28 Dec Kalsoy, Faroe Islands: A Failed Hike to the Kallur Lighthouse in Trøllanes
We’ve all seen it. That image of the Faroe Islands where the lighthouse sits majestically on a rugged mountainside that plunges into the ocean dramatically on both sides. People hike to it. Otherwise, how would everyone score such an epic photo? (Spoiler alert: the only other tourist on the island when we were there didn’t opt to hike but rather to fly his drone for the picture… psh). I had long dreamt of the day when I would get to see the Kallur Lighthouse on Kalsoy with my own eyes. In fact, our day on Kalsoy was the only research I had done prior to going to the Faroe Islands. Because the trip needed to be done by ferry and the ferry was small, it was something I had wanted to have planned out strategically so that we wouldn’t end up stuck somewhere or missing the boat out to the island.
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Kalsoy is one of the eighteen islands that make up the Faroe Islands. Kalsoy is mostly known for the Kallur Lighthouse, harsh and rugged landscapes, and the Selkie statue in Mikladalur. The island is long and skinny and wedged in between Kunoy and Eysturoy. In fact, “Kalsoy” means man island and “Kunoy” means woman island. There are no bridges or underwater tunnels connecting Kalsoy to another island; you can reach it merely by ferry or boat.
The island of Kalsoy has four settlements comprising of around 150 people collectively. The settlements are Trøllanes, Mikladalur, Húsar, and Syðradalur. The settlements are all on the east side of the island as the west side of the island is extremely rough and rather inhabitable. The small villages are connected by a single road that goes through four extremely snug tunnels.Kalsoy, Faroe Islands: A Failed Hike to the Kallur Lighthouse in Trøllanes @visitfaroe @faroe_islands #lp #ngtradar #travel Click To Tweet
The callous and unforgiving landscape is home to quite the seabird colony, on the other hand. The northern and western coasts are home to around 40,000 pairs of Atlantic puffins, 5,000 pairs of European storm petrels, and 200 pairs of black guillemots. While Mykines gets all the fame for its puffin colony, several other islands boast large numbers of puffins, as well.
Kalsoy is home to thirteen peaks. The two largest ones are Nestindar and Botnstindur, standing tall at 787 meters and 743 meters, respectively.
Getting To and From Kalsoy from Klaksvik
Getting to Kalsoy from Klaksvik is pretty self-explanatory, but you really do need to read ahead and know the ferry schedule. To check out the website containing all ferry schedules for the islands, click here. We went to the Faroe Islands in March and were not in the travel high-season, so we did have fewer ferry options then. Below are the ferry schedules in accordance with the season courtesy of Strandfaraskip Landsins. Please do check their site before your trip to ensure the schedules stay the same and that you are not hitting the trip during a holiday (they list national holidays and observances on their website). All ferries go from Klaksvik to and from Syðradalur on the south end of Kalsoy.
Ferry tips: These ferries are small and don’t fit a ton of cars which is probably good because the roads and tunnels are small on Kalsoy and the island can’t handle too many people from an infrastructure perspective. The ride is 20 minutes long and you will ride the ferry in the same area that your car is parked. It is the perfect time to birdwatch and admire the unmatched scenery that the Faroe Islands has to offer.
High Season Ferries (May 1 – August 31)
x = Week Days from Mon. to Fri.
1 = Monday
2 = Tuesday
3 = Wednesday
4 = Thursday
5 = Friday
6 = Saturday
7 = Sunday
Low Season Ferries (September 1 – April 30)
x = Week Days from Mon. to Fri.
1 = Monday
2 = Tuesday
3 = Wednesday
4 = Thursday
5 = Friday
6 = Saturday
7 = Sunday
Getting to Trøllanes
Once you arrive in Syðradalur, you will have to drive north on the island until you reach the last village, Trøllanes. This takes around twenty or so minutes and this is where you get to test your driving skills by going through the tiny tunnels. Navigating Kalsoy is so painfully easy as it is completely impossible to steer off track as there is one road that takes you north to south on the island. And, you can not go south of Syðradalur.
Hiking to the Kallur Lighthouse
Here is where it gets a bit interesting. Once you park in Trøllanes, you will have the sea in front of you and not much else. If you are standing looking at the sea, you must go left. There will be a fence and you can just follow the footsteps that have inevitably done the trek first. The mud is dense and deep in some areas, which makes the hike a bit more difficult than meets the eye. Once you get closer to the coastal cliffs, you will need to go up the hill/mountain toward the sheep shack (a pile of rocks stacked up). It isn’t difficult and you don’t really need to be in excellent shape to do this hike, but it also isn’t something I would suggest to those who haven’t hiked before.
