Our morning starts off in the pleasant village of Dalur. The tablet has been recovered okay with no loss to the itinerary or saved route.
Can you spot the blue house that “you just simply can’t miss”? It’s hidden roughly just below the large brown building next to the shore. Now at night time, even harder to locate!
Initially I wasn’t planning to head this far south so it was back up north. The lady I spoke with the night before said only about 8 people still live in this village. While the homes look nice and colorful, they’re just maintained as summer homes. Most of the folks who used to live here have moved to the capital, Tórshavn.
Heading north on Húsavikarvegur away from Dalur, I didn’t realize the size of the drop right next to the road last night! There are no street lamps to illuminate the area so it’s quite difficult to judge the depth distance down to the chilly Atlantic.
In North America we have roosters that cock a do la doo in the mornings, In the Faroes the sheep greet you with their own morning music!
Little bright pockets of color occasionally spring up from the barren grasslands. It’s hard to tell if anyone actually lives in them or they’re simply painted summer homes. No matter where you are in the Faroes, you’re never far away from the ocean. Little shelters and storage buildings sprinkle the landscape. These were from the village Skarvanes which is on the southwest side of the island.
The village of Skarvanes is at the end of highway 37. It has a beautiful little stretch that runs along the cliffs overlook the fjord Stöðvarfjörður. The road puts you right on the edge so you have a wonderful view of the waves beating along the rocks below.
Progressing to the west end of the island along Søltuvíkar vegur, you come across an exposed section of the landscape just after crossing over rocky causeway. It is as though a giant force peeled back the surface so you can peer back in time.
There is an informative board which delves further into how the foundation of what you are standing on was formed by volcanic activity many years ago. 'Eldgos & Frumskogur' is a nice roadside stop as it doesn’t involve walking more than a few meters from the car.
The Søltuvíkar vegur road ends on the west coast of Sandur. As with most roads in the Faroes, this one is also an in and out. You come across a small parking area with a memorial stone and the anchor of the ship SS Principia.
SS Principia was a Danish Iron steamer built at Jarrow in 1881. In November of 1895 she met an unfortunate end as she ran aground sailing from Dundee to New York – 28 lives perished that day with only one survivor.
Based on an article from The Times on Dec 10, 1895, a fire broke out on the steamer when it was roughly 120 miles out at sea. Some of the crew shoveled coal from the afterhold and into the sea in an attempt to not fuel the fire further. Others attempted to rescue those who were trapped or had to jump overboard to avoid the fire.
With the sea churning violently due to an on going storm, the winds shifted to the south and started pushing the steamer towards the high rocks of Sandö. With no lighthouse on this side of the island and visibility being non existent due to the smoke of the fire, the SS Principia met its end as it struck the rocks and sank within five minutes.
A German sailor, Heinrich Anders, was the only survivor after he clung to a piece of wreckage in frigid Atlantic waters for 18 hours eventually being rescued by the local inhabitants.
With the west end wrapped up it was time to quickly head to the ferry. You have to be a bit careful driving at times since rocks occasionally double as guard rails on these two-way roads.
On the way to the port, in the distance I spotted what resembled a pile of rocks covered in various colorful felt blankets. Part of the creative display involves what appears to be a woman with rather large knitted milkshakes that doubled for her …chesticles?
In my rush to not miss the ferry I completely overlooked the stop I wanted to make on the east end of the island in Húsavík. An old sea mine washed up on the beach, presumably in World War 2? It resembles a rusty rounded barrel although it would have been neat to see in person nonetheless.
The rush to get back ended up being not required. The ferry I needed to board sat for a good thirty minutes outside of the break wall bobbing up and down in the rough waters. What was in its place was a larger ship dropping off a few fuel tankers. I can only imagine that any folks with non-sea ferrying stomachs were not enjoying there time out there.
Since there is no bridge to Sandoy, all material, food, and fuel, must be either sent over by boat or helicopter. Flying is cost prohibitive in most scenarios and the carrying capacity is typically lower.
The loading process also seemed to drag on for quite a lot longer than I remember it being coming here. It wasn’t until I drove into the hold that I realized what took up the extra time. An ad-hoc second floor!
When there are more vehicles than can fit on the one level, they are able to drop down these large panels allowing vehicles to drive on top. Essentially it maximizes the available space but with it being adjustable, it allows taller trucks or trailers to still utilize the hold.
On the thirty-minute transit back to Gamlarætt I met two locals. Both spoke pretty rough English although we made it work. Their English was a lot better than my Faroes so I could not complain. At this point I was extremely excited to be able to talk to someone, anyone.
Outside of the short tourist season I found most establishments to be closed. A lot of the locals were content with keeping to themselves so there was not much for social interaction on my part. Besides the long discussion with the clerk at the cell phone store when I landed, this was the first notable discussion I had with someone.
We spoke about fishing predominantly, or rather I learned about fishing I should say.
Back at the Gamlarætt ferry port I headed south to see Kirkjubømúrurin, or the Magnus Cathedral in English. The cathedral is the largest medieval building in the Faroe Islands.
Since 2002, various plans have been in place to try and preserve this structure. The problem that arises is that due to the very high humidity the structure experiences being so close to the ocean. The rock never has a chance to completely dry. To combat this, a large shed was constructed around the entire cathedral. Later, the shed was replaced with these floating panels due to the unsightly nature of a large shed.
Walking through the ruins of the Magnus Cathedral you can still spot various symbols hand carved out of the rock and even a few small statues perched up near the windows.
Walking around the cathedral grounds you can look inside one the stone shelters. These are found through out the Faroes but normally are on private property. Thank to the ambient temperature resembling that of a fridge, these stone constructs are a great place for the Faroese to store their goods. Channels are visibly cut into the ground to help move any rain water away from the interior.
I also met a lady by the name of Kristeen who was visiting from New York and wanted a lift back to the capital, Tórshavn. She mentioned her Airbnb host told her that whatever you do, don’t take the helicopters. I ended up getting sidetracked in our conversations back to town so I never did end up asking why she was told that.
From what I gathered; Atlantic Airways has a great track record. I’m not sure what her reasoning was to say this but it did give me a pause to think as I have a few helicopter legs along this trip.
Back in Tórshavn, I made a stop at Skansin which is a historical fortress dating back to 1580. The fortress is perched on a hill that is sandwiched between the port and the capital. While rather small with an even tinier parking lot suitable for only a handful of cars, it does have a lot to see if you let your imagination carry you away.
Skansin’s initial purpose in 1580 was to help protect Tórshavn from pirate raids. Eventually though, the forts creator Magnus Heinason was nearly captured. This resulted in the fort being built over a series of improvements.
By the Second World War, the pirates were long gone and the British ended up occupying the fort. They further improved the defense by adding two 5.5-inch funs to deter anyone venturing too close to the island.
Besides the guns and cannons, you can meander around the various stone walls and see a couple small buildings. The most prominent part of the fort happens to be a lighthouse which guides any ship traffic to the port these days.
Before moving on I swung by Emilia Fastfood to refill the energy tanks. The food was pretty decent, nothing spectacular, but for how quick they prepared it and its rather affordable price point, it was a good deal.
There was still time left in the day before nightfall came about so it was off to Tjørnuvík. Tjørnuvík happens to be on the far north end of the island and the furthest northern village on the island of Streymoy. Basically, the furthest you could drive without leaving Streymoy.
Living in Canada we basically measure distance by hours so a 50km drive one way isn’t that overwhelming. Its all relative really.
If you look straight east once you arrive in Tjørnuvík with a clear view of the sea stacks named Risin and Kellingin. The Giant, Risin stands 232 feet tall. The one to the right named Kellingin is his Wife. She stands 223 feet tall. Years of consistent erosion has made a hole through Kellingin.
The number of waterfalls visible no matter where you turn your head is mesmerising. Back home we find ourselves driving for hours just to witness some water cascading down a mountain side. In the Faroes you’re surrounded by this magical sight everywhere!
That said, I did find myself slowly being desensitised to this sight. While the magic and awe never quite went away, it was slowly turning into just the ‘average’ landscape. The longer you’re surrounded by such beauty, this beauty eventually because the norm.
Being a dog lover, I stand by conviction that dogs are the best kind of people. This absolutely adorable bugger ran up and we bonded immediately. There was not a single person visible anywhere in the village. Occasionally I glimpsed some movement in a window but it didn’t last more than a mere moment. Similar to my last dog experience on Suðuroy Island, this new best friend ended up being my social outlet. But boy did he smell!
The last pup had a thing for rocks since there was no sticks readily available. This one had a thing for some form of kelp. I thought it might have been bull whip kelp although it felt solid and it was very strong. We ended up playing for longer than I care to admit. I’d throw it and he would chase it down like a rocket or just run around and come back for some scratches.
Eventually this new found love would have to come to an end though. He didn’t make the departure easy.
Each step towards my car I’d hope he would lose interest and return home, but alas, that was not in the cards. He followed me all the way back to the car and even while I had to turn the car around, he was right there beside me.
With a heavy heart, I drove away.
It was now time to return to Tórshavn. Along the way, fish farms could be spotted in the deep waters between the islands.
The tallest waterfall in the Faroe Islands is also on this road. Fossá drops about 140 meters over two sections and its volume fluctuates considerably when it rains heavily. There is a path you can hike up which takes you to both tiers.
I opted to skip this as the trail isn’t much more than dirt and grass. With the persistent drizzle the grass is quite slick and I wasn’t about to voluntarily go sliding down the rocky landscape below.
Back in Tórshavn, I stayed in Hostel Kerjalon which shares the parking and is run by Hotel Føroyar. The location isn’t extremely convenient as you’re outside of the capital so there isn’t any night life options. The bonus if you don’t mind spending some money to offset the fact you’re in their hostel instead of the hotel is to just dine in the hotel.
They have a nice bar with (at least at the time of my visit), a very friendly bartender. I ended up meeting two other ladies there who were also travelling solo and we ended up chatting until they closed the place down at 01:00! Have to make up for all the upcoming silence that is expected.
Share your thoughts in the comments below.