The walking track to Klif – The beacon rock

The walking track to Klif – The beacon rock

Klif is the bulky, flat-topped rock with a beacon of light on the top, on the island of Heimaey (Vestmannaeyjar). It stands across from Heimaklettur on the other side of the Eiðið isthmus. You can haul yourself up the stunning cliffs of Klif along ropes and chains attached to the upper parts. That may sound a bit discouraging, but the hike is actually a lot of fun, and not as difficult as it looks. And well worth the effort!

Náttmálaskarð, sunset through the gap of Klif, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandNáttmálaskarð – sunset through the gap between Klif and Dalfjall.

Vestmannaeyjar is a volcanic chain of islands just off the south coast of Iceland, directly across from Eyjafjallajökull. Heimaey, the main island, may look tiny on the map, but there’s a lot of spectacular scenery densely compressed into its 13,4 square kilometres. The ferry departs from Landeyjahöfn and takes 35 minutes. You’ll see the turn-off to the harbour near Seljalandsfoss on the Ring Road.

Klif, Heimaklettur and Eyjafjallajökull, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland.Beautiful views to Heimaklettur and Eyjafjallajökull on the way up to Klif.

Shaped by volcanic activity

Klif rises up at the eastern end of the intricate formation of jumbled rocks and craggy cliffs stretching via the HáHá plateau to Herjólfsdalur, Dalfjall and Blátindur. Together with the harbour kletturs they form the oldest part of Heimaey, forged by volcanic activity from the hotspot underneath the sea about 40.000 years ago.

The rest of Heimeay didn’t emerge until about 6000 years ago. It was constructed by a combination of several eruptions, after Stórhöfði and Sæfjall arrived in the south, and finally Helgafell fused them all together. The shifting and changing of the island is still an ongoing process. Only as recent as 1973 Eldfell made its sudden and spectacular entrance, when it erupted out of nowhere in a grassy field next to Helgafell.

Lupine lava fields, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandLupine covered lava fields with Klif and Dalfjall in the distance.

Steady erosion on the seaside has resulted in beautifully sculpted cliffs with several nooks and crannies, filled with a multitude of jumbled rocks, tiny beaches and bizarrely shaped spires rising up from below.

Heimaey harbour, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The start of the track

The track up to Klif isn’t clearly marked. It starts directly across from the narrow end of the harbour, where you’ll see a gravel road and a parking lot behind a few shacks (and building materials).

Klif hike, walking track, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The path towards Klif.

The path leads up from behind the parking lot towards the protrusion of Litla-Klif – that stubby plug jutting up between Klif and the HáHá plateau. After a few hundred meters the path continues behind a sheep fence with a wooden step over it. The first part is still firm and grassy. But shortly after the slope becomes steep, with increasing gravel, loose sand and rocks along the way.

This is where you’ll see the first rope lying in the sand, attached to a rock further up.

Rope hanging down the slope, and more ropes on the upper side of Klif.

Helgafell volcano, wispy translucent clouds, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The view to Helgafell, with some beautiful wispy translucent clouds floating above 🙂

Ropes and chains

From here on, there are ropes at several points to assist you in hauling your way up onto the steep, gravelly slope. Even though you might not need them so much going up, you’ll definitely do on the way down!

Klif hike, ropes, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The gravelly upper part of the slope.

Klif hike, ropes, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

Looking down…

Heimaey harbour view, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

Don’t forget to enjoy the views along the way… 😉

At the end of the loose gravelly bit you reach a rocky area on the upper slope, with chains and more ropes attached by helpful islanders.

Klif hike, ropes, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandSeries of chains & ropes and steps carved out in the track.

The last part up to the top. Almost there!

Your efforts will be rewarded by this jaw-dropping view of a multitude of jumbled rocks…

Jumbled rocks of Herjólfsdalur valley, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The Klif plateau

And finally, broad grassy & flowery meadows await behind the electricity station on the top.

Top of Klif, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

There are sheltered spots along the sides of the plateau, where you can enjoy a picnic lunch and a Wilderness Coffee in the thick grass, looking out over Heimaklettur, the hustle & bustle of boats and the ferry coming in to the harbour on the other side of the Eiðið isthmus.

Heimaklettur, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandHeimaklettur and its hidden beaches.

Eldfell volcano, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandEldfell view.

On clear days you can see Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull looming on the other side, and even the silhouettes of Reynisfjall and Reynisdrangar on the coast near Vík towards the east.

Bird cliffs and hidden beaches

Along the sides of the plateau you can take a peek over the edge, to steep drop-offs and crumbly cliffs full of seabirds nesting and floating around. If you’re lucky, you might also spot puffins during the summer months.

Bird cliffs down the north side and towards Dalfjall.

Dalfjall, Herjólfsdalur, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

There are great views along the seaside to small hidden beaches behind Dalfjall, some of which may be accessible from the back during low tide.

Blátindur, Surtsey, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandDalfjall and Blátindur, with the youngest island of Surtsey (born in 1964) on the horizon.

Arctic flowers, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandDelicate arctic flowers on the top.

Arctic flowers, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

Litla-Klif

There’s a small ridge between Klif and Litla-Klif, where you can walk below its crumbly edges. Unfortunately there’s no path up to the top of Litla-Klif – or at least not one I found 😉

Ridge to Litla-Klif, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The ridge to Litla-Klif.

Heimaey harbour panorama, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandStunning harbour panorama.

A candle on Klif

And yes, Klif has received its own candle at some point too 🙂

Candle on Klif, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

Klif candle & Wilderness Coffee in the snow.

Beacon light and candle on Klif, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

Can you spot the candle? 😉

On dark nights and foggy evenings, the red light on the electricity station sometimes seems to float in thin air like an otherworldly beacon. It’s a captivating sight.

Sunset and winter view over Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandSunset and winter view over Heimaey.

Other tracks

Not sure if Klif is the right track for you? There are plenty of other walking tracks around Heimaey. Not all of them involve ropes and chains or scramblling up gravelly slopes 😉

You can read how to travel to Vestmannaeyjar in this article.

(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High

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Video

A snowy surround view from the top of Klif on a calm & wind-free winter morning, just after sunrise – around 11 o’clock…!


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