The Islands of Faroe-way: Part 1

The Islands of Faroe-way: Part 1

By Mel Nicholls>

There is not one reason why the Faroe Islands, and then there is not a single reason why not. This seems to be the most common question I get asked “why?” when people learn of my Faroe Islands adventure at the end of summer of 2018.

I first knew of these mysterious islands a good few years back, I remember watching coverage of a solar eclipse on the BBC, the camera crew and lone presenter reporting from a small boat in the Atlantic, just outside of somewhere called the Faroe Islands. I had no idea where this was but it began my curiosity. Over recent times this curiosity grew, I watched a brilliant short film of a couple of guys mountain biking and kayaking between the islands, the madness of it all drew me in further, and the remote, rugged unforgiving lands and its people already had me hooked through the wild cold seas of the north Atlantic Ocean.

I am an athlete but just as much my heart is in adventure. I love wild places, I long for the mountains, rugged coasts and sunsets shared with no one but the moorland sheep grazing in the winds. I love the simple life living from a tent or the van, packing up my bike and heading out into the unknown, and always returning with another story to tell. I have found a real love for Scotland over the past few years, in particular the west coast islands. The wilderness and somewhat isolation draws me and I never feel more alive than when I’m handcycling along a coastal road being showered by sea spray or dropping from a mountain road descent, holding tight to the cranks as the wind streams tears from my eyes and a grin as wide as a Cheshire cat.

Getting kitted up with custom luggage at Alpkit HQ

There is so much more of my beloved Scotland that I want to explore, but last summer I set myself a challenge to push even further, beyond our own lands, bigger than anything I’d done before. I wanted wild islands, I wanted remote, I wanted the unknown, the undiscovered, I wanted to challenge myself and others perceptions of what is possible. My plan was to solo handcycle the Faroe Islands, living off my bike, and where roads ran out I would explore on crutches, or any way possible. My plan was to go Wild Beyond Barriers.

Leading up to my trip, everywhere I read said cycling in the Faroe Islands is not a good idea. Everyone I spoke to knew very little about this archipelago of 18 islands, as did I, and this itself pulled me closer. Even the islands’ tourism board quote “you’d be a brave soul to bicycle the Faroe Islands”. Apart from the mountainous landscape, the crazy wild Atlantic weather, (all of it every day) there being only a small number of roads (some islands with none) and so most being main routes for connecting islands and fishing ports, the islands themselves are connected by boat, the odd bridge or causeway, even helicopter and throughout the islands and between, tunnels. Cycling 160 meters under the sea bed for 5 miles alongside lorries and every vehicle is not for the faint hearted for sure! But the good thing is at least those tunnels tend to have some lights in them and are wider than a single lane, unlike those burrowed throughout every island like a piece of swiss cheese. So you see, I was told the Faroe Islands are not set up for cycling, and I could have quite easily left it at that. It is true, there is not a cycling culture on the islands, even whilst there I had locals message me their worries about me cycling as “islanders don’t ride bikes here and wont expect you on the road”. But I do always believe there is a way, and I decided, the only way to find out what is possible, is to find out what is possible..

Obligatory kit shot before it all gets packed up

Packed up with my Alpkit custom bike luggage and kit, carrying everything from bike spares and repairs, my tent, my stove and food rations for the next 24 days, off-grid power sources, a change of clothes and a good set of waterproofs, and my adapted ‘bike crutches’, around 45kg later, my handbike and I were set for a Faroe Island adventure that I had no idea what would bring. I had planned my flight in, I had somewhere to stay for my first night on the island where the airport was, but other than that, I was going into the unknown...

Part 2 of Mel's Faroe Islandsadventure coming soon!

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