From the very beginning, the people who settled the Faroe Islands knew how to make the most of what nature had to offer. The oceans were teeming with fish and other seafood and the mountains provided grazing grounds for livestock and peat for the fireplace. The only way to gain access to these resources was to venture to where they could be found. The Faroese people soon built boats to sail the waters and mapped out safe trails across the valleys, cliffs and peaks of the mountains.
No place on the islands is farther than 5 kilometres from the ocean and as such, people developed a natural curiosity about, and connection to it.
For a long time, the Faroese people where fully dependant on the resources the ocean had to offer. The deep fjords and strong currents made it difficult to manoeuvre the waters surrounding the Faroe Islands with a sail, so the Faroese people used rowboats instead. The traditional Faroese rowboat is open and double-ended with high stems. It has a light construction, a marked sheer and can vary a bit in size. The craftsmanship is taught from master to apprentice, and there are still a couple of masters who handcraft these boats today.
Originally used to catch fish and to travel amongst the islands, the traditional Faroese rowboat is now used in the Faroese national sport – rowing. Every summer there are seven rounds of competitions, each with 9 categories divided by age, gender and boat size. They coincide with local festivities and usually gather great cheering crowds.
While the dependency on the ocean has decreased significantly over the years, the Faroese people still have a deep connection to it and many families still maintain smaller boats as a hobby. From leisurely sightseeing or fishing on the weekend to competitive sports, these boats help maintain the bond between the Faroese people and the ocean.
A long time ago, the Faroese people spent a lot of time in the mountains gathering resources. Peat needed to be gathered on a regular basis and sheep needed to be tended to - especially during spring and autumn. Hiking the mountains became an integral part of life.
There were no roads back then and it could be difficult to find one’s way. Where there was much traffic, natural paths developed, and people built milestones to mark the longer routes. These milestones are called varðar (or cairns in English) and they are still used to this day.
While there is now an excellent infrastructure on the islands, there is still quite the bit of hiking done. Hiking has become a means of exercise and a way to explore. While the hike itself does require physical exertion of the entire body, it also takes you to the wild nature and stunning scenery that abounds in the Faroese mountains. From the wild flora of the valleys to the lively birdlife on the cliffs and the views from the peaks, the mountains offer something to explore at each step.
However, these mountains can also be quite treacherous and difficult to cross and the weather plays a significant part too, but with knowledge and experience, or a great guide, one can safely take the adventurous journey up, down or across these mountains.