18 September 2010

Really, Really Far from the Madding Crowd

If you need to get away from it all but you don’t fancy living in a cave then you may want to consider the island of Elliðaey in Iceland. As one of the Vestmannaeyjar (in English, the Westman Islands) in the South of Iceland it really doesn’t get much more isolated than this.

The island, sometimes known as Ellirey is small - .45 square kilometers to be exact but if you can get there it has a house where you can shelter from the elements. A wild guess about whether the house has internet access would probably lead to an answer in the negative.

The island is accessed via a rope on its lower east side – and you can only access the rope by boat. There are a few lonesome cattle for company on the island but your major source of company would be the thousands of sea birds that use it for a nesting site.

The island is a volcanic crater and it was formed in a large eruption about five or six thousand years ago. Since that time Puffins have used it to dig their holes and to settle down to nest but the house itself was only built in 1954.

It is thought that the island derived its name from either a ship or, more likely, a local cave called Ellirey. Local folklore maintains that the cave was used by a local maid to hide from invaders and there she raised a child.

The island is owned by a collective – even though there were once rumours that it had been gifted to Icelandic singer Bjork for her contribution to raising the profile of Icelandic culture throughout the world. It is rented out to those who wish, like some faded movie star, to be alone.