Faroe Islands - Off the beaten track
You can explore most of Fugloy ('Bird Island') in a day trip. This will include walks up to the 450m (1470ft) cliffs at Eystfelli and the 620m (2030ft) cliffs at Klubbin. Both sets of cliffs are breathtaking, and swarm with nesting birds. The cliffs at Klubbin descend from a plateau-like ridge, which is high enough to be covered with tundra tussocks and boreal vegetation rather than just grass. On the north-eastern tip of the island at Eystfelli, a broad, natural amphitheatre sweeps upward seemingly toward oblivion. Near the lighthouse there's a natural stone arch in the rock, and not far from that, (with a little imagination) the profile of an Egyptian Pharoah, apparently the only one to have made it to the Faroes.
Kalsoy is possibly the most rugged of any of the Faroes, and the hiking is excellent. The western coast consists only of steep cliffs, and there are four small settlements on the eastern slopes: Syðradalur, Húsar, Mikladalur and Trøllanes, with a combined population of around 130. The villages are connected by a series of tunnels, and because so many holes have been carved through it the island is whimsically known as 'the flute'.
You can climb up the 740m (2440ft) Botnstindur from Syðradalur, and you can also walk from the ferry landings at Syðradalur or Húsar to Trøllanes, admittedly through unlit tunnels. Walking through the cold, damp darkness in the heart of a mountain is an eerie experience - bring a flashlight. Another excellent walk from Trøllanes goes to the Kallur Lighthouse on the northern tip of the island. On the cape you have a good chance of seeing puffins, and a natural sea arch under the northern tip of the island gives great views of cliffs and a deep blue cove sheltering in the rocks below. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Risin og Kellingin sea stacks at the northern end of Eysturoy.
Klaksvík is the largest town on Borðoy, the biggest of the sparsely populated and beautiful north-eastern islands. The town has 4500 inhabitants, and its harbour is full of the most high tech fishing vessels you'll see anywhere - around 13% of the Faroes' fishing exports come from Klaksvík. The Christianskirkja is worth a visit. It was designed with various elements of Faroese life in mind, and the roof gables are reminiscent of early Viking halls. The stone walls are intended to call to mind those of the Magnus Cathedral in Kirkjubøur, and the design of the gable windows was inspired by those of Faroese boathouses. It was built around the altarpiece, entitled The Great Supper, an impressive work originally painted as a fresco for a church in Denmark by Danish artist Joakim Skovgård.
Sandoy is the least rugged of the Faroes, but it boasts the country's only sand dunes and they make great hiking, especially around the west coast and in the roadless north-east. On the pass above the town of Skopun are two beautiful lakes, Norðara Hálsavatn and Heimara Hálsavatn, both popular with trout anglers. You can do a wonderful trek west from Skopun to the Cliffs of Djúpaberg. A longer and rougher walk takes you along the cliffs of the south coast to Søltuvik and on to Sandurb, a village sitting on a small peninsula between two lakes, Sandsvatn and Gróthúsvatn, and two bays, Sandsvágur and Grótvik. At the head of Sandsvágur, between the village and the mountain, is an area of sand dunes and a beach of black basalt sands. The Sandur Church has a fascinating history, and the site has been used as a parish centre since the 11th century. Archaeological remains show that at least six consecutive churches have existed on the site since.
The 'Troll Woman's Finger', or Trøllkonufingur, is a much-photographed sea stack north of the tiny settlement of Skarvanes. There's no public transport to the rock, but it's an easy 4km (2.5mi) hike north of the tiny settlement of Skarvanes. Skálavík is known as the home town of the Faroes' most renowned writer, Heðin Brú. It's also the start of a scenic walk over the mountain Heiðafjall to Húsavík, one of the Faroes' most charming villages. It was settled very early in Faroese history, but never really gained importance after the Plague decimated its population in the 14th century. It has a lovely, dark sandy beach, and just north of town are the ruins of a 14th-century longhouse.