Gjógv and Northern Streymoy

It is mid-morning, and the wind is howling outside of our guestroom. A small amount of snow / sleet / freezing rain is swirling sideways across the window, hitting the glass with a steady stream of little pings. The ground is white with snow-cover, though it is spring in the Faroe Islands, just one week before the start of the main tourist season.

To be fair, it has been cold and rainy across most of northern Europe this week. But the thing they say about weather in the Faroe Islands is that it’s just like the White Mountains in New Hampshire and Patagonia in Chile – “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes.”

So we wait…

An hour later, the weather has cleared up, though the wind is still a mighty 22 miles per hour. We head down to the eponymous gorge of Gjógv (“gorge”), which is just a minute downhill from the guesthouse:


On the right side of the gorge, you can see a small hill, which has a paved path and lights, culminating in “Mary’s bænk”, a bench with a brass plaque dedicated to the Crown Princess in 2005. The ocean is crashing and thundering just below, with really incredible mesmerizing power and beautifully frothy green-blue waves. This is the open Atlantic after all.


Behind us, the village itself is still slumbering beneath a dusting of snow, with the colorful houses peaking out in the morning light.


Once the road clears, we head out for more adventures! We head for the village of Saksun, an old village in the heart of Streymoy. The drive in is on a scenic single-lane road, and there is almost no traffic. This seems to be sheep paradise. There are clusters of grazing sheep on both sides of the road, with rolling grassy hills, small knolls that camouflage the sheep perfectly, and a burbling clear stream all down the valley.


Finally we reach Saksun, and we head first towards the left side of the channel. It is a relatively easy hike down to the water, which at low tide, is almost entirely dry. We walk down the spongy dark sand all the way through a narrow gorge and down to the ocean. The air is unbelievably fresh and the sun is beaming down. There are more sheep everywhere, one even perched on a sheer cliff-side, competing with the nesting sea gulls for space.

Turning back, we climb up to the old grass-roofed village buildings. This is the iconic shot for which Saksun is famed:


For a close-up of the grass-roofed longhouse (now the museum):


We wander the hills around the village for some time, then head south towards the Vestmanna bird cliffs at the western tip of Streymoy. We later learn that the puffins (the biggest draw of the bird cliffs) have not yet returned to the Faroe Islands for the summer breeding season. We are just a few weeks too early. However, the drive along the southern edge of the island is stunning, with the stony islands rising out of the ocean at each turn (below).



And just for your moment of zen, here are some of my favorite (happy) Faroe sheep from this trip. (The one on the lower left is actually eating kelp).



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