|The Faroe Islands
|The Faroe Islands lie in the North Atlantic, about midway between the Shetlands and Iceland. They were probably known to Irish monks from about AD 500, and from about AD 700 to 800 Irish hermits from Scotland lived there but abandoned the islands at the beginning of the 9th century when the marauding journeys of the Vikings reached the Faroes. From the 9th century onwards, the Faroes formed a link in the lines of communication between Scandinavia and the Viking colonies that were settled in Iceland, Greenland, and, briefly, North America. The Faroes were part of Norway until the latter part of the 14th century, after which they were held jointly with Denmark, which became sole owner in 1814. The inhabitants are of Scandinavian descent and still speak a modified form of the old Norse called Faroese.
|The capital and principal harbour of the islands is Tórshavn. There are 18 islands, of which 17 are inhabited, and they have a combined area of 1,399 sq km (540 sq mi). The Faroes were formed by a submarine eruption of basalt during the Tertiary period. A "coal formation" (fireclay, sandstone, shale, and brown coal) makes up the secondary stratum, and this is topped by dolerite. The topography of the islands is characterised by high escarpments and plateaus separated by deep chasms. The peak of Slaettaratindur is the highest point, at 882m (2,894 ft). The Faroes are traversed by a number of fjords and have deeply indented coastlines.
These pictures were taken in 1985 when two of us spent a couple of weeks cycling and walking through the islands. Information about the islands seemed to be scarce back then and we knew very little about them when we arrived. We found that in some places the cycles were more of a hindrance than a help as we were unwilling to risk cycling through some of the tunnels. The modern ones were okay but the older tunnels were single track with passing places, unlit, and belching fumes! I imagine things have improved now, and we found out later that we could have put the cycles on buses to go through the tunnels. The weather, as would be expected in the north Atlantic, was very variable, ranging from heavy rain to glorious sunshine, but on the whole we had more good weather than bad. Another thing we found out later was that camping wild is distinctly frowned upon - oops!
Clicking on the thumbnails takes you to larger versions.
|July-August 2007. A return visit, cycling again, as part of an island hopping trip to the Faroes, Shetland and Orkney Islands. Alas this was the last year this could be done as Smyril Line are no longer running the ferry Norrona to Scotland. Unfortunately we didn't have very good weather on the Faroes this time but we made the most of it. There's been quite a few changes since 1985, including a few more tunnels. This made things even worse for cycling as there are fewer ferries and we had to resort to putting the bikes on a bus at one stage to get through one of the tunnels. The high spot (apart from the rhubarb and cream waffles in the Debesarcafé at Eiði) was two nights on Mykines, even though we were confined to barracks for most of a day as it blew a gale and poured down.