Saturday, 25 July 2015

Skarvanes and Sandúr in Sandoy

All these are in the Faroe Islands, and there are more: Skálavik, Skopun...

Skarvanes  is a settlement in the west coast of Sandoy, one if the Faroe islands. Other settlements on the island are Húsavík, Sandoy, Dalur, Sandúr  (the main town) and Skopun (the main harbour).

Skarvanes is a tiny hamlet - there are only three families living there.

Most of the houses in the scenic village are used as summer house.

The old watermill with grass roofs is still well preserved.

Coordinates: 61°47′ N, 6°44′ W
Population :  ~ 13

The seaside road views to the nearby smaller islands. Watch for sheep !

The faroese painter Díðrikur á Skarvanesi (1802-1865) was born in Skarvanes. Another Faroese artist, Ruth Smith, has a few paintings of Skarvanes:

Sakarvanes, by Ruth Smith

Sandúr is the largest village on the island Sandoy. Sandúr means ‘Sand’ and Sandoy means ‘sandy island’.

The settlement is located between an inlet and the largest lake on the island , the Sandsvatn, rich in trout and salmon.

Sandúr was a site of the Viking parliament, the Thing, where every year the spring assembly Várting was held.

Coordinates: 61°50′ N, 6°48′ W
Population: ~560

There are two main attractions in Sandúr: the museum and the church.

Sands Listasavn Art Museum

The museum and the art works displayed inside were a gift from Sofus Olsen. It was built in 2005.

The church, also under a grass-covered roof, was built in 1839 over several other previous older churches - the oldest found to be from the 11th century!

Excavations have shown that around year 1000 a norse stave church was standing where the present church is now.

Entrance door

The island of Sandoy is rather flat, with good farming land, and not so spectacular as some other in the Faroese archipelago.

Scenic roads are narrow and dangerously winding above the ocean.

But its coast allows fabulous views to neighbour Stóra Dimun and Lítla Dimun, rough cliffs near Sandúr, and there are more sand and beach areas on Sandoy than on the other islands.

The dunes near Sandúr

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Good! Thick sea ice persisted northwest of Greenland !

As I showed in a previous post, this was not a bad year for Arctic ice. In fact, the volume of Arctic sea ice increased by a third following the unusually cool summer of 2013.

Lead author Rachel Tilling, from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at UCL, said,

The summer of 2013 was much cooler than recent years, with temperatures typical of those seen in the late 1990s. This allowed thick sea ice to persist northwest of Greenland because there were fewer days when it could melt. Although models have suggested that the volume of Arctic sea ice is in long-term decline, we know now that it can recover by a significant amount if the melting season is cut short.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Ulukhaktok (Holman), Victoria Island:
- an arctic hamlet with a native art centre

In the Nunavut region of the eastern Arctic Archipelago, Victoria Island is a medium size island (the eighth largest island in the world), with two native villages: Cambridge Bay and Holman.

Holman, renamed Ulukhaktok ("the place were ulu parts are found” in inuit), is located on the west coast, a region rich in copper - which is why Ulu knives are made there.

A small hamlet around a coastal bay, frozen most of the year.

Population: 400

Coordinates: 70°44′ N, 117°46′ W

Like other traditional communities in Arctic Canada, hunting, trapping and fishing are the major ways of living.

The Hudson Bay Company installed here a small post and a catholic church in 1939. That is how Holman started.

The wooden Anglican church from Hudson Bay Co. era

The first Hudson's Bay Company post (now called the 'Northern store ') was established in the area in 1923, on the north shore of Prince Albert Sound. The post moved to Holman in 1939. In 2006, the name of the hamlet was officially changed to the traditional name of Ulukhaktok.

Like many other communities in the Canadian Arctic, Ulukhaktok has its Inuit Arts Centre :

I've chosen some of the local artists who work or exhibit here:

Mary Okheena

Muskox in a storm

Helen Kalvak (1901-1984)

Helen Kalvak lived the traditional migratory existence of the early twentieth-century Inuit most of her life. She moved into the settlement at Holman Island in 1960.



Mona Ohoveluk

Musk-ox horn carving (anonymous). 

Ulu Earrings, by Mary Jane Nigiyok

Victoria Island

The island is mostly rough stone territory and patches of barren treeless tundra, with a few geographic features; the mountains, the Kuujjua river with its canyons, and just a few shrub dwarf woods. In spring and summer, the land is transformed - green mosses and lichens, small plants and flowers like the always present Purple Saxifrage.

Arctic willow (Salix polaris) wood - most shrubs no taller than 10 cm, a few up to 20 cm.

The Kuujjua river, originated in the center of Victoria Island, flows about 350 km into Minto Inlet on the island's west side, north of Ulukhaktok.

Beginning as a shallow stream, the river runs smoothly across the tundra, gaining speed and volume as it drops through rugged landscape, cutting canyons through basalt cliffs. Fishing the arctic char in the Kuujjua is highly appreciated.

As for History:

Apart some stone remains of the Copper Inuit occupation, the main historic fact was the quest for the route of the Northwest Passage, which took place in the waters around Victoria Island. 

And during the search for the lost Franklin expedition, one of the ships, the “HMS Enterprise”, wintered here in 1851-52, in Winter Cove, an inlet where the sailors built a memory cairn (pillar of stones) with messages inside. The cairn was ment to show the lost men of the Franklin's expedition that Europeans searched for them.

The cairn from 1852 in Winter Cove.

John Rae, Robert McClure and Roald Amundsen are also among those who visited and mapped the island.