Updated: Apr 19, 2021
As we learned while sailing from Tórshavn to Vestmanna and then from Vestmanna to Fuglafjord, the winds around the islands are full of mischief due to the mountains that either shelter the fjords from the wind or accelerate its speed downhill delivering a hairy ride on the water. Not every town has a safe harbour or a neat pontoon as Fuglafjord does, therefore after a little push from our Faroese friends, we decided to leave Altor on her safe mooring. We booked ferry tickets from Sørvágur to Mykines and rented a car so we could explore some of the Faroe Islands from land.
The car was delivered right to the pontoon the next morning and to my amusement the car rental company was run by a Polish guy. The ferry was due to leave from Sørvágur, which is on a different island to Fuglafjord and a 72 km drive away. The drive was a true joy, the scenery was stunning and as there had been quite a lot of rain, the waterfalls delivering the rainwater to the sea were spectacular. A lot of the islands in the archipelago are connected by incredible tunnels, which cut journey times and make driving around this scenic place so easy.
We arrived in Sørvágur in the rain so we had a picnic in the car while waiting for the ferry. Visiting Mykines came about not purely by conscious choice but by invitation from Marita. Marita is a friend who I met on a yoga course in Bali in October 2019. We met up briefly after our arrival in Tórshavn but now we were about to have a proper reunion and to my surprise there she was, in her pink raincoat, waiting for the same ferry! We didn’t expect to see her until arrival in Mykines.
The ferry is fast and soon we arrived in a cave like port on Mykines. A long queue of tourists lined up for the return journey while the passengers got off with their supplies from the mainland. These supplies were loaded onto a cleverly devised cable pulled trolley on rails that was winched up the incredibly steep slope. We climbed up the steps from the quay onto a path leading to the small village which houses eleven permanent residents and the rest of the houses are for the more seasonal dwellers. As Marita entrusted her shopping bags to the winch, we waited with her at the top while she retrieved her pink hand painted wheelbarrow to carry the bags to her cottage.
Mykines is the most western of the Faroe Islands with spectacular cliffs that are home to an incredible amount of sea birds such as albatrosses, fulmars and beautiful puffins. There are no cars, no proper roads, just gravel covered footpaths through the village. Some people have quads to move around on and carry goods, while others just use wheelbarrows! Most houses have grass-covered roofs and are a delight to see. Marita’s cottage is located right on the edge of a stream coming down from the mountain. We entered through the doors on the lowest level, which in the past was home to the family cow but is now converted into a kitchen and a dining area with long tables and benches, intended to host a couple of dozen or so people. What a wonderful, rustic party venue! The walls consist of stones stacked on top of each other without any cement and those above the counter tops serve as shelves for all sorts of kitchen stuff.
As I looked around I noticed wooden stairs leading right up to the ceiling and I thought that this was just a remnant of an old passage to get to the upper levels of the cottage and it would be necessary for us to go out and around to the front door of the multi-level cottage. I was wrong. At the top of the narrow stairs was a trap door, the same way as there was another one between the mid-level of the house and the attic. Arriving in the mid-level of the cottage seemed like we had travelled decades or even a century back in time! The beautiful furniture was like something out of an old film. Windows were decorated with pot plants and the rooms were full of memorabilia, old photos, new photos, decorations from époques gone by, and knitting equipment. Original wooden floors scantly covered with the odd rug were varnished beautifully but still reflected their century old age. The attic had a landing plus two bedrooms with their space utilized to the maximum to offer a place to sleep to as many guests as possible. Marita’s cottage is a unique place indeed, especially in times where functionality and minimalistic design are very much promoted. The traditional feel was wonderful.
That evening we went for hike on the rocky coast to see the local ‘secret lagoon’. Marita’s two friends joined us and we first walked through a field and then descended a rocky slope to where the icy pool of water was hidden. I felt the temperature with my fingers and rejected the invitation for a dip! The return journey required a climb down the wall of a gorge with the use of a crudely attached rope. It was tricky and much care was needed but I have to give credit to Marita, she made it look quite trivial. Safely on the other side we walked along the river back to the cottage and enjoyed a cosy evening in.
Away from Altor the night didn’t bring much rest for either of us but we got up early and set out on a hike down the touristy path toward the lighthouse on the most western point of the island. The sun was shining so we took off most of the layers and proceeded along the path frequented by sheep with fancy horns. The sea birds were flying all around and we were most delighted to see puffins! We have previously encountered puffins at sea but at sea they are so shy and fly away or more often dive instead of posing for a photo. Puffins on Mykines clearly crave the fame as they pose for close ups, stretching wings, grooming feathers and staying in the camera shot without as much as flinch. Mark reckons that if they could speak they would say “What you looking at”?
We crossed a bridge suspended between the dramatic cliffs of Mykines and the next island, the first bridge across the Atlantic, and continued towards the lighthouse. Every step of the way was a picture to behold. Having been able to stay at Marita’s cottage meant that we were on the trail way ahead of any other tourists so we had the place to ourselves. We reached the lighthouse and walked a little further to the steep ridge at the end of the island. We relaxed, took in the dramatic scenery, had a picnic and then set off on the walk back but this time we chose the path along the high northern cliff. It was only then we saw the first tourists walking out towards to lighthouse.
Back on the bridge we saw a couple of Marita’s neighbours, who we had met the night before, and they explained that the national TV and judges had arrived on the island to decide on the future of the trail, as someone made improvement to the path without a permission from the authorities! The weather started to close in, it seemed that luck had truly been on our side as we had enjoyed clear skies but now thick fog was rolling in! We made it back to Marita’s and then we learnt that the ferry might not be going the following morning due to forecasted high winds so we decided to leave that evening rather than be on Mykines while our rented car sat unused and waiting for us on the mainland!
Mykines is a truly beautifully picturesque place to visit, a true delight . Thank you Marita for inviting us and opening up your lovely cottage to us. Till we meet again....
Lighthouse on Mykines
Sheep on the trail to the lighthouse on Mykines
True black sheep
Ferry port on Mykines
Puffins on Mykines aren't shy at all!
Most western point of Faroe Islands.
"Look at me, I'm so pretty!"
"Let me groom my feathers for the photo."
Gorge between Mykines the most western point.