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The Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands September 17th – 24th.

I had been wanting to go to the Faroe Islands for a very long time and I finally decided that this was the year, and I knew it wasn’t going to disappoint. I had seen numerous images of the mist clad mountains, the wild elements, the striking Jurassic cliffs which rise straight up at a staggering height from the sea, a place of inspiration and adventure and so I was very keen to see it for myself! I had booked the trip for my partner’s 30th Birthday as a way to enjoy an experience together and of course as an excuse to finally go!

I had made a plan before going as we only had a week in the Faroe Islands (I’ll be back for longer next time) this meant that we were able to cover most of the Islands and see a lot of the landscapes that we so desperately wanted to see. We also stayed in 5 different places over the course of the 8 nights we were there. I know that sounds quite excessive but I have to admit; I got a bit carried away when looking up places to stay for the trip and I knew that I wanted to cover most of the Islands over that period. Plus, there was so many incredible unique properties to stay in so I knew that I wanted to make the most of it!

I also want to pre-warn you: this blog comes with many many images. I took possibly thousands of images when I was in the Faroe Islands as the dramatic landscape inspired me so much and the light constantly changed illuminating new parts of the ancient land! And so you can understand why it’s taken me a little while to get this blog out; selecting the images was very hard but I hope it gets across just how atmospheric and spectacular these Islands really are!

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Day 1: We flew into Vagar airport on the 17th of September, hiring a car and setting off straight away to explore the Island of Vágar and make the most of the day. We made it to the incredible village of Gasadalur, wandered round the town and took in the sights of the well known Múlafossur Waterfall which was even more dramatic and inspiring in real life. Having only just arrived in the Faroe Islands, it was clear to see just how wild and elemental the Islands were, perfect for me and my artwork of course and perfect for us to do lot’s of hiking!

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Our first night’s accommodation was at the very special Utsynid which translates to the View in English. This really set the bar high for the rest of our trip as it was right next to the picturesque village of Bøur overlooking some very impressive sea stacks right out to sea. The accommodation is designed to look like the old traditional Faroese buildings nestled into the landscape yet with very modern and luxurious touches inside. We had everything we needed in the space and the huge window at the front overlooking the water was the perfect touch.

Here are the links to the accommodation on Facebook and Airbnb so you can find it for yourselves! Here’s also a few images of the property so you can see how wonderful it really is and what a great spot it is overlooking the sea! (Click on the images to enlarge!)

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Day 2 & 3: We awoke early with views from the house overlooking the impressive fjord and the stacks of Drangarnir and Tindhólmur. It was then time to explore the neighbouring village of Bøur with it’s untouched buildings and quite seclusion. We then ventured away from Vagar and drove the winding breathtaking roads towards Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands.

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We didn’t have long to wander around the town before it was time to board a boat that would take us to the Southernmost Island in the Faroe Islands: Suðuroy. When planning the trip to the Faroe’s I made it a priority to venture to some of the furthest away Islands, making the effort to see places far off from the capital. We arrived in Suðuroy after a 2hr boat journey passing the Island of Sandoy and some smaller uninhabited rocky outcrops rising dramatically up from the sea. The mist lay heavy on our journey but it just made the sailing even more dramatic and mysterious.

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We arrived on the Island of Suðuroy on a calm foggy day, the town of Tvøroyri stretched out in front of us. There wasn’t a lot of light left in the day so when we arrived on the Island we decided to drive straight to the North to discover some of the more remote areas for ourselves. This was one of my favourite places on Suduroy, the impressive beach right next to the village of Sandvik in the North.

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It was then time to find our accommodation which was located just outside the town of Trongisvágur. The unique place is called Hilmarsstova which reminded me of a hobbit house built straight into the landscape. This was a favourite for me because of it’s homely charm nestled straight into the hillside so there was the ultimate shelter, the turf roof, the cosy wood interior and the breathtaking views down the fjord out to the sea. We stayed here for 2 nights on Suðuroy and I’m sure you can agree with me that the place itself is something you don’t see very often! (Click on the images to enlarge!)

To find out more about this property please find Hilmarsstova over on Airbnb.

