They like their vertical cliffs in the Faroes. In fact, I understand they once had a bit of flat land, but decided to take it off to a museum for safe keeping.
So one thing I wanted to see in the Faroes was Cape Enniberg. It’s Europe’s highest sea cliff. How to put this in perspective? You know the high mountain above Mojácar? It’s that high, only vertical down to sea level.
It’s 754 metres, vertical. As in, you look 90º down and see the sea. Do you know what that is like? It is pant crappingly, palm sweatingly, vertigo introducingly scary. I didn’t think I got vertigo, quite happy to go up a mobile platform to a third storey to cut down a tree, but this is… something fecking else.
And if that is not enough for you, afterwards you go off to your right, you reach Villingadalsfjall, which is 844 metres high, with a slight slope down to the sea, and really think that if life is too short, here is a way to end it all with no possibility of spending the rest of your days in a wheelchair.
So, hey, why not? It was a nice day.
As I tootled up the nice new road to the “town” of Viðareiði (yes I copied and pasted that name), I went over a small hump and saw this ahead of me. Bloody hell. It’s a lot more impressive in real life. Here it is, from 3/4 of the way up the mountain and looking down.
See, it’s one thing to wander up the Cabreras. Yes they are higher, but you can stick to the mountain tracks and all you are really doing is wandering along a slightly steep road. This mountain, on a normal day, will kill you. And so many fat tourists have died on this mountain that the locals, tired of being called away from their teas to rescue them, have helpfully marked the trail. Here it is:
800 metres, almost straight up a steep cliff. Now, on a nice day like I had, it was easy enough. On a cloudy, wind swept day? Suicide unless you have mountain smarts. Up I puffed, hoping the weather wouldn’t change.
Now get this. Europe’s highest sea cliff, potentially the second highest in the world. Easy access. Absolutely fecking stupendous weather, not a breath of wind. And the only person I saw all the way up was a local gentleman, 80 if he were a day, looking for a sheep half way up the mountain and looking as if he were wandering down to the shops in his Sunday best. And an elderly German couple who frankly looked baffled by the whole thing, eating a sausage picnic half way up.
After a while, it got a bit rough. Closest to mountain climbing I’ve done for a while. You had to pick your way from boulder to boulder.
Eventually, you come to a small plateau. Nice views.
My Faroe Islands guide to hiking helpfully had a story about how one of those standing stones was erected to bully a local lad who didn’t have a wife. The stone was supposed to be his wife. Later on, the guide told me to look out for a standing stone erected by a young lad just before he (supposedly) jumped off the cliff. Whether the two stories were related was not dwelt upon in the guide book.
Supposedly, this stone was erected by a lad who was never seen again. Adieu.
The top of Cape Enniberg is.. rocky. You climb along it, across the rocks, following the cairns, until eventually the cape turns into a narrow bit of about 10 metres across and you find yourself at the end.
It’s a bizarre, lunar landscape. Nothing grows other than the occasional lichen. You find yourself jumping from boulder to boulder. In places, there are cairns to follow but in general you just wander along, trying not to twist an ankle.
As I said, not a breath of wind. Would I want to be upon Cape Enniberg in the fog and a wind? Would I hell. Some snow remained – behind me here is a steep crevasse down to the sea, some 700 m down.
Here’s the confession. When you get to the end, there is a crevasse, then Cape Enniberg, and to the side are two rocks that you can throw yourself onto and look three quarters of a kilometre down to the sea. It was so scary that the photo was too blurred to keep. But the image remains burned upon my retina.
Down there we see the next few Faroe Islands. In the distance is the famous village of Gjovj where I was to spend a night, the only true tourist trap in the islands.
On my way back I zigzagged and went up the high point behind Enniberg.
What can I say? Only that one of the most impressive spots in Europe is completely unspoilt. I mean, apart from a sheep fence at the top, nothing. If you want to wander about in the fog and fall over a cliff, that’s your problem. There aren’t even any proper path markings, just a few plastic poles to guide you round the boggy patches (and I got the feeling they were erected for the benefit of the locals). On such gorgeous day, I barely saw a soul. In fact, all of the Faroes was like that. Amazing.
Anyway, I eventually got back down again, and decided to visit the village (the locals call it a town) of Viðareiði. Their harbour is no longer in use. This is the main bit of the harbour, which was used to get the boats up the 10m high cliffs from the water. It was a tough life. Nowadays they make their money by charging exorbitant rates to rescue lost tourists.
This is the slipway. It seems a wave has damaged it.
This used to be a sheep, trying to get back to the church.
That’s the cliff I had just gone up:
A quiet day on the sea, but still rough….
Afterwards, for no other reason than the fact that I could, I went to another island, Kunoy. Kunoy is reached by a causeway and a tunnel.
Kunoy is beautiful. A tiny little village surrounded by steep cliffs. It seems that there is a way up those cliffs, which used to be the way the villages would walk when it was too rough to take the sea. “You are not advised to attempt the path without a guide” warned a stern board at the village entrance. I could see why.
Kunoy is famous for having a small wood, one of the few in the place. It was lovely.
In the middle of the wood is a fecking great big boulder, larger than a house, that supposedly came down from the mountains a few hundred years ago in a storm. Hmmmm.
Eventually, I left under the subsea tunnel back to the village of Leirvík where I was to stay the night in a B&B.
Leirvík was very nice. I stayed with Lilja, manager of VisitHomes.fo ,who promptly farmed me off to a lady whose name I didn’t catch. Spotless place. Another shower-room with a shower built into the wall, spraying the water across the room and you have to scrape the excess water with a squeedge into the drain. Seems to be a thing here. Lilja recommended that I try the bowling alley for dinner, although when pressed admitted it was the only dining joint in town.
For the equivalent of €7,5 they could have filled it up. And yes, this looks horrible but once you scraped the batter off it was fresh and delicious. Hey, the fishing port was only 20m away.
Dinner was uneventful apart from me meeting David Tennant. Well, maybe it wasn’t him – he told me he was up buying fish for a Scottish company – but he was absolutely identical. I put it down to the exciting day I’d had, but I still wish I’d asked for an autograph. He got really jealous when I showed my discount voucher that Lilja had given me. In fact, the more I think it over, the more I am convinced it was David Tennant in a bad disguise. Partly this is because he seemed annoyed that I never asked him if he was David Tennant.
And so, fat and full, I tottered back to the spotless house for a good 12 hour sleep. The Faroese were out making the best of the good weather, with street parties everywhere under the dying lights of the sun. I sat for a while with my hosts, listening to a man playing the guitar and his family singing along, sipping a strong drink, until I felt myself falling asleep and excused myself to a comfortable, deep, clean bed.
PS – later on I took this photo from Trollanes. The last peak is Enniberg, the one in the forefront is the end of Kunoy, the dip the right being the valley where Kunoy is.