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 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

ALL PHOTOGRAPHY COPYRIGHT © DY of jtdytravels