Eysturoy is the second largest island in the Faroese archipelago by area and population. Its name means island of the east.
Fewer people live on the entire island than in the Faroese capital – slightly more than 10,000 people. This can be influenced, among other things, by the terrain, which is dominated by numerous hills (there are 66 peaks here!), including the highest peak in the Faroe Islands – Slættaratindur. The island can be reached by bridge (from Streymoy), tunnel (toll from Borðoy), ferry or helicopter.
The northern part of Eysturoy, in simple terms, is: Eiði, Gjógv, Risin og Kellingin and Slættaratindur. Farer names don’t tell you anything? Eiði and Gjógv, are two villages whose translations of their names reflect their location, viz: Isthmus and Water-Filled Gorge. However, it sounds better in Faroese, doesn’t it? ;-) Risin og Kellingin are two rocks off the coast of the island, and Slættaratindur is the highest peak in the Faroe Islands.
However, let’s start one step at a time…
Table of contents
The Legend of the Giant and the Witch
In the entry about Streymoy Island, we wrote a few sentences about the village of Tjørnuvík, from which you can see the two spires Risin and Kellingin (Giant and Witch), with which there is a legend. The time has just come to cite this legend.
Once upon a time, the Icelanders decided to appropriate the Faroe Islands, and to do so they sent the aforementioned Giant and Witch. They reached the shore of the island of Eysturoy and unsuccessfully tried to cast a rope with which to draw the islands in the direction of Iceland (according to some versions, they tried to catch the mountain with the rope, and according to others, the entire archipelago).
Fortunately or unfortunately, the rocks were so solid that they were unable to move them. In their attempts and efforts they lost track of time and before they knew it the sun began to enter, and as is well known, the sun’s rays turn giants and witches into stones ;-) And such was the fate of our heroes, and the two spires sticking out of the water represent them.
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Our imagination was working at full speed, but we were unable to see any resemblance between the rocks and the aforementioned creatures. Nevertheless, closer to the shore, on two legs stands the Witch (68 meters high), and behind her is a wider rock that symbolizes the Giant (71 meters). According to forecasts, the Witch won’t stay that way for much longer so it’s worth hurrying to see the “living” legend ;)
From Eiði to Gjógv
The village that is closest to the heroes of the legend is Eiði, or Isthmus. The village is located on just such a flat, narrow isthmus. Looking at Eiði from Streymoy Island, one gets the impression that it is an area at risk of flooding during a major storm.
Eiði and the pitch in the rock
In the northern part of Eiði is the rock-cut soccer field, Mølini, which owes its popularity to its unusual location between the Norwegian Sea on one side and Lake Niðara Vatn on the other.
And yes, the stadium is sometimes flooded, and during the match a man on a boat is on duty to pass balls that have fallen off the field. It’s just a shame that the stands are so small, because it must be fun to watch a game in such an environment! That’s the kind of games I could watch!
Slættaratindur, the highest peak in the Faroe Islands
Driving from Eiði to Gjógv, one passes Slættaratindur, the highest peak in the Faroe Islands (882 meters), on the left. There is a trail leading to the mountain itself, but this time we located its beginning without error. Flawlessly, because it was one of the few places where more than two cars stop. We had read beforehand about the wonderful, spectacular, fabulous views from the summit so we decided to try our luck and parked the car for an extended period in a makeshift parking lot.
The first stairs, or more accurately, a ladder, appeared at the beginning – to get to the trail you have to climb a ladder over a fence. If we were two we would have jumped without a problem, but nevertheless, a toddler in a carrier obliges you to pay more attention to safety. Once we were on the other side we set off in the footsteps of other tourists. Unfortunately, there weren’t many of them, or more accurately, we passed maybe 3 families and that was it. We let go of looking for a trail, and only tried to walk on the side that is less slippery and more trodden.
Despite our eagerness and willingness, luck decided to turn on us and the end fog and rain made us give up on the hike. There was no point in climbing further when the summit was shrouded in clouds and visibility was minimal.
Nevertheless, even from a low altitude, Lake Eiðisvatn – enlarged for the Eiði power plant – was visible. From one perspective, the lake appears to be at Ocean level, separated only by a low embankment.
One of the nicest villages and most popular among visitors to the archipelago is Gjógv. It is the northernmost village on the island of Eysturoy, with a population of about 30 people [source]. This number may come as a surprise, as the village seems much larger and the number of houses indicates a larger population.
There are a lot of people walking around Gjógv, but they are mostly tourists. A popular Guesthouse with a restaurant is located here. There is also one sole cafe, at the main attraction, although it was closed despite the peak season. If it weren’t for the tourists, one might think that this is one of those towns that is slowly becoming depopulated.
So what makes the “crowds” draw here (remember, we are still in the Faroe Islands, where by crowd is defined the number of about 20 people ;) )? The name of the village is “Water-Filled Gorge” ;-) and it is this gorge that acts as a magnet.
The cleft provides a natural harbor, with stairs leading down to the water level. Residents can moor boats and cutters here, as the gorge provides natural protection for them, and the sea is calmer. Next to the stairs are rails on which boats can be pulled out in case they need to be repaired or in worse weather conditions.
The walls of the gorge are frequented by numerous seabirds, so it’s an excellent spot to observe, among others. maskonurs(puffins!), of which there are indeed many here. From Gjógv a trail leads north along the cliffs.
In the village we were captivated by miniature houses like those for elves, a playground and children’s pontoons made from barrels. It’s just a shame that no one uses these attractions, and the city gives the impression of a ghost town. All that was missing was a gust of wind to set the creaking swings in motion….
Road to Elduvík
From Gjógv we headed toward the village of Elduvík, a small town of about a dozen people whose name means Bay of Fire. The road runs along the fjord, and the views are enhanced by gentle, layered hills, covered with grass, illuminated by the sun’s rays piercing through the clouds, numerous waterfalls and glacial circuses.
Just before the village of Elduvík there is a promontory, and the road turns right. This is also where one of the most interesting viewpoints is located, so it’s worth stopping for a while rather than just admiring nature from behind the car windows. There are benches and tables here, so you can relax for a while and enjoy the surrounding landscape. And there is plenty to see.
From here you can see the route we took along the hills in the northern part of Eysturoy. Between the two mountains, one of the smaller villages, Funnings Kommuna, can be seen in the valley. The red, white, celadon and black facades and roofs contrast sharply with the surrounding greenery.
On the other side you can see another island – Kalsoy, again full of hills with distinctive lines in the rocks – the effects of the so-called linear eruptions proceeding in succession with long intervals.
The place was phenomenal for us. Probably a big part of it was the aura, because we hit the nice weather, the sun illuminated the green slopes, and on top of that it was exceptionally not windy. We were able to sit quietly, drink warm tea and just listen to the silence.
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South of the island
Initially, we did not plan to go to the south of Eysturoy at all. We saw the places described above in one day, while we were on the island several times, mostly in transit. One day when we were returning from the northern islands, we decided to go south because there was a chance of nice weather without rain. It was pouring almost everywhere that day so we were longing for sunshine.
We drove towards the village of Runavík and then to Æðuvík. Just past the village of Runavík, Lake Toftavatn appeared before our eyes. Nestled among the hills, this lake is famous for the many species of birds that can be observed here, as well as the heathlands.
It is also famous for its legend, according to which the lake is home to an elf, Nykin, who emerged in the form of a handsome man or horse and thus attracted young girls and children. Anyone who touched him was caught and dragged into the lake.
The lake can be circumnavigated by car, but we detoured to the southernmost village of Æðuvík. When we reached it we immediately turned back, because there is nothing interesting on the site. Nevertheless, the road to this settlement was the typical road we wanted to see in the Faroe Islands – narrow, long, winding with additional obstacles in the form of our favorite hairy animals ;)
Anyway, see for yourself:
It might seem that Eysturoy at first glance is very similar to Streymoy and we won’t see anything new here. Fortunately, it only seems that way :)
Images of the island are constantly before our eyes: mountainous terrain, small settlements in bays and valleys, beautiful views and unpredictable weather. Fact, there are similar images on other islands as well, but there are such distinctive places as a flooded stadium, a gorge that is a harbor, the highest peak or places shrouded in legends.
Anyway, when you fly to the Faroe Islands it’s not to miss the second largest island :)
Please also visit the gallery, where you will find many more photos: