but good blizzard conditions nonetheless. I’m guessing you will be an expert in winter driving back at your home now, just have to wait for some snow ;-)

    March 13, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    • The Icelanders drive around as if there isn’t any snow or ice covering the roads at all Sonja. It took a few days but I got used to driving like that too. Tyres make a big difference of course and I suppose for the odd day when we do get snow, it wouldn’t be worth changing them that said, it is laughable how much chaos a little bit of snow will cause here having seen the way a lot of snow is handled in Iceland. :-)

      March 13, 2015 at 8:45 pm

  19. Simply serene and beautiful, Adrian. That single white cross adds the little “extra” as well. Terrible weather – but you seem to enjoy it. Good! Looking forward to more adventures from you!

    March 13, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    • Thank you Ann Christine! I do quite like extreme weather, as long as I’m prepared for it! :-)

      March 14, 2015 at 7:57 am

  20. Crisisalive

    Amazing pictures! So beautiful!

    March 13, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    • Thank you! :-)

      March 14, 2015 at 7:58 am

  21. Stunning Adrian especially the second image. That must have been a crazy drive.

    March 14, 2015 at 3:07 am

    • Thank you Edith! By the end of the trip I was really quite used to driving in conditions like these. It was a bit of a shock and a challenge on the second day though not having ever experienced anything like it. :-)

      March 14, 2015 at 8:00 am

  22. Oh my, that last shot is so very, very dramatic and gorgeous! The churches remind me a bit of Canada’s Gaspé Peninsula where every little hamlet had it’s church.

    March 14, 2015 at 6:26 am

    • Thank you Gunta!

      March 14, 2015 at 8:00 am

  23. Brilliant Photo so atmospheric very good ,I like the Church on its own in the wilderness

    March 14, 2015 at 8:05 am

    • Thank you very much!

      March 14, 2015 at 11:58 am

  24. Adrian, both of these photographs are absolutely beautiful. The second actually looks like a watercolour painting. Thank you for braving the elements to photograph them :-)

    March 16, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the photographs, thank you! :-)

      March 16, 2015 at 2:46 pm

  25. The churches are a real highlight of Iceland!

    March 16, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    • They really are. It’d be nice to do a series just on the churches. I must bear that in mind next time I visit which won’t be too far off I hope! :-)

      March 16, 2015 at 7:31 pm

  26. Wow! Thank you for the video. That little taste of your experience is an inspiration! And of course, the photos are amazing.

    March 23, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    • I’ve only been back a couple of weeks and it feels a world away, driving in those conditions. Thanks again for all your comments! :-)

      March 24, 2015 at 7:55 am

  27. Harold Rhenisch

    Wonderful captures! I spent my winter time in the North and East…such light! You have taken me farther. Thank you.

    February 25, 2016 at 12:09 am

    • It’s a pleasure Harold, thank you for your comment!

      February 25, 2016 at 7:00 am