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Straumsland and Heleysund


Heleysund is a sound that separates Barentsøya at her northernmost end from the eastern part of Spitsbergen. Please refer to the info page about Heleysund and Straumsland for more geographical information and more photos.

Here we have got some panorama images to illustrate the beauty of Straumsland, on the north side of Heleysund.

Straumsland: Tundra, wetlands and hills

We start our hike with a crossing of Straumsland. The inland consists largely of wide, shallow depressions. These are mostly filled with wetlands that are not that easy to cross. It is important to find a proper place for a crossing where you can cross without much difficulty and without damaging a lot of vegetation. Wet tundra is very vulnerable!

Other than that, there are some wide tundra areas in Straumsland. There are Spitsbergen reindeer and arctic foxes in these areas, and occasionally polar bears. There are many birds, like different geese and ducks and smaller tundra birds like the snow bunting. I have also seen the pretty rare Sabine’s gull here and even Whooper swans, which occur only as quite rare vagrants in Spitsbergen!

Next to the wetlands, there are low hills of dolerite, a rock similar to basalt. This is the kind of rock that makes up the bedrock in the whole area of Straumsland and Heleysund, including the northern tip of Barentsøya. On these hills, the surface is dry and the vegetation is comparatively poor. Lichens are more prominent here.

Straumsland: Newtonvika

On the east side of Straumsland, there is the little bay of Newtonvika. Unfortunately, it is very shallow, only the smallest boats could possibly anchor here.

Straumsland: Heleysund

The most scenic part of Straumsland is arguably the south coast, that is forming a steep cliff towards Heleysund. From the top of the cliff, we have a view over all the neighbouring waters, from Ginevrabotnen, as the northeastern part of Storfjord is called, and to Barentsøya in the south (under the sun, it is mid-day) with her wide plateau-shaped hills and rolling tundra areas. To the north (left in the picture) of Barentsøya, there are Heleysund and Ormholet, separated by Kükenthaløya and some smaller islands.

The perspective on the landscape is changing while we are following the top of the cliff for a while.

Again and again we find different, but always stunning large columns of dolerite rocks, which give the scenery a bit of a wild west character. Black guillemots are breeding in some places on the cliffs, and Glaucous gulls have their nests on top of some of the columns.

It is pure scenic pleasure to hike in this landscape for hours on a sunny days like this. Depending on the tides, the current can be very strong in Heleysund, and it can be amazing to watch that for a while, especially when there are some pieces of glacier ice drifting with the current.


last modification: 2019-05-25 · copyright: Rolf Stange