Grótta Lighthouse at Seltjarnarnes

Grotta Lighthouse at Seltjarnarnes
Grotta Lighthouse at Seltjarnarnes

Seltjarnarnes peninsula

The lighthouse at Grótta sits on a small island at the tip of the Seltjarnarnes peninsula.  The town of Seltjarnarnes is easier to visit than to say.  The town is bordered with Reykjavik and is one of the oldest settlements in Iceland.  A few hundred years ago, Seltjarnarnes used to be much bigger and more important than Reykjavik.  If you are staying in Reykjavik, there is a pathway from the Grandi harbour that goes all the way along the Seltjarnarnes peninsula. This is known as the Seltjarnarnes Jogging Path.

Grotta island is accessible at low tide.  It is possible to follow the rocky breakwater and explore the island with its picturesque lighthouse.  The lighthouse is sometimes called the Seltjarnarnes lighthouse.  The lighthouse has a rounded structure and is now fully automatic.  Its light warns ships of the rocky coastline on the entrance to Reykjavik Harbour.  It has a pattern of 3 short flashes followed by a long flash then a pause.

Seltjarnarnes Sunset
Seltjarnarnes peninsula -Sunset colours at low tide.

Between the carpark and the Grotta Island is a bay of water which is separated from the channel by a row of breakwater boulders.  Sometimes the water in the bay can be still and reflective.  At high tide and windy weather, the sea can crash against the boulders.  Both scenarios are good for landscape photography.

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Jogging Path

I never jogged the jogging path, but I was a habitual walker in 2008 when I lived in Downtown Reykjavik.  Each way was about 40 minutes at my walking pace.  Along the path there are areas where you can get down to the shore among the rocks.  There is a surprising amount of decent coastal scenes to be photographed before you get to the lighthouse. At some point you will come across a wooden fish shack.  Very close to here is a fairly unknown geothermal pool.  You can take your socks and shoes off and bath your aching feet in the tiny hot-tub.  There is room for 2 pairs of feet, so a couple can get all natural together.

 

Northern Lights

Yes,  Grótta Lighthouse can be a great place to photograph the Northern lights.  Some minibus tour companies started taking customers here.  There were lots of complaints because it is just a 2 minute drive from Reykjavik and they had paid lots of money.  The carpark on the Seltjarnarnes peninsula was a local secret for evening romances until the Northern Lights photos emerged to make Grotta a popular tourist spot.  Testing the Canon 5D at Grotta Lighthouse LINK.

Aurora lighthouse
Northern lights at Grotta lighthouse.
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Birdlife

The end of the Seltjarnarnes peninsula is fantastic for birds.  There are a huge variety of sea birds, gulls and waders.  If you follow the jogging path around and past the lighthouse, you will come across a small lake with reed banks.  This is a great place to explore with a 400mm birding lens.  It is important to note that access to the Grotta island is restricted in the spring to encourage nesting.

oystercatcher has a bath
An oystercatcher has a bath at the lake.

This photo of the common OysterCatcher bird was taken with a Canon RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens.  This lens is a monster to carry around and I fully recommend using a strong monopod.

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By Tony Prower

Tony Prower spent over 15 years photographing the landscapes of Iceland. Tony Prower is a pioneer of the Magic Cloth Technique and ran thousands of photo tours in Iceland over 10 years.