Faroe Islands Day 4 — Kalsoy, Gjógv and Tórshavn

posted in: Faroe Islands | 5

On Monday we had scheduled a trip to Kalsoy, the most anticipated trip in our whole Faroe Islands visit. We wanted to see and photograph the iconic view of Kallur lighthouse. We woke up very early in order to take the 8:00 am ferry to Kalsoy from Klaksvík. We expected the ferry to be full of travelers and came early to get in line as early as possible; however, when we arrived we were the only car there, not counting a truck idling nearby. We even thought that we came to a wrong location, and I went to a nearby gas station to inquire about where the line to Kalsoy ferry starts. It turned out we were at the correct location. So we got in line behind the truck. No other cars came, and we enjoyed a 20-minute ride in a company of a very friendly sailor. He spoke very little English but was so friendly and chatty that the language barrier did not disappoint him at all. We found out that on the previous day the ferry rides were full of people because of some celebration. We were happy that we decided to visit Kalsoy the day after.

Ferry to Syðradalur (Kalsoy)
Ferry to Syðradalur (Kalsoy)
Ferry to Syðradalur (Kalsoy)
SAM — Ferry to Syðradalur (Kalsoy)

Kalsoy

Kalsoy is a long and narrow island. It looks like a mountain ridge that grew out of the ocean. Between peaks lie tiny valleys that house tiny villages. The system of narrow, dark tunnels and a narrow main road (from which other roads wind down towards the villages) connect them all.

View onto Syðradalur (Kalsoy)
View onto Syðradalur (Kalsoy)

The ferry arrives at Syðradalur, the southernmost village. There is just a handful of houses in the village and, according to Wikipedia, only 9 inhabitants. Without stopping we went on to our main destination on the island, the northernmost village Trøllanes.

Trøllanes
Trøllanes

Hike to Kallur lighthouse

Kallur means “flute” in Faroese, so Kalsoy means “Flute Island” — it is long and thin, with a few alternating mountains and valleys (imagine flute buttons or flute holes). There is not a whole lot of information about the hike to Kallur on the web or in travel guides. One thing was obvious, though: the hike is unmarked and it starts at the red gates. Well, there were two red gates after the tunnel, one just near the first hairpin turn and another just at the entrance of the village, near the first house on the left (looking towards the sea). We decided that we will try the second red gate.

Red gate -- start of the Kallur lighthouse hike
Red gate — start of the Kallur lighthouse hike

After the gate we had to climb a fairly steep hill. There were no obvious paths, but someone marked one of the sheep paths with paper coffee cups. It was silly and disrespectful to nature, but for some reason we were grateful for those marks. Hooray, we thought, people were there! We are on the right track! However, our excitement was short lived because as soon as we reached the hilltop the coffee cups and any sight of the trail disappeared. From that point, the lighthouse was not yet visible. We had to continue hiking north on the eastern slope of the cliff without any trail. However, there were some ruins of sheep sheds which we selected as landmarks to keep track of our position.

Hike to Kallur
Hike to Kallur lighthouse

After some time (at least 30 min or more), we got to a point where we could see the lighthouse. The cliff became steeper on the western side, and even though we did not have to go up, we still had to go along the slope. We selected one of the sheep trails and went along it. It is not easy to walk along a sheep trail, human feet are wider and often there is not enough space to fit a single foot. So the last part of the trail was surprisingly harder than one could anticipate.

Kallur Lighthouse hike
Kallur lighthouse hike
Kallur Lighthouse hike
Kallur lighthouse hike
Kallur Lighthouse
Kallur lighthouse

Finally we got up to the lighthouse and were immediately blown away by the view and the wind.

Kallur lighthouse
Kallur lighthouse
View from Kallur lighthouse
View from Kallur lighthouse

The view from the lighthouse is amazing, but there is a better view if one can go behind the lighthouse along a narrow clifftop edge to a small hilltop. This is the spot from which the famous National Geographic photo was taken. It was just about 200 ft (60 m) further and we could clearly see our dream destination, but there was that wind. It was so strong that we could not step in that direction for more than a half a minute. I tried several times to go out and take several steps but immediately was frozen and disoriented by the force of the wind blows. We had to stay on the western side of the lighthouse almost all the time. Alex still wanted to try to go, but I was very firm and said that I would not go myself in such wind nor let him go.

View from Kallur lighthouse
View from Kallur lighthouse

We probably spent about half an hour trying to see if there was any indication of the wind letting up, but nothing changed. Except that a single sheep came to greet us at the lighthouse and then sat just near the cliff edge and posed for us while we took pictures of it. I am quite happy with the result.

View from Kallur lighthouse
View from Kallur lighthouse
View from Kallur lighthouse
View from Kallur lighthouse
View from Kallur lighthouse
View from Kallur lighthouse

On our way back we could not find the same sheep trail, so we chose a different one. They are all similar and lead to the same place. We tracked our hike via iPhone app and here is our Kallur lighthouse hiking map.

Cottongrass meadow
Cottongrass meadow

Faroe Islands have a mild climate and in the summer they are very green but kind of wet and pretty windy. I think that is the reason why there is not a whole lot of gardens or agricultural activity there. At the trail head, we saw this walled garden that grows who knows what looking like some sort of a root vegetable. Not far from it was a similar walled enclosure of about the same size with little signs sticking out of the ground. That turned out to be the village cemetery.

A small garden in Trøllanes
A small garden in Trøllanes
Trøllanes cemetery
Trøllanes cemetery

Mikladalur

Next on our list was a stop at Mikladalur village. It is home of the legend of Kópakonan (Seal Woman).

Mikladalur -- statue of the sealwoman
Mikladalur — statue of the sealwoman
Mikladalur -- statue of the sealwoman
Mikladalur — statue of the sealwoman
Mikladalur -- statue of the sealwoman
Mikladalur — statue of the sealwoman

The village also has a church and a cafe. The cafe was situated in a basement of a house (it looked like a regular house that has a basement entrance in the back). There was no counters that display the food on sale, just a large table with coffee cups and a kettle. A woman who barely spoke English offered us hot waffles with jam. They were very good and the coffee was hot and strong. Good lunch after a long hike.

Mikladalur
Mikladalur
Mikladalur -- sea cliffs
Mikladalur — sea cliffs
Mikladalur -- sea cliffs
Mikladalur — sea cliffs
Mikladalur -- sea cliffs
Mikladalur — sea cliffs

Gjógv

Next on our list for the day was a visit to the Gjógv village. It is one of the prettiest villages in the Faroe Islands and also one of the most touristy. Still, compared to other countries, the number of tourists is negligible.

Gjógv -- roofs
Gjógv — roofs
Gjogv -- harbor
Gjogv — harbor
Gjógv
Gjógv
Gjógv
Gjógv
Gjógv
Gjógv
Gjógv
Gjógv
Some pretty flowers
Some pretty flowers
View of the sea from Gjógv
View of the sea from Gjógv
Gjógv
Gjógv
Gjógv
Gjógv
Gjógv -- harbor
Gjógv — harbor

We took some pictures, ate another hot waffle with jam at the local cafe and went on to visit the capital of Faroe Islands — Tórshavn.

faroe-islands-day-4-25

faroe-islands-day-4-27

Tórshavn

We planned to have a walk around Torshavn that evening but our plans had changed. We parked near the harbor just across the place where the ferry to Suðuroy departs. We started to walk around and took some pictures, but then I saw a restaurant which I read about in a couple of tour guides as the place to have a nice Faroese-style dinner. It is called Áarstova. On a whim, we decided to try it out.

Tórshavn
Tórshavn
Tórshavn - Áarstova
Tórshavn – Áarstova
Tórshavn
Tórshavn
Fish ferments outside Áarstova restaurant
Fish ferments outside Áarstova restaurant
Tórshavn
Tórshavn

They had a choice of a 3- or 5-course menu. We selected a 3-course menu since we already ate a lot of waffles that day. I had a Langoustine bisque, Braised Faroese lamb bow and Rhubarb compote for dessert. Alex had Smoked salmon, Monkfish, and Sherry ice cream with almonds and chocolate. The portion of braised lamb was so huge that it would have been enough for 2 or 3 people. The food was very tasty but the real pleasure was to meet a Danish couple who kept us company during the dinner and entertained us with stories about Faroe Islands.

Áarstova -- Langoustine bisque
Áarstova — Langoustine bisque
Áarstova -- Smoked Salmon
Áarstova — Smoked Salmon
Áarstova -- Monkfish
Áarstova — Monkfish
Áarstova -- Braised Faroese lamb bow served with roots
Áarstova — Braised Faroese lamb bow served with roots
Alex
Alex

We took a different route home so that we could go up the Sornfelli mountain. On the way up we wanted to stop to take some photos and I saw a place that looked like a guesthouse. However, when we came to the gates, the sign said that entry was prohibited. I wanted to go there anyway because the view from there must have been spectacular, but Alex was against it. Later he found out that he was right, because it was a correctional facility — basically, a prison.

Some sort of correctional facility on Sornfelli
Some sort of a correctional facility on Sornfelli
View from Sornfelli
View from Sornfelli
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

5 Responses

  1. How narrow is that cliff edge to walk out on and get the best view of the Kallur Lighthouse? Did it appear to be a dangerous trek? Thanks!

    • It looks pretty narrow but doable when it’s relatively calm. But in windy weather, it’s different. For most of the trek from the village, you may be shielded from much of the wind by the peak around which you’re hiking. (And in general, the trek from the village to the lighthouse is quite safe.) But once you’re past the lighthouse and the peak no longer protects you, the wind may pick up quite a bit. Plus, because the ridge is kind of narrow and steep, the wind also blows at you a little bit from below at the ridge. So a strong gust may provide enough lift to disturb your balance. We even discussed crawling there kind of straddling the ridge (I mean it was so close!), but in the end decided against that, too.

      Also, in front of the lighthouse there is a sort of a small ditch that gives extra wind protection, so you can put your camera on a tripod there and shoot remotely (e.g. good for selfies). But there is nothing like that on the other side.

  2. […] We were able to go beyond the lighthouse but the view from there was not as impressive as from Kallur […]

  3. Nana Ishihara

    Hello, I was planning a similar day (Kalsoy, Saksun then Torshavn) & was just wondering if this was all doable in a day or were things rushed? Also, about how long was the hike to the lighthouse? Thank you!

    • Hello,

      The day we visited Kalsoy, Gjogv and Torshavn was not rushed at all, although we were on a schedule (mostly determined by Kalsoy ferry). We took the 8:00 ferry to Kalsoy and 15:10 ferry back. On a Monday morning, the ferry was half-empty, but the return ferry in the afternoon was packed, and we made sure to be in line for it by 14:30. Note that weekend schedule is different.

      The walk to the lighthouse from Trollanes takes about 30-40 minutes, no rush but not much slacking off either. In a bad or really windy weather it may take longer.

      We didn’t do any hiking at Gjogv, maybe that saved us some time. At Saksun, you might want to walk to the ocean along the lagoon in low tide, add at least an hour for that (and check low tide times). We visited both Saksun and Tjornuvik the day after Kalsoy. There is a pretty long hike between these two villages that will definitely put a dent into anyone’s schedule, so we didn’t take it.

Leave a Reply