Thursday, 15 November 2018

From the western islands, I head south to the furthest and most southern island of the Faroe Islands archipeligo.

Heading south.  A 2 hour ferry ride to chase the sun.

I genuinely do not know where to even start to describe today. Suduroy has given me without doubt more than I could ever have possibly imagined! The island that just keeps giving.

I’m still little wiser as to where I’ll be sleeping tonight, but after a big day riding, incredible weather, INCREDIBLE scenery, AMAZING PEOPLE!! I’ve had people coming out to find me on the road to get photos, chat and be genuinely the most friendliest people you’ll ever meet. This most southerly island is a lot more agricultural and a lot kinder in its environment, though it was clear this new island species had NEVER BEEN seen in these lands before.

A good 7 hours on the bike loaded up, climb after climb, I think the fresh mountain air had got to me.

The night it seems is still young, as I’m sat in an old shop, complete with original till and all the fittings, now turned pub since the 80s, hanging out with the local fishermen, and where Christmas gospel songs are playing and I wait out the night to see if I have a bed back at the dock, once I’ve done a bedtime 5k back around the fjord just for good measures.

Another island discovered, never an island tamed.

Spending the late evening chatting with the fishermen was good fun. I’m going to miss this island!

What an adventure today has been. But good news, I HAVE A BED! AN ACTUAL BED!!!!! AND A KETTLE. And a shower! And I’m on a ship! This is one happy pirate.

The BEST night’s sleep in my pirate pad!

Shame it wasn’t long enough as the ferry set sail at 7am for the 2 hour journey over to Tórshavn, and after another shower (so decadent) I headed upstairs for my free breakfast. This is what I was given. 

Us pirates need a hearty fill.

Stashed half of it for ride fuel later. 
I love life on the seas!

A few (of the very many) highlights from yesterday’s island adventure on Suduroy.

I think it’s safe to say, that one’s going to be a tough act to follow.

Today I had planned to head to Sandur, the second most southern island. The ferry to get there sails from the other side of streymoy from where I sailed to this morning. 
My plan was to cycle over to the port for late morning, before heading south again. The lady at the ferry terminal where I disembarked this morning did question me when I said I was cycling there, now I understand why.
It’s not that far, but it is very up hill! All the way or so it felt. 
Unfortunately I had mechanical after mechanical on my way over there, maybe Acorn has a touch of sea sickness, to many times stopping for a thrown jammed chain, wheel off, covered in oil. I know I’m pushing him hard with the extra weight carrying. 
With 8 minutes to go until the ferry departure and still 6 km to go (more up hill), the wind so strong, I backed off, took a breather, then spent the next 2 hours exploring remote valleys away from cars and any sight of civilisation. Vowing to get to Sandur another day, both of us fully charged.

I've moved eastwards, I’m now on the island of Eysturoy, the second largest in the Faroese chain and home to the greatest peaks in the Faroe Islands.
Basecamp is on the south west edge of the island. It is wild and it is remote. The weather rules here, yesterday I was unable to leave camp for a raging storm throughout the night and only easing early the next evening, enabling me to get out for a few hours to explore. 
There’s no connection to the outside world for 25+ km, here I am in the world only of the mountains.

Here’s a short update from Saturday & my arrival.

Very tired but everything “amazing”.

Today has been a hard day.
There are many ups and downs out on adventure, some more obvious than others. There are times I feel like I’m going nowhere and ask myself ‘why’, but then there are times when chance meetings put a smile right back on my face.
I hope I meet this boy on my way home again tonight.

I freely admit I was struggling last night, I was in pain and feeling like I’d hit a metaphorical wall, and I think it’s just as important to share the lows as it is the highs out here. After all, this is real, I am not here on a package holiday, I set myself a massive challenge, one I didn’t know if possible, and the tough times are valuable lessons that I want to share. I hope by what I’m doing, gives thought and positive action to many. 
Today I’m being a little kinder to myself. I’ve travelled by bus to recce Klaksvik and the northern islands, and am enjoying a cup of earl grey tea in the warm.

Klaksvìk, on the northern island of Bordoy. The second largest town in the Faroe Islands next to Tórshavn, the capital, with a population of just short of 5000

To reach this Jurassic-like island, travellers must first pass through the longest sub-sea tunnel in the Faroes (as of yet), at 160 meters deep under the sea bed.
At its deepest point, an unexpected colourful light show appears in the tunnel, from artist Tróndur Patursson.

My visit to Klaksvik, whilst very wet, continues to leave me wide-eyed and amazed.

An update from last night..

My visit to the island of Bordoy was a success, and rather soggy.
Heading back to base, the weather had really set in for the night, torrential rain and zero visibility. I had a long trip ahead of me and no idea how I’d get there. I decided to try my skills at hitchhiking, the Faroes way.
The first artic to come passed drenched me in a wave of road water, and I began to feel a bit disheartened. I tried again, thumb out. First car no, second no, third car brakes just after it passes me & reverses back to me.
A lovely couple were just on their way home, 11km from where I need to go but I am so grateful to get that far I jump right in.
For the next 20+ km, we chat about the Faroe Islands & they tell me all about their home, their sheep & their dog. As seems to keep happening, the couple had seen me out cycling the islands & wondered who I was and my story.
On reaching the couples home village, they insisted on driving me all the way back, another 20 km for them, and right to the door of my hut.
I was beyond grateful & so warmed by human spirit on these islands.

You see out of the windscreen?? No.. Neither could we.

Not all superheroes wear capes. Some wear retro island knitwear.

A night inside while the rain continued to fall & the fog close in. I was happy to be safe & warm.

All packed up at the hobbit hut & back on the road.
Grateful my packs are starting to feel a little lighter, either I’m getting stronger or I’ve eaten well into supplies or my filthy clothes have walked off on their own.

Farvæl little hobbit hut. Takk fyri for keeping me warm & dry & somewhere to rest my head.
Onto the next chapter of the story.

went to bed last night with the rain pouring down and fog thick in the night air, hoping and some what praying to the weather gods. I needed to leave selatrað and move on this morning, but with a big distance to do, in these conditions it just wasn’t safe, though I had no alternative.
I woke hearing the rain on my hobbit hut roof, almost too scared to look out the window.

Amazingly I had been given the weather break I’d prayed for; it was time to make my bid for the open road. And what a beautiful one it was.
The weather was continually changing, even minutes of sun, followed by rainbows along with the rain and mists moving down the mountains at high speed. Fully waterproofed up & my bike fairing brilliantly with its new weatherproofing from the magicians at Alpkit. I was happiest back on the road.

I stopped off at the gas station, my regular these last couple of days. I’m feeling like Tom Hanks in The Terminal. Today, my bike flag drawing people to ask; I never thought it would be such a talking point. Two wonderfully friendly women chatted with me, one spoke English, the elder ‘mother’ not. A chance meeting of minutes & I was invited for tea at the mothers house & for a hair wash down at the daughters hair salon further down the fjord!
I am continually so heart-warmed by the kindness of strangers here. Teaching & a special kind of friendship I will treasure.

Another meeting as I pull up; a tall, strong, blonde haired, blue eyed Viking. He is most genuinely impressed with my Faroe adventure challenge, he had that look in his eye of someone who really gets it. We chatted about the very old northern islands tunnels where he lived. He comments how I must have very strong arms, & smiling, I say, “clearly not as strong as yours”, noting his great biceps! He tells me he is also a fan of extreme challenges, an ocean rower, having set numerous ocean speed records. He really was fascinating to talk to, we chatted Talisker Challenge, & I certainly felt there was more to this guy..

My gut feeling was right. This chance encounter at the gas station, was with world ocean rower & painter, Livar Nysted. Holder of 5 world records in ocean rowing, breaking a 114 yr old record in 2010 along with Briton, captain Leven Brown & two other crew members of the rowing boat Artemis Investments, to cross the North Atlantic Ocean. In 2013, crossing the South Atlantic Ocean & later that same year, the Indian Ocean.

Living in a small fishing village in one of the northern islands, Viðoy, Livar’s story is even more incredible. The sound where he lives, is where his uncle sadly drowned. And Livar himself almost too. At the age of 7, together he was out on a boat, with also his cousin and brother and a friend. The boat hit something and was ripped apart. He couldn’t swim. His cousin saved his live, while his brother had to be resuscitated.

Livar was not interested, nor did he start rowing until he was 29 years old. From there he was hooked, and a champion made.

I knew there was a story behind this man, the Faroe Islands really do hold so many secrets, legends and real life heroes. I am so chuffed to have randomly met Livar this morning, I pulled up as he was leaving, a second or two later it would never have happened. Fate is an incredible thing. The universe does move in extraordinary ways. 

I have ridden back over to Streymoy and into the big smoke (well fog after bright warm sunshine), in search of a remote office for a couple of hours. Tórshavn library did just fine.

I’ve got a couple of days off the road & any big miles & giving an elbow niggle a break while working with Útilív Adventure Festival, starting with tomorrow night’s theatre talk.

Heading back up to the stunning Nordic House where I met this beautiful steed, ready for a great night with Útilív Adventure Festival.

I'm also hoping I can get involved in a pretty special island clean up on Sunday, safety ropes essential.

It doesn't get much more raw than an adventure talk, while you're in the adventure!

I loved being part of Utiliv Adventure Festival, I managed to wash my clothes and my hair, though didn't have any make up to look presentable other than my Albus & Flora lip balm which has been very much an adventure (and adventure talks) staple.

Photo credit David Altabev photography


It’s been a morning on the bike, followed by a refreshing afternoon swim to keep these arms in tip top shape, and getting a bit of speed cross training in while I can. My elbow certainly thanked me for it and I now feel a good tired.

I must admit, I’m raring to put in some good miles on the bike over next week. I guess it’s true, a change really is as good as a rest!

The athlete in me is fighting to power on.

Real adventure tales update.

Cycling along this morning I found 2 krona on the road, I picked it up & stashed it in my lap just in case.
A bit later I stopped at a shop for some breakfast. I had little left in my purse, just a handful of coins, so found the cheapest yoghurt and muesli I could. On getting to the till, I was still short.. and then I remembered my lucky find! I dashed back out to my bike & searched for the last chance of breakfast. I pulled apart my bike where I was sat & looked between the webbing straps, there is was! Shining from where it had fallen, saved by my awesome one of a kind Alpkit weatherproof under guard. It was just enough. 

Purse completely empty but tummy now full.

It’s funny, eating a hard fought for breakfast, from my Mytimug on the side of a road, in cold drizzling rain & thick fog, this was my happy place.

Moments that make an adventure.

A great morning spent with Ringrás conservation group here on the Faroe Islands & Útilív Adventure Festival, helping with a gorge clean up that was as wild, as it was the right thing to do.
The amount of washed up floats, buoys and assortment of ‘balls’ was crazy, and the hideous amount of plastic and polystyrene down there was heartbreaking. 
We were on a mission to do our bit to help preserve these incredible islands and their natural life, but first we had to get down there and the rubbish back up..

A steep muddy gorge, 1 wet rope & a sense of adventure, no problem.

There’s always a way!

Photo credit David Altabev photography

Photo credit David Altabev photography

Photo credit David Altabev photography