The Faroe Islands are just a short flight from the UK, yet they’re a long way off the standard traveller’s radar. Adrift in the swells of the N Atlantic, this mysterious bunch of islands is ancient, yet very modern. Multicoloured cottages and grass-roofed wooden churches add focus to the grandly stark, treeless moorlands. Networks of marked footpaths crisscross craggy layer-cake mountains and even the tiniest once-inaccessible hamlets are now linked by a remarkable series of road-tunnels. You travel around the dramatic fjords on an old wooden sloop and your mobile phone is never likely to lose its signal.
The Faroe Islands are a paradise for fell-walkers and ornithologists who accept the unpredictable climate. Pastures gleam with the greener-than-green landscape with peeping puffins, dive-bombing skuas and wheeling fulmars who glide over dizzying chasms. Wave-battered headlands end in plunging cliffs that are as breathtaking as the wild winds that threaten to blow unwary hikers off them. Streymoy is the biggest island of the group, and home to the capital Tórshavn, as well as dramatic scenery galore and the unmissable bird cliffs of Vestmanna. While the S Islands aren't as dramatic in terms of landscape, islands like Suðuroy and Skúvoy are appealingly low on tourists and high on friendliness.
The proud, stoical Faroese character has been forged from Viking blood, Christian piety, Scandinavian openness and an awe for the humbling nature that’s all around. Few communities this small are so alive with art and the Faroes’ incredibly vibrant music scene is nothing short of astonishing.