Story of an unexpected and memorable walk from Sørvágur all the way to Gásadalur, true highlight of Vágar island and unique place to visit in the Faroes.
As I mentioned in the Sørvágsvatn post, Gásadalur is a true highlight of Vágar island. Gásadalur is a super tiny village on the western coast of the island. Its location is unique, to say the least: the village sits on high ground in a flat area by the coast, just above Mulafossur waterfall. It brings the notion of ‘spectacular’ to a whole new level.
As for ourselves, we were all but planning on going to Gásadalur that day. In fact, we were focused on the day trip to Mykines Island, which we had booked for that day even before we left for the islands. We were really confident it was going to happen.
Yes, because the Mykines trip is especially dependent on the weather. However, because we woke up to a promisingly sunny day, we were super hopeful when we boarded the bus to Sørvágur, the village where the ferry to Mykines departs from. (More on Mykines and the Mykines trip you find here.)
And yet, despite the overall good weather conditions and the virtually motionless sea, when we arrived at Sørvágur port we found that the ferry had been cancelled: the high waves on Mykines coast made it unsafe for the ferry to dock. We therefore agreed with GreenGate Incoming (the agency we’d booked our trip with) that we’d try our luck again the next day.
‘So what, now?’, we asked ourselves. At that point, getting out of Vágar would have been too much of a waste of time, so we resolved to do the simplest thing we could right there and then: go for a walk.
We took the main road that goes out of Sørvágur and along the coast. It’s also the road that cars drive down, so you want to stick to the roadside the whole time.
It doesn’t get dangerous. Traffic is the opposite of heavy, plus you can also hitchhike at any point along the way, and you stand a good chance of getting a free lift. Hitchhiking is popular in the Faroes, so no one will find it odd or out of place if you give it a try.
Also, did I mention that the road is highly scenic? Well, it is!
Our initial goal was to reach Bøur, a super tiny village around 4 km north of Sørvágur. We walked most of the way, till a middle-aged Australian couple from our hostel drove past in their car, and picked us up. They dropped us off by the narrow street that takes you through the village.
Bøur must really come straight out of a fairy tale, because I couldn’t explain it otherwise. It amounts to a bunch of wooden houses by the ocean. Most of them are turf-roofed. The loudest noise you get to hear is the call of either a seagull or a sheep sleepily grazing on the grassy slopes that Bøur is nestled in.
The scenery is equally breathtaking. From Bøur you get the best view of the islands and islets off Vágar: Drangarnir sea stacks (the arch-shaped rock and the smaller one right next to it), steep-sloped Tindhólmur, flat Gáshólmur, and secluded Mykines.
I was particularly fascinated by Tindholmur. Its shape is somewhere between funny and plain indescribable. It almost looks like an object of modern design, the orderly row of rocks on the top resembling the result of a chiselling session.
We contemplated the scenery for a (long) while. We had lunch sitting on the slope in a nondescript spot just outside Bøur. Then we also contemplated our options.
We could go back to Sørvágur. Or we could walk all the way to Gásadalur.
The odds were all against us, though. For one thing, the Australian couple from our hostel were on their way to Gásadalur when they picked us up, but by the time we started toying with the idea of heading here, they were long gone. They left immediately after dropping us off.
What’s more, Gásadalur was another 5 km or so from Bøur. it was quite a walk, and we did have to walk: no other options in sight (except hitchhiking, true, but it’s not that you stick out your arm, and it happens instantly, you don’t want to rely solely on that).
We eventually ‘pulled a Forrest Gump’ (‘we figured, since we’d gone this far, we might as well… just keep on going.’), and we resumed walking. We were going to Gásadalur.
We had to get there asap, as we’d have to walk all the way back to Sørvágur in time to catch at least the last bus to Sandavágur (where our hostel was located).
Gásadalur is no longer served by public transport. There are three ways to reach the village:
1. By car, which is the fastest and most convenient of all. What made it possible to drive to Gásadalur is a tunnel opened in 2006, which means vehicles can transit through to the opposite side of the mountain.
2. Hiking over the mountain (yes, the one through which the tunnel was built), all the way to the other side. The hike is known as ‘the old postal route’, because in the old days the postman had to hike to Gásadalur three times a week to deliver mail to the handful of inhabitants of the tiny village (currently about a dozen).
The route starts just before the tunnel. Shortly before you approach the tunnel, take the earthy, narrow path off the main road on the left. A bit further on you can park your car and start the hike. You will most likely see other cars parked there, you won’t miss it! The hike is about 3.5 km long. It ends by the tunnel exit.
Needless to say, this one’s the most scenic, most spectacular option available. I can only imagine the views you get from up there. Plus, the idea of reaching Gásadalur via such an old, traditional route gives it a somewhat Romantic connotation in the most 19th-century meaning of the word.
Appealing as it might sound (and understandably so), though, the hike is all but easy and straightforward. In fact, it’s very tough, and it demands caution, so do not venture up there unless you are experienced hikers (or at the very least you know what you’re doing), you are not afraid of heights, and/or you are accompanied by a local guide.
3. On foot, which means walking along the main road, and crossing the tunnel on foot.
We chose option 3, or I should say that option 3 chose us. We didn’t have a car, and we didn’t have enough time for the hike (nor were we familiar enough with it, not having planned it in the first place). If we wanted to reach Gásadalur, we had to walk. So we walked.
The road is okay, and so is the tunnel. Of course one wouldn’t choose to cross a dark 1.5 km-long tunnel if one could, but hey, it worked, and I’ve done more dangerous things in life.
For one thing, in the tunnel it’s not pitch black and, with a little help from your phone light, you see where you’re going every step of the way. What’s more, it’s a one-way tunnel, so cars drive fairly slowly. Other tunnels in the Faroes wouldn’t allow crossing on foot (e.g. the one that connects Vágar and Streymoy): cars drive too fast, and the side of the tunnel doesn’t allow to walk safely all the way.
Also, when, before travelling to the Faroes, I searched ways to get to Gásadalur, I read about the tunnel, and how crossing it on foot was feasible after all.
That said, if you choose to (or have to) cross the tunnel to Gásadalur, be extra super careful every step of the way. I can’t stress it enough.
As you step out of the tunnel, the road bends. Keep going, and a bit further on Gásadalur will materialise in the distance right in front of you. We could hardly believe we had really made it there, maybe because it was the last thing we’d expect to see that day.
You want to allow yourself a little time to take in the scenery, possibly one of the most perfect and most stunning I’ve ever seen. Incidentally, as I mentioned above the hike along the postman’s route ends just next to the tunnel exit, so you might see people trotting down the steep steep trail down the slope there.
The main (and winding) road down the slope takes you all the way up to the village. As you head downhill, and Gásadalur gets closer and closer, you will gradually appreciate the vastness of the landscape. Gásadalur itself is a very small village, but against the backdrop of the characteristic mountain towering above it, it looks like a miniature village.
Nor is the mountain range on the right-hand side of the road any less majestic…
At some point you will also glimpse the top of Mulafossur waterfall, right below Gásadalur. To gain a proper view, you have to make a little detour. There’s an earthy path off the main road on the left at some point. It will take you to a kind of fenced viewing spot, from which you get a superb view of the waterfall.
Again, the absolute beauty of the view will leave you speechless: the stream of the waterfall as it falls tirelessly into the sea…
… a bit of rainbow that suddenly appears on the waterfall surface, thus making an already spectacular scenery even more special…
… and the turquoise ocean warmed by the early-May sun…
There is also a second path to the left of the main road, before you reach Gásadalur. It will take you across the grassy slopes just above and below the village, and along the stream that flows into Mulafossur waterfall itself.
The occasional Faroese sheep will keep you company every step of the way…
And if, at this point, you think that it can’t get more breathtaking than that, well you’re partially wrong. There is one more thing you should absolutely do before thinking of leaving Gásadalur.
Remember the fenced viewing spot I mentioned above? Th ere is a narrow path that starts next to it, also going downhill. Follow the path to its very end, where you find another, less obvious viewing spot. You will really see everything from there: the village and the waterfall at the same time, the blue ocean, the grassy slopes, the mountains…
‘It’s like a painting’ is something people say to suggest that something is almost too beautiful to be true. Well, that Gásadalur view really is like a painting. The best part is that it’s not.
On the way back to Sørvágur we came across what I consider one of the most extraordinary sights seen in the Faroes (and ever in my life) is this: a family of Faroese geese finding their way around the island. The very moment we stepped out of the tunnel, we saw them on the kerb of the road, as if not sure which way to go. They eventually kept to the roadside and headed toward the mountains, till they became tiny dots in the vastness of the scenery.
It was so amazing!
We also walked through Bøur a second time. As we strolled down the one road through the village, we found that a film was being shot. There were actors in old costumes, and also a horse-drawn carriage: it felt like going back in time, the timing was great!
I’m so glad we did not drive to and from Gásadalur, or we may have skipped Bøur altogether.
We were almost back in Sørvágur, when a car pulled off right next to us, and offered us a lift. The driver turned out to be an Australian blogger, photographer and world traveller. He was on his way to Trøllkonufingur, so in the end he drove us all the way back to Sandavágur. We could hardly believe our luck, but we were so tired from the long walk that we thought we wouldn’t ask ourselves too many questions.