BY FOUR WHEELED NOMAD: WORDS BY LISA MORRIS, IMAGES BY JASON SPAFFORD
One morning, dawn came up in streaks and slashes over thick banks of cloud roiling over the hillside. We emerged at first light. I rubbed my palms into my sleep-heavy eyes to see a landscape of tundra-like appearance. Although a lack of trees characterised the Faroes, the plant life was festooned with mosses, common juniper and dwarf cudweed. Akin to being in a douvet of green, it was comforting.
Located on Vágar, ambling to Lake Sørvágsvatn cost us an hour on foot and $30 per person. After taking one of two gravel roads, the trailhead began on the outskirts of Miðvágur at a small parking area. If a car can’t get you there, bus 300 from Tórshavn will. Sørvágsvatn is the Faroes’ largest lake spilling out into the sea via Múlafossur, a plunging 130-foot waterfall. Due to the greater height of the cliffs at Trælanípan, which flanked the waterfall, gave rise to a striking illusion that the lake was perched high above the sea, tilting outwards.
When dense swirls of clouds billowing over the landscape were not obscuring everything, vertiginous coastal cliffs emerged. Within them, caves, cracks and holes carved by the surf over millennia harboured vast numbers of birds. Big colonies of Northern gannets, fulmars and storm petrels swooped and soared around us. Lo! – Jason even spotted a merlin.
On my left was a fjord bejewelled with lime-green mossy looking icebergs with Tolkien-sounding names like Tindholmur. A pair of grass-roof blackhouses lay at the bottom of this imposing wedge of rock, turfed once for insulation but now a symbol of tradition. I passed cairns with names such as Liksteinur, meaning “dead body rock” – where coffin-bearers rest en route to the cemetery. At the top, we gawped at a valley where a path switch-backed sharply down to a settlement: Gasadalur. Unreachable by boat, word has it that the postman makes this daunting journey three times a week. What a place to live!