Truelove amongst the Ice

Southern Greenland 2014

In July 2014 I was fortunate enough to go on a trip to Iceland and Greenland.  Sailing from Liverpool (appropriately an old whaling port) we visited Reykjavik where I saw orca, as well as a wide range of traditional tools and implements made from stranded whales at the National Museum and Skogar Museum.  The Icelandic term for whale bone washed ashore is similar to the word for windfall, and in a land devoid of ti1511mber this has always been an important building resource.

A day and a half sailing from Iceland we rounded Cape Farewell, the southerly tip of Greenland well known to whalers heading into the Davis Straits.  We stopped at three locations.  One (Narsarsuaq) near the site of the Viking Eric the Red’s settlement, and a magnificent ice fjord full of mesmerising icebergs, one (Qaqortoq) near the old Viking church at Hvalsey  (whale island), and finally Nanortalik  where the open air museum contained various buildings associated with whaling and whale processing.

The four days at sea to return to Liverpool gave a small taste of the distances travelled to the whaling grounds.  We passed through these vast waters away from major shipping routes and although they looked empty, diligent watching was rewarded with sights of dolphin, porpoise, and various whale species (Pilot, Fin, Atlantic bottle nose, Sowerby’s beaked, humpback and minke).