By the northwest corner of Spitsbergen, the 1600s Dutch whaling station of Smeerenburg, or Blubber Town, sits surrounded by fjords, steep icy peaks and crescent beaches of gravel and driftwood. There’s the odd sprawled walrus too, in front of the eroded ruins of this once bustling port where blubber was rendered and shipped back to Europe. The natural grandeur and the contrasting, up-close detail of Smeerenburg is best enjoyed walking or kayaking around the area, but just sitting within the elemental landscape, either beneath brooding clouds or brilliant blue, is rewarding too. Barry Lopez once wrote of a similar area in Arctic Dreams: the Arctichas ‘the classic lines of a desert landscape: spare, balanced, extended and quiet.’ The austerity of Svalbardmakes it all the more rich, with a history and terrain to humble. You’ll be well-taken with its wild form and piercing light.