The Faroe Islands, Villages, 19th August 2012

The next part of our drive into the Faroese countryside took us to some small villages.  In some , there were newer houses with an updated modern colour scheme, but a turf roof is still very popular – it provides good insulation.

A small village  (P1010710  © DY of jtdytravels)


Sod roofed church (P1010699 © DY of jtdytravels)

The main religion in the Faroes is Lutheran and many churches dot the landscape.

Simple wooden church interior. (P1010702 © DY of jtdytravels)


Another church, this time, isolated at the head of a fjord  (P1010712 © DY of jtdytravels)


A tiny, isolated churchyard (P1010730 © DY of jtdytravels)


Bog asphodel [Narthecium ossifragum] (P1010737 © DY of jtdytravels )

Again, wandering around these sites usually results in a flower or two to photograph and enjoy.

A small farm building clings to a steep edge (P1010723 © DY of jtdytravels)


Coastline scene  (P1010739 © DY of jtdytravels)

These rocks are known as the Giant and the Hag at Eidi.

View from Gjaargadur Guesthouse, Gjogv, Eysturoy Island, The Faroes  (P1010754 © DY of jtdytravels)


Cliffs at Gjogv  (P1010758 © DY of jtdytravels)


Village at the head of the fjord. (P1010763 © DY of jtdytravels)


The road to Saksun   (P1010760 © DY of jtdytravels)


Hay drying racks at Saksun (P1010762 © DY of jtdytravels)

And in this area, I found some more delightful flowers.

(  P1010761  © DY of jtdytravels )


(P1010765  © DY of jtdytravels )


(P1010766 © DY of jtdytravels)

And  as we come to the end of this spectacular drive through some of the Faroese countryside, our adventure to the viking Islands must, unfortunately, come to an end. I hope you have enjoyed joining me for the journey!   D

All Photography © DY of jtdytravels


The Faroe Islands, Countryside, 19th August 2012

Dagfinn, our driver/guide, was mostly right about where to find the best weather. Not once did we have to abort an activity due to poor weather and our drive along the Faroese coastline and through small villages was very pleasant.

Dramatic coastline views  P1010658


The highest point of our drive – 882 m – near Slaettartindur (P1010669


Thymus praecox  Creeping Thyme   P1010670  ©  DY of jtdytravels

There were some small flowers to enjoy too.

A tiny eyebright. You could easily miss this one!(P1010663



Most Faroese plants are Arctic-alpine – made up of low growing wildflowers, mosses, lichens and grasses.  The upper slopes of the craggy peaks are usually barren.

Sea-birds dominate the bird population along with those who prefer open ground. There’s no woodland here.  The Pied Raven has become extinct while many other birds have developed distinct Faroese sub-species.  Puffins are very common and are still part of the Faroese diet.

There are only three species of wild land mammals to be found on the Faroe Islands.  All three; the Mountain Hare, Brown Rat and House mouse, were introduced by man.

Over the last 1200 years common animals such as the pony, cow, sheep, goose and duck have been domesticated.

View down a fjord  (P1010673

Again, we passed through quaint villages with their brightly painted houses but didn’t stop. We just continued to drive further up-country through beautiful, beautiful scenery.

Old whaling station buildings (P1010689

One place we stopped at was an abandoned whaling station called, Vid Ai.

Abandoned buildings and equipment   (P1010678


An old boiler and storage tank  (P1010676


At the whaling station jetty   (P1010682

Angellica  (P1010692

Abandoned building sites are great places to find plants that like a disturbed environment.  Many are weeds.

A lovely buttercup  (P1010698

It was good to wander around this old, abandoned site but we had more to see on this drive – and that’s for next time. D

The Faroe Islands, Tórshavn, 19th August, 2012

The view from my window at the Hotel Føroyar was quite spectacular – when the fog lifted.  The city was laid out below me with a pale blue mother ship lying at anchor in the bay.  Because there’s not enough permanent cold-storage available in the city for all the fish caught in the surrounding seas,  the Phoenix lies at anchor to take up the slack.

View from my bedroom window  (P1010621 ©  DY of jtdytravels)

We started our day with a walking tour of the old centre of Tórshavn.  This part of the city is called Tinganes.

Traditional black and white house with sod roof   (P1010625  ©  DY of jtdytravels )

Traditionally, only two colours were used for the houses: black and white.  The walls of the buildings were painted black while the window frames were white.  The black, I believe, came from the use of creosote, a preservative.  This was necessary to protect the wood from the elements, particularly due the ever-present salt-laden air.  Nowadays, black paint is the chosen material as it is not so injurious to health as creosote.  Sod, or turf, was the traditional roof covering with the practice still continuing today on some buildings.

