We are in Kalsoy, one of the eighteen islands (and the westernmost) that make up the Faroe Islands. The island, nicknamed “The Flute”, is mostly known for the Kallur Lighthouse and dramatic and rugged landscapes, and is is long, skinny and wedged in between Kunoy and Eysturoy. Interestingly, “Kalsoy” means man island and “Kunoy” woman island. There are no bridges or underwater tunnels connecting Kalsoy to another island and you can reach it merely by ferry or boat.
The scenery surrounding the simple lighthouse at Kallur is incredible: craggy cliffs clad in layers of green grass spike toward a sky so blue it seems to merge with the sea itself, while cotton-like clouds billow above. On a wet, stormy day, and there are many of those, stray wisps of sunlight come together with the mist to create an occasional rainbow.
The rustic, red and white lighthouse tops the northern tip of the island of Kalsoy and the isolated structure helps guide ships around the cluster of lands that crops up from the Atlantic Ocean to form the Faroe Islands.
To reach this pictoresque spot, visitors must follow an unmarked trail through stretches of beautiful, verdant fields, scattered sheep along the way and stone shelters, all signs they’re on the right path.
Though the island and its signature lighthouse are remote, they’re worth the trek. In addition to offering gorgeous views, the northern parts of Kalsoy are also an important birding area. The cliffs are a breeding place for seabirds like Atlantic puffins, European storm petrels, and black guillemots.
The island of Kalsoy is sparsely populated. Only around 150 people call it home and it has four settlements, Trøllanes, Mikladalur, Húsar, and Syðradalur, all on the east side of the island as the west side of the island is extremely rough and rather inhabitable. A network of roads and tunnels connects the four settlements.
Kalsoy has many legends, the best known of which is the legend of the Selkie or Seal-Woman of Mikladalur.
As story goes, a young farmer from the town of Mikladalur on Kalsoy Island went to the beach to watch the selkies dance. He hid the skin of a beautiful selkie maid, so she could not go back to sea, and forced her to marry him. He kept her skin in a chest and the key with him both day and night. However, one day when out fishing, he discovered that he had forgotten to bring his key. When he returned home, the selkie wife had escaped back to sea, leaving their children behind. Later, when the farmer was out on a hunt, he killed both her selkie husband and two selkie sons, and she promised to take revenge upon the men of Mikladalur. Some shall be drowned, some shall fall from cliffs and slopes, and this shall continue, until so many men have been lost that they will be able to link arms around the whole island of Kalsoy. Occasional deaths still occur in this way on the island.
This revenge has always been taken seriously, not only in Kalsoy, but also in the Faroe Islands generally, and descendants of the Seal-Woman are still known in the country by certain characteristics, especially their short fingers.
Author’s notes: hiking the path to lighthouse can be rough and muddy (and foggy) during most of the year. And this path does not have rails or anything to protect the explorers from the harsh inclines on both sides so go at your own risk. You can reach the island via a ferry from Klaksvik or by helicopter.
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Images from web – Google Research