faroe islands diaries - part one

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

It's delightfully intriguing and makes me smile with a certain knowing, going back to read my Wild Beyond Barriers 'Adventure Announcement' blog post. There was so much unknown, so much wonder and trepidation of what I was about to embark on. Reading it, now a few weeks post adventure, there was actually much that I had right, and yet so so much that was waiting to be discovered.

Having posted throughout social media whilst on this adventure, I thought perhaps I'd told a lot of my story. But reading back now, from the beginning, it's wonderfully clear to me that there is so much more to tell, I had hardly given you the highlights. Though to start with, I have brought all my updates, words, pictures and video blogs together here in my blog, a capture of life 'in' the adventure through my diaries at the time, and now all in one place. 

I hope you enjoy exploring maybe for the first time, or maybe having followed my journey throughout the Faroe Islands, For me, it has been quite magical to start back at the beginning, on day one, listening to the adventure about to unfold.

And wow, what an adventure it was.

I plan to bring much more of my Faroe Islands journey to life through words and film, all part of my Wild Beyond Barriers project. But for now, let me take you on an adventure of the wildest and most beautiful kind. 

My diaries of Wild Beyond Barriers - The Faroe Islands.

24th August 2018

I couldn’t have asked for better adventure inspiration & last minute nerve-calming, for departure & trip support. It was so great to have Mark Beaumont to chat to and give me last minute tips and advice before heading out of Edinburgh Airport. Often for me, getting to and around airports with all my kit is a challenge in itself, so I was very grateful to Mark for supporting me on this side of the water.

Good morning from the Faroe Islands!

Yesterday’s flight was actually amazing. I was quite anxious not being a great flyer and my destination being situated in the middle of the Gulf Stream, but I was very lucky to have one of my most smoothest flights and with some incredible views of the islands coming into land. 
My first mission was to get me and all my kit to my first bed for the night. Yes an actual bed, having my first 24 hours doing some on-site logistics planning and getting my kit together. The only thing was, I had little idea how to get me & my trolly load of kit the 8km or so down the road from the airport, other than cycling it all there & towing my bike travel case. Thankfully, I didn’t need to.

Yesterday was for cycling the island of Vágar. 
The island feels bigger than it looks and it certainly packs a punch. I’ve quickly learned things are going to take me a lot longer here, the environment is harsh, this is no easy ride, but it is a ride out of this world.

Cycling up the west coast of the island with the spined island of Tindhólmur out to sea on my left passing through Bøur. Legend says, there was a family who used to live on the island, had a young son who was out playing one day. An eagle living on one of the tall fingers of the island came down and took the boy away to its nest and was never seen again. The family moved off the island and no one has lived there since. Sheep are taken over by boat to graze the steep grassland during the summer months and the island is now privately owned.
Now wouldn’t that be something.

My first tunnel. Dark, intimidating and certainly a bit spooky.

It was tough going even to the start of this tunnel, a long mountain road that twisted through the cloud. 
Rising up from Bøur, high up in the mountain mist, appears the Gásadalur tunnel. Built in 2006, connecting the isolated village the other side of the mountain, to Sørvágur and the rest of the island. 
Before the tunnel was built, (about a mile long hole dug right through the mountain) the only way to get to and leave the village was via a steep hike over the mountain, and that included the postman! Incredibly, the village of Gásadalur has no church or graveyard, which meant the dead also had to be carried over the mountain to the next village to be laid to rest. 
I was certainly spooked cycling through the tunnel, I’ve heard stories, there are the ‘hidden people’, and I swear I passed by a man standing at the edge of the road. I didn’t stop to check.

On Saturday night, nearing the end of my first big ride, I pulled into an off-road car park to make a U-turn. 
I quickly caught the attention of two people from the other side of a window, and as I’m finding so wonderfully common, we got chatting and I told the girls what I was doing.
Within a couple of minutes and without hesitation, I was invited in for tea. I didn’t need to be asked twice!
My wonderful host (Elsa), dashed down towards the waterfront to the kindergarten in search for some biscuits, once back I happily followed her inside.
I was welcomed in to a spread of local breads, cheeses and biscuits and a choice of teas including my favourite, Earl Grey. I couldn’t get over the kindness and wonderful friendliness of these people, it was such a special moment that turned into 2 cups of tea and leaving just before 9 pm!

It turned out that this place was a kind of community youth club, and my hosts were running this session. It’s a place for the local 14-18 year olds to come and hang out with their friends, eat, play computer games, bake, or almost anything. A place to come to encourage community, friendship and give the kids a place to drop in, hang out, and stay out of trouble.
When I arrived, I was told the youths were in the next village at a festival but we expected a few to pop in later, and they did. A few groups of lads headed upstairs to game and these two awesome girls joined me in the kitchen and we chatted sport, what they like doing and the joys of camping in the Faroe Islands.

I had such a wonderful hour or so with these girls, learning more about the islands, getting around, and talking about my Beyond Barriers project, physical health and mental wellbeing and how being outside around nature can help benefit so much of that. 
Elsa is actually a scout leader, and big advocate of mental health and well-being, and we hope to get me to visit and talk while I’m on the islands.

Moments like this are what makes an adventure, and will stay with me in my memories and my heart.

Loaded up and heading to my next island.

Crazy is as crazy does.

I’d spoken to a lot of people about this tunnel. And I decided to do it.
This adventure challenge was never about taking the easy route, it’s about going Beyond Barriers.

Sub sea tunnel conquered. Minus one over-powered dynamo front light..

Last night’s camp spot on Streymoy, overlooking the smaller island of Nólsoy.

All change this morning.

British soldiers based here during World War II called the Faroe Islands, the lands of maybe. “Maybe we can do it tomorrow, maybe we can’t”. 
This is not a place you can make fixed plans.

A challenging night staying above water and finding out what my tent can cope with. Sleep was not part of last night.

Yesterday lunchtime I had to abandon ship and move to higher ground. I always knew the cycling wouldn’t necessarily always be the only challenge here on the Faroes.

And the next night’s show.
Subtitled: “Oh crap”

Beautiful Tórshavn.

The smallest capital city in the world. And without doubt, my favourite.

The absolutely breathtakingly wild island of Nólsoy, only a 30 minute ferry crossing from the capital, but a world away from the comparatively busy streets across the water.

My favourite island so far for its wilderness and a sense of oneness.

Trying to get that shot while the wind does all it can to keep you away.

There’s worse places to be stranded!