Having based myself in the village of Sorvagur on Vagar Island to start with, I met up with a fellow backpacker from the USA – Katie from Boston. Katie was staying in the same place as me at Guesthouse Hugo and we decided to do some travelling and hiking together.
We had already explored the village of Sorvagur and hiked round the Sorvagsvatn Lake, so next up we decided on an early start and the hike to Gasadalur, a village which until 2004 was cut off by road from the rest of the Faroe Islands. Though, despite what some sources say it is NOT the last village to be connected by road to others – there are still some remote villages I visited still without road connections to others including Svinoy and Hattarvik (access to both is by boat from Hvannasund on Vidoy island – story to come).
Gásadalur is on the west side of Vagar Island and is very remote. It’s a beautiful spot, a village which boasts a helipad, a waterfall, some pretty turf rooved buildings, a public toilet and an excellent hike. The village is surrounded by the mountains of Vagar Island and it also offers a view to Mykines island (which is even more remote and has a population of 12). Gasadalur supposedly has a population of 18 and we saw 2 of them on our trip (an older gentleman and a school kid getting a lift home).
Until 2004 the village of Gásadalur did not have any road connection to other villages in the Faroe Islands. Arrival was either by helicopter (there’s a helipad here), foot or boat (but it’s a steep climb from the sea). The only way to get here overland from Bour was via the “post route” path over the mountain. This is where the post was carried three times a week, before the isolation was changed forever via the construction of the tunnel. You could of course cheat and just drive here nowadays, but why spoil the fun of the hike and the way nature intended? So we decided on the hike option without any thought.
Where to Start the Hike to Gasadalur
You have a few options for starting the hike. If you are based in Sorvagur, then you could start the hike there, but it will take a long time, you’d have to walk all the way to the village of Bour (4kilometres) and then up the hill towards the tunnel entrance and start the hike there, so you would have walked probably about 6-7 kilometres before the real hike starts, so that’s not ideal.
We reckon the best option is to get a taxi, bus or a lift to the start of the hike, just past Bour and just before the tunnel. Taxis prices vary and can be dear, buses only run to Bour in the summer season, but we were lucky and could get a lift from our hosts, so we could start the hike with no problems just past Bour. It was a wet misty, foggy morning and we started the hike around 8am.
There is a notice board, car park and information point on where to start the hike. From there, you are on your own. We took a photo of the map and notice board at the start of the hike just to have it for reference. The path is not easily marked so it pays to have some idea which way you are heading.
The Hike from Bour to Gasadalur
The hike is steep, confusing, not obvious and can be hard in poor weather conditions. We had a very foggy, wet, misty morning to do our hike. After the hikes the day before (which were much easier), the start of the Gasadalur hike can prove tricky, as you can’t see far ahead of you in these conditions. There are three important marker points on the hike to bear in mind, and these helped us along the way. The views all the way will be stunning, even in rain and mist. The landscape is phenomenal.
Just make sure you are not put off by the weather. You’ll probably have read that I don’t care about weather on my travels. But the day we did the hike, we were the only two backpackers on this route. Perhaps others cancelled due to the fog, or perhaps it really is one of Europe’s last hiking gems without an influx of snap happy Yanks and Chinese photographers. But believe me – don’t let the weather put you off the hike as the views are amazing – just stay safe and wear the right clothes.
Marker 1 – Liksteinur
As I mentioned there are three markers on the way and the route between them is not entirely obvious. Getting to marker one can be tough in the mist, but the key point is just to keep heading up the mountain. Marker 1 is known as Liksteinur and the proof you have made it this far will be a small plaque on a rock on the way up the mountain. This is around 320 metres above sea level.
The reason for the place being called Licksteinur is that this means the place where the coffin was laid down. Before there was a tunnel through, this is the flat spot where hikers used to leave the coffin to rest for a while before heading on with the hike. There is a graveyard in the two villages either side (Gasadalur and Bour).
At Liksteinur, you can also get a glimpse of a waterfall just past Bour. It was quite foggy and misty and my camera lens was steamed but I got some good photos as the mist cleared while we waited here.
Marker 2 – Keldan Vivd
After another upward climb through swampy terrain (be careful for puddles, cliff edges and sheep shit). The next marker to look out for is known as Keldan Vivd and has a sad story with it. It’s really good to read up on the history of this hike. Of course before the tunnel road existed, babies would have to be carried up over this mountain if they were going from Gasadalur to Bour or Sorvagur.
