Faroe Islands

What wishful shelter
Are these islands few,
‘midst torrid oceans blue

Lunch with the Vikings

The Faroe Islands are the work of a child’s imagination, and perhaps of my own. A jigsaw of impossible landscapes lost in the heart of the wild North Atlantic. A land of Vikings and lashing winds, where waterfalls flow upwards and drop a thousand foot into the raging sea. A land best explored with childish wonderment.

The day I finally arrived in the Faroe Islands also happened the be the last day of sunshine. My first impression was coming in to land over a glistening lake plunging off a cliff into the sea. I stepped off the plane, closed my eyes and took a deep breath of the cleanest air in the world before setting off down the road.

I had come for the dramatic landscapes, armed with my camera, but, perhaps more than that, I had come to feel it.

My quest lead me to one hike in particular, and perhaps the most memorable; the Postman’s Trail to Gasadalur. Tracking along a winding fjord, past the quaint hamlet of Bour, the road comes abruptly to the based of a steep peak with a winding glass trail up the face; the Postman’s Trial. This was the only way into Gasadalur before the tunnel was built just two decades ago. As I meanders up along the lopsided grass “path”, that sweeps nervously past the edge of a tremendous sea cliff a number of times, the inevitable wind taunting you over the edge, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of madmen would have delivered post to this place 30 years ago. Royal Mail? Sheep? I soon discovered the answer when I arrived at the summit. I looked down in awe, on an impossibly picturesque hamlet. The rich sea air coursing through my lungs. My legs aching from the ascended, but hardly out of breathe.

Returning over the peak the next day I was greeted by a faroecious wind. It didn’t whistle over the peak. No, it bellowed. A deep drone, as the visibility disappeared sharply. It was only forecast to get worse and I was at the summit either way, so I pressed on, head bowed. A number of times I was brought to the ground by a gust. Bitter cold air blasting through my bones. This was the Faroe Islands. The wild, raw beauty. A playful taste of North Atlantic fury. Awesome!

There were many other hikes, that on a normal day would demand an essay and to which I have granted only a few photographs, but Gasadalur stood out. Gasadalur itself is impossible to capture in a photograph.

Perhaps my favourite thing about the Faroe Islands, however, is the way of life. Tied faithfully to the raging seas that surround them, people live by what the ocean brings and little else. It has always been this way. Traditions and knowledge live on through the generations of close-knit family. Life is hands on. Families butcher their own meat and build their own homes. Life is communal. People look after each other and share the catch. Life is purposeful. There is always something that needs doing. There is no poverty, or locks on the doors. Its a simple life, a natural life, that could only exist tucked far away in a child’s imagination.

Lastly, and most importantly. If ever you find yourself in the Faroe Islands, be sure to stop, close your eyes, and take a deep breath of the cleanest air in the world.

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    • Roger Donaldson
    • October 5, 2017

    …and to top it all you can even get a decent curry !

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