Leitisvatn to Traelanipa
- Location: Faroe Islands
- Categories: Summer / Autumn / Marine west coast / Tundra / Highland / Mountain / Plain / Coastal / Rural / Sea / Lake / Waterfall
- Duration: 3 Hours
- Distance: 6 miles
Walking the trail:
- Summary: A short and easy 6 mile walk from the town of Midvagur to the dramatic sheer cliffs of Traelanipa to see some breathtaking views around the island of Vagur and witness how the Vikings disposed of their slaves.
One of the most scenic landing approaches I have ever experienced has to be arriving at the Faroe Islands. My flight from Edinburgh descended Northward through the clouds revealing the islands of Suduroy and Sandoy, then slowly banked westward through the lush green mountain hills of Vagar. It’s a beautiful sight; I’ve never seen so many people looking out of the windows with such excitement. During final landing you pass closely over the huge lake Leitisvatn. This lake is where this trail feature follows, southward to the imposing walled cliffs of Traelanipa.
Now before I get into the trail itself, it’s worth noting that the Faroe Islands are really easy and relatively inexpensive to get too. Flights can be taken from Edinburgh in Scotland and Copenhagen in Denmark. I believe you can also fly from Reykjavik in Iceland also. In the summer of 2018 I paid £180 for my return flight from Edinburgh which I think is really reasonable. Luckily the Islands are pretty expensive so luckily the masses won’t be flocking over too soon. As an English man I’m glad my culture is generally more interested in Spanish sunshine than the magical landscapes of Scandinavia.
My flight landed around 4.30 pm in the afternoon and I was keen for an immediate adventure! Summer evenings in the Faroes stay light until midnight and even then it’s quite light so it’s the perfect place for long hiking days. The trail to Traelanipa starts in the town of Midvagur which is a short 10 minute bus or car journey eastwards from the airport.
If you’re new to the islands then this trail has to be the best introduction to your Faroe Island outdoor adventures. It’s the most accessible and probably the easiest walk of the lot. It doesn’t require any technical or navigation skills and unless you want to jump off a steep cliff (please don’t do this!) then it’s pretty tame. Of course you will be exposed to sheer cliffs so common sense is required. For me this trail was the most logical to start with as I knew I could land, find my accommodation in Midvagur and still get the hiking boots on for the evening. Although I was trying to "get my money’s worth" out of my hiking experience it was perhaps all a bit of a blur from the moment I landed, bused to Midvagur, found my guest house and arranged my day pack with all my camera stuff. Maybe next time I’ll allow more relaxing time, but of course it’s difficult especially when you only have a week and you want to see "everything"! It felt logical to try and get a hike ticked off on the day of arrival. Felt kind of like a freebie ha!
In Midvagur i was staying at Lisa guest house near the 2 supermarkets at the west end of town. The trail itself follows eastwards down the main road then a right turn down the first main side street which winds up hill past a school. Eventually the buildings become sparse and you can then spot some signs directing you to the walk. It’s not the easiest path to find to be fair but luckily the town is small and as long as you can see the lake you should know you’re going the right direction. Once you get to the map signpost then it’s a case of following the gravel path all the way to the cliffs.
There is actually a lower path that follows closer to the lake which somehow (I’m not sure how) I found and started walking. This was fine except I attempted to walk across the grass heathland to connect to the actual higher trail path and was quickly introduced to the aggressive nature of some of the birds! As I walked across I kept hearing this swooping sound followed by a rush of air each time. After a few times, confused, I looked up and literally come face to face with a large Skua bird swooping right down for my head. I’m not going to lie, that dark wing spanned terror scared the life out of me! So my best strategy was to run as quick as I could. It still kept diving me until I got out of its nest zone. Very hot and bothered, I was glad to reach the path. Certainly a new experience for me and one that I would experience a few times during my Faroe Island Adventures, although I learned to use my tripod as a pretend extension of my head to fool them and save my scalp! A lot of hiking in the islands is done through natural open grass landscapes, not paths so it’s likely you will anger birds if you get near their nests. The Skua in particular was my foe and if I ever saw a dark bird with a diamond shaped tail I knew caution was required!
So the trail path itself is a pleasant easy one, the view of the lake Leitisvatn is beautiful and if there’s not many people, ( I saw about 10 people altogether) you will have the constant company of the chirping oyster catchers and their bright orange beaks. 2.5 miles of walking you get to the start of the cliffs and some real good views. These are imposing sheer faced cliffs with the North Atlantic Ocean waves making a thunderous crashing sound. It’s extremely powerful and intimidating stuff, certainly not an area of sea I would want to fall into! It’s quite a steep climb up to Traelanipa (142m) but once near the top the views are incredible. Looking east is the awesome looking tip of Ritubergsnova (376m) which looked cool in the evening sunset light. To the west was the sun glistening coastline of Vagar, but the best view was immediately north where the ocean and Leitisvatn could be seen in the same shot, the "lake over the ocean". (A bit of an optical illusion effect) The teeth of the cliffs looking mighty and impressive with the whites of the crashing waves at their feet. It is said that the Vikings used to walk slaves that had no more use and push them of the cliffs here. A really terrifying thought indeed.
It was now around 9pm in the evening the still very light, although the golden glow of sunset sun was evident. After the rushing of my arrival, it was nice to sit and enjoy the views for a whilst. For the first time it dawned on me that I was in a place in the world that few people have visited or will ever visit. The whole place is just really unique and feels so isolated from the rest of the world. It’s exactly what I had come to experience and I was very happy for it.
There were a couple of other people up Traelanipa so was good to say hello and have some conversations. Places like the Faroe Islands are full of secrets so always speak to people as you will always hear interesting stories and give you ideas for your own plans. I changed my plans a lot in my weeks visit based on recommendations and places I felt compelled to visit.
I have 2 regrets on this trail. Firstly I did not use my drone at all. Being very new to drone flying I was very anxious about flying my new Mavic Air around the sea and cliffs. I would have definitely got some superb footage had I had got it out, but like all things experience is key. Now I’ve flown it a lot more and over water, I now wouldn’t think twice about it! Luckily I used it during other trails across the islands which also built up my drone confidence. Secondly is that I totally missed the waterfall of Bosdalafossur which where Leitisvatn flows into the ocean. I have no idea why I didn’t walk down to this point as it’s just at the bottom of Traelanipa! I mean it’s actually the main attraction of the path to get there! So please if anyone reads this and is inspired to go and walk, please make sure you see it! Maybe send me a photo so I can add to this page. (Obviously credited to the owner)
By 10pm I was definitely getting tired so it was time to leave these dramatic cliffs being and walk the 3 miles back to Midvagur. This time sticking to the main path all the way! There was still the odd person walking to the cliffs even half way back, hence illustrating the abundance of daylight. As the path is pretty flat it really doesn’t take long to get back to Midvagur, an hour or so depending on your walking pace. It was nice to get to my guesthouse, and have a shower and enjoy a proper rest, well as good a rest as I could manage, the adventure started again early the next morning, but that’s a different Faroe Island Story....
In summary this is a must do walk. It’s on the doorstep to the entrance into the Faroes Islands, it can be done in a few hours, it’s pretty easy and the views are some of the best you’re going to see on your visit. Go and do it, you will not be disappointed!
If you have any questions about this hike then please feel free to message. GPX route available.