Day 11 |
Jun 09, 2012

Mykines, Faroe Islands 

By Toby Musgrave, Botanist

Co-ordinates: N 62º 05.6’, W 07º 39.4'
Weather: Cloudy with scattered showers, occasional sunny spells Air Temperature: 10ºC Pressure: 1012 hPa Wind: 20 knots

This morning began early with the Expedition Team on stand-by at 06.15 ready and eager to scout our morning’s activities at the spectacular Mykines Island to the west of the Faroe archipelago. The options, as Robin had explained at last night’s Briefing, were a short walk or a long walk on the island, or a Zodiac cruise along the base of the spectacular cliffs.

The landing was onto a small jetty tucked at the base of a set of steps followed by a long, steep slope up to the small community of Mykines. This remote cluster of picturesque houses has a permanent population of 10 rising to a crowded 38 in the summer time. The major source of employment is the sheep grazing on the verdant slopes.

Stefan and Luqui went off the recce the walk, striding out to the bridge that joins the two islets returning to say that the long walk to the lighthouse at the tip of the island was a ‘survival of the fittest’ four-hour round trip with a couple of steep up-and-down sections.

The long-walkers disembarked first at 08:00 and the brave 20-or-so set off led by Stefan. The short walk involved a stroll around the village with Chris on hand with his scope to peer at birds. I took six guests in a Mark V. Zodiacs and set off on an hour-and-a-half cruise.

From the ship we set off north along the cliff base enjoying the nesting Kittiwakes and Guillemots, their nets perched so precariously on the tiniest rock ledges rising high above us on the towering basalt cliffs. We also enjoyed the rafts of Puffins bobbing and feeding out on the sea surface. As we approached they amused us with their flapping antics as they tried to get air born and then again when they so often crash-landed in to the water once again.

Along these cliffs we also found a number of sea caves into which we ventured, and on one occasion came across a blow hole, the tide being just right to force water through a small exit hole in a ‘woosh’ and a jet of spray. We concluded our travels north with a drive through a particularly large cave that separated two bays.

A quick zip back across the bay and we began our southwards sojourn, first passing under the bridge and waving up at the walkers crossing above us. Onwards to another large cave of sufficient size to accommodate two Zodiacs before reaching the headland with the lighthouse far above us. Here on the cliffs and on a rock stack rising out of the sea were two halves of the only colony of Gannets on the whole Faroe archipelago. Many were on the rocks and equally many were circling in the air above, often gliding in close for a closer look at us.

Now we rode the rapids between the mainland and a rocky outcrop through which the current was ripping and made for a fun ride. Out the back were two more outcrops which were home to about 40 or so common seals, both ‘hauled out’ on the rocks and bobbing in the water, their heads popping up to peer at us inquisitively.

Back on board at 12.30 after a second cruise, I enjoyed a much-needed lunch of burgers and French fries - delicious. During lunch another expedition cruise ship, Clipper Odyssey came past and anchored.

The afternoon was spent at sea en route for Iceland and we were treated to fascinating lectures by both Kara (on the subject of whales) and Hans Peter (on the subject of biodiversity). Then it was time for the Euro 2012 game between Holland and Denmark and while Jarda was gutted by the result, I was proud of my adopted homeland for their doughty effort and well-deserved 1-0 win.