However one baby fell ill and was on the verge of death so to ensure the baby could go to heaven, it had to be christened on the mountain and this is the spot where it took place – Keldan Vivd.
There is a stone rock pyramid as a marker and a sign with Keldan Vivd on it. The great news for most hikers will be that after this point, the hike is easy and there is a CLEAR path as to where you are going. We were so shocked by this, the first 45 minutes to get to Keldan Vivd had been quite tough and hard to work out, as well as very swampy – bring decent shoes and socks – we were soaked through!
Just before Marker 3 you will be able to see the peak of Rogvukollur, which peaks at 463 metres.
Marker 3 – Skardid
So you have done the tough bit by getting past where the peak stands to your right, you will reach the third marker point and the highest point on the hike. It is a pile of rocks with a blue sign saying Skardid. From here, you can get a great view of Gasadalur finally, and no more upward walking.
After Skardid, the descent is an obvious path and the rest of the hike is an easy downhill. You only need to watch your step for unsteady rocks. The first part is rocks, the second part is grass.
On the way down you will also notice the second waterfall from the hike. The waterfall is just in front of the village of Gasadalur and has featured on a Faroese stamp before.
From here, it’s a short and easy walk down to the road. The road swerves round and you can see the tunnel entrance. The hike can take you about 2 and a half hours, we did it in just over 2 hours in poor conditions, but allow 2 and a half, especially if you want to stop a few times on the way to take photos. Ironically the tunnel takes less than 2 and a half minutes by car! Once you get to the bottom of the hike, there is a sign. It was still very wet and windy when we got to Gasadalur.
Once we had done the hike, we had some time to spare to explore the village of Gasadalur. Katie and I spoke of how we would love a coffee and to stop in a wee cafe in Gasadalur. But that was a pipe dream. There are no shops, cafes or public buildings in Gasadalur apart from a toilet!!
We walked down the road to Gasadalur and then set about exploring the sights of this really remote village. I have never seen a country with as many rainbows – literally every few minutes you’ll see a new rainbow on these hikes!
It’s probably a further 10 minutes walk to the village from the bottom of the hike, maybe faster in hot weather but there were strong winds so we stopped for shelter along the way. A few cars passed and we also saw our first two travellers of the day, heading up to do the hike the opposite way.
Sightseeing in Gasadalur: Top 5 Sights
I normally do the textbook “top 5 sights” type post but I won’t do a separate post like that on Gasadalur, as the highlight here is of course the hike, however these are 5 cool things in the village.
1.The Public Toilet
I have no idea when the public toilet was made but it seemed to us to be the only public building in the entire village and we were able to come inside, dry off some of our clothes and wait for our taxi here. It’s also beside a car park. I had brought two beers with me so Katie and I custom made a bar here as well!
There’s a second waterfall on the hike, as I mentioned and this one is on the edge of Gasadalur village, so go check it out. It can be hard to get a good vantage point in high winds, so don’t go too close to the edge, but it’s worth checking out. This is the one that featured on the stamp.
3.Customs Hut and Boat Wrench
There was a wrench or mini crane by the sea on a cliff edge here and a small hut beside it. We reckoned that this could have been an old customs hut and a way that boats could be pulled up to shore. There is not much public information available on this, nor are the Faroe Islands Tourism websites and offices very helpful, but the hut is obvious as it is distanced from the village.
We didn’t see a Church in Gasadalur, but there was a graveyard here. Normally I take photos of everything but I seem to have forgotten to take one of the graveyard, which was just to the right of this photo if memory serves.
The housing here in Gasadalur may not be any less typical than other Faroese villages, but it’s still magnificently artistic and makes a pleasant stroll through the streets. There are some colourful and odd shaped houses.
Getting Back from Gasadalur
You can do the same hike all the way back, so allow 5 hours if you are doing it that way but I was heading to Torshavn that day for a football match, so we only had time for the hike across. We decided to book a taxi in advance, and it picked us up at 12 noon. So basically we did the hike from 8 – 10 am, then we had a slow and sheltered walk to the village until 10.30 am then we explored the village and took shelter in the public toilet while waiting for our taxi! The taxi back to Sorvagur cost us 140 Danish Kroner (£14). Certainly not cheap, but the hike was free and we split it two ways and at least got back safe and on time for me to head to the football match. Hitch hiking would be an option, but good luck finding enough people to do that on a wet and misty day!
Katie and I loved the hike to Gasadalur despite the poor weather. It was a really cool experience and I recommend you to do it. The views are amazing. Here are some videos I made during the hike: