The Definitive Guide to Reaching the Kallur Lighthouse
The November / December 2007 edition of National Geographic Traveler magazine carried the results of a comprehensive survey of 111 island communities. The purpose of the survey was to find the best islands in the world – where best essentially amounted to being pristine and a high likelihood to remain so in the near future. The Faroe Islands were ranked #1 – ahead of islands such as Azores (Portugal), Lofoten (Norway) and Isle of Skye (Scotland).
It’s this photograph that captured my imagination – and so, when the trip to the Faroe Islands was finally planned many years later, not hiking to this lighthouse was not really an option.
Spoiler alert: in this post I will break down the steps to reach the lighthouse. If you want to wander and experience the adventure of finding a lighthouse (to which there are no signboards), do not read any further. However, before visiting the lighthouse if you are experiencing some trepidation about not being able to find the lighthouse – then read on.
Our day started in Tórshavn. At about 11 a.m. we drove down to the SSL office at the harbor to confirm the return time of the last boat from Kalsoy to Klaksvík. The SSL website indicated that the last scheduled departure was at 10:15 p.m. – but this was ‘available on request’, else the last regular departure was at 6:30 p.m. At the SSL office we put in a request for the 10:15 p.m. ferry.
We then dropped by the ‘Visit Tórshavn’ information center and spoke to staff there about the hike to the lighthouse. We did this because we had read numerous articles online about failed attempts because of the lack of signboards or markers. And there was one blog that went so far as to say that we should inform someone on Kalsoy (that is, if we see anyone) that we were hiking to the lighthouse – just in case we didn’t return. So it didn’t help much when the resident expert at the ‘Visit Tórshavn’ information center also gave us the same piece of advice: “tell someone you’re going there”. But we did get some other useful tips, the most helpful being that we should visit the tourist office in Klaksvík as they would have more granular information around the hike to the lighthouse.
We reached Klaksvík at around 1:30 p.m. Staff at the tourist information center told us that a little earlier others had also inquired about hiking to the lighthouse and that meant that we wouldn’t be alone. This allayed a lot of our fears. We weren’t going to die in the mountains searching for the lighthouse!
Staff at the tourist information center also talked about walking through a ‘red gate’ – and that it’s a walk of an hour or so after crossing the red gate.
We also asked for a recommendation for lunch and they suggested we try Fríða café that was 50 meters down the road. The café was lovely and in the direction of the harbor from where we were to catch the SSL ferry. On the menu, there were options like big breakfast (eggs, bacon, cheese, serrano ham, bread, croissant, yoghurt, fruit, coffee or tea), small breakfast (two kinds of cheese, baked bun and bread), chicken salad, salad with prawns, croissant with halibut and cod salad, croissant with ham and brie, burger with pulled pork, chicken burger, home-baked cake of the day, chocolate croissant et cetera. We requested for our lunch to be packed in a box as we were running out of time to catch the ferry.
We also stopped by a store from where we picked up a ceramic angel for our home. At about eight pounds the purchase didn’t seem like the smartest idea at the time – given that we had many more flights ahead of us to Iceland, Greenland, and Denmark. But in hindsight, it was a good buy. The store, very close to Fríða café, was awash with charming ceramic collectibles and a must visit if you are in Klaksvík. The angel was for 250 DKK which was half or a third of what we would have paid for it in any other town.
We took our rental car on the ferry and were pleased to see at least 15 other people onboard. We reckoned that at least 2 or 3 of the 15 would hike to the lighthouse because the statue of the seal woman and the lighthouse were the only two highlights on the island of Kalsoy.
Tickets were purchased on board the ferry and in 20 minutes at around 3:15 p.m. we reached Syðradali.
First we drove to Mikladalur to see the statue of the seal woman. The legend of the seal woman is one of the most famous folktales in the Faroes.
Legend has it that the seal woman was forcibly married off to a farmer’s son from Mikladalur. However, she yearned to return to her true home – the sea. One fine day whilst her husband was away fishing, she managed to find the key to the trunk in which her seal skin was hidden, slipped into it, and returned to the sea.
Mikladalur is an atmospheric village and even without the seal woman, worthy of a stop for a few minutes.
On to the final destination – Trøllanes. The drive from Syðradali to Trøllanes is about 17 km – with four tunnels en-route. There are no other roads on the island and so you don’t need the GPS – it’s one road that starts from the ferry terminal that ends in Trøllanes.
Trøllanes is a pretty village. There is no store or café here – so you should carry water and whatever other food stuff you need.
As you drive into Trøllanes, you can either drive left, or right. To make sure there is no confusion – right is where most of the houses are and this is where you can park your car. To start the hike to the lighthouse, you walk down the road that was to the left at the T junction. If you walk straight down, you will see a little red gate at some. This is the red gate that staff in the tourist office and other hikers are referring to – it’s to keep sheep on one side of the fence so make sure you close the gate behind you.
After walking through the red gate, step 1 is to climb the hill in front of you. After walking through the red gate, you can either walk straight up the hill or do what we did. After walking through the red gate, turn right and walk straight for 50 meters (i.e. straight on in the direction of the ocean), and then start climbing the hill. This is indicated in the picture below i.e. the walk in the direction of the ocean is the horizontal arrow and then there’s a vertical ascent to get to point B. You do not need to walk around the hill, at some point you need to cross it which means that you will need to make the vertical climb. There are no paths. Lots of rocks, grass, moss. You need to be wearing good shoes else you could go tumbling down and fracture a bone or two. Fortunately for us, it was not raining on the day (in the first week of June) when we did this hike.
So you’ve reached the top of the hill (i.e. point B in the above picture) – and there’s no sight of the lighthouse. Well, you are about 25% there. Step 2 is to keep walking on the stretch in front of you – you do not climb uphill on the left – you walk straight (see the picture below to understand this point). It’s a little bit of an incline.
Once you have walked for about 500 meters and you reach the end of the stretch, you think the lighthouse will appear in front of you. It doesn’t. If you see a sheep shelter (see the above photograph), you’re on the right track. Soldier on, walking straight for another 500 meters. When you complete this stretch, and look up to your left, you will see the lighthouse.
On this particular day, there was a young man painting the Kallur Lighthouse.
From the Kallur Lighthouse, you will see two sea stacks Risin og Kellingin. There is an interesting old legend about the origin of these sea stacks.