Nestled between Iceland, Scotland and Norway in the North Atlantic, the Faroe Islands take a little piece of each of those landscapes in a hybrid mix of eclecticism and ruggedness, providing somewhat of a maritime landscape with clear evidence of volcanic basalt formations and a combination of sweeping hillsides and sheer cliff faces, where no point anywhere on any of the 18 islands is more than 5km (3 miles) from the sea.
Speaking of the sea, it’s from this that 97% of the nations income originates. Fishing is a big deal around here, and the Faroe Islands tactical exclusion from the EU (despite big brother Denmark being in the EU) means they are free to fish as they please and aren’t subject to EU quotas. On that note, curiously, if a Danish person were to move to the Faroe Islands they would lose their EU status, whereas a person from any other EU member state moving to the islands wouldn’t.
Anyway, from the sea rises mountains, creating impressive fjords. In fact I don’t recall seeing a piece of flat land larger than a football pitch, aside from the man-made Vagar airport. Some of these mountains rise swiftly and some have a gentle incline to them, meaning them accessible for walkers. It’s important to note that in ten Faroe Islands all the land is owned, and if you want to enter someone’s land you need to have their permission.
I climbed one of these accessible mountains, albeit with some difficulty. Rising from the sea with a plateau valley nestled in between two mountains, the walk up the slope to the top is steep but so worth it. I walked it in the snow, and it was fresh snow so I had to be mindful to watch my footing and look for evidence of solid objects beneath the snow such as protruding rocks and grass tufts, because the feeling of snow rushing into boots as one plunged ones foot into the deep powder isn’t an experience anybody wants.
To get to this mountain take the road from Funningur (where you’ll find a cool turf-roofed church) to Gjógv (where you’ll find a narrow natural harbour) and as you pass the first twisty s-bend and drive a little further between two mountains you’ll come across a fence and a cattle grid. Park in the fight after the cattle grid and look up to the mountain peak on your right – that’s where you’re climbing!
Once the 40 minute or so hike to the top is out of the way, the reward is the most amazing view across a fjord to the island opposite, XXXX, which has a cool spit of land protruding nicely towards the summit. The peaks of all the surrounding mountains are visible and the constantly changing conditions mean that hanging around on top for as long as you can withstand the blasting cold winds will give a variety of views, with clouds forming and rolling, light spilling and casting about, and colours changing in all directions throughout 360 degrees.
Walking along the crest of the mountain where the sheer drop plummets down towards the choppy, freezing Atlantic waters below, you can find rocks on which to strike a pose if you’re so inclined to add a human element to your photos and show the scale of this incredible vista.
Overall the Faroe Islands, despite being sparse, are well worth exploring to find all the hidden gems like this.