Faroe Islands, day 4
|Knúkur||560m||560m||Mykines, Faroe Islands||GPX|
|Klettur||133m||133m||Mykineshólmur, Faroe Islands||GPX|
Day 4, and our last full day on the Faroe Islands. We left Torshavn and drove to Hotel Vågar, where we would spend the night. It was too early for check-in, so we left the car by the hotel and walked over to the airport.
Anne had booked us seats on the helicopter flying out to Mykines. We were to fly (from Vågar airport) out in a helicopter and return by a ferry later in the afternoon. As we had some time to kill, we drove to Bøur and for pictures of the famous Tindhólmur (262m), and the five peaks Ytsi, Arni, Lítli, Brei∂i og Bogdi.
The rendezvous time at the helicopter meeting point was noon – 20 minutes before departure. We watched the safety video and boarded the aircraft. There were 12 clients and 2 pilots. Flying helicopter on the Faroe Islands is cheap, compared to Norway, and many tourists are probably not aware of the low fares. Neither was I, until Anne told me, and it was only because of her that we – soon – were on our way to the best day (bar none) we had during our stay.
I was nervous. Not for flying a helicopter, but nervous for being stuck on the island. I was reading myself up on Mykines the day before, and learned that due to shifting weather, wind and the sea, the ferry ride back to Sørvágur could get cancelled on short notice. The helicopter only flies tourists to the island, not back (with some exceptions). Without the ferry (or private boat), one is stuck out there. The recommendation for tourists is to BEGIN their Faroe Islands stay with a trip to Mykines, and definitely not go there the day before the flight home. As our plane left early the next morning, I was nervous.
“Shifting weather” is a colossal understatement. The sea can get so rough that waves can reach 60-70 meters up in the air. The docking place for the ferry is a rocky inlet cove. And while the innermost part of the cove (where the dock is) might have some protection from the cliffs, the inlet is the make or break for the ferry.
But today, the weather was great, and I hoped it would stay that way. The helicopter took off, and we landed on Mykines – the westernmost of the Faroe islands, 10 minutes later, There are approx. 40 buildings, but only a handful are habituated (by a dozen people or so) all year around. The birdlife is rich and there are at least 100 adult sheep per km2.
The island high point Knúkur (560m) was hidden in the fog, but I still wanted to go up there. We landed around 12:30pm and the ferry left 5:05pm. Plenty of time to visit both Knúkur, and do the “mandatory” walk out to the lighthouse on Mykineshólmur.
Anne decided to watch birds through her binoculars from the top of the cliffs, while I paid Knúkur a visit. We agreed that I should try to be back no later than 2pm. I headed into the fog without knowing where the summit was. I didn’t have a map, but figured that if I stuck to the cliffs all the way, then they would eventually take me to the top.
Without a GPS map, I felt quite lost up there. If it hadn’t been for the cliffs, this mission would be impossible. When the GPS told me that I had only 100 vertical meters left to go, I noticed tracks from a vehicle. I took a chance and hoped they would take me to the summit. The tracks led me away from the cliffs and I had no longer any reference points.
All of a sudden, an excavator appeared in front of me. With a guy inside, operating it…
The tracks led me to what seemed to be the high point. I walked a bit along the edge in both directions, but there was no higher point. Happy with “mission accomplished”, I ran down the grassy slopes. As I knew that Anne was on the north side, I decided to take a shortcut down the mountain. This was a good plan, and I joined her a couple of minutes before 2pm.
We started to walk in the direction of Mykineshólmur. The wow-factor was high. We’re both well used to coastal islands, rugged peaks and steep cliffs in western Norway, but this was just something else. Mykines is a must-see place.
We soon got a good overview of Mykineshólmur and the wow-factor went from wow to WOW!
We walked down to the so-called “Atlantic Bridge” (20-30m above sea level), which took us to over to Mykineshólmur. I think that nickname serves the bridge very well!
We continued up to the lighthouse and spent some time looking at the amazingly wild terrain, surrounding the grassy plateau.
I had not found information about where we could walk and where not to walk, but this being a bird island, it was only natural to stick to the paths. However, I simply HAD to visit the peak above the channel between Mykines and Mykineshólmur, as I had a feeling this was the Mykineshólmur high point. It was a very short hike up, and it didn’t seem that I disturbed any birds on my 5-minute hike up and down. My GPS indicated that this point was 7-8m higher than the hill by the lighthouse, but whichever was the high point, I had now been to both!
After returning to Norway, I contacted Pól Sundskarð – who has created the website hiking.fo – a site that will be helpful for anyone going to the Faroe islands for hiking. Pól also offers guiding, so check out the site! Pól could tell me that the Mykineshólmur high point was the peak closest to the channel, is 133m high and is called Klettur. For unknown reasons, neither Klettur nor Tindhólmur are on the list that defines the 340 peaks on the Faroe Islands.
We had plenty of time before the ferry arrived, and then Anne remembered that passengers should assemble 45 minutes prior to the departure. For reasons unknown. As we felt we had seen what we came to see, we headed down to the pier – with 1,5 hours of waiting time. I had no idea what kind of ferry it was. But I didn’t expect it to be a car ferry…
I didn’t count the number of tourists, but there were quite a few. None of them looked particularly worried about a sudden cancellation, but I overheard a few that would “definitely stay on deck”, to avoid sea sickness.
Eventually, the ferry came, “surfing in” on the waves in the inlet, landed gently and span around its own axis. The skipper had done this before…
The ride back to Sørvágur was bumpy, but I’m sure the crew considered this as “calm waters”. My nervousness had passed and enjoyed the ride.
Sailing past Tindhólmur and the neighbour rocks was awesome. If I had seen them on a photo prior to our trip, I would have said “somewhere in southeast Asia”.
Back in Sørvágur, we caught a ride up to the hotel and checked in. It was still early in the evening, and I had the option to bag some more peaks, but no – I was done. After all, the round trip earlier in the day measured 14km, half of it involving fast hiking and running. So it had by no means been a lazy day. But now I just wanted to have dinner, a beer, pack my bags and call it a day.
It would definitely be nice to go back, to do some of the peaks we didn’t get to do, but then there are all those other places we haven’t been to yet. Only time will tell. But I strongly recommend a visit to the Faroe Islands, whether you want to hike mountains or not. Just make sure to have a rental car, so you get to see as much as possible during your stay. And – book everything in advance, including tables at restaurants…
Also check out the http://www.mykines.info site for very useful information…
Pictures from before the trip:
Pictures from the helicopter trip:
Pictures from the Knúkur hike:
Pictures from the hike on the islands:
Pictures from the ferry: