Planning a trip to an archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean at any time of the year will always be a challenge, entailing precarious and unpredictable conditions. Doing so during winter will only lead to increased unpredictability and chances of getting lost, injured or worse! However, it is these fierce and powerful conditions, often found on coastlines which will lead to some of the greatest conditions for landscape photography.
One of the greatest problems you will have on any winter adventure is reduced daylight hours. The Faroe Islands only compound this issue. Many locations require serious hiking dedication, so planning is essential to ensure you know what lies ahead!
The direct flight out from the UK was turbulent. Passing through stormy clouds over vast oceans, this will likely be the case. On arrival, the dark sky was as dark as midnight with just the slightest hint of a breeze in the air. The amazing landscapes of the Faroe Islands remaining unseen to the eye.
Waking up on the first day of the trip did not look promising, howling winds and a moody grey sky amplified the wild nature of the landscape. However, having travelled over 500 miles to a new place was no excuse to stay inside and shelter. The first day would also go on to pave the way for the rest of the trip, maximum mood and maximum atmosphere. A perfect combination for this magical place!
The coastline is potentially the most astonishing you will ever witness. Bound by the Atlantic, towering sea cliffs are constantly battered by powerful waves, the howling winds only serving to increase the intensity and size of the waves. If large sea cliffs are not enough to hold attention, perhaps Sørvágsvatn will. Close to the airport, a fjord sits suspended above the ocean. Pictures will only confuse your mind, it is the most unusual place and appears to be an optical illusion. If you never witness this place with your own eyes it will always appear fake, like a perfect creation. Sørvágsvatn is definitely not too be missed.
Whilst you take in the sights, sitting on the edge of the earth, what lies below will only keep you mesmerised. The deep blue swells crash into the rugged cliffs on repeat. You will find yourself wondering what it is like 100m below your feet. As you do, there is another creature which joins you, however, this is their home and you are their guest. Hundreds of gulls squawking and wailing to each other whilst they sweep and dive below your feet, free to cruise the cold air currents and surf the treacherous waves.
Since we are talking about the unusual, would you believe there is a waterfall which cascades over a cliff edge and directly into the sea…no? Well how about two? Bøsdalafossur and Gásadalur are the main coastal waterfall attractions on the islands as they are easily accessible from the airport. What a sight to behold, the latter the more popular due to its accessibility and the scene which greets you from the roadside. Gásadalur is a magnificent sight as it thunders straight down towards the sea. With the wind at maximum force, these waterfalls now return to the rivers and fjords which they once came from, natural forces struggling against each other in one continuous cycle.
The collective group of islands look relatively small on a map, rightly so if compared to their larger neighbour Iceland. Connecting these islands are some of the greatest roads you could drive on, sweeping bends and winding hairpins lead you to deep dark sea tunnels. Emerging from the other side the landscape will continue to take your breath away. Driving alongside fjords whilst the mountains tower over you, the temptation to stop every 5 minutes and take pictures will prevail throughout your trip. Due to the single navigation routes, getting from one sight to the next will require a combination of car, hiking and ferries. Although this trip spanned over five days, two weeks could easily be filled exploring this little slice of paradise. Thus, there were so many locations which were not seen and sacrifices had to be made to head to some of the easier spots.
Just as you would expect in a remote place like this, not everything goes to plan. There will be times when you question yourself, gear will get soaked and electronics will fail. Giving up and returning to the warmth will seem the most logical thing to do. With a little patience, however, things will fall into place, the clouds will part, the rain and wind will ease off and light will pour through the dark clouds onto the ground in ways you have not seen before. Never give up, always be prepared for the unpredictable because these are the conditions will make for marvellous memories and wonderful pictures.
Along with remoteness, comes a place of solitude. Many areas are inhospitable, with some villages only inhabited by a few people. Tourists are also hard to come by (more so due to it being winter) and the scarcity of people allowed for a real sense of disconnect. You feel as if you are the only humans exploring the area, discovering new lands. Something you’ll not experience in more popular places, for example Iceland!
The Faroe Islands are truly magical. If you can get over the consistent wind and rain then you will never have a better experience exploring this breath-taking place. It is a paradise for photographers and hikers alike. The beautiful and unforgiving landscape unfolds before your eyes, around every corner comes something more incredible. There will be no regrets if you ever visit this place. However, please respect its beauty and the locals so the place can remain unspoiled and untarnished for years to come.
With so many more places to witness, this will not be my first or last visit to this archipelago.