Need to know
PATHS AND ROUTES
Most of the paths described in this guide are old village paths. Before roads were built, you would travel between the villages using these paths to trade, to visit family, to a Thing (local assembly), or to church. Village paths were also used when the coffins of the dead were carried to the nearest church. The paths are marked with ancient cairns, a heap of stones set up as a landmark showing the way, so you don’t get lost.
Some routes are not along the old village paths. These are along ancient footpaths that have been trod through the ages, such as on the mountains Slættaratindur and Klakkur, and to the waterfall Bøsdalafossur.
The routes can be listed in accordance to difficulty level, islands etc.
The cairns are in good condition and are well maintained in most places. In some places, the cairns can be hard to see, while the path is clearly visible. On some routes, the direction of the path is marked with poles sticking out of the ground. There are, however, a few places without cairns, clear path or poles. For these places, we have described other features, such as masts, buildings, inclination of the land and gorges that will guide you in the right direction.
It’s a tradition to leave a rock on every cairn you pass, and thus helping in keeping them standing for later generations.
DURATION AND DIFFICULTY
Each route is marked with a time indication that shows the duration of the walk. Unless otherwise noted, the time indicated covers the whole trip, and not just one way. The duration indicates how long it takes for an adult with normal walking speed to walk the route. Meal breaks or other stops are not included.
The difficulty level is also described, along with a recommendation on whether the trip is suitable for children. The difficulty level is assessed on the basis of how steep the terrain is, if the surface is rough or uneven, and how long the route is. It can be difficult to recommend a route for children, as all children are different. For example, an 8 year old in good shape can easily cover a seven kilometre journey, while a 12 year old in bad shape can’t finish the same trip. It is important that an adult takes the child’s physical shape and previous hiking experiences into consideration before making a decision on whether or not to allow them to join the trip.
FAUNA AND CULTURAL HISTORY
There are birds on many of the islands: Curlew, Snipe, Plovers, Oystercatchers, Skuas, Great Skuas, Ravens and Crows. Sheep, geese and hares are also common.
In the outfields you also get an idea of how the ancestors of the Faroese people lived and got by. Stone outhouses, boat houses, teigalendi (old arable strips), peat fields and kráir (stone stores for peat) tell us how close to nature people have lived. You see old field walls, drovers, sheep pens, sheep shelters, sheep houses and Fransatoftir (Frenchman’s Ruins, which are ruins of small houses where people took refuge from pirates in the old days).
Nature is fragile. It should be treated well and protected for future generations.
- Follow the cairns or other marks and do not go off the paths out into the meadow or outfield
- Close the outfield gates behind you
- Treat the cairns, fences and walls well
- Do not disturb the sheep, birds or plants.
- It is prohibited to pick plants or to take stones, eggs, or chicks home from the outfields
- It is customary to pick up loose wool, and bring it back with you
- Do not leave rubbish behind
- Beware of loose stones, especially when in a group
- Beware of not walking into marshland, as it can be deep
- Dogs must not be taken into the outfields without a leash
- It is prohibited to travel by bicycle or motor vehicle in the outfields or along the cairn paths
The Environment Agency of the Faroe Islands, is together with the municipalities organizing the elimination of rats on the Faroe Islands. Therefore you will find equipment in the faroese nature, that we use in this work.
Rats are doing much harm both in built area and in nature. In built area they are damaging buildings, waste water vessels and other installations, and in nature they are harming nature values, such as bird populations. Furthermore rats are carrying many infectious diseases.
In the Faroe Islands, we have rats on several islands, both in built area and in nature. On these islands, we try to exterminate the rat populations, and therefore you will find equipment at different locations in the nature. This can be boxes or pipes with rat poison. It’s very important that tourists leave the equipment, and don’t move it at all.
The islands free from rats are, Fugloy, Svínoy, Kalsoy, Nólsoy, Hestur, Koltur, Sandoy, Mykines, Skúvoy, Stóra Dímun and Lítla Dímun and the islats Mykineshólmur, Trøllhøvdi, Tindhólmur and Gáshólmur.
On these islands, we are monitoring if there should be any rats, and therefore equipment for this purpose from time to time is placed in nature on these islands. This is tunnels with ink paper and sticks with wax. This equipments can give us an indication whether or not rats have invaded the island.
We therefore urgently apply to everyone hiking in the Faroe Islands, not to touch the equipment, and not to leave food remains behind in nature, since this will help rats to survive.
CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT
- Always wear clothes suitable for the weather. However, as the weather in the Faroe Islands can change suddenly, even during the summer, it’s a good idea to bring extra clothes. A cap and gloves are also recommended
- Many places in the outfield are rocky and wet. It is recommended to use walking shoes/boots with rough bottoms. Rubber boots with rough bottoms can also be used. Remember, shoes and boots need to be broken-in. Do not go on a long hike in brand new footwear
- We recommend you wear several thin layers of clothing, preferably with wool as the innermost layer, depending on the weather. Wool and fleece are best because they keep the body warm even if the clothes become wet. The outer layer of clothing could be a windproof and, if possible, a waterproof jacket
- In very steep areas, you shouldn’t wear clothes made of nylon because they can be slippery. If possible, remove the nylon jacket until you have passed the steepest area
- A mobile phone can come in handy. Remember to charge the battery and maybe bring a power bank (extra charge) on long trips. Note that there is no mobile coverage on some stretches in the outfield
- Head lamp, compass and whistle can be useful in an emergency or if you are surprised by fog/darkness
- Always bring food, drink and something sweet, also for short trips
- A map of the route is an important part of your gear
- Notify your host about where you plan on hiking. Please let them know when you have arrived at the destination
- Always walk with others
- Do not be afraid to ask locals or experienced people for directions, weather or other advice
- Be particularly careful in areas with loose stones and rocks, especially if traveling in a group
- Decide in advance on how you are going to walk in order to avoid accidents
- Do not go too close to the cliffs; especially in wet areas when the ground can be slippery.
- Keep an eye on your children
- Check the weather forecast to see if conditions are favourable for walking
- Do not leave if there is fog or dark outside
- Be prepared for the fact that meteorologists can be wrong or that the weather can suddenly change, no matter the season. If you are surprised by unexpected fog on a trip, it is very important to keep close to the cairns. If the fog is so dense that you can’t see from one cairn to the next, it is best to wait by a cairn and try to keep warm
- Turn back if there is something wrong. There is no shame in not finishing the hike
- Be well dressed, preferably in several layers of clothing.
The maps that are referred to in the fact boxes are the topographic maps (topographical 1: 20.000) from the Danish Kort og Matrikelstyrelsen, 1991.
Contact local Tourist Informations for digital maps (GPX) of routes for iPhone and Android.
See travel plans for buses and ferries on www.ssl.fo or contact the Tourist Information in the relevant area.
Dial 112 for any type of emergency assistance anywhere in the country.