Walking in the Faroes

The Faroe Islands lie to the north of Scotland and for those who haven’t heard much about the rugged beauty of the islands they may only be aware of their existence from tuning in to the shipping forecast. This is certainly not a destination for sun-worshippers or for those seeking wild nightlife. Yet for those who are looking for an active holiday in a spectacular natural environment, the Faroe Islands offers something special.

The 18 main islands that make up the Faroes are becoming an increasingly popular destination for walking holidays. With many miles of wilderness and trails that lead beside secluded shorelines, through thick grass and along dramatic cliff tops and where you’re more likely to encounter a puffin than another person, the attraction is plain to see.

Many of the islands’ trails follow very old paths, used for centuries to link remote villages. These were the roads that enabled villagers to trade, to attend gatherings and to reach the local church. For many their final journey would be made along these traditional trails, as their coffin would be carried from their home to the churchyard. Nowadays the trails are preserved and maintained for the benefit of visitors who come to experience the natural beauty of the Faroe Islands.

Several walking guides offer escorted walking tours, taking away the stress of planning a route and finding your way  around unfamiliar terrain. For those who prefer to walk independently there are plenty of maps and resources to help plan a good hike across many of the islands. This booklet from the Faroe Islands Tourist Board is a good place to start organising your trip.

If you are walking without a guide it’s worth bearing in mind that the islands are sparsely populated and public transport is sporadic at best. If you are going to rely on a bus to bring you back to your car or accommodation at the end of your walk, check before you leave to make sure that it’s scheduled to run, as timetables vary throughout the year. There are areas where a mobile signal is not available (amazing, but true) so it’s always advisable to let someone know where you’re planning to go and then to let them know when you return.

It’s wise also to layer up with clothes – the weather is notoriously changeable, and you might switch between one layer and three in a matter of minutes. Oh, and bring chocolate. If the fog drops (it often does) and you can see so little that you have to sit it out and wait for the weather to clear, at least you’ll have something to keep you happy.