The Faroe Islands managed to lay on one of the best days out we have ever had as a family. It began with a helicopter ride, continued with a walk to a far flung lighthouse down a sheer, puffin studded cliff and ended with an adrenaline filled spin on the waves. The sun shone throughout, we had coffee, cake and two ice creams, and none of it broke the bank. I’m not sure about the kids but I’d sell my granny to do it all over again.
The Ultimate Adventure Day Out
“Will it be a speedboat?” asks Cameron. “I really hope it’s a speedboat.”
Today has already exceeded all our expectations, but I can’t imagine the story ending with my son getting the chance to play James Bond. I prepare him for the arrival of a clapped out public ferry.
And then a speed boat turns up. That’s The Faroes for you.
A perfect day trip to a perfect island
I predicted the helicopter ride from the islands’ main airport (on Vagar) to the beautiful tiny island of Mykines would be one of the highlights of our Adventure Islands trip. But even I wasn’t prepared for the view from the window of the chopper. While Hannah seems to have disappeared into her voluminous headphones, I’m practically sitting on the shoulders of the pilot and co-pilot, craning my neck so I don’t miss anything as we take off over the sea. To say that it shimmers in the morning sunlight is the understatement of the century. Through the cockpit window the islands are emerald, the ocean’s azure and the sky is puffed with chalkdust.
The flight is exciting yet fleeting, and as the crew start making preparations to land, I wonder if they’ve forgotten to look up. Because we seem to be travelling at some speed towards an almighty chunk of rock. It’s a BIG ROCK! But then the chopper swings round, the solid cliff is broken and a green valley starts to emerge. This immediately leads to a tiny settlement with the recognisable Faroese turf roofed houses and a helicopter landing pad that looks a little out of place in this traditional, sleepy place.
The village is home to just over ten people. With nine of us in the helicopter we almost double the figures just by touching down. There are no roads here, and no cars, just dirt tracks, a 19th century church, a stream trickling down the hillside, sheep and birds and my family, wandering contentedly in the sunshine.
A bridge over the Atlantic?
After crossing a couple of hills, we drop down on foot towards the sea on a path that resembles a Krypton Factor challenge. I did the Via Ferrata in Honister recently, and this is way more terrifying! The path is cut into the cliff and you are well aware that the guide rope won’t stop you from tumbling down if you slip on the mud. We move slowly towards the choppy North Atlantic, via a noisy hillside with millions of puffin burrows. We stop to watch their endless flights in search of food before tackling the footbridge known as Atlantarhavsbrugvin – ‘Bridge over the Atlantic.’
We are now on a small islet to the north of Mykines and our finishing point is a lighthouse that warns all ships land is upon them after many miles at sea. Two freestanding rock stacks form a ‘gannetry’ – home to a vast crowd of the black and white birds and surrounded by crashing surf.
The gannets are also incessantly feeding and we start to feel hungry ourselves. Many of our big journeys have traditionally finished with a lolly at a lighthouse, but this time we only have mints in our pockets, so we improvise. In the past we have consumed our celebratory confectionery at lighthouses in John O Groats in Scotland, Finisterre in Spain, and Ninety Mile Beach in New Zealand. But awesome as these spots all were, it’s really hard to beat the beauty of this moment. We lie on the lush grass for a picture as the gannets dip and dive around us, the sun warms our faces and the wind cools our backs.
The speedboat finish
We pick our way back over the cliffs in time for an ice cream at a tiny guest house before our ‘James Bond’ finish. The boat rounds into view and slams on its brakes in the tiny harbour, before speeding out again past sea caves and puffin colonies. I try to think of a day out that beats this one and I can’t. Speed boats, helicopters and iconic buildings; it’s all here, with a notable absence of traffic, people or commerce. And it’s got puffins. While some might find choppers and speedboats just a bit too ‘showbiz,’ who could resist the bright orange beaky smile of a puffin in paradise?
This post is part of our 2012 Adventure Islands Season. We spent summer 2012 exploring Iceland and The Faroes, researching what’s on offer for adventure seeking families. We’re grateful to Smyril Line for help with transport, to Berghaus and Thule who helped equip us for the journey. And to Hotel Foroyar and Visit Faroes who helped us out on the Faroes. All views and opinions are as ever our own.
You can see a map of our journey on The Family Adventure Project Punkt! and view some exclusive behind the scenes photos and video of what we got up to.