Farholm Island is completely imaginary but all the same it is very vivid in my mind and I hope will become so in my readers’ minds. The holm part of the name means island ; thinking of the word ‘far’ conjures remoteness or distance…. although Farholm is not that distant from land.
Holm or holme crops up in place names all around Britain, such as towns like Holme-next-the-Sea in Norfolk and Holmfirth not so near the sea in Yorkshire, and is Scandinavian in origin. A quick visit to Wikipedia will give many examples and a Google trawl will bring more information on the Viking connections. From the beach near the village where I live, two holms are clearly visible, Steep Holm and Flat Holm; neither of these islands are anything like Farholm.
“The island was maybe a half dozen miles long humped at one end like the shoulders of a beast and dropping down towards the east where the wood crested tail twisted round enclosing the harbour.” This was Deke’s first view of the island as she approached it on the ferry but she got to know it very well over the next two weeks.
“A huddle of buildings hunched beyond the harbour, then single storey cottages spaced around the bay towards the castle at the end of Farholm. On the hill above the clustered buildings, stood the church, its graveyard spilling down the hillside, the gravestones like a congregation standing waiting for a sermon. On the western side of the harbour the land gradually rose to steep cliffs; there were a couple of buildings, the last like a Swiss chalet with brightly coloured flags hanging limply over the balustrade.”
There is a small village on Farholm, little more than a hamlet clustered round the harbour, then along the coast road are holiday cottages. Up on the rest of the island are isolated farms earning their living from sheep and tourists. There is a ruined castle, two lighthouses, a disused windmill, a hippy commune and a bird sanctuary. The island and the sea around it are teaming with wildlife, birds such as puffins, gulls, kittiwakes, guillemots, oystercatchers and fulmars nest along the cliffs and seals play around the rock pools. Porpoises and dolphins can be spotted in the sea which is fished by the islanders.
Farholm is a rugged and beautiful place but you need to read my story to discover what Deke finds there.