Vesturhorn Mountain

The mountain at Vestrahorn is one of Iceland’s few Gabbro rock mountains.  Dating back 8-11M years, the site was used by the first settlers (Irish) before they were enslaved by Viking invaders (c.860).  Vestrahorn has historical significance, Natural Beauty & Huge Radar Station. The area is best viewed from Stokksnes, drive out towards the radar station (N.A.T.O. base) on a rough, washboard road and you will be surrounded by grassy sand drifts.  These sandy tussocks are formed by the very strong winds that are often felt at Stokksnes.  These sand dunes are all formed of black sand. Walk to the East through the sand dunes and you will come to the beach.  The beach is mostly sandy.  The coastline is shallow, so waves can come a long way inland and surprise you.  Where the sand is wet from the regular waves, there is always a good reflection of Vestrahorn Mountain – even in windy weather.  Further south, the sand meets stone and there are loose rocks and small cliffs on the boundaries of the NATO base.

Stokksnes Point

At Stokksnes, there is a huge variety of foreground to help you photograph the Vestrahorn mountain. There is a charge to use the road up to Stokksnes even though the governemt pays for this. The charge can be taken from your credit card in the ‘Viking Cafe’, which is actually a nice place to have a coffee and escape the cold.  The toll charge is to protect Icelandic Nature, but unfortunately the grassy dunes are often trampled badly by heavy tourism. Down towards the sea, it is possible to get perfect reflections in the wet sand. This can be a very windy spot so remember to bring some protection for your eyes before battling against the sand blasting. Be aware that there are large swells of sea coming onto this beach (see my video). Sand blasting is possible and extremely unpleasant.  Be prepared with eye protection.

vesturhorn mountain Stokksnes

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Photo Tips

Focal length is an important consideration. There are photos to be captured with a telephoto lens, but my choice has always been wide angle.  That final triangle on the Eastern end of Vestrahorn mountain fits tightly into 50mm and doesn’t leave a lot of room for anything else.  My Photos on this post were taken with 24mm on a Full Frame DSLR.  24mm doesn’t capture the whole mountain from Stokksnes.   If you want to capture the whole mountain, like those famous reflections shots, then I recommend using wider than 21mm.  As I already mentioned, Stokksnes can be very windy.  Consder a heavy tripod and maybe some protection for your camera.  My rear screen actually has sand damage!  Vestrahorn Mountain works better on a Winter afternoon.  At 3pm your shadows will be upon the sand dunes, so consider starting at the beach and working back through the sand dunes as the light gets softer.

Landscape Prints