After spending 8 days in Tórshavn with day trips out to exciting locations such as Saksun/Tjørnuvík, Vestmanna, Kirkjubøur and Gjógv, it was finally time to go camping again! After our little misadventure in Klaksvík, where our tent got drenched in a storm, we were both nervous about trying out the tent again, but the weather for the next few days looked promising, so we decided to give it a go. Maybe it was a third time lucky thing, because it actually stayed up and kept us dry!
We had planned two days with helicopter rides to three of the most remote islands – islands that I hadn’t visited before. Also, going on a helicopter ride in the Faroe Islands was something that I’d wanted to do for a long time. Because of the fair number of remote islands with small populations in the Faroe Islands, the helicopters are cheap as they work like public transport. The only catch is that they only fly Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays (and Mondays during the summer), and they usually only fly one-way.
Since we were going in early August, we were able to book a helicopter for Sunday and then another two for Monday, so we wouldn’t have to stay in the same place for too long. Our itinerary was: Koltur (1 night) – Stóra Dímun (1 hour stopover) – Skúvoy (1 night) and on the last day, we sailed from Skúvoy to Sandoy, hitchhiked around Sandoy for a bit and then sailed back to Streymoy from there. For the three flights, we only paid 385 DKK each.
At 15.24 on the Sunday, we caught a helicopter from the tiny heliport in Tórshavn to the even tinier heliport on the island of Koltur. It was a beautiful flight that during the short 6-minute flight offered us amazing views of the capital and the west coast of Streymoy before approaching Koltur.
I was so happy to finally be on Koltur. Every time I had visited the Faroe Islands, I had seen Koltur from the other islands, and I’ve always thought it was extraordinarily beautiful. Koltur has a spectacular shape with a high mountain on one side that rises to 478 m. and a flat meadow on the other side where the highest point is just 101 m. – as seen on the picture above. So no matter where you see Koltur from, it will always look different. But now we were finally there and seeing it from its own perspective.
When we arrived, we were greeted by a lovely lady, Lükka, who lives on the island with her husband. Koltur is an interesting place, because it’s only inhabited by two people, making it the least inhabited island in the Faroe Islands. Back in 1997, after the island had been uninhabited for 7 years, Lükka and her husband Bjørn decided to move to Koltur permanently, and today they own the entire island and plan on making it the first national park in the Faroe Islands. Prior to our trip, my friend Jens had called Bjørn to ask if it was okay for us to come there for a night, which was fine. Since he wasn’t home when we got there, Lükka showed us around, told us a bit about the place and pointed us to a flat spot in the meadow, where we could set up our tent. She also unlocked the public toilet for us to use for free, and even came to our tent later in the evening to check on us. And we didn’t have to pay anything for it. They really take good care of their tourists in the Faroe Islands!
When we first arrived on Koltur, there was no fog on the mountain – Uppi á Oyggj (also known as Kolturshamar) – but then 5 minutes later, a thick cloud came in over the top half of the mountain and stayed there until the next morning. So much for my mountain climbing plans!
We spent the day checking out the old settlements and then went for a little walk to the west coast of the island.
Originally, when Koltur was first inhabited in the 1400s, the entire island was one farm like it is today, but as the years went by, more and more people moved to the tiny island, and in 1890, there were 42 people living there spread over 6 families, who lived in the two settlements, Heimi í Húsi and Norðuri í Gerðum, both of which were later abandoned.
The first settlement that we explored was Heimi í Húsi, which is located right beside the heliport. Heimi í Húsi is the oldest settlement on Koltur, and the best preserved one. It contains two farms, Niðri í Húsi and Uppi í Búð. During the years 2000-2012 major conservational work was done in order to preserve the houses of Heimi í Húsi, and in 2012, it opened as a museum. Despite these reparations, there has been very little modernization compared to the rest of the Faroe Islands, which gives a very authentic insight into the way people lived on Koltur in the past.
After exploring the old settlement, we walked along the coast to the modern farm, and stopped to take some pictures at the tiny beach. It’s hard to believe that such a cold and rainy country even has a beach – but in fact it’s a rather nice one. And although I’ve never experienced it myself, I’ve heard that a few days a year it’s actually possible to lay at the beach in a bikini without freezing to death! I’ll have to try that one day 😉
Next up was Norðuri í Gerði, the other old settlement, where Bjørn and Lükka live today in a modern farm building. The old houses in Norðuri í Gerði are in much worse condition than those in Heimi í Húsi and only a few of them are still standing. Hopefully someday there will be funds to conserve them too.
After being cultural all afternoon, it was time to explore the wild side of Koltur, which was dramatic, beautiful and a huge surprise! We walked to the west coast, where the cliffs went vertically into the ocean and were scarily steep. A true hidden gem revealed itself before our eyes, one that most people don’t get to experience. This must be the best kept secret of the Faroe Islands. I can’t believe I’ve never heard about the west coast of Koltur before, because in my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the entire country.
We spent a great amount of time on the west coast before the incoming fog forced us to get moving. We went back to the tent and spent the rest of the evening playing cards, eating our dinner and talking about the amazing day that we had just had, before going to sleep in our warm sleeping bags away from the cold fog.
The next morning, we woke up early, packed up our tent and headed to the heliport, where Lükka was waiting to help us board the helicopter which would soon be approaching. Visiting Koltur had been an enriching experience, and I can say for certain that it won’t be my last visit! Someday I will come back to climb the mountain – and maybe someday, I can even work there as an Archaeologist (that would be a dream come true!).
But for now, it was time to leave Koltur. A new adventure was waiting for us on a new island – stay tuned!