Scenic route all the way

We have learnt that “hestur” in Faroese means horse. It is also a small island in the Faroe Islands located to the west of Streymoy, the island with the capital city. No horses live there but it is absolutely spectacular and Mark was able to depict the dramatic scale of this beauty in his blog “What a day”. I am not one for drama, and although Mark might have evidence to the contrary, I’m going to stick by my guns, and give a bit more of a pragmatic account of what is happening.


So back to Hestur. We instantly fell in love with his place. Wow, here we go again! Next we will be moving here. Oh, hold on a sec, we did move in here for a few days. I already envisaged myself in one of the houses on the island, wintering with a roaring fire on, writing my memoirs. Yes, in a black house on a hill slope, with white window frames and grass covered roof overlooking the fjord. What a romantic idea… but that would mean I would have to get off the boat… hm… ain’t gonna happen.


There is an old settlement on the southern tip of the island, called Hælur. Unsurprisingly, as old as the Viking times. Owning to its location it was ideal for growing crops, although I have no idea how could anyone farm the rocky land. The downside of this location was the extreme difficulty to land boats there due to its elevation. I guess the Vikings weren’t that into farming as they abandoned the village and chose a more convenient spot, more suitable for fishing. I’d do the same.


We asked around how many people really live on Hestur, but the numbers are inconclusive. We should have asked the locals, but so far the people we spoke to in the village weren’t from here. According to my observations there are three locals, but this is unconfirmed. What perplexes me, is the fact that when we looked at night at the village, there was no glow from any of the houses, only the streetlights. One interesting fact is that there is an indoor swimming pool on the island. Google says that it was built to prevent depopulation of the village and whether or not the population here indicates success or failure in this regard, is a matter of opinion, but according to the information board at the ferry, anyone can go and get the key from Ruth and go for a swim.


The mooring on Hestur is great - two very neat pontoons with power and water. There was a Faroese yacht here when we arrived, but he returned to Tórshavn on the turn of the tide, so the only other vessels here are local fishing boats. For exercise and to enjoy the view we walked a few times along the paths on the east coast of the island. The silence and undisturbed energy of this place inspired me to do yoga on the shore. This place, and indeed the harbour are so tranquil that eider ducks are sitting on eggs in places, which I would consider exposed, but clearly the eider ducks don't share my sentiment. Once eider ducks have made their nests, the females sit on the eggs for up to 30 days continuously in a hibernation-like state, so they obviously deem this a quiet enough spot.


After a few days on Hestur we sailed to an island a few miles to the south - Sandoy, to a town called Skopun. It is mainly a commercial port, but has a small marina suitable just for small local boats, and as a visiting yacht, we were directed to moor Altor alongside a wall adorned with big tyres, which was fine for us. We stayed for one night, managed to get supplies from the local supermarket and all of our laundry done. In addition a really nice local guy came down to say hello and in true Faroese helpful, friendly and welcoming style organised a diesel top up for us and then proceeded to take us on full tour of the island in his car. We were also joined by his lovely dog, Viva. This kind of welcome is very normal but nevertheless the friendliness blows us away every time.


Later that day Soni and Angela decided to come and join us for the evening but arrived late so stayed for the night. The following morning we went on another mini-tour of the island with Soni and Angela before they got on the ferry back to Tórshavn. That evening we also departed Skopun and returned to the tranquility of Hestur.


Soni and Angela then invited us to join them on the island of Kalsoy where they were staying in a cosy cottage overlooking the statue of Kópakonan, “the Seal Woman”. The full story of this Faroese folktale can be found here. We were thrilled to be invited and immediately jumped at the opportunity to spend some more time with this cool couple and visit an iconic location. We both thought of sailing to a port nearest to that island but that would mean a whole day of motoring so we settled for local transport, which is pretty exciting as it involved travelling on ferries. The following morning we took a ferry from Hestur to Gamlarætt on Streymoy, then a bus to Tórshavn, and another bus to Klaksvík, which is the second largest town of the Faroe Island. The town is located on Borðoy, which is one of the northernmost islands, collectively called the Norðoyar. We then got a ferry to Kalsoy. We reached the final destination, Mikladalur, by bus.


Soni and Angela were waiting for us at the bus stop and led the way to the cottage located on a spectacular cliff with a stunning view. We would later discover the extent of he spectacular view from the cottage once the milky fog gave way to the clear blue sky. The cottage is adjacent to stairs going down to the statue which stands on the shore. The sea was calm but the fog was thickening. We managed to have a good look around and take some photos but I was convinced that the following day blue sky would be delivered and sure enough we were delighted to see the sun burning through the fog the following morning. By 10am we had just the remnants of fog wrapping the base of the neighbouring island, which wasn’t even visible on the previous evening. We tried to extend our stay to enjoy the truly summery day but there was no availability. After spending a few hours around the town, enjoying amazing food in the local "Cafe Edge", and some sunbathing on the basaltic rocks, we headed back to Klaksvík, where Soni and Angela had left their car. With the sun beaming down we didn’t need additional motivation to go exploring, and we drove around the north-eastern part of the archipelago, going through single lane tunnels where, to avoid head-on collision, drivers have to duck into passing areas.


