North to the Night - 2015 Faroes eclipse spotting

  • Ive enjoyed many ride reports - so here's my first long ride.

    Way back in March 2015 there was a solar eclipse visible in the Faroe islands and Spitsbergen

    and since you (probably) can't ride to Spitsbergen i went to the Faroe islands on the ferry from Denmark. That and had wanted to see them for a while and the ferry company was doing a deal - 800 euros for the return transport and five nights half board accommodation on the ship while there


    https://www.openstreetmap.org/…lands#map=5/59.501/-5.186


    I'd planned to ride an Enfield 350 and use the Harwich to Esbjerg ferry saving a load of miles . . .but that stopped in 2014 - so Transalp it was then with some winter compound tyres, an eBay satnav, a camera, and as many warm things as i could wear.

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    After stopping on the A303 about 50 miles from home because the tyre pressure monitor said the front tyre was going down!! i passed London on the M25 then got the ferry from harwich to hook of holland overnight (which left about an hour or two late)

    Once in Holland i followed the satnav to my destination - the youth hostel in Stade near Hamburg. mainly on motorway but the last 30 or so were better local roads. Arriving in the afternoon gave a chance for a wander about


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    being nearly winter the tide was out


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    the next day i crossed the Elbe on local ferry to Glukstadt (probably) and took in some german country roads not that i took any photos!


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    but you could get a coffee in the below deck saloon on the ferry


    The ride up through the peninsular of Germany and on through Denmark was..... cool. Not much rain, but a constant Easterly wind that strengthened during the day as the clouds cleared. oddly the coldest part of me was my ankles, fixed by adding a pair of walking gaters on top.

    when i got to the next stop a the YH in Roslev it was unmanned with a note to call if i needed assistance


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    turns out that the door was open for me, but since i need the bedding too they came over and opened up. its a bit odd staying in an empty hostel and this one was a mix of hostel and kids football training club, especially at breakfast when the wardens set out a massive continental selection for you. I did have to go to the local shop to get teabags though! and again the next day for more petrol - almost all the filling stations in Denmark were self service put your card in the machine type


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    another ferry crossing and local roads got me to Hirtshals - this isn't Hirtshals though!

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    where i was the first bike to arrive - there were only three and all from the UK!! I had expected a few more and was surprised there were none from germany

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  • Thanks guys - here we go

    Got to admit i was quite relieved to get to Hirtshals - the second tyre pressure sensor and the speedo had both failed somewhere in Germany, and it was getting obvious that i should have changed the chain and sprockets before starting out.

    anyway the ferry departed a few hours late due to bad weather in the north sea so free coffee was laid on. during the 40ish hour crossing there was plenty of time to watch the other passengers. i think about 70% were German, another 25% was from the rest of europe, the remainder from round the world. though only about five as far as i could tell from UK (and four of those were on the only 3 bikes on the ship). the cheep deal meant i was staying in what used to be known as steerage! with accommodation pretty similar to hostels below the car deck - I ended up sharing with 4 german students and a retired Italian physics teacher.

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    the passage was smooth with a chance of sun bathing while watching ships and oil rigs go past

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    even got a good view of sunset over Muccle Flugga and UK phone reception!

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    once on the Faroes i had a wander around first thing, and thought someone was having a bit of fun shifting statues around

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    was a bit odd seeing chickens wandering about in Torshavn centre next to the parliament building

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    the ship did dwarf the town - the parliament building is the red one

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    The order i visited places on the islands is a bit hazy, but i visit all the islands i could without a ferry crossing looking on google maps now there have been several new roads built and possibly an extra causeway between the islands

    https://www.openstreetmap.org/…nds#map=9/61.8814/-6.5286

  • The good thing about the ship being moored in the middle of town was that you could watch the town waking up while having breakfast - if you were there at seven or eight a group of people would wander down to the harbourside by the parliament then one would raise the faroese flag

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    and often there was rowing practice too

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    with the boats stored in a basement on the wharf

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    wandering around Torshavn and klaksvik there were plenty of sculptures - from the ones earlier on the seafront to possibly george and a dragon in the stream flowing through Torshavn centre.

