I honestly can’t imagine a more beautiful setting for a village than where Gásadalur sits on the west coast of Vágar. I would like to nominate it as the most beautiful village in the world. After all, it was the main reason I came to the Faroe Islands in the first place. So I was determined to fight off the clouds and capture a magical shot of it that truly did it justice.
I spent a lot of time on the cliff edge waiting for the right light so I figured I should write something about what I was looking at for so long:
Indicating all directions to the water, a snow white compass rose.
A ring of crystalline javelins fanning around a focus, their tips glance across the emerald surface of the sea.
A thick showering of tiny pearls, they plummet from the cliff into the vacant sea below.
Each of them seem to pause just briefly, weightless, but these are just fleeting moments before gravity takes hold and they are dragged down, seemingly plunging to the bottom of the sea.
Each on their own, so insignificant, but together they crash into the surface below and shatter its sheen.
Wounded, the sea fights back.
Slamming against the walls in a tremendous tantrum it crushes the rock as it roars its battlecry.
The thundering clashes reverberate through the earth and it shakes the homes of the cliff’s many feathered residents.
But they are calm and unfazed, they’re familiar with this daily dispute.
Perched on their door stoops they peer into the depths below.
Puffins, the clumsy penguins who somehow learnt how to fly, waddle towards the edge to take their leap.
Their tiny wings silently work so hard to lift their awkward bodies up from the water and back to their homes with their reward.
Gulls patrol the cliffs, gliding on the winds far more gracefully than the penguins.
They gain speed as they circle, grazing the cliff face and calling out to each other.
Ducks mutter to themselves amongst the hearth and rummage about.
Geese honk and hiss as they forage on the grassy lands above.
The sun pierces the clouds just above the horizon.
One last attempt to share it’s warmth with this cold, misty archipelago.
The small village now sits in shadow beneath the dim twilight glow.
The scarecrows don’t rest though. They continue to mind the sun starved legumes.
Sheep brave the cliff face searching for the tastiest, most unspoiled feed. They whinge and complain and cause a ruckus.
The highland cows relax in the hills and steer clear of the crowds.
The crowds here though are only the chirping, chattering, squealing inhabitants.
Few people live in this valley and fewer still dare to cross the mountains to marvel at this picturesque setting.
The tiny village crouches beneath the mightiest mountains on the isle. They gaze out towards the postman’s path with their illuminated eyes.
You’ll find no trinket toting touts and no tour buses lugging the hoards around.
Just a quiet few who choose this life and live amongst nature in what is arguably the most beautiful village in the world.
Getting there and where I stayed
I arrived in Gásadalur after three days of hiking from Sandavágur. The conventional way would be to take the road from Sørvagur, but until 2006, the only guaranteed way into the valley was to hike the “Postman’s Path” over the mountains.
Not the way I came, but the postman would have to hike 2 hours over the mountains three times a week all year round to deliver mail. The guy must have really loved hiking and have been super fit to deliver the mail that way. There is actually a small boat landing down the cliff face, but the seas are far too rough to dock there often and it’s never viable for winter.
I asked a lady if I could camp on her piece of land and she kindly obliged. I really wanted to stay a few days to ensure I’d see a good sunset or sunrise.
Life in the valley
Life in the valley was pretty sweet. A few cars would drive in and out occasionally, but otherwise all you heard were the sounds of the birds, water and the wind. It was really peaceful and relaxing. Except for when the sheep were being rounded up – noisy buggers!
I ended up staying there for three days, but I did have to hitch a ride out to Sørvagur to buy food. I had nothing else to do but wait for sunset and sunrise which at this time of year were 10pm and 5am. I offered my services as a labourer to some farmers around the village, but in the end they didn’t give me anything to do.
So I just read my book in the sun on a park bench, sat on the cliff admiring the scenery and strolling around the village.
You can walk the steps down to the boat landing and around the cliffs above the falls and that’s about all there is to do! It’s a really tiny place. When I arrived I asked a man if there was a restaurant or a shop and he just chuckled. That’s the beauty of it really – it’s so simple. No infrastructure, no accommodation and therefore no mass tourism, leaving the village unspoiled.
A man from the neighbouring town of Bøur gave me a lift back from Sørvagur and even he hadn’t visited Gásadalur in years. The man was in his 50s at least. His father was born in Gásadalur and once owned a house there. His mother was from Bøur and so he was raised there and had never left. People seem to live in very small spheres of life here. I’d be coming to Gásadalur all the time if I lived so close! Though I’m not sure I could live in a place like the Faroe Islands despite how beautiful they are.