April 2019 • Canon 80D camera
Distance (round trip)
Duration (round trip)
An exciting evening was ahead of us. We were going to hike to the tip of west-end of Mykines island to watch the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean. It is also where the Lighthouse for the island stands. As an added bonus, there was a possibility that we could also see some Atlantic Puffins by the coastal cliffs, as the Puffin season on the island had started.
There are two ways that you can arrive on Mykines. One is by ferry, the other is by Helicopter. We chose to fly and caught the scheduled helicopter from Atlantic Airways at Vágar airport in the morning. The flight time was around 20 minutes and you can get some great views of Mykines as you approach. It was rather foggy when we came in the morning, so we did not see much.
Oda, our local guide, would be leading us on this hiking expedition. The forecast for this evening was clear skies which would mean we could hike at a leisurely pace and capture some great photos. It was around 6pm when we set off.
The hiking route was straight forward with a steep gradient at the start. The sky was nice and blue, but very windy, which is expected when you are by the coast. Looking back as we walked up you get a nice view of Mykines village, with the different coloured houses against the backdrop of the coastal cliffs.
At the top of the steep section you could see the unusual shape of this part of the island. In the distance a small vertical line can be seen... the Lighthouse awaits! I did not realise that there was such a noticeably slope towards the left of us going down to the sea. On the right was a straight drop down to the ocean on the other side. For me, it made the hike more exciting now that the landscape was more unusual.
The sun was now slowly setting towards the direction we were heading, west to the Lighthouse. Sheep roamed freely around the place as we hiked gently. Despite the blue skies and sun shining down on us, it was bitterly cold with the wind blowing against us. We past by a big stone memorial where Oda explained to us that is was for people who had died at sea or have fallen off the mountain cliffs.
We now trekked downwards admiring the coastal views from behind. The wind was in full force as we were nearer to the edge of the coast.
The path was easy to follow, winding down as we faintly heard the ocean waves against the howling wind.
The Faroe Islands are an archipelago of 18 islands located in the Atlantic Ocean north of the Scotland, south–east of Iceland and west of Norway. The name Føroyar (Faroe Islands) is derived from old Norse and means Sheep Islands, a name given by the Viking age settlers arriving from Norway in the 9th Century.
A deep cleft separates the island itself. A narrow footbridge connects the main part of the island to the small islet over the Atlantic Ocean. The Lighthouse is situated on the western end of islet, Mykineshólmur. The 40 metre footbridge was sturdy and gave you a good glimpse of the cleft with the Gannet colony.
Large Gannets were flying around as the waves crashed against the base of the cleft. Mykineshólmur and the Mykines island itself has been identified as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) by BirdLife International. It is an Internationally important seabird colony with over 250,000 pairs of breeding seabirds.
The sun was low on the horizon and a gorgeous orange glow filled the sky as we approached the Lighthouse. A last steep hike was all the stood in the way of our goal. I could not wait to see what was at the top... and boy did it not disappoint. Behind us Mykines island was laid out in all its glory showing the unique slanting formation of the island. We were lucky to have such a wonderful clear skies to see the island as normally it can get very foggy.
You could not go inside the Lighthouse itself, but it provided a good focal point to take some photographs. To the front of us was a sunset I had never experienced before. The sun was low on the horizon above the Atlantic Ocean. The golden reflections on the ocean begged to be looked at. After taking a few photos, I sat down at the tip of the islet and watched the sun for a bit. It was a moment of calm and tranquillity for me.
We had to return before nightfall, otherwise we would have the arduous journeyy of hiking back in the dark. as we slowly descended, Oda spotted some Puffins on the cliff face. With my trusty 70–200mm lense I was able to get close up shots of the Puffins. Atlanitc puffins most notably breed on Mykines and is the best chance to see Puffins when visiting the Faroe Islands. Unfortuantly the Atlantic Pufffin (Fratercula artica) are currently classified as Vulnerable (VU) by IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Atlantic Puffin
From here on it was a gentle hike back down to the village. We briefly stopped to watch the sun go down behind the clouds creating a wonderful orange glow in the sky. We were all silent, having a zen moment contemplating on life before making our way down.
This hike has to go down as one of my most memorable hikes in all my travels. We were blessed to have perfect weather, with glorious clear skies which allowed us to witness the amazing sun setting over the ocean. The icing on the cake was to see some puffins. I would say this hike is a must if you visit the Faroe Islands. It is a moderate hike so it is accessible even to people who don't usually hike. Please bear in mind that the weather can get very foggy and unpredictable so come prepared with layers to strip on and off. A wind proof jacket will help protect against the chill of the wind and light gloves to keep warm.
If you plan take photos of the birds on the island cliffs then you will need your telephoto lens. In regards to transportation, be aware that due to bad weather the ferry or helicopter service might not run to Mykines on that day. If you choose to go by helicopter then you will have to stay on Mykines overnight as you are not allowed to do same day round trips. One last thing to remember is that there is only 12 seats on the helicopter so you need to book in advance. Photos with me provided by: Chris Eyre Walker | Ashley Joanna
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