The rest of our time on Suðuroy was spent driving around the Island (it’s pretty big and the hiking trails are quite spread out) and discovering for ourselves some of the inspiring massive landscapes that were there. Here’s a few images from this special place!

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Day 4: After a whirlwind two days of exploring Suduroy, it was time to get back on the boat and sail to Tórshavn. When we arrived back we spent a while wandering around the old town and taking in the sites of the scenic capital which felt more like a small town with it’s charm and independent shops. Our next stop on the journey was to head north of the peninsula up to the popular otherworldly spot of Saksun. Splendidly set in a natural circular amphitheatre high above a tidal lagoon, Saksun is a wonderfully remote hillside village and is one of the most worthwhile destinations in the country. Known for its tranquil atmosphere, the tiny village of 14 inhabitants offers amazing views of the surrounding mountains. The village includes a church, built in 1858, and Dúvugarðar, an active sheep farm which also functions as a museum. It was also the perfect place to stop for the night and luckily enough I had found another idyllic property in possibly one of the best spots in the Faroe Islands.

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A tiny converted cabin overlooking the most breathtaking view of Saksun. When we got back to our cabin for the night, the sun was just setting and it lit up the whole inlet, we couldn’t have asked for a better evening to stay there. It had everything we could possibly have needed, fully equipped, a log burner with plenty of firewood, a cosy nook to rest our heads for the evening and the most impressive views out to the surrounding hills. You can find the lovely property on their Airbnb.

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Day 5: We awoke in the beautiful village of Saksun and decided to make the most of being in the area so drove further up the peninsula to the equally incredible village of Tjørnuvík. Tjørnuvík is the northernmost village on the Faroese island of Streymoy. It sits right in the inlet with the full charge of the sea and impressive waves thundering straight into the fjord. This is the view from the village looking out to the notorious sea stacks which are known as the giant and the witch. Old Faroese folklore has is that these two were about to drag the Faroe Islands back to Iceland one night but then the sun appeared and turned them both into stone! I absolutely loved hearing the folklore stories so integral to the landscape and culture in the Islands, there are so many more tales that you can find out about online!

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We spent the rest of the day driving around the Island and stopping for walks whilst taking in the views. We ventured further onto the neighbouring island of Eysturoy which is home to 66 mountainous peaks and is extremely rugged. There was plenty places for us to stop and admire the views, to be honest I couldn’t drive for more than 5 minutes without wanting to pull over again and again! The light and elements are constantly changing in the Faroe Islands and it seems like every corner you turn there is a new shocking view ready to surprise you!

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A favourite spot for me on Eysturoy was the northern village of Gjogv where we spent a great deal of time. Gjogv is named after a 200 metre long sea-filled gorge runs from the village into the ocean. Nominated by the Nordic Council for the Nature & Environmental Award in 2014, this beautiful quiet and well-preserved village is idyllically located, closed in by mountains to all sides. With less than 50 inhabitants, all living in old timber-walled and turf-roofed cottages, Gjógv has an abundance of charm and appeal. There was also plenty of hiking and walking routes that went straight from the town so it was the ideal location, we just wish we had a bit longer there!

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After a huge day of massive landscapes and Jurassic cliffs it was time to go to the town of Strendur in the southern part of Eysturoy where we were to be staying in a modern luxury converted boathouse right on the water!

Now this place was also pretty special. I feel like I’ve said this about every place we stayed on this trip but what I enjoyed about all of the unique accommodation was that each one was different and homely in it’s own way. The boathouse in Strendur was the perfect spot for us to explore the Isles in the North and also to be able to do more hiking on Eysturoy. The boathouse had everything we possibly could have needed, a very luxurious modern well designed space with views out to the sea and a homely charm. If you would like to book to stay here please find their listing on Airbnb. Here’s a few images to show the boathouse in it’s full glory!

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Day 6: We set off early to visit some of the Faroe Islands Northern Isles. We visited the smaller but no less dramatic Islands of Vidoy, Bordoy and Kunoy. Each Island differed slightly from the next one and the views were spectacular looking out to the even smaller Islands of Svinoy and Fugloy. I’m just going to let the images do the talking for these Islands as I’m still processing the majesty and drama of them! My advice though is to definitely make time to visit these Islands in the North when travelling in the Faroes. They are a lot quieter, are home to a very small amount of people who are very welcoming whilst being varied in their landscape and geology. We then hopped on a small boat over to the equally impressive Island of Kalsoy which is situated to the northeast in the archipelago of the Faroe Islands between Eysturoy and Kunoy. It has a total surface of 30.6 km², with a total of 76 inhabitants in 2016. It is the island of the archipelago that boasts the greatest length / width ratio and it was also the most dramatic Island for me. There is also four tunnels on the Island that go straight through all of the mountains, very impressive! We made our way through all four tunnels to reach the destination of Trøllanes, a village of only 20 people in the North of the Island to hike out to Kalsoy Lighthouse, possibly my most favourite hike of the trip! I struggled to get many photos on the hike as the weather turned very stormy and wet whilst walking atop quite steep cliffs so I’ll leave it to your imagination as to how dramatic the hike was!

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Day 7: Our final full day and that meant only one thing: climbing up the highest mountain in the Faroe Islands! We made the most of being in the North of the Islands and also took advantage of the incredible weather (clear blues skies with the first dusting of snow on the mountain tops!) We set off early to climb up Slættaratindur which reaches an altitude of 880 meters; It is located in the northern part of the Eysturoy district, between the villages of Eiði, Gjógv, and Funningur. I was so excited to see the Islands from above and take in all of the surrounding peaks and the views definitely didn’t disappoint. It’s a relatively easy climb up from the parking area with a very well marked path all the way to the cairn at the top, we were even greeted with plenty of fresh snow at the top, we were told by the locals that this was the first snow of the season! 

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb2 presetOn our final evening in the Faroe Islands we made it back to Vagar to be closer to the airport and to also stay in the beautiful tranquil accommodation at Sandavágur. The house was built in 2010 with an old traditional Faroese style; stone and wood with a turf roof situated on a hillside. A very quiet place with only sheep, birds and green grass as far as the eye can see. It was the perfect spot for our final night and to reflect on a whirlwind of a trip covering much of the Faroe Islands. You can find the accommodation listed here on their Airbnb.

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I’m going to leave you with my favourite images from the Faroe Islands and urge you to go if you ever get a chance. My trip was only for a week and when I go again I’m definitely going to plan to stay for longer and stretch out the trip a bit more. I’m so delighted I finally got to see these wild and rugged Islands with my own eyes that will definitely be inspiring me for a long time, I’m still processing every hike I ventured on and every coastline I walked along, one of the most elemental and dramatic places I’ve travelled to and I’m already looking forward to going back!

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Glamping on Arran

Set in amongst the beautiful landscape of the Isle of Arran lies the wonderful luxurious Runach Arainn Yurts. I set out to discover Arran and enjoy a peaceful retreat in a quiet secluded corner on the Island with inspiring views out to the West.

I arrived in the evening just as it was getting dark, the cosy embrace of the Yurt was perfect and it didn’t take me long to get the fire going, cosy in for the night with a book listening to the noise of the wind around me. The Yurt itself has everything you could possibly need, each yurt comes fully equipped with lots of practical furniture, the comfiest bed I’ve possibly ever slept in, towels, cooking utensils and crockery. Two of the Yurts are able to accommodate up to six people and the third can accommodate up to four. I spent my time there on my own but these little havens are ideally suited for a romantic weekend away or for a family holiday set in a perfect spot for exploring the exciting wonders that the Island has to offer.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThe accommodation also provides log burners that even in the cold month of February in Scotland heated the Yurt to a very comfortable temperature, solar lighting for the long dark evenings and even plenty of books to keep me occupied. On the property are high standard composting toilets, eco-friendly products and all set in a wooded area of the Island. The place itself is very environmentally friendly and it’s wonderful being able to have a break in such a well thought out place working with nature and not taking from it.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetI didn’t have a set plan for the weekend, I decided that I would take it slow and enjoy my time In the Yurt and go to different parts of the Island when I felt like it. The Yurt beckons you to simply relax and be mindful of the surroundings around you, we tend not to give ourselves much time to read, think or simply do nothing but enjoy the moment in where you are so it was refreshing having no obligations, nothing I really had to do but enjoy the Yurt and the surrounding location. I had a long walk on the lovely beach only 10 minutes from the accommodation which sat on the southern shore of the Island. All around me was an abundant array of wildlife and flora and fauna all sat with views out towards the northern shores of Ireland (on a clear day!)

I spent the rest of my time taking it slow and driving around the Island with walks out to the incredible Machrie Moor Standing Stones, Lochranza in the North of the Island, Glenashdale Falls and even a brisk walk up part of the way towards Goatfell, (I sadly didn’t get to the top as the snow was pretty high and I didn’t have all the right gear with me!)

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It is the perfect location to get out and about or simply unwind, slow down, connect to nature and sit by the fire. There is no other properties nearby so it sits within a shelter of the trees with inspiring views as far as the eye can see. I would highly recommend the Yurt and I’ll let the photos speak for themselves at how much dedication and work has gone into each one of them. Every feature of the yurt has been carefully thought out down to the very last detail. To book a stay at this unique property and stay in one of the most original properties on the Isle of Arran head over to their website here: Runacharainn.

I’m certainly looking forward to going back!

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A Winter’s Escape

In the dark month of January, the chance to have a little break and be surrounded by forests came at the perfect time.

Nestled in a secluded and sheltered area of the Cairngorms lies the homely and inspiring accommodation of the Dell of Abernethy just a stone’s throw away from Nethy Bridge. This was the ideal location for us to be based to explore not only the area around the accommodation which is full of surprises but the wider area of the Glenmore Forest Park too.

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Our accommodation for the few days we spent there was the beautifully renovated property of West Dell. Dell of Abernethy has 5 properties which offer the perfect escape for romantic getaways, family holidays, retreats and events. West Dell, East Dell, Little Dell, South Dell and Dell Lodge all have a unique feel and are original in their character and presence. It is the perfect location to get out and about or simply unwind, slow down, connect to nature and sit by the fire. There is no other properties nearby so it sits within a shelter of the trees with inspiring views as far as the eye can see.

 

The property has been renovated to a very high standard: retaining all of the unique features from the beginning with a cosy eclectic twist. The grounds around the cottage beckon you to have a wander and admire the wood carvings, the sculptures and the lanterns that dot around the trees (I loved this feature) it really brightened the place up in the evening.

 

We arrived late on the Saturday afternoon after a long and snowy drive from the Outer Hebrides. It was already getting dark and we were excited to just settle into the cottage, sit by the fire and unwind. It was also an added bonus when we were met with homemade brownies! The place beckons you to simply relax and be mindful of the surroundings around you, we tend not to give ourselves much time to read, think or simply do nothing but enjoy the moment in where you are so it was refreshing having no obligations, nothing we really had to do but enjoy the cottage.

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We embarked early from Dell on the Sunday morning to make the most of the bright winters sun (a welcome in the depths of winter) and made our way for the Glenmore Forest Park. We parked up behind Glenmore Lodge and took off for the walk that would take us up past Lochan Uaine, (The Green Lochan) Ryvoan Bothy and then up and over Mealla a’ Bhuachaille standing proud with incredible views over the Cairngorm Mountain Range and further North.

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I have to say there is so much to do in this area around Nethy Bridge, Boat of Garten, Aviemore and Glenmore. As we only had a couple of days to spend in the area, instead of being overwhelmed at the abundance of walks to do, we picked the one that would cover a large area and spent time really getting to know that place, hence the reason we chose this one. We passed the unique vibrant waters of the Green Lochan and popped our heads into Ryvoan Bothy, (this is on my list for the summer) and then headed straight up the steep but impressive path which goes straight to the summit of Meall a’ Buachaille. We were very lucky with the weather, the light doesn’t last very long at this time of the year in Scotland so we were eager to make the most of the sun as it shone on us towards the ascent of the mountain. The climb itself is relatively easy (13 miles return loop) and is paved most of the way with rocks and a stony staircase all the way to the cairn at the summit.

