Discovering the Faroe Islands by bicycle
Words and photos by Daan Remijnse
Looking ahead, I try to perceive some shape. However, the view is limited to the gray of the road and the hazy green of grass. And sometimes a group of sheep or geese that curiously look up. Where are those steep mountain peaks in the country where the water cascades into the ocean via winding rivers through green valleys and waterfalls along cliffs? The paradise of birds where puffins fly agile and playfully around. For now I have to settle for grazing sheep. The adventurous image of the remote islands in the middle of the Atlantic is quickly adjusted upon arrival. A thick layer of fog keeps the archipelago in its grip. Through patches of fog as the view extends, I suddenly see the silhouette of a bay appearing along the coast… it awakens my enthusiasm.
It takes some searching on the map. Between Scotland, Iceland and Norway, you will find 18 islands close together. About 50,000 people live in an area of 113km by 75km. The archipelago with a coast length of 1,100km is part of the Kingdom of Denmark with autonomous self-government and its own flag. Archaeological findings indicate the existence of Irish monks who arrived here in the 7th century. The settlers must have had a hard time. The country is continuously plagued by depressions and storms for which the North Atlantic Ocean is known. With an average height of 300 meters, the granite rock overgrown with grass turns into cliffs and bays. Due to the absence of trees, there is virtually no natural shelter from the strong wind. Vikings followed the Irish. They built small houses with washed up wreckage and seaweed. The wooden houses in different colours with peat roofs are still visible today and give villages a picturesque appearance.