Wednesday, 31 May 2017

at half tilt

hmm.. I think the parliament buildings of the Faroes
So what were the Egyptians doing in the North Atlantic anyway?  It's a question I dream about in my early morning fug.  Our ship has come in.  It's 4.30 am and the sun is shining in Torshavn (Thor's Harbour).  We disembark with a few other tourists who are staying, but as the ship will be here until the afternoon, quite a few others also get off to look around.  

We're here for a week, and we are expecting wind, rain and fog, so the sunshine is quite a surprise and pleasure.  Breakfast is taken at the dockside below the Faroes Parliament building - a small wooden hut painted red with a thatched roof.  The Faroes are part of Denmark but also independent.  It's quite confusing.  They have their own money but it's the same value as the Danish krona, which they also use.  They are part of the Danish kingdom but are not part of the E.U.  They have their own language and cultural identity and want to keep it, but these days that's not so easy.

the distinctive turf-roof of the Faroes
We say goodbye to Sun ("10 degrees? That's good for cycling I think.")  and Nadine, who is off geo-caching, load up at the shops and crawl out of the town up the steepest incline we've seen since we left Folkstone.  The road heads straight into the mountains on a quiet road. We pass from homely folksy town to bleak desolate and wild mountain scenery within the bend of a road.  The clouds close in and the sky turns dark and threatening.  We crest a ridge and then traverse the mountains with a view of the main road down on the coast.  The Faroes are a collection of about 35 islands and we're on the main one.  They're connected by sea tunnels, bridges and ferries.  The islands seem to have emerged from the sea and then tipped over leaving mountains with large cliffs on one side and long slopes down to the sea on the other.   

We hurtle back down to the coast into a cold wind before literally coasting up the eastern shore, slightly nervous of the busy road.  We are happy to venture off it up a long empty valley where we find a place to camp.  It takes a bit of finding but we feel it's worth it, as there are no trees in the valley and much of the ground is boggy or given over to sheep.  There's a bit of debate, but as it meets two criteria for our Five Star Wild Camping (hidden out of view of the road, close to water - there's a stream, it seems too good to pass up.

stealth camping at its finest
Saksun valley ends with a fabulous almost-enclosed bay, a pretty turfed-roof church and public toilets, so it would have been remiss not to call in.  The day is rainy and windy and after a good start we find ourselves back on the main road and feeling a little too close to all the passing traffic.  There's a bridge to the next island of Estuvoy and we pause at the supermarket to stock up before then heading away from the main road and up the coast to the village of Eidi.  

Here there's a cheapish campsite located right by the sea, at the old village football ground.  We get chatting to Adam, a Polish cycle-tourer who we actually saw yesterday, but mistook him for a local because he had a small backpack when he rode past our hidey-hole.  There's also an adventurous French couple who are hiking between villages over the headlands and through the mountains.  We decide to camp here because we can afford it and the weather forecast is not so great - the advantage is a sitting room with a kitchen and wi-fi, so we can make use of our stay.  The football pitch is laid out in a fashion, possibly based on how the national team approach their games, with caravans and mobile homes parked in front of both goals.  Later, a large overland truck pulls up on the halfway-line. The couple who emerge are not the friendliest people we've met on this trip.  After a quick chat the man tells us that the last time they went to Iceland it rained for 90% of the time, day and night, and that he admired us for our courage in going there on bikes with a tent for five weeks, whilst they would be in their very large and very comfortable van.  Thankfully we didn't have to talk to Mr. Smugbastard again.

It rains.  Then the sun comes out.  We go for a walk up onto the cliffs above the village.  The cliffs are full of nesting birds and we get a perilously vertiginous view over them and the rocks below.  There's a handful of buildings left by the British army who occupied visited here during the last war, keeping watch on the north Atlantic waters.  In the local grocery store are British biscuits, including Tunnock's caramel wafers, the only known biscuit made from chocolate-covered cardboard with an advertising tag line of "4 million sold every week".  When I was at school I worked in the Tuck shop and it was Tunnock's that were most highly-valued.  I managed once to smuggle fifteen out for my friends (therefore not fifteen of the four million), hidden in my school uniform, although the record was twenty-two.  The Tuck shop disappeared soon after and, coincidentally, so did my friends.  This ramble down Memory Lane is merely to illustrate that whilst I can clearly remember events of 39 years ago, those of only a few months past are gone forever.......