After a night spent in the camp site kitchen in Klaksvík, we were feeling just as drowsy and dreary as the weather that had brought down our tent. We had arranged to go to Tórshavn in the evening to get the keys to our new temporary home, but we still had the entire day ahead of us on Norðoyggjar, so despite the gloomy weather and our overwhelming tiredness, we decided to take a trip to the nearby island of Kalsoy.
On my second trip to the Faroe Islands in March 2015, I had planned on going to Kalsoy – and I almost got there. Steve, who had joined me for a roadtrip that day, and I missed the ferry departure by a few minutes, and when I went back by myself in August 2015, I didn’t have enough time to go there. But this time was going to be different.
Kalsoy is one of the most popular islands with tourists and Faroese people, who go there in the summer months. It’s a beautiful island, which is nicknamed “the flute” because of its thin shape and many road-tunnels. The western coast is uninhabited because of its dramatically steep mountains that fall vertically into the ocean. The four settlements with a combined population of less than 150 on the island are all found on the eastern coast, connected by a tiny 12 km. long road with five tiny tunnels.
On the ferry from Klaksvík to Syðradalur, the southernmost village on Kalsoy, we met the Belgian siblings Vianney and Gaëtane, who offered us two seats in their hire car for the next four hours on Kalsoy, so we didn’t have to hitchhike through the island. We actually met Vianney briefly on Villingadalsfjall the day before – it’s a tiny world!
We had a lot of fun roadtripping through Kalsoy with our new Belgian friends, and got to see everything we wanted in the four hours that we spent on the island. We decided to drive from one end to another and have a stop in each village.
The first village that we came to was Húsar, the oldest village on Kalsoy. The village was pretty much dead, which was not surprising considering its small population of under 50 people. We decided to visit the village church, which was built in 1920. Unlike most churches on the Faroe Islands, this one was actually open, so we could get in from the stormy weather for a bit.
The next village that we drove to was Mikladalur, which is the largest of the four villages on Kalsoy with a population of 40 people. When we got to Mikladalur, there was a church service going on in the old stone church from 1856, so unfortunately, we didn’t get to see that one.
But we did get to see one of two sights that we had come to Kalsoy for – the statue of the Selkie (also known as the Seal Woman) from 2014. The legend of the selkie goes as follows:
One evening, a young man from Mikladalur went to the beach to watch the selkies dance as he always did on the twelfth night every year, when the seals, who are believed to be former humans who voluntarily sought death in the ocean, come on land, shed their skins and dance under cover of darkness. That night, the young man fell in love with one of the selkies and decided to steal her skin, so she couldn’t go back into the ocean. He forced the selkie to marry him, and hid her skin in a chest, and kept the key with him at all times. They lived together for many years and had several children together.
One day, the man went out fishing and discovered that he had forgotten to bring the key for the chest. When he returned home, he saw that his wife had left him and his children. He ran to the beach and in the distance, he saw the selkie swimming away with her seal-husband, who had been waiting for her for all of those years.
Then one day, the men of Mikladalur went hunting for seals. The night before, the selkie had appeared to the man in a dream and said to make sure not to kill the great bull seal that would be lying at the entrance, for that was her husband. Nor should he harm the two seal pups deep inside the cave, for they were her two young sons. She described their skins so he would know them, but the man didn’t listen to her. He joined the others on the hunt, and they killed all the seals they could see, and when the catch was later divided up, the man received the large bull seal and both the front and the hind flippers of the young pups.
That evening, the selkie appeared again in form of a terrifying ogre and promised revenge on all the men of Mikladalur, announcing that some would die at sea and others would fall from the mountain tops, until there had been so many deaths that the dead could link hands around the island of Kalsoy. Today, it is still feared that the number of victims is not yet great enough, and so the deaths will continue happening.
Down at the shore in Mikladalur stands the statue of the selkie, reminding the village of its inevitable destiny according to the legend.
After exploring the mythical village of Mikladalur, it was time to head to the northernmost village on Kalsoy, Trøllanes. The other main thing that we wanted to see on Kalsoy is located near Trøllanes – the instagram-famous Kallur Lighthouse from 1927.
We didn’t know exactly where to find it, but we knew that it was located on the northern tip of the island, so we just started walking north of the village. After about 40 minutes, we found it right where we hoped it would be. It’s a really beautiful place, a must-see place if you ask me, that offers stunning views of the dramatic promontories of Kunoy and Viðoy.
The weather that we had on Kalsoy was a huge change from the sunny days with clear skies that we had been enjoying lately. On Kalsoy, the fog was thick and it was pouring. But when we got to Trøllanes, the weather finally started to change for the better, although not for long. But the wind calmed down a bit and the rain came down in drizzles instead of pouring, which was nice for the hike.
When we got to the lighthouse, I tried to locate where the famous Instagram photo of the lighthouse is taken from (if you follow @visitfaroeislands on Instagram, you’ll know which one I’m talking about!). I saw that it was possible to walk a bit further north and sure enough, that’s where it’s taken from! It’s the perfect perspective with the dramatic cliffs behind the tiny lighthouse, making it look even more remote and solitary than it is.
After walking back to Trøllanes from the lighthouse, we got inside the car again and drove towards the southern end of Kalsoy – and towards the fog. We had a bit of time to kill before the ferry would depart, so we decided to explore Syðradalur and the nearby Kalsoy Lighthouse from 1893 – why not see both of Kalsoy’s two lighthouses, now that we were there?
Syðradalur is just as sleepy as the other villages on Kalsoy, so we didn’t spend much time there, before heading out to the lighthouse. Once again, we didn’t know exactly where it was, but we walked south and eventually found the little lonely lighthouse after just 15 minutes walk.
Four hours after we had arrived on Kalsoy, it was time to leave the island once again and head to Tórshavn, where a warm house was waiting for us.
I really loved Kalsoy and would like to go back there on a sunshine day. There’s still a lot to explore on the island, including its 13 mountain peaks and the abandoned village of Blankaskáli on the southwest coast. Maybe next year at summer time, we’ll see!