Once at the sheep shack, you will continue north and then you’ll see a deep valley that basically ends up in the ocean. Obviously, don’t go down this… stay to the left of it on the hillside and walk until you’re past it. This is where my hike ended. Having gone to the Faroe Islands in muddy and rainy March, the ground was not firm and we were sliding around in sheep shit and mud, unable to control our gait most of the time. My partner’s parents were with us and they stayed at the sheep shack to wait for us to complete the rest of the hike.Kalsoy, Faroe Islands: A Failed Hike to the Kallur Lighthouse in Trøllanes @visitfaroe @faroe_islands #lp #ngtradar #travel Click To Tweet
We slowly walked on this ‘path’ (which didn’t really exist at the time as the Faroes doesn’t see many visitors this time of year) and eventually, I started to cry. I have a fear of heights that escalates when I don’t see the endpoint. From where we were, walking around that deep valley from above, you don’t see a lighthouse and have no idea how much of the hike is left. I eventually sat on the ground and decided I was done. It just wasn’t meant to be.
While I was gutted as I crawled (yes, not even joking) my way back to the sheep shack, a thick patch of fog maneuvered its way toward the island. It was like no patch of fog I had ever seen. One piece of advice you’re given in the Faroes is to never move about too much in fog and you should wait for it to pass as it does quickly, but brazenly. We had started to make our way back toward the car and Trøllanes village when it swept in and we just stood there, all in separate areas, to wait things out. I was so thankful that we never continued our hike as this fog would have scared the daylights out of me.
Once the fog cleared, the sun popped out and the skies were blue. Welcome to the Faroe Islands.
Hiking and Travel Tips for Kalsoy
Definitely be prepared when making this seemingly easy hike to the Kallur Lighthouse. The hike doesn’t last too long, but if you’re out of shape, be prepared for more frequent stops.
Wear appropriate shoes. This is a must in the Faroe Islands, anyway. Waterproof, lightweight, and durable shoes are essential for the Faroe Islands and especially this Kalsoy hike. My favorite hiking boots are made by Keen. You can check for sizes and options here.
Bring hiking poles. While this may be questionable, if you are doing this hike out of season, it can be muddy and hard to predict what the land beneath your feet is going to do. To be honest, I would have had enough confidence to complete this hike if I had brought my trekking poles with me. It would have offered that extra sense of security that I needed as someone who is afraid of heights. I recommend these trekking poles for your Kalsoy hike.
Layer your clothing. The weather here is everchanging and completely unpredictable. I wore sunglasses for a few minutes and then was engulfed in a thick patch of fog for the next few. I started out wearing a lightweight rain jacket over top of a sweater and eventually had to take off the jacket as I began sweating from the mild, humid air.
Bring snacks and water. This is not a long hike. However, you never know what you will encounter during it and if you end up stuck somewhere, you will definitely be thankful you brought a snack and water along for the ride. In addition, you won’t be able to easily purchase food on Kalsoy, so you’re just better off packing a lunch for the day alongside the snacks you bring.
The water in the Faroes is clean and refreshing. As the islands are not cheap, you’ll find it handy to bring a water jug with you everywhere you go. I travel with this violet one from Klean Kanteen.
Have patience. The weather in the Faroes will clandestinely connive against whatever plans you have and you will likely have to change or alter them accordingly. Always plan enough time for things and have snacks and water on you at all times. Things rarely work out according to plan and truthfully, that is what makes the Faroe Islands such a cool and unpredictable destination.
A Quick Stop at Mikladalur
After our failed hike in Trøllanes, we drove south a bit to Mikladalur, another small settlement that is known for its views and Selkie, or the Seal Woman, statue. The largest of all settlements on Kalsoy, the village is also known for its church that dates back to 1856. You can read more about the Legend of the Selkie at Visit Faroe Islands. Nevertheless, Mikladalur ended up being a pleasant surprise for us and I really enjoyed taking photos by the sea and learning more about the Selkie statue. There is also a majestic waterfall to the north of the statue that can be viewed from down by the sea. Several seabirds also have their nests in the area.
Where to Stay in Klaksvik
Unfortunately, with a population of under 150, Kalsoy isn’t exactly brimming with accommodation options. I think your best bet is to stay in Klaksvik (where the ferry departs from) or even back in Torshavn as it isn’t a long drive to and from. We stayed in Torshavn, personally, for the entire trip and no island was so far out of reach that we ever regretted that decision. Klaksvik would be pretty ideal if you’re looking to explore the northern islands, on the other hand.
Our time on Kalsoy may not have gone according to plan, but I really think it was one of my highlights of my entire trip. Maybe it was because it reminded me of how travel and destinations can provide an unpredictability that can throw even the most seasoned of travelers off a bit. I have had plenty of ‘failed’ plans in the past, including my unsuccessful trip to Pyramiden in Svalbard, but this one didn’t leave me disappointed as I feel I made the right decision to quit the hike at the time. My Faroe Islands trip was filled with so many positives that it would be remiss of me to view this day trip as a negative. The only real negative that happened during the trip was that we wrecked our rental car in a tunnel after we arrived back in Klaksvik after Kalsoy. Whoops. More on that some time down the road!
To view my other posts about my travels through the Faroe Islands, click on the links below:
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