I read the Travel Talk article by Noel Josephides on the review site where he talks (among other things) about the Faroe Islands. It brought back memories of a magical week we spent there in 2006.
Mention the Faroe Islands to most people and you get a blank look. A few recognise the name from the shipping forecast. Many years ago I read an article about them in the Daily Telegraph travel section which had pictures of wooden houses with turf roofs set in sunning scenery and wanted to visit.
The islands rise up out of the sea in a series of jagged peaks. The land falls into the sea in a series of stepped cliffs. The tops may be flat but the land here is unsuitable for agriculture. Settlements are built round the coast and land is terraced around the villages to increase the area for cultivation. Houses are wood painted black with white window frames. Some still have the traditional turf roofs. Fishing and sheep are the mainstays of agriculture with some potatoes and rhubarb. This will grow anywhere and seems to be the main source of vitamin C.
Roads are good and very quiet. Tunnels connect many islands now and are also being built through the mountains to connect remote settlements. We drove through the newly constructed tunnel to Gasadalur, a handful of houses surrounded by a huge amphitheatre of cliffs. Previously the only ‘road’ had been a cairned track over the mountains or by an infrequent helicopter service. At the tunnel mouth is a sign saying that car drivers go through at their own risk. It was about 7pm when we got there and we decided that there wouldn’t be many other cars around so went through. Michael crept through at 10mph saying ‘I really don’t want to be doing this’. (Coming back seemed a lot easier.) The mouth of the tunnel opens half way up the cliff face and snaked down to the village by a series of hairpin bends. It was certainly dramatic.
We spent our time exploring the Streymoy, Eysturoy and Vágar, stopping to look at the villages and doing some gentle walking. You need to like nothingness and splendid scenery as well as being prepared to make your own entertainment. There aren’t a lot of ‘tourist’ attractions. Kirkjubøur was the ecclesiastical and cultural centre of Faroe with a ruined cathedral, Roykstovan an old farmhouse and small church. There are the Viking ruins at Kvivik and there is a small folk museum on the outskirts of Torshavn. There are also boat trips to bird cliffs.
Do consider adding it to your ‘wish list’. We loved it.
Michael’s website of pictures with some information is here: