The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
I found this holiday to be immensely enjoyable. Visiting these storm-lashed islands on the edge of Ocean was a novel experience for me. I had done the Explore holiday to Lapland in 2002, where we toured the Lofoten Islands, Tromsø and North Sweden before crossing to the Sami capital at Ravianemi in Finland. The coast of Norway was impressive, with steep cliffs. But it did not compare to the immense, brooding cliffs of the Faroes, more jagged and sheer than their counterparts opposite the Lofoten Islands. The Faroes appear pristine in their rugged bleakness, with a beauty accruing from the way they have been purged and shaped by the wildness of the seas surrounding them.
Crossing to Mykines on the first day was a great primer into the beauty and concurrent unpredictability of the islands. Scrambling from the ferry onto the quay at Mykines was something to be done energetically. But it did not compare to the sight of the rollers and white horses surging into the inlet, viewed from the path to the village above. Watching this gave me great respect for the fishermen who had lived on the islands, and who were frequently compelled by necessity to launch their boats into the fiercest rollers in their quest for fish to feed their folk. A Faroese gentleman on the path above the quay explained to me that in bygone days an observer watched from the path for the smallest wave and then shouted to the fishermen below to launch their boat. Missing this wave could be fatal.
The hardness of life on the islands in earlier times can be readily appreciated from snippets like this. The old photos from the 19th Century in Torshavn museum of fisher wives huddling by the quay at Torshavn day after day in all weathers, clad in hand-me-downs and homespun woollens, gutting the catch landed by the fishing boats, brought home the physical harshness and precariousness of this life.
On a hike across Nólsoy we passed the ruins of a solitary farmhouse at Kondolur, abandoned some three centuries ago when the driving sea had encroached too much on the farm’s grazing land and life at the farm had crossed the divide from difficult to unsustainable. Times are now fortunately different for the locals, and life for most seems to be at a Scandinavian level of comfort, if not always of affluence. The villages today are always picturesque and their modern, brightly painted roofs contrast with the brooding heavy greenness of the mountains and hillsides surrounding them. A local lad who we met above Gjógv on Eysturoy when walking to see a fulmar nesting colony had just returned from a year in Argentina. He said that spending time overseas had made him appreciate the beauty, tranquillity and settled polity of his home, the Faroes.
Later in our trip a boat trip from Torshavn took us past the soaring sides of the lonely Lítla Dímun island to Suðuroy, most southerly of the archipelago. Suðuroy seemed incredibly isolated, a speck of matter on its own in the Atlantic. You had the feeling when there of an outpost in the middle of the ocean. Isolation is integral to the Faroes and has shaped their history and character today. The islands were a wonderful destination for our club holiday and I believe that its memories will remain vivid for all who went.
Two Walks, No Rain
While many of the group were enjoying the weather in the Faroe Islands, the select remainder enjoyed 2 walks in lovely weather. I led a short 4.5 mile walk around the public parks of Billericay, Lake Meadows, Mill Meadows and Norsey Woods. I hoped to show off my town of residence, but most of the 7 walkers were from Billericay, with only Jonathan and Cynthia coming from further afield. We enjoyed a lovely evening with beer in the Coach and Horses afterwards.
On Sunday, Dave and Helen led a walk from Hadleigh in Suffolk, with only a Billericay car full of Mike, Caroline and me for company. We began by walking to Kersey village, with its 14th Century Church, mentioned in the Domesday Book. We enjoyed first lunch at the ford in the middle of the village, surrounded by a mixture of ancient half timbered houses and had a nice drink in the garden of the Bell Pub. By now the sun was blazing so we took it steadily past the remains of Lindsey Castle, through Kersey Tye and on to Hadleigh Heath. The fishing lake and reservoir looked very inviting. After a good 10 mile walk we arrived back at Hadleigh at 5pm, gasping for a cup of tea and an ice cream and although the town is very picturesque, that also means it’s very sleepy, so was definitely SHUT at that time on a Sunday. However a lovely walk, thanks to the Julians for organising it.
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