Favourite Places - Grótta


Sunset at Grotta in Seltjarnarnes by Michael Ridpath author of the Magnus crime novels

What you think of Grótta depends on the intersection of your mood and the weather. 

If you are feeling tired or impatient and the wind is blowing and it's cold and raining and you can’t see for more than a hundred metres, then Grótta can be a bust. But when it is calm and still, and it is warm enough to sit and stare, and the sun is taking its sweet time to duck below the horizon, it is a special place. 

The name Grótta refers to a tiny island at the tip of Seltjarnarnes, on which a lighthouse stands. 

On the west side of this tip is a beach of black stones. At sunset, the sea shimmers in silver, gold, yellow, orange and even green as the sun creates a path heading westwards to the Atlantic and beyond (see photo above). 

On a clear day, the snowy cone of Snaefellsjökull shimmers far away to the north. Sleek black cormorants slip in and out of the water and multicoloured ducks paddle about their business. 

Terns wheel and dive, letting out their distinctive cry of ‘kria’, which is their name in Icelandic. During nesting season, they can become quite aggressive; they will dive-bomb you if they decide you are in the wrong place.   

Grótta can be dramatic, when the wind whips up the sea and waves crash on the rocks and the lighthouse, and sinister, when white fingers of fog caress the black volcanic stone. 

There are many more dramatic and desolate beaches in Iceland, but the beauty of Grótta is it is so close to the centre of Reykjavík and yet so peaceful. 

A place to put down your notebook and tape recorder, and let your mind drift.

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