More traditional houses and paving stones ( P1010627 © DY of jtdytravels)

A stone and timber dwelling   (P1010633  ©  DY of jtdytravels )

We walked on to the small harbour which is surrounded by old and new buildings.

Tórshavn Harbour  ( P1010640  ©  DY of jtdytravels )


Reflected boats and some new buildings   (P1010642  ©  DY of jtdytravels )


Old wooden boats    (P1010644  ©  DY of jtdytravels )


An Arctic Tern    (P1010638  ©  DY of jtdytravels )

The port was protected by the Skansin fortification which was built on a small hill.  Today, this is the location of a lighthouse.

The lighthouse and old cannon  (P1010650  ©  DY of jtdytravels )


The fort from the harbour   (P1010657  ©  DY of jtdytravels )


On old cannon with the mothership Phoenix in its sights!   (P1010653  ©  DY of jtdytravels )

After this walk,  Dagfinn, our driver/guide, decided to head for what he believed would be a sunnier part of this island. And we’ll go there in my next musings.  D



The Faroe Islands, Kirkjubour, 18th August 2012

After visiting those mighty coastal Faroese cliffs, our next stop was at the tiny settlement of Kirkjubour on the west coast of Streymoy Island. This is the southern most village of The Faroes and the country’s most important historical site.

Stone, timber and sod roofed private home (P1010593 © DY of jtdytravels)

In the Middle Ages, this village was the spiritual centre of the Faroe Islands. At that time, it is said to have had about 50 houses but the majority of these were washed away by a fierce storm in the 16th century. Now there is just a huddle of stone, timber and sod roofed private homes like the one above. Red is the common door and window colour here.

Kirkjubøur settlment (P1010576 © DY of jtdytravels)

There are three main historic buildings to visit here. From left to right: the oldest still inhabited wooden house in the world; the ruins of the Magnus Cathedral, now a world heritage site; and the oldest still in use church in the Faroes.

Let’s begin with the house. Some of you may have seen the episode of the English TV program called ‘Coast’  in which the team visited a very old Faroese farm house in Kirkjubour called ‘Roykstovan’ – the King’s Farm. This is it!

Part of this house dates back to 1550 and has been lived in continuously for no less than eighteen generations of the one family… and still is lived in today, part home, part museum. I had been intrigued by the documentary and now I had the wonderful privilege of not only visiting the house but also of meeting the mother of the present owner.

The oldest continuously lived-in house in the world   (P1010583 © DY of jtdytravels)

This charming old building dates back to the 11th century. It’s made of timber which is said to have come drifting, quite unintentionally, across the seas from Norway.  The ship that was carrying it to some other long forgotten destination sank, and the cargo of timber was washed up by the Gulf Stream to this natural ‘collection point’ in the fiord.

Sod roof above the entry to the house.  (P1010590 © DY of jtdytravels)

The turfed roof is an ancient form of building in the Faroes, and is designed both to provide insulation and to withstand Atlantic storms and, judging by the fact that houses have been washed away in storms, those storms must be very fierce.

Solva Patursson , our delightful hostess.  (P1010605 © DY of jtdytravels)

We had the decided pleasure of being entertained by Solva Patursson, the mother of the present owner of the house.

Solva with the King’s Yeoman’s staff of office  (P1010616 © DY of jtdytravels)

The head of the Patursson family (now Solva’s son since the death of her husband) is the King’s Yeoman on The Faroes and this beautifully carved pole is his staff of office.

The living room (P1010597 © DY of jtdytravels)

Solva told us stories of her family and the house as we were served coffee and biscuits in the living room. It is decorated with period furniture and portraits of previous generations of the family. The bureau(above) is 17th century. There’s also a piano built in 1858. I expect, and hope, that it was much used to entertain the family during the long dark winters experienced in the Faroes. I was glad to be there in the summer – I don’t relish the thought of winters spent here.

The long wooden table  (P1010595 © DY of jtdytravels)

Many objects in the house are made from timber salvaged from ships which came to grief on the nearby rocks.  The top of the long wooden table in the kitchen / living area was once a cargo hatch upon which Anders, a shipwrecked German, drifted ashore in 1895.

This room, called the Roykstovan, dates back to around 1100. It has a smoke opening in the ceiling.  This was the original smoke house, the centre of much of the activity of the farm.

