I want to write about my holiday in The Faroe Islands, which took place in June, 1995. I have ancestors who lived for centuries in the Orkney Islands, north of the Scottish mainland, and have for many years been drawn to Scandinavia, and especially to its islands. I became fascinated by The Faroes and decided to go there! As there were no direct flights from Britain, I travelled via Copenhagen, and have good memories of Copenhagen Airport: very clean and bright, and with a good atmosphere. The small airport on The Faroe Islands is situated on the western island of Vagar, on the only piece of suitably-flat land in the islands! The bus from the airport to Torshavn, the main town, was carried on-board a ferry for part of the journey, as we crossed a fjord, and there are many road tunnels on the islands, because of the very mountainous terrain. The views of dramatic cliffs, steep hillsides populated with ragged-looking sheep, and the views of the sea are often spectacular. I had bought, before my trip, an excellent book on the islands by Liv Kjorsvik Schei and Gunnie Moberg. I do not have it now, but can clearly recall some of the fine photographs it contained, including those of the villages of Mikladalur and Vidareidi. Safely arrived in Torshavn, I soon found the guest-house on Jekaragota, with the help of a friendly local man. The guest-house was run by Frants Restorff and his wife Magda, and I remember their kindness. He used to advise visitors as to places to visit, on a particular day, based upon the very variable weather! The guest-house looked out to sea and was sited close to the old fortress, Skansin, and is indeed named after it. I certainly recommend it as a place to stay, although there are quite a few others in Torshavn. My visit took place around the summer solstice, and, because of the northerly location of the islands, the sky at night never really goes dark, with the sun merely dipping a little below the horizon. Of course, the opposite happens in winter. It is said that there is some rainfall on about 270 days in a year, but much of it is only drizzle!!
Looking Out to Sea
On the morning following my arrival, I was very pleased to witness the arrival of the Danish Royal Yacht, which I had not expected! The Queen of Denmark, Margarethe II, walked, with a crowd of local people and myself, along the street joining the harbour to the ancient parliament house. I was surprised that more people did not turn out to see the queen, but later realised that most Faroese people would prefer to be independent, rather than being part of Denmark. Still, this is probably not possible, for economic reasons. One day, I went by bus to Kirkjubour and visited a small church there. It had been the site of the medieval bishopric and Cathedral on the islands, before the Lutheran movement swept across the seas. Faroese, the main language, is close to Norwegian and especially to Icelandic, and is beautiful to listen to. On another day, I went to Vidareidi, the northernmost village in the islands. This involved travelling via the town of Klaksvik and the view, looking west from the village, was spectacular (as shown in one of the accompanying photographs).
Vidareidi has a quaint little Lutheran church and many houses, some of them with grass roofs. The gaunt and austere cliffs opposite the village are spectacular and, looking out to sea, there is nothing between you and Iceland, about 400 miles distant! Now, that is a place I should like to go to, to visit, amongst other places, the Westmann Islands and Surtsey, created by a volcanic explosion in the 1970s. The current population of the Faroes is about 70,000, although the people are outnumbered by sheep. There are no trees, apart from a few in Torshavn, and I remember many red currant bushes in the town, with their deliciously-scented leaves. From the other end of the village of Vidareidi, one can look out to sea and some of the outlying smaller islands, including one, Svinoy I think, which has a sheer cliff half-a-mile high!
Queen Margarethe II of Denmark
If anyone reading this wishes to visit The Faroe Islands, I would strongly recommend them to do so, especially in summer. Take a good camera and a raincoat!