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We left feeling impressed with the area and more of a knowledge of the panoramic vistas that the mountain climb offered us. It was then onto the infamous Aviemore Mountain Café after exhausting most of our energy on the climb, also cake is always deserved after a hike right? The café offers up a hearty lunch with a unique menu, brilliant coffee and even more delicious cake, a warm welcome after being in the cold for the better part of the day. We then took a spin around the Glenmore Forest Park stopping at our favourite Loch Morlich for views over to the snowy dramatic mountains. By this time it was dark and there was only one thing to do and that was to spend the evening in the warm and lively Old Bridge Inn situated just outside of Aviemore. This was recommended to us by the brilliant team at Dell of Abernethy and it definitely didn’t disappoint! The Old Bridge inn served us hearty delicious food, it has a fine range of malts and local ales, hosts some varied music nights and has such a vibrant atmosphere!

 

On Monday morning we left early once again to head over to Inshriach where I had booked us onto a Nordic Woodcraft Course with Wooden Tom. The location itself is incredible, Tom Banks who calls himself Wooden Tom has a base where he has built a shelter/ cabin and workshop area in the middle of the forest on the Inshriach Farm Grounds. We spent the day with him learning about various techniques on how to carve from wood, the difference in working with certain wood, carving spoons and having a wonderful time learning a new skill which we will definitely be incorporating into life back on North Uist, (that is if we can find enough trees!) If you would like to book onto a workshop with wooden tom and learn a new skill which is completely environmentally friendly and highly recommended please head on over to the website. Courses are for solo learners or groups.

 

We spent the rest of our break enjoying our peaceful cottage at Dell of Abernethy and giving ourselves some time to relax and just enjoy the environment and atmosphere of the place. The Dell not only offers unique accommodation but is also available as a wedding venue and runs retreats and events  throughout the year!

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If you would like to book in for a stay at this wonderful place (which I can highly recommend) please follow this link: Dell of Abernethy and pick one of these cottages to escape to, I know I’ll be going back as soon as I can! Thanks again to the lovely team of Wendy, Polly and Ross for hosting us in your beautiful corner of the Country and providing us with many spot on recommendations of places to eat, places to see and walks to venture on in the area! We had such a lovely stay slowing down and connecting to nature, thanks again for reminding us what is important!

To follow along on social media head on over to their social media pages: Instagram and Facebook.

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Original works available on the lead up to Christmas!

Delighted to share with you all a series of paintings that are available to purchase. Most of my work has sold recently and I’m currently finishing up a new series of paintings for my solo show opening on the 20th of January at Maclaurin Galleries in Ayrshire.
These works that remain have all been made in Scotland and are all original, signed and are available to be shipped worldwide. This is a great chance to own one of my original paintings at a discounted rate just in time for Christmas! Please email me at ellisoconnor@hotmail.co.uk if you would like to acquire any of these works.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetAshore, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £185

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetDrift, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £185

3 Ellis O'Connor, Ice, 2016Ice, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 30 x 42cm. £225

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetFlow, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £185

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetShifting Land, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £185

6 Ellis O'Connor Svalbard 2016Svalbard, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 30 x 42cm. £255

6 Ellis O'Connor, Svalbard, 2016Edges, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 30 x 42cm. £255

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetShetland, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £185

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetPeaks, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £185

Processed with VSCOSOLD Adrift, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £255

Boreray, Mixed medium, Ellis O'ConnorSOLD Boreray, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £255

IMG_20171026_154337_116SOLD Heavalmixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £255

Skye 1 Ellis O'ConnorUntitled 1, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 13 x 25cm, £175

Skye 2 Ellis O'ConnorUntitled 2, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 13 x 25cm, £175

Skye 4 Ellis O'ConnorUntitled 3, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 13 x 25cm, £175

Skye 11 Ellis O'ConnorSOLD Untitled 4, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 13 x 25cm, £175

Tidelines, Mixed medium, Ellis O'ConnorTidelines, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm, £255