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Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) > January 2017 > Once upon a time in the west

Once upon a time in the west

Iceland’s wild western coast has bred a long line of storytellers, who share tales of super-human Vikings and meddlesome spirits across the millennia. We meet the people keeping the tradition alive and the landscapes that inspire them



The largely frozen waters of Kirkjufellsfoss, a waterfall that sits in the shadow of Kirkjufell mountain on the Snæfellsnes peninsula
Ingi Hans surrounded by antiques in his Storyteller’s Lodge. OPPOSITE Grass pokes out of the snow on Brimilsvellir beach near Grundarfjörður, its sand black from volcanic activity


It’s a clear day when the two trolls set out on their journey. Snow sits on the distant mountains, but the valley is green and full of summer. Frazzled hair running amok above pale faces, the pair bob merrily through the hills. Their journey soon comes to an abrupt halt – a giant hand swoops in from above and yanks them into the firmament.

‘So this is my little theatre,’ explains Ingi Hans, inspecting the wooden puppets in the playhouse he conjured up from bits of scrap and uses to entertain children in his hometown of Grundarfjör ur. He wheels it across the floor of his workshop – a building known to everyone in the region as the Storyteller’s Lodge – to join the other paraphernalia he’s amassed over the years: old cash machines, ships’ lanterns, tin cars, leather-bound books, vintage Barbie dolls still in their boxes.

Ingi, the thin strip of white beard running down his chin lending him a faint air of wizard, has been collecting and telling stories his entire life. ‘My father was a fisherman and every day I would visit an old man at the harbour who was fixing the nets,’ he says, hands clasped round a freshly brewed mug of coffee. ‘He was always telling stories. My father would come home from the sea and I would share them with him.’

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About Lonely Planet Traveller (UK)

In the Jnuary 2017 issue... It’s time to choose whether to embrace the winter or escape it – and we’ve got a list of great hotels around the world for either option. Among our features this month is a Great Escape to Taiwan, where it never really gets cold; a trip to the west of Iceland to discover this land of sagas; a Perfect Weekend in Riga – Latvia’s charmer of a capital; a snowshoe walk up to an age-old refuge on Switzerland’s Great St Bernard Pass; and much more