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 )

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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 )

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

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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 )

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

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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

ALL PHOTOGRAPHY COPYRIGHT   ©  DY of jtdytravels

The Shetlands, Mainland (South) 7th August 2012

I woke early to a bright and sunny morning, just like the last one – a bit of a rarity in these parts.  Whilst others still slept, I decided to go for a walk into the town. A good decision.

Commercial Road, Lerwick (P1000393 © DY of jtdytravels)

The name Lerwick is an Old Norse word which means bay of clay. This is ‘new’ Lerwick. Much of the town was burned to the ground in 1702 by the French fleet… some war or other!   But Lerwick goes back in history much further than that.

There ‘s evidence of habitation in the area dating back 3,000 years.  The first settlement to be known as Lerwick was founded in the 17th century as a herring and white fish seaport to trade with the Dutch fishing fleet.  The village was just a collection of old wooden huts that were burned to the ground in the 17th Century by the residents of Scalloway, the capital of the Shetlands at the time. Why? Because they didn’t like the drunken and immoral activities of the fishermen and sailors who lived there.  Weren’t seaports ever thus?

Lerwick port    (P1000398 © DY of jtdytravels)

Even today, the port of Lerwick is very important, a hub of activity that was just beginning as I wandered there exploring in the early morning.

Rugged scenery is all around (P1000427 © DY of jtdytravels)

After breakfast, we headed off on a South Mainland excursion where we enjoyed seeing some more of the rugged coastline.

Sheer cliffs provide sea birds with nesting sites (P1000449 © DY of jtdytravels)

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Rhinanthus sp.  Rattlepod (P1000435 © DY of jtdytravels)

There are no prizes for guessing how this lovely wildflower got it’s name!

These Shetland ponies were very interested in the driver’s offerings
(P1000439 © DY of jtdytravels

The Shetland Islands are well known as the home of the small, shaggy Shetland Pony. This breed was first recorded in the Court Books of Shetland in 1603.  For its size it is the strongest of all breeds of horse.

Old wooden boats at the Shetland Museum (P1000462 © DY of jtdytravels)

Back in town we visited the Shetland Museum.  It contained a good collection of artefacts and photos… no photos to be taken by me though.  Outside some wooden boats of the type common to the area, were beached.

And that’s where the day sort of petered out for me!  While the others explored the town and/ or shopped, I caught up with rest, writing and reading. Since I had begun my day very early – the sun is up at some ungodly hour here in the northern hemisphere in summer – I had already explored the town and I did not need to shop! I’m not into retail therapy.

In the evening, after dinner, we were to be entertained by one of The Shetlands well known ‘story tellers’. But, unfortunately he died some time between being booked for the ‘gig’ and the evening in question. Someone else had been substituted, but I opted out of that one.

One of our small group had begun ‘pressing the wrong buttons’ for me. I know that doesn’t happen often with me, but sometimes….  So I was in ‘time on my own’ mood.  Anyway, I wanted to download, check and sort my photos before we set off on the next leg of our Viking Island adventure, to The Orkney Islands.   D