The kitchen / living area (P1010607 © DY of jtdytravels)


Old pots and other implements on the wood burning stove  (P1010613 © DY of jtdytravels)

One can only wonder at the number of cups of tea that have been produced by this old kettle over the years – and the number and content of the stories told whilst those cups of tea were enjoyed. And what about that flat iron!  Makes one grateful for modern appliances!

Worn treads on stairways that were built to last! (P1010598 © DY of jtdytravels)


An old door in the house    (P1010619  © DY of jtdytravels)


The red door with lion adornment  (P1010588  © DY of jtdytravels)

This red door with carvings of a Norwegian lion, is a replica, carved by Joannes Patursson in 1907. It now adorns the front of the old house.  The original red door, was formerly inside between the Log Room and the Ball Room.  It was destroyed by officials in 1833.

A very old carving of Bishop Erlender  (P1010612  © DY of jtdytravels) 

On one wall of this house, which was originally the bishop’s house, is a very old representation of Bishop Erlender who was responsible for the building of Magnus Cathedral, Magnuskatedralurin, in around 1300. That building, just below the house, is now World Heritage listed. It probably served as the official cathedral of the Faroes until the reformation.

Magnus Cathedral and St Olav Church   (P1010577 © DY of jtdytravels)

The whitewashed  St Olav’s Church (‘Olavskirkjan’) was built in the 12th century and is the only church from the middle ages still used in the Faroe Islands.

The Magnus Cathedral is set between the house and the church. Referred to as ‘Mururin’ (the wall), it was built around year 1300. It’s not known if the building was ever actually completed.  Today there is only the 1½-meter thick wall remaining covered by a temporary roof, put there to protect the building until there’s money enough to restore the building properly.

Model of Magnus Cathedral (P1010597 2  © DY of jtdytravels)

There’s a model of the Magnus Cathedral (kept in the house) showing how it once looked with it’s stain glass windows.

Interior of St Olav’s Church  (P1010580  © DY of jtdytravels)

St Olav’s is till used as the village Parish Church. Between 1962 and 1967 it was restored and it smelled of an even more recent repaint when we were there!  The altar piece is modern – a painting of Christ watching over a boat full of men painted in 1967 by a Faroese artist, S J Mikines.

Another art work in the very simply decorated church. (P1010581 © DY of jtdytravels)


King Sverre of Norway  (P1010610 © DY of jtdytravels)

On a wall of  the house is this likeness of Sverri Kongur. The story goes that in the year 1151 a little boy was born in a cave above Kirkjubøur. He would grow to be  King Sverre of Norway – but before that he was educated here and became a clergyman in this church.  His name has been carried on by others in this village – like Solva’s late husband.

The burial ground beside St Olav’s Church (P1010582 © DY of jtdytravels)

Over the centuries, the people who have inhabited this village have been buried in this area. The stone, centre front of this photo, is for Solva’s husband, Pall Sverri Patursson, who lived from 1944 to 2004. His son is now the head of the Patursson family and he proudly continues the traditions and keeps this place a special place in the Faroe’s history.  D


The Faroe Islands, 18th August, 2012


The day began with an opportunity to explore by boat some of  the impressive bird cliffs and caves that we had seen from the plane. We would begin this trip from Vestmanna, the largest village on Streymoy Island.

Village of Vestmanna from boat dock. ( P1010445 © DY of jtdytravels)

Vestmanna was the port of call for the ferry from Vágar and the airport to the main island of Streymoy and the Capital. In those days, all the traffic to and from the airport passed through Vestmanna. But now a submerged tunnel connects the two islands, replacing the old ferry, and Vestmanna is bypassed by most traffic.  The main employment here is the fishing-industry with a fillet-factory in the village taking fish from the modern fishing-fleet. Theres also some fish farming in the inlet.

In a place where it rains a lot, hydroelectricity makes a lot of sense and, since 1953, Vestmanna has provided electric power to the islands from its its three power stations. Water is provided from dams in the hills high above the village.

Massive cliffs  (P1010499 © DY of jtdytravels

Taking people like us on boat trips to explore the coast, when the weather is favourable, gives another form of income to this small community.

And we went right inside those caves!   (P1010510 © DY of jtdytravels)

This boat ride was really most impressive as we cruised right under some of those massive cliffs which I had seen from the plane.   So impressive were the cliffs that we had to don safety helmets to guard against falling rocks… or were they to protect us from bird poo from the many dozens of sea birds flying about?  I rather think the later as the helmets would have done little to stop any damage caused. Any rock falling from these cliffs would have caused more than a dint in the head – more likely it would sink the boat!

