Endless LightSunrise and sunset in the Faroes
Dusk and dawn then overlap in a hazy fog until it rises again at 3 a.m. On a rare, clear night, those keen enough can catch both occurrences in a scant handful of hours.
I spent five days and four nights on the Faroes in June, and didn’t once see a smudge of darkness – unless you count the necessary plunge I regularly took into the network of long tunnels connecting the islands. The lack of nightfall appears to bring the constant race against the clock grinding to a halt. Time, as we are used to it, ceases to exist because days are not defined by the usual parameters. The sun does eventually set, of course, yawning past the horizon some time after midnight. Twilight and Dawn then overlap in a hazy fog until it rises again at 3 a.m. On a rare, clear night, those keen enough can catch both occurrences in a scant handful of hours. On June 21, locals hike up to the Slættaratindur, the highest peak, to take in the spectacle while enjoying a picnic of wind dried mutton washed down with strong coffee.
I didn’t make it to the top of Slættaratindur – it was shrouded in cloud – or try wind dried mutton, but there was much else to fill my days and nights. In summer, the Faroes come to life, astutely making the most of it in anticipation of days that are whittled down to just a few hours in the depths of winter. Sleep is kept to a minimum and live music happenings of every scale – known as hoyma or f’ljóð if held in a living room – are a regular occurrence. Commercial radio stations play an unexpected mix of 1980s pop and twangy country tunes that kept us humming along during lengthy car rides.
While we covered decent ground on the Faroes by car, ferry, and even by helicopter – the latter a common commute between remote hamlets – by far the highlight were our daily treks. Although the vast and somewhat spare landscapes remain largely unchanged underfoot, every turn offers a new awe-inspiring vista. Be it a dramatic cliff drop revealing black basalt rock and rugged shoreline against the scene of a stormy horizon at the Kallurin lighthouse outside of Trøllanes, or the many sleepy villages with quaint, colourful wooden houses worthy of a storybook. Hiking is the most popular Faroese pastime, framed by majestic campestral scenery, broken up by dramatic fjords. Though you’d be hard pressed to find a tree or a signpost, which makes setting off on a hike something of a leap of faith. Out among the hills, with the winter snow long melted, a thick blanket of mossy-green stretched out before us – even on the rooftops of many traditional houses. On nearly every excursion, we hiked for hours without seeing a soul – unless you count the numerous sheep, precariously dotted about the hilltops. This, I found myself thinking, is perhaps what appeals most about the Faroes; to be out in nature and almost entirely alone. And with no threat of nightfall, it feels as though time is actually on your side.