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    there was also a stuffed bird sphere about 8ft in diameter hanging in the shopping centre which i don't seam to have taken a picture of - no doubt its online somewhere.


    each day on the islands i'd wander gently to another destination and try to see as much as possible in the way. Generally it was cool and damp, with the odd bit of lying snow higher up

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    the roads were pretty empty even considering all of the extra people on the islands to see the eclipse

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    and the views from some of the petrol stations was pretty good

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    the older tunnels through the mountains were generally single track with passing places and unlit

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    with sometimes only a hundred yards or so between tunnels like at this junction where both straight on and left are tunnels about 1/2 a mile long

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    the big inter-island tunnels were lit with arty coloured lights in the middle, but i didn't get a picture, i think they were 5 or 6 miles long with refuges every so often - luckily toll free for the bike

    When not in a tunnel (did i mention there were some tunnels?) the scenery was spectacular

    vidareidi: [the crossed out d is like a pause between syllables or the silent t in water (with a SE UK accent))

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    Arnafjordur

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    Gasadalur

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    at Tjornavik there was a sandy beach

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    but wandering though the village there was a pleasant smell of hay from the barns -odd how you remember smells - in Denmark i could often get a whiff of pigs

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    there was only one bit of gravely road that i found (rotten tarmac really) and that was out to Muli - basically a remote farmstead

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    but there was a great view back to vidareidi

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  • I think the road out to Gasadalur and the village were probably my favourite locations on the Islands with views over to islands that were just bonkers - about a 60 degree slope one side and cliff the other (not that i took a photo because it was too misty).

    apparently this is the most photographed village on the Faroes

    The villages are really small in the landscape

    but even in the damp they were quite cheerful

    The village of Gjogv (sounded like Geoff to me) had a hotel/ cafe

    often I'd return to Torshavn over the old road where you never quite knew if the rocks were sheep in the mist

    and then park up with the other bikes on the quayside


    On the morning of the Eclipse people set up tripods all over the ship and anywhere else, there was plenty of space. several cruise ships had also tuned up and they sailed to other places in a hope to get a glimpse of the event

    unfortunately it was cloudy over the ship, though apparently those at the lighthouse saw a brief glimpse as the sun disappeared behind the moon and the day went weirdly dark

    then dawn broke again!


    fantastic!

    There was definitely a party atmosphere during and after the event, with all us passengers being offered a glass of aquavit to celebrate.

    To top it off the Aurora Borealis was visible from the ship as it sailed back to Denmark.


    then it was back on the mainland where my eBay satnav failed several times, however buying a map of the area i was in generally fixed it!


    again i stayed in youth hostels - Vejle in Denmark and Bad Zwishenahn near Odenberg

    Vejle was near Jelling - home to the Jelling stone (the first written mention of Denmark) and Harold Bluetooth's grave (grandfather of King Canute, and bluetooth is named after him as well)


    Harold was buried under a large mound inside a ship shape of standing stones inside a large oak palisade shown by the white concrete slabs and pillars


    Holland was unsurprisingly flat, but the road across there big barrage was different and had a garage half way across.

    and it wasn't long before i was at the beach again waiting for the ferry to return to the UK


    so after 2 1/2 weeks and about 2500 miles i was back home

    The satnav had failed, both tyre pressure monitors had failed, the chain was toast, and a camera lens rattled itself apart, but the bike itself never missed a beat.


    I wish i had taken longer to get to and from the ferry and done much less motorway, but there we go.


    Apparently the next european viewable Eclipses are Iceland and south france/ spain in 2026 - i'd call in on the Faroes again to get to Iceland, but france may be warmer!

  • I only remember the Faroes becos when I was at primary school a wee blonde haired lassie joined our class -- all the way from Faroe. I had of course no idea where that was. It wasn't in Fife I knew that.

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