Inside a cave with a view! ( P1010501 © DY of jtdytravels )

At times, looking up was neck aching stuff ! (P1010525 © DY of jtdytravels )


Leaving the cliffs in our wake  (P1010528 © DY of jtdytravels )

It was not the best of weather but at least the seas were calm. It may not be so comfortable out here in rougher weather!

Back to Vestmanna  (P1010543 © DY of jtdytravels)

On the way back to Vestmanna, we heard some of the stories of this place. One was about pirates who frequented these waters in days of old. In the beginning of the 17th century the village was continually pestered by pirates. Then, in 1615 some Danish warships, in  Vestmanna at the time,surprised three Irish pirate-ships. Twenty seven Irish pirates were killed in the fight. Fifty five were drowned after the fight and eight pirate-officers were executed by hanging. That was quite a few pirates dealt with – I don’t know if others followed after that.

Another story was about the whaling industry. In the middle of the 19th century a steal-net was stretched across the mouth of the inlet during whaling.  This was done after the pilot whales had been driven into the inlet to prevent them from escaping.

Safely back at Vestmanna, we left our boat to begin a bit of land exploration.

Narrow roads, green fields.  (P1010556  © DY of jtdytravels )


A common sight – a sod roofed building  (P1010560 © DY of jtdytravels)


A typical village street  (P1010570 © DY of jtdytravels )

We drove through some picturesque villages. I wondered how often these chairs and the BBQ would be used in this incelement climate!

Village strung out along a stream  (P1010558 © DY of jtdytravels )


A bubbling stream courses through this village  (P1010569 © DY of jtdytravels )


Very mall village harbour  (P1010565 © DY of jtdytravels )

The tiny high walled harbour was a reminder that the seas here can become ferocious during storms. We had been very lucky to have a mild day with low seas and little wind.  In the afternoon, we would visit a very special family and their very old house – but that’s for my next next musings.   D


The Faroe Islands, 17th August 2012


After a night back in Iceland, reunited with the passengers left behind when we went to Greenland (Oh, what they had missed!), it was time to fly off to the last of our Viking Islands – The Faroe Islands.  We took off around lunch time in a BAe 146 (OY RCD), a Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) type aircraft.  This meant that the runway on the islands was not going to be long enough for regular aircraft.

The green hills of The Faroes    (P1010434 © DY of jtdytravels)

Again from my ‘seat with a view’, high above land, I was able to take my first look at these small islands. And what I saw was GREEN! A change of colour. Not the white ice and bare brown mountains of Greenland – but lots of green.

The Faroe Islands, lie north west of Scotland in the North Atlantic at a latitude of 62°00’N. Lying in the heart of the Gulf Stream, they are half way between Iceland and Norway. This archipelago of eighteen islands forms roughly the shape of an arrowhead, 113km long and 75km wide.

An autonomous region of Denmark since 1948, the 50,000 Faroese people have their own flag, parliament and official national language.  With so much coastline and not much arable land, the economy is almost entirely dependent on fishing and fish farming.  Some petroleum products have been found nearby and this gives these islands some hope for sustained economic prosperity.

Rugged cliffs   (P1010478 © DY of jtdytravels)

The islands have towering cliffs and are quite rugged although the highest peak is just 882m above sea level.  The climate is categorised as Maritime Subarctic and is greatly influenced by the warm North Atlantic Current.  Winters are mild considering their location with a mean temperature of 3-4℃, while summers are cool with a mean temperature of 9.5-10-5℃. The islands are windy and cloudy with over 260 rainy days a year.  Sunny days are rare.

Close up of cliffs (P1010486 © DY of jtdytravels)

I liked these islands immediately, with their wonderful, rugged cliffs, clearly visible as the plane approached the airport and no less impressive, later on, up much closer by boat. This was a very scenic approach to the airport.

First sight of a Faroese village   (P1010435 © DY of jtdytravels)

A village, straggled out along the coast below us.  By far the greatest number of Faroese now live in Greater Tórshavn, the capital of the islands – the rest of the population live in scattered, tiny villages like this one.

A Faroese village    (P1010438 © DY of jtdytravels)

The island houses are very colourful indeed.  It appears that no-one would dare paint their house the same colour as their neighbour’s. And the style of church is quite distinctive in its architecture – and again colourful.

A closer view of Faroese houses   (P1010442 © DY of jtdytravels)

Our plane touched down at Sorevag on a small island that has enough flat land for a short runway.  There, we were met by a representative of Arctic Adventures, our Danish travel agents.  We were then transferred by road through a tunnel to Streymoy Island and the capital Torshavn. Our home away from home for the next three nights was the Hotel Foroyar. Our final Viking Islands adventure had begun.   D