The Faroe Islands is, however, self-governing, with its own Parliament and flag. The first Faroese flag was designed in 1919 by Jens Oliver Linsberg, who came from the village of Fámjin, situated on the west coast of Suðuroy, affording spectacular sunset vistas. Linsberg’s original flag now hangs in the church in Fámjin.
It is possible to visit Fámjin on one of several walks* on Suðuroy. Set off from the only working coalmine in the Faroe Islands at Trongisvágur, where coal is excavated by hand using a pick and shovel, follow the ancient path around Oyrnafjall and pass the serene lake of Kirkjuvatn, nestled in the mountains above Fámjin before finishing the walk at the church to see Linsberg’s flag.
At the southern end of Suðuroy go walking in scenic Sumba and explore Blæing, identified by piles of boulders, rocks and stones scattered across the ground. Here, find Kasparshola (Kasper’s Hollow) named after a man called Kaspar who lived in Sumba in the 18th century. Kaspar and his brother were caught stealing sheep and thrown into prison in the Faroes’ capital Tórshavn and sentenced to death. The brothers escaped prison and fled to Blæing; they hid in a nook in the rocks for several months but were eventually caught and imprisoned in Denmark.
In addition to walks on Suðuroy, try a variation of rapelling (‘síging’)
For a more bucolic experience on Suðuroy spend a day with the sheep farmer Arnfríð Vestergaard Hentze as he goes about his daily tasks – herding his flock of sheep, shearing them and making hay.
Many of the sheep that belong to the people of Suðuroy reside on the otherwise uninhabited island of Lítla Dímun. The land on this tiny precipitous rock, off the coast of Suðuroy, is owned by around 40 farmers who live in Hvalba and another town called Sandvik. Farmers visit Lítla Dímun by boat a few times a year. It is now possible for tourists to join a handful of annual excursions to Lítla Dímun, one of which takes place on Midsummer’s Night in June (weather permitting), when people stay up all night in 24-hour daylight.
Also in June is the regional summer festival, Jóansøkan - the towns of Vágur and Tvøroyri alternate as host. Rowing, the national sport of the Faroe Islands, is a major attraction; races are held for adults and children to compete in traditional Faroese rowboats that hold six people plus the cox. Other components of Jóansøkan include art exhibitions, concerts and dancing. This year, the festival takes place from 22-24 June 2012.
Access: From this year, direct flights to Vágar, Faroe Islands, will operate to/from Gatwick on Mondays and Thursdays from 31 May to 17 September 2012. For further information about flights, please go to: www.atlantic.fo
*Walks on Suðuroy are arranged in advance and vary from easy through to difficult. Walks are generally around three hours long and the maximum number of walkers in a group is 20. Coach excursions can also be arranged.
For further information:
ENDS / 4 April 2012
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