We visited the spectacular island of Viðoy and headed back in the direction of Gjogv where we were to spend the night. After dinner we went to Eiði to watch the sunset from the viewing point overlooking the Giant and the Witch. A big crowd gathered to watch the spectacular sunset. Seeing the feria of colours playing out on the screen of the clear sky scantly decorated with small clouds, which were changing shade with the sun disappearing into the calm sea, made this day complete. A true juicy cherry on the cake. Am I getting dramatic? I guess I am… it is hard not to after indulging in the overwhelming charm of these north Atlantic islands….


We are now back in Hestur, excited to be back on Altor. Thank you so much Soni and Angela for inviting us. What an awesome time we had together!


Kópakonan, “the Seal Woman”











This is the feisty little lamb who was chasing the goose around.

Low clouds over the island of Hestur

Hestur, Faroe Islands

Hestur, Faroe Islands

Hestur, Faroe Islands

The witch, which turned into stone, and now gets outfits knitted by the local knitting club. Sandoy, Faroe Islands.

The witch, which turned into stone, and now gets outfits knitted by the local knitting club. Sandoy, Faroe Islands.

Old fuel pump. Sandoy, Faroe Islands.

Mark with the sailing bags made by SailMedic made from material leftover from the cockpit enclosure. Cheers Tom!

Church in Skopun, on the Sandoy island, Faroe Islands

Traditional house in Skopun, on the Sandoy island, Faroe Islands

Skopun town, on the Sandoy island, Faroe Islands

Skopun town, on the Sandoy island, Faroe Islands

Skopun town - view of the harbour, on the Sandoy island, Faroe Islands

Skopun town, on the Sandoy island, Faroe Islands

Cloudy morning on Hestur, Faroe Islands

Mikladalur, Kalsoy island, Faroe Islands

View from Cafe Edge, Mikladalur, Kalsoy island, Faroe Islands

View from Cafe Edge, Mikladalur, Kalsoy island, Faroe Islands



The legend of Kópakonan, literally meaning “the Seal Woman”, is one of the best-known folktales in the Faroe Islands.


"Seals were believed to be former human beings who voluntarily sought death in the ocean. Once a year, on the Thirteenth night, they were allowed to come on land, strip off their skins and amuse themselves as human beings, dancing and enjoying themselves."


Read the full myth here.

Mikladalur, Kalsoy island, Faroe Islands


Kópakonan, “the Seal Woman”


"A young farmer from the village of Mikladalur on the northern island of Kalsoy, wondering if this story was true, went and lay in wait on the beach one Thirteenth evening. He watched and saw the seals arriving in large numbers, swimming towards the shore. They clambered on to the beach, shed their skins and laid them carefully on the rocks. Divested of their skins, they looked just like normal people. The young lad stared at a pretty seal girl placing her skin close to the spot where he was hiding, and when the dance began, he sneaked up and stole it. The dancing and games went on all night, but as soon as the sun started to peep above the horizon, all the seals came to reclaim their skins to return to the sea. The seal girl was very upset when she couldn’t find her skin, though its smell still lingered in the air, and then the man from Mikladalur appeared holding it, but he wouldn’t give it back to her, despite her desperate entreaties, so she was obliged to accompany him to his farm."


Sneaky...


Full story here.

Mikladalur, Kalsoy island, Faroe Islands

In Mikladalur with Soni and Angela, Kalsoy island, Faroe Islands

Mikladalur, Kalsoy island, Faroe Islands

Mikladalur, Kalsoy island, Faroe Islands

In Mikladalur with Soni and Angela, Kalsoy island, Faroe Islands

Old sail boat on Mikladalur, Kalsoy island, Faroe Islands

Saksun on the Streymoy island.

Sunset overlooking the north coast of Eysuroy - the two rock are called Giant and the Witch.

RISIN & KELLINGIN (GIANT AND THE WITCH)


"Once upon a time, an Icelandic chief witch sent a giant and his wife, a witch, to the Faroe Islands to steal the islands and bring them back to Iceland. Off they went in the dusk and arrived in the north-westernmost part of the Faroe Islands. They decided to tie a rope around a mountain called Eiðiskollur, and pull the Faroe Islands towards Iceland.


They struggled and worked hard to get the rope in place. Their first attempt was unsuccessful because part of the mountain split. However, they were determined and worked all night to make it work.


Like all creatures of the night, the giant and the witch knew they had to hide before the sun came up, for fear of being turned into stone. This particular night, they were so pre-occupied with their task that they failed to notice the first beams of sunlight appearing on the dark horizon. Inevitably, they were turned into stone. Ever since, the giant and the witch have stood, staring westward, longing for their home country."


More here.

Harbour in Leirvik

Mark on a Soni

Fjord on Eysturoy

Waterfall on Kalsoy near the statue of