Into The Wild (Part 2)
I wasn’t expecting much from the ferry that took us from the capital of the Faroe Islands to the island of Suduroy. I mean, with all due respect to the Faroese, their capital is home to around 24,000 people, i.e. two thirds of the population of all 18 islands. Therefore a large and full ferry of the size I am used to (Cross-Channel, say) leaving the Faroese capital might be akin to a mass migration, rather than a day trip! Not that it would make worldwide news or anything, since Faroe is rather small…
But, I am pleased to say it was a marvellous trip. Whilst June is too late in the year to offer much of a chance of seeing the Northern Lights the views and landscapes of the many islands we passed were breathtaking! So, whilst sitting out on a spacious and uncrowded smoking platform, enjoying a pipe stoked with a cool Cherry Ambrosia flavoured tobacco I had discovered in Stockholm some weeks earlier, my mind turned to the upcoming trip Into The Wild. Thoughts sprang to mind of my glory days some 15 years earlier – when I would lug a full bergen up mountains with pine poles and all manner of military equipment – and I finally gave some serious thought to what was essential for our “small” excursion. Sorry, for those who may not have read my previous Into The Wild post, I refer to our small 43km excursion, on foot, through mountains, wild camping…
Yes, I know I may have been slightly condescending about those day trippers’ bags in my last post, but hey, to be fair Jenny and I previously scaled Britain’s highest mountain with daysacks in a fairly ground-breaking time so travelling light can’t be all bad! Anyway, as the aroma of cherry filled the outer deck I began thinking ahead, all in all about an hour or two ahead! That was as much time as I had left to get my head straight before we would reach harbour. Jenny on the other hand was already busy in the main cabin area figuring out which campsites may be available to us, writing down telephone numbers, checking out websites, campsite facilities and emailing ahead… You know, all that boring *ahem* woman-type stuff!
Nothing was left to chance, in my mind. I knew and had lugged all the equipment we required around half of Europe and we had already done a 7km trial hike from the airport to the hostel the previous evening. Following our trial trek we had satisfactorily reduced our load by about 10kg, largely through returning to Vagar airport on the morning of Day 2 and begging the information desk lady to keep hold of our non-essential equipment for eleven days! Therefore, aside from throbbing limbs, the odd blister and back pains that are probably natural for a guy on the wrong side of forty, we were ready for anything.
That couple of hours passed me by rather quickly and as the boat rolled in to Krambatangi harbour Jen and I gathered our belongings and headed for the ferry terminal. The time was about midnight by my reckoning, but that was no bother really as for one I am an insomniac and for two it doesn’t get dark on the Faroe Islands in June.
It did bother us both a tad that Krambatangi neither sounds nor is spelt in Faroese like Tvoroyri, which is where we had been led to believe we would land. But, really that was fine, or might have been if either of us were Pal Joensen (The Faroese Olympic swimmer), as we could clearly see Tvoroyri very close by across a small stretch of water… in the UK we call such waters: estuaries! Lol.
I guess it was about five minutes after we’d been spotted staring at our shiny new map in disbelief that a local Faroese lady kindly informed us that if we wanted to take the bus we should hurry as the bus drivers tend not to hang around…and bless her, she was right and he didn’t.
Our next encounter was with the ferry terminal official who was very keen to assist us. It is something we have both noticed about local Faroese people, they are indeed very helpful to foreigners. Sadly, on this occasion the best news she could give us was the direction of our upcoming walk… But hey ho, we had arrived, so what on earth could be more pleasant on such a beautiful evening than another 7km practice hike to the campsite and a warm shower before the morning?
Looking back I think it was in the late 1990’s that I discovered, or more to the point was informed of, a major personal defect (one of many I am sure!) that when I am nervous I smile a lot. Indeed, often under such circumstances I accompany such smiles with wise-cracks, or perhaps they should be renamed unwise-cracks. In the past such unwise-cracks especially did not go down well with military instructors. But it should be said that even as, on one occasion, an instructor threw my entire ‘bed space’ from a first floor window after I unintentionally trod on and ruined his highly polished boot cap, that or other such incidents of similar severity pale into insignificance compared to the fear a loved one can instil with a simple glance!
On passing this moment off with a smile and remarking that this would simply be another ‘opportunity’ for a 7km practice hike bearing full bergens I detected a glance from my side..
…I suppose that asking somebody to accompany one on a full-kit 7km hike after midnight and following a day’s travelling would warrant nothing less. But hey ho, it was either that or pitch the tent outside the ferry terminal!
Perhaps there are a couple of things newbies to The Faroe Islands might find it useful to know at this stage:
1. Bus timetables do not mean much to bus companies here. It is although somebody once charitably drew up an ‘ideal world’ type of table for the government who in turn adopted it as the official timetable, published it and never passed it on to the bus company! Bus timetables (outside the capital) can very rarely be found at bus stops too.
2. As with point 1. It would appear that a well-meaning hiker may have done the same with campsites, i.e. drawn up a map of the 18 islands, added where it would be great to see campsites, forwarded it to the relevant authority, who once again transposed it onto various (not all) tourist and hiking information maps but perhaps got distracted in between the map printing and distribution process, forgetting to ask the land owners if their back gardens could be used as such sites and/or whether people could use their facilities…
But I digress. Back at the ferry port we had now organised ourselves and started walking! I don’t mind saying that it is a disheartening feeling when one can see a destination several hundred meters away ‘as the crow flies’ and at the same time realise that it will be a good and hard hour or so of yomping before one will arrive…
Seven kilometres later I think both Jen and I were about ready for some serious rest. But first we needed to find the campsite, and I don’t mind saying that this was proving somewhat problematic. The maps and directions from the port staff simply did not tally. We climbed…and climbed until the town of Tvoroyri was below us… Now, this shouldn’t have been difficult, as we had the map and the port official had agreed that said campsite was on the previous, official, football ground of the town. (I mean you can’t really hide things of that size, right?). Looking down, now from above most of the town, there was nothing resembling even an allotment patch, let alone a full-size football pitch…
With an executive decision required, between us, we decided to ‘wild camp’. An interesting notion since we were pretty much skirting the edge of a town. There was nothing to say this was disallowed and the only sign about wild camping was very friendly: ‘Verboten’ – Thankfully, I don’t speak Faroese – But the pixies told me it means ‘all foreigners welcome to camp wherever you please!’
We get as close to where the sign on the map suggests there should be a campsite, and find nothing but buildings in progress. One last looksee, as by now discussions about food are taking place, and no campsite equals no water… and whilst we would not die without water for a single evening, it sure would be nice before settling down and indeed setting off the next morning to at least have a coffee!
So, looking around the building site on the side of what may or may not have been a hospital, I was suddenly taken aback. As I stared through a glass door at internal building works the door decided to open, and a light automatically came on inside. *BINGO*. Jen didn’t take much convincing to follow me in, and having established that this really was a building site (with a partly-built bathroom two metres from that welcoming door, he-he-he!) we managed to fill enough water containers not only to rustle up something to eat that evening, but also to wash, have water on hand all night and enjoy a late-night coffee (in my case).
Following this refuelling stop the night could hardly have been better. Once we had picked and agreed on our ‘pitch’ – pretty much where the campsite SHOULD have been! we woke the next morning to five-star views across the bays and also had enough water to make a hearty bowl of porridge with coffee the next morning!
We had now hiked around 15km with full gear and we hadn’t even got past the starting line yet!
But, start we did… Our Into The Wild quest was merely hours away. My bed, on the other hand is minutes away, and therefore my friends you will need to come back soon to find out what happened when we actually got started on the North to South hike of the island of Suduroy on the Faroe Islands.
Thanks for reading and please come back soon.
Simon Duringer is an award-winning blogger, interviewer and author. His own books can be found on Amazon too by clicking any of the following icons…