March 9, 2015 | Visit Faroe Islands
On March 20 at 9:41 in the morning, the moon will pass between the earth and the sun, completely blocking the sun’s rays and casting the darkest part of its shadow (the umbra) on the earth, resulting in a total solar eclipse. The Faroe Islands will be one of only two places in the world (the other being Svalbard, Norway) where this eclipse can be observed from land. Thousands of people have booked flights to the Faroes’ 18 isles to see this incredible natural phenomenon, with totality lasting nearly three minutes. But why not admire the natural beauty of the Faroe Islands, visible throughout the year?
Follow in the postman’s footsteps
Imagine hiking for four hours a day, three times a week, just to deliver eight people their mail. This is what the postman in charge of delivering letters to Gásadalur used to have to do, among other duties. Luckily for him, it’s Faroese policy to help small outposts to keep in touch, too; in 2004, a tunnel was blasted through the mountain, allowing the postman to complete his deliveries by car and increasing Gásadalur’s population to eighteen people. The trail the postman used to take is now a rewarding hiking path, offering magnificent views across the valley.
Visit the environmentally friendly village of Gjógv
Pronounced ‘gorge’, Gjógv is a village located on the northeastern tip of Eysturoy, the second-largest island in the Faroe Isles. The village was named after the dramatic 200-metre ravine that runs just to its north. Last year, Gjógv was nominated for the Nature and Environmental Award by the Nordic Council. The brightly-hued, grass-roofed houses, occupied by less than 50 inhabitants, and the beautiful rock formations on the beach, called Islandstrappan (the steps of Iceland), are just some of the outstanding sights.
Fly to Stóra Dímun, an island inhabited by just nine people
Not all 18 isles are connected by tunnels or bridges, so helicopters are seen as a public transport necessity. And with one flight costing approximately the same as two bagels (from DKR 85 / £9 pp), hopping on a helicopter could not be cheaper. Provided the weather is calm, it’s possible to fly to Stóra Dímun three times a week. This once-bustling island, which has an area of one square mile, is now home to two families, two peaks (Høgoyggj, 396 m and Klettarnir, 308 m), countless seabirds and hundreds of sheep. Spend a secluded night or two in the teacher’s rustic grass-roofed cottage (sleeps eight), which caters for tourists during the school holidays, and really get away from it all. A night’s stay costs from DKR 1,000 / £100 pp (sole occupancy, additional guests cost just £10 pp per night).
Appreciate the many knitted goods
A Faroese proverb states “Ull er Føroya gull” – wool is the gold of the Faroe Islands – as indeed it is. With an economy still largely based around sheep – selectively bred over centuries to produce exceptionally warm and water-resistant coats – wool is a very strong currency. And nowadays, it is also a growing fashion trend, with designers using fleece and old knitting techniques to create stylish items. The Faroese people knit throughout the year, but their needles will be especially busy from April 16-18 during the island’s first-ever Knitting Festival in Fuglafjørður, and also during the Guðrun & Guðrun fashion show. The company’s most famous jumper featured on TV worldwide courtesy of The Killing, the Scandi-Noir hit.
Migratory birds on Mykineshólmur
Every spring, hundreds of birds migrate to the Faroe Islands to breed. Although you can admire an array of feathered creatures across all the islands, the western islet of Mykineshólmur offers unparalleled sightings. Accessed by a footbridge suspended 35 metres above the Atlantic, inch across to see Northern fulmars, razorbills, manx shearwaters, Arctic skuas, the European storm petrel and some very friendly puffins.
For further information, www.visitfaroeislands.com.
ENDS/ 24 February 2015
Notes to editors: Twice-weekly direct flights to the Faroe Islands (Edinburgh to Vágar) operate from March 30 to October 24, and cost from £199 return. Visit www.atlantic.fo for further information. Throughout the year, the Faroe Islands can be reached via Copenhagen from London Heathrow.