Clarity in the Faroe Islands

Tucked between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic Ocean is the self governing archipelago of the Faroe Islands. Connected by road tunnels, ferries, causeways and bridges this tightly spaced group of 18 volcanic islands is a visual wonder with steep cliffs, hiking trails, waterfalls, and rocky coastlines in abundance. One of the most remote locations I can imagine, it was the perfect place to put my new prescription glasses through their paces.

The Faroe Islands are wild.

With our tent, sleeping bags and Swiss Army knife ready, we stepped off the plane straight into some hellish weather. While the rest of the UK was bathing in glorious sunshine and record temperatures, our idea of a holiday was looking as bleak as the surrounding landscape. Camping in our tent I soon found out that my air bed had a hole in it, and by day three after eating nothing but fish paste sandwiches I was inches from putting an end to it, flying home early and booking a warmer holiday in the mediterranean.

The scenery in the Faroe Islands is undoubtedly beautiful, we just couldn’t see it at first through the pounding rain and dense fog. When chatting to some of the locals we found out that here are actually 26 different names for mist and fog in the Faroes. Each of the small islands have different weather patterns depending on the wind direction, whilst you can easily easily experience four seasons in a day there is often more friendly options available. Whilst sheltering from the storms in our tent on one island, just one sub sea tunnel away there were sun drenched valleys and cliffs to be discovered.

Exploring the quirky small towns nestled between luminous green pastures and grey basalt mountains, we soon got into the rhythm of life in the Faroe Islands. The landscape can be harsh and unforgiving but the people are fiercely proud and very friendly, they also make a great cup of coffee. We didn’t always find much in the recommended tourist spots, but a quick chat with the locals and a bit of exploring would uncover some real gems rivalling some of the most scenic spots in the world. The photos I took only begin to capture the beauty of this place.

One of the things that amazed me about the Faroese people is the way they make do and mend, which you might expect from a remote community making the most of its resources. Perhaps more unexpectedly – the houses are modern and an interior designer’s dream. With beautiful spaces, created out of local materials and filled with modern furniture, there are plenty of inspiring places to stay. My favourite design find was the Victorinox cutlery, which in itself is not especially luxurious, but beautifully ergonomic, something nice to think about when you buy the wrong ingredents and end up eating fermented air dried fish.

One local we met took us off the beaten track through fields and along sheer cliff edges to experience a viewpoint he said only a handful of other people have witnessed. We saw towering cliffs so high they generate their own clouds, huge gullies and terrifying overhangs. It’s hard to get a sense of scale here, but the plentiful sea birds peppering the cliffs help, tiny pin pricks of white against the foreboding drops. One of the Faroe delicacies here is bird eggs, traditionally reached by climbing over the edge of the cliffs on old ship ropes and dangling several hundred feet in the air with a bucket. I’m not afraid of heights but looking over the precipice, the thought of this made my stomach turn.

I feel very lucky to have fully experienced the Faroe Islands. With only twenty thousand visitors per year you can be sure you will have plenty of quiet space to appreciate the beautiful scenery. It’s a photographers paradise. At any time in almost any direction you will witness some of the most spectacular compositions with moody skies, green hills and deep black fjords.

There’s a reason the new Bird Sunglasses range is called Clarity – on my island adventures everything I saw was crystal clear through the CR39 high spec lens. Perhaps it’s my old scratched glasses or the fact that I spend far too much time cross-eyed perched in front of a screen, either way it’s good to be able to see clearly, something we often take for granted. My choice of frames were the Athene & Strix.

Lawrence Bird
(Designer, Bird Sunglasses)