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Faroe Islands 2003, a 3 day tour

By Henrik Sundén, Boliden, Sweden, Sat, 20 Dec 2003 21:46:00 +0100
Cycling in Hvalvik Faroe puffins Nordlysid
Stora Dimun living room Tjornuvik

In 2002 I made a three day cycling tour on the Faroe Islands on the way between Iceland and Norway. The Faroese ferry Norröna makes a tour to Denmark, which leaves passengers to Norway stranded on the Faroe Island for three days. This year I had the same opportunity to do some cycling on these Atlantic Islands, and I chose to go north this year. This story just tells what happened.

18th July, 9.5 km local cycling in Thórshavn, excursion to Stóra Dímun

3:30 a.m., wake up call aboard Norröna. Foggy, not much to see of the sailing route through the narrow sounds of north Faroe Islands. Arrived in tórshavn at 5:10 a.m., still foggy. Cycled around for an hour in the town until a bakery opened and bought a can of mustard herring. It tasted awfully from curry, though. At 7 the tourist information office opened. They told that the motorised sailing ship Nordlýsid was going to Dímun at 10 a.m. for 350 DKK. They promised to take care of my cycle backpack for three days, so I got rid of some 10 kg of unnecessary gear. I got 500 DKK in Faroese bank notes from an ATM at the bank nearby. The Faroese bank notes are local, but the currency is Danish.

In the harbour, Nordlýsid was being prepared for the sailing tour. It had been impossible to reach the owner by telephone from the information office. He was constantly talking in his cellular phone, regardless of what he was working with.

The ship used the engines and sails all the way for this tour. The weather was foggy and rather windy, with a lot of waves. At 2 p.m. we approached Stóra Dímun, and prepared for going ashore. Two zodiacs were used to carry us, about 30 people, to a landing. Then we walked along the cliffs, not too close to them because the risk of falling rocks and other debris (birds shit, that is). Then we had to climb up a steep rock. Since I thought we were going to Lítla Dímun, I did not bring my rucksack, only a water tight bag, climbing was a bit tricky. I had to leave the bag and carry the cameras in their neck straps. Ropes, a ladder, and a bridge helped during the 95 m climb.

On gently sloping ground, there was a farm, with three people. Farmer (kóngsbóndi) Óla-Jakup and his wife Synniva and a third person I didnt see, lived there, the only inhabitants of Stóra Dímun. The four children had all moved to Tórshavn. We were all invited for coffee in the house, which of course was crowded. Going by helicopter to Tórshavn would cost 130 DKK, they said. They had several of the special Faroese horse. Only 40 of those exist in the world.

At 6 p.m. we left the farm. Three puffins were sitting close to the foot path. Kittiwakes (rita) were flying along the cliffs. The crew called them something else I interpreted as fulmars.

The sailing back to Tórshavn started good with several sun glimpses on the bird cliffs. Then we met the fog and big waves. Several passengers became sea sick. I spent a few hours sleeping. Just lying down and closing the eyes makes you become comfortable with the ships movements. Sitting at the table gives conflicting information to the eyes and the balance sensors, with sea sickness as a result. We arrived in Tórshavn at 10:25 p.m. The bicycle stood as I left it chained to a steel railing in the harbour. I cycled to Pizza-kjallarin and had a pizza for 77 DKK. Then I rode to the campsite (1.5 km north of the harbour) and put up the tent in darkness.

19th July, Tórshavn - Saksun, 60.5 km, 600 m ascent

Foggy. Cycled to the western part of Tórshavn to find the road north. My map is from 1977, so the tunnel from Kaldbaksbotn to Oyrareingir in Kollafjördur was not shown, and I didnt know about it. I found a sign Oyggjarvegur showing towards a road leading northeast, which is the direction I wanted to go. I soon recognised that this was the same road I cycled in 1977. Its highest elevation was 370 m, and there I copuld see the sun through the fog a few times. It was very little traffic on the road. When I arrived at Kollafjördur, a man was just putting up a road block across a road going south, showing the direction to Tórshavn. He said that Tórshavn Marathon was just starting and that the road from Tórshavn to the tunnel was not allowed for motor traffic while the Marathon was going on. The runners would turn back to Tórshavn at the southern tunnel entrance.

I continued to Hvalvík, a picturesque place. I had dinner where the creek is crossing the old road in the town. Jakup Brattá helped me to get a picture of myself cycling in Hvalvík. From Hvalvík it is a narrow asphalt road to Saksun, highest altitude about 100 m. It was cloudy in Saksun. I walked down to the seashore in the fjordlike Sakshövn bay. One family was camping in a tent there. Then I cycled back to Saksunarvatn, a fishing lake where nobody bothers if you are camping in a tent. Generally, wild camping is not permitted on the Faroe Islands.

20th July, Saksun - Tjörnuvík - Tórshavn, 84.5 km, 800 m ascent

Rain during the night, but clearing in the morning. Swedish photographer Thorleif Halvarsson had stayed overnight at the same place in his camper (a type of mobile home). I cycled to Tjörnuvík in good weather and tailwind. Many Faroese people were going to the same place, because when the wind is blowing from the south, the weather is best in the north. In Tjörnuvík there is a sand beach, where many people were taking a bath. In the north I could see the two rock pillars Risin and Kellingin, 75 and 73 m high. Started cycling back to Tórshavn at 14:50, fog and headwind came in Hvalvík. Traffic on the narrow road no 10 was rather heavy. Two times I felt uncomfortable when oncoming motorists started a passing with insufficient space to do it, so I had to go out in the gravel. Four times big vehicles passed me too closely.

I cycled through the tunnel to Tórshavn. It was 2810 m long. Im happy it was downhill, because it was much traffic. I could keep 28 - 31 km/h without much effort. At the camping I put up the tent, then made a tour in town and to the harbour. It was raining during the night.

21st July, 3 km local traffic

I was awakened by the mist signal from Norröna at 4:30 a.m. At 7 I cycled to Kunningarstovan (the tourist information) and got my cycle backpack. Then directly to Norröna, that departed at 8:33.

The total distance cycled was 157.5 km and the time in the saddle was 12.5 hours.