Travels in the North

Musings on arctic holidays

Reliving an old trip – 18th June 2005 – Part One – Cloudy Klaksvik

“Ridiculous” was my inital thought as my alarm clock went off at 5am.  It was already light of course, in fact it never really gets dark this far North so close to the summer equinox, but still wasn’t easy getting up and packing up my tent at this ungodly hour.

The reason for the early start was that I had a long journey ahead of me, and Faroese public transport timetables being what they are, I pretty much had to catch the first ferry back from Suðuroy to Torshavn at 7am. It got in just after 9, just in time to catch my connecting bus to Leirvik (whose name comes from the same origin as Lerwick in Shetland, the old Norse for muddy bay). Have to praise the efficient Faroese public transport here, there are only about three buses a day but they are timed to connect with ferries which makes for a smooth journey.

Leirvik Faroe Islands

Leaving Leirvik on the ferry

The journey to Leirvik on Eysturoy (the island immediately to the East of Streymoy where the capital Torshavn is) involved going through three tunnels. The Faroese have quite an impressive network of tunnels blasted through mountain rock linking communities which historically could only have been done by boat or on foot over the mountains. We also passed through several picturesque villages I was sorry not to have time to see properly. Streymoy and Eysturoy are linked by the Sundini bridge, nicknamed the “bridge over the atlantic”. It doesn’t really compete with the great bridges of the world, is no Golden Gate bridge or even Hammersmith bridge, but saves another ferry journey at least.

Leirvik Klaksvik Ferry Faroe Islands

On the ferry from Leirvik to Klaksvik

At Leirvik I did have to get another ferry, to Klaksvik on the island of Borðoy, the second largest town in the Faroe Islands after the capital Torshavn. Was a very eerie journey with very low cloud cover (perhaps about 100m) covering the mountainous islands surrounding the ferry (edit: since my trip a tunnel has since been built between Eysturoy and Borðoy).

Klasvik Halsur Faroe Islands

View over Klaksvik from Halsur

I arrived in Klaksvik at midday, not bad going getting from one end of the Faroes to another in five hours. I couldn’t find the campsite in Klaksvik so booked into the youth hostel where I got a single room for 120Kr. After a few nights under canvas I was chuffed with this – what luxury! Having checking in I set out on an afternoon hike up to Halsur, a mountain pass 245 metres above sea level. It was still pretty cloudy but I got some great views. On the way back into town I saw Föroya Bjór, the Faroese brewing company. There didn’t seem to be any kind of visitor centre sadly though, it was just a warehouse.

Föroya Bjór

Föroya Bjór, the beer of the Faroe Islands

Back at the hostel I turned on my radio and tuned into Faroese radio, who were broadcasting a brass band programme, featuring the Britannia Building Society band. Seems to be a real mix of music on Faroese radio, I’m becoming a bit of a fan. The hostel was pretty quiet, the only other guest I saw was an Icelandic man from the Reykjavik area, he was very friendly although his English was very limited which made conversation tricky. He offered to drive me to the island of Kunoy – drivable from Borðoy via a causeway – which I gladly took him up on.

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