Last update: 4 November 2020
Blátindur is not for the faint-hearted. It’s that imposing peak rising up majestically above Herjólfsdalur, the remarkable valley on the island of Heimaey (Vestmannaeyjar). And it requires some serious scrambling up its steep and craggy slope. There are no chains or ropes along the track, nor any carved out steps. So you have to be prepared to crawl on hands and feet up on rocky paths, and sometimes even bumslide down the track if necessary.
Safe to say that it’s not a good idea to do this walk when there is a stiff breeze howling around the peaks of Dalfjall. But the effort is worth it.
Looking up to Blátindur from the coastal lava flow.
Blátindur, the top of Dalfjall
The views from the top ridges into the magical bowl of Herjólfsdalur are absolutely dazzling. Down the other side there are fleeting views onto hidden beaches and a bewildering array of jumbled rocks. In this article I will show you how to get there, and what to watch out for.
Where is Vestmannaeyjar?
Vestmannaeyjar is a volcanic chain of islands just off the south coast of Iceland, directly across from Eyjafjallajökull. They are also known as the Westman Islands. Heimaey may look tiny on the map, but there’s a lot of spectacular scenery densely compressed into its 13,4 square kilometres. The ferry to Heimaey departs from Landeyjahöfn and takes 35 minutes. You’ll see the turn-off to the harbour near Seljalandsfoss on the Ring Road.
Herjólfsdalur and the Dalfjall formation. Blátindur is the pointy rock jutting out to the left.
The intimidating heights of Blátindur
Blátindur – the Blue Peak – rises 273 abruptly sheer metres from the valley floor. Only a few metres shorter than Heimaklettur, it’s the second highest peak on Heimaey. The famous Elephant Rock (Fílinn) is on the sea side of Dalfjall, the bulky group of peaks above Herjólfsdalur where Blátindur is part of.
Looking up its sheer cliffs is quite intimidating…
Blátindur hike & start of the track
The scramble up to Blátindur begins at the western end of Eggjarnar, the ridge above Herjólfsdalur. You can climb Blátindur as an extension of the ridge track, or go up directly on the zigzag path from the bottom of Herjólfsdalur. The path is on the left side of the valley as you look into it.
Zigzag path to the top of Dalfjall and Blátindur.
This handy interactive map shows the walking route from the bottom of Herjólfsdalur to the top of Blátindur. You can also zoom in for more details, and click on the icons for pictures of stunning views along the way. Note: the map is a bit distorted because of the steepness of both Herjólfsdalur and Blátindur, so it doesn’t really show the finer details of the Blátindur section. See the pictures further down in this post for that 😉
Going up to the Herjólfsdalur ridge
It takes about 20 minutes of solid plodding up to the ridge along the zigzag path. From there, it’s another 20 minutes of scrambling to the top. But you will need plenty of time & margin to enjoy the breathtaking views too 😉
The daunting peaks of Dalfjall.
Once you’re on the ridge you’ll see a sheep trail to the left, weaving its way up along the back of Blátindur. The path leads to a wall of craggy rocks, seemingly ending there. On the other side is a gravel slope, sliding all the way down into the ocean below…
Sliding gravel slope, with a view down to the hidden beach of Stafsnes.
Scrambling up the slope
This is the part where it gets a bit trickier. It may look like a discouraging dead end at first sight. But it is possible to scramble your way up on a tiny path between the rocks. You just have to be very careful, check for loose rocks & gravel, and a firm hold with each step you take.
This is where you have to start scrambling…
Update 2020: There are now ropes attached along the scrambling slope. The top of Blátindur has also been fitted out with ropes, to make the ascent (and descent!) less daunting and dangerous. However, you still need to be careful and aware of your surroundings.
Bumslide section down the first ridge.
Breathtaking views will be your reward!
Then an unexpected view suddenly unfolds before you, as you emerge from the rubble onto a small but welcoming grassy plateau. It will – literally – take your breath away. The views are mind-blowing 360 degrees around, and nearly impossible not to capture in panorama.
Grassy plateau and view from the first ridge towards Herjólfsdalur, Vestmannaeyja town and Eldfell in the distance.
Four volcanoes in one view. Only Hekla is hiding its head behind the clouds…
The upper ridges
The upper ridges of Blátindur are connected by a series of little plateaus. A small path leads across them, with dazzling views and steep drop-offs to both sides. The last humpy ridge before Blátindur itself requires some more scrambling and precarious balancing across a very narrow path, before you reach the two metal sticks that mark the top.
View down to the last bumpy ridge, with a lava bomb lodged in its side.
As I gaze upon the Valley of Magic, I shall fear no heights… 😉
The dazzling views from above
Finally, when you haul yourself over the last ridge, you will be greeted by this jaw-dropping sight of Blátindur looming over Heimaey, casting its mighty shadow majestically into the bowl of Herjólfsdalur.
The top of Blátindur
There is not much room to lounge about on the top of Blátindur. But it’s possible to find some sheltered rocks to sit on, and enjoy a picnic lunch and a Wilderness Coffee with a view.
Wilderness Coffee with a view! 🙂
Looking back from the top of Blátindur, marked by two metal sticks.
The other side of the top rocks & sticks has a bit more space and a grassy ledge. However, there’s a rather abrupt drop-off around its edges…
Sitting on the ledge at the top & enjoying the views (and the balmy weather!)
Looking down to the coast from the top of Blátindur.
Sheep with a view.
Heimaey coastline and Stórhöfði.
A rainbow over the sea just as I reached the top 🙂
Other tracks & hikes on Heimaey
After you’ve (carefully!) scrambled your way down Blátindur again, you can continue even further down towards that little house on the giant plug you’ve spotted on the way up. This path will lead you to the hidden beach of Stafsnes, a great place to relax after conquering the dazzling heights of Dalfjall. Not sure if these are the right tracks for you? There are plenty of other walking tracks around Heimaey. Not all of them involve scrambling up or sliding down steep slopes 😉
This is one of the top-5 blog posts of 2017.
A candle on Blátindur
Occasionally, some candles have appeared near the top ridge too…
Wilderness Coffee & candles, and a mini-blysin on Blátindur 😉
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(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High
You can read how to travel to Vestmannaeyjar in this article.
Sunset over Smáeyjar, the little islands around the corner.
Northern lights above Blátindur!
Video – The dazzling heights of Dalfjall
A stunning surround view from the top of Blátindur.
Snowflakes on Blátindur
Winter view with snowflakes and a Wilderness Coffee on the top of Blátindur. The sound is not the wind, but comes from the roiling & boiling waves in the sea below…
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