Wildfjords Trail

Creation of a long distance wilderness trail in the Westfjords of Iceland

Henry Fletcher

Age 32, Iceland

PROJECT: Creation of a long distance wilderness trail in the Westfjords of Iceland

Contact Henry with any questions, suggestions or to get involved at walk@wildfjords.com.

Wildfjords is a project to create a long-distance hiking trail between Ísafjörður and Látrabjarg. It was initiated by Henry Fletcher after he worked on Rim of Africa, a project to create a conservation corridor and walking route in South African mountains. Research for the project started in the summer of 2013 and the first people walked the trail in summer 2014. The routes follow ancient walk and horse pathways, some visible but mostly just ‘known’ routes through the landscape. The exact route is still developing and there is no fixed pathway at present. It is available on a guided basis only through Wildfjords.  The long term aim is to develop a trail resource and conservation narrative to be offered to local tourism providers in exchange for their support to the project.


Tell us about the work you are doing to create a wilder world.
In 2016, we ran our first EOCA funded volunteer cairn restoration project. This was located at the magnificent bird cliffs of Látrabjarg, in the West Fjords of Iceland. We welcomed 12 volunteers for a period of 2 weeks and restored a line of cairns across a 10km route. The full project report can be found here. In 2017, we will plant 10,000 native trees at Hfranseyri and run another cairn restoration trail.

We’re looking for 8 volunteers for each project, full details here: www.wildfjords.com/2017/opportunities/

We’re taking some time this summer to push forward with some of the trail development / sharing of information with locals and tourists visiting the area. As part of this we’re planning to do a complete self-supported walk-through of the trail, capturing stories, route info, highlights

 

What are some updates over the last year?
1. Combined Wildfjords Restoration and Wildfjords into 1 website: www.wildfjords.com
2. Submitted interim report to EOCA funders and they continue to support our work
3. Running a very successful restoration project in 2016 and having more planned for 2017
4. Giving other people an opportunity to develop their guide and facilitation skills
5. Engaging some local stakeholders successfully

 

What are the areas where you need the most help in growing or expanding your project?
We want people to walk the trail! So getting people here. Also, funding for developing and printing a trail publication.

 

Challenges
The biggest challenge has been with myself: how to stay true to my dreaming for the project when those surrounding the project and getting involved with it have different ideas on how it should function. This is particularly tricky in terms of a funding application when you write some third party into the project through the funding application. It’s good to talk about all your fears, dreams and any possible conflicts immediately, otherwise you risk getting into financial straight jackets.

 

Top 5 Goals To Accomplish In 1-2 Years
1. Build long-term integrity of trail through strengthening local buy-in
2. Carry out conservation / restoration work in 2016 in collaboration with local partners
3. Develop my skill sets in terms of running a business and trail facilitation
4. Generate an inspiring and consistent identity for Wildfjords & Wildfjords Restoration and let that emerge organically
5. Learn some Icelandic!

 

How can others help you accomplish these things?
– Come on trail or get in touch with some ideas for collaboration
– Like our Facebook page and visit our website!
– Let us know of any eco-tourism grant opportunities
– Link us with similar initiatives
– Spread the word!

 

 


Any words of advice or wisdom? Anything else you want to tell the world?

Talk and/or try work for people that inspire you, more than anything else in the world!

 

Contact Henry with any questions, suggestions or to get involved at walk@wildfjords.com.

Wildfjords and Wildfjords Restoration is a collaborative landscape initiative, bringing together local people, tourists, artists and volunteers to walk, carry out cairn restoration, native tree planting and trail development work.

All activities are designed to bring people into deeper relationship with the environment through practising traditional skills such as storytelling, stone work, foraging, walking and outdoor living.

The trail's further development relies on local support and collaborative action.