Svartarkot is the last farm on the southeast side of Bardardalur valley; nestled on the shores of Svartarvatn lake, it straddles the border of the farming community and the uninhabitable terrain of the interior. The farm is owned and managed by two sisters: Gudrun and Sigurlina Tryggvadottir and their families, in addition to caring for 400 sheep, they farm trout in the lake and operate an old fashioned smokehouse. They are both active in the local community and are licensed tour guides.
Due to its elevation Svartarkot offers a spectacular view of the surrounding vista of lava fields, dormant volcanoes and mountains, all the way to Vatnajokull (the largest glacier in Europe) to the south. This proximity to nature and virtual isolation makes it an ideal place of study and meditation all year around.
The lake (Black River Lake) originates from small springs on the south and east bed of the lake and from four small spring fed streams. Diverse birdlife flourishes around the lake and surroundings, where many species of duck can be seen such asBarrow's goldeneyeamong numerous other water- and shorebirds species. with possibilites to see rare gyrfalcons nesting.
The river Svartá (Black River) flows from Svartárvatn, along countless twists and turns to the north until it joins Skjálfandafljót river.
Laxness in Svartárkot
The Icelandic author Halldór Kiljan Laxness, who received the Nobel Price for Literature in 1956, was impressed with the location of Svartárkot.
In the summer of 1948 he was travelling in Bárđardalur with the poet and scholar, Jón Helgason. The pair stopped at Svartárkot where they met the farmer, the writer and poet Kári Tryggvason, who later sent Laxness a copy of his poetry collection, Yfir Ódáđahraun ('Across the Lava of Foul Deeds'). On 27 Feb 1949 Laxness wrote to Kári to thank him and praised his poems which he declared were indeed no 'foul deeds'. He continued:
...Unforgettable are the few moments I stood in front of Svartárkot and gazed at the lava and the wide mountains. I have often contemplated outlaws and last winter, around Christmas (abroad at the time), I scribbled a short article about them and all the while, time and again, you came to mind and the short conversation the three of us had about the shape of the waterfall in Eyjardalsá and I envied you slightly for living in uninterrupted proximity to the folklore, a proximity that the two of us, your guests, had lost.
View from Svartárkot of the lava and mountains (photo: Sigurlína Tryggvadóttir).