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Nordic Shangri-La

3 adventure photographers take to the Faroe Islands.

Story by Peak Design October 6th, 2016

some rocks in the atlantic

Our friends at ƒ/8 Workshops take photographers and adventurers off the beaten path to places that even the well-traveled seldom step foot. And there are few paths less beaten than the Faroe Islands, a small isolated subpolar archipelago that sits midway between Iceland and Scotland.

Sørvágsvatn (island of Vágar)

the history

While evidence suggests that the Faroe Islands had earlier occupants, the first recorded settlers were the Norse around the year 800. From that point on, the Faroes have remained sparsely inhabited and relatively quiet, with the exception of a handful of Norwegian kings sporadically coming in and beheading non-Christians.

The result is a unique language (they speak Faroese), a proprietary currency, and a tightly knit traditional culture nestled among a breathtaking group of jagged islands that are so small and remote, being there almost feels like you’re just floating in the middle of the North Atlantic.

Whaling Practices And Our Thoughts

Whale slaughter in the Faroe Islands has been a community tradition for hundreds of years. We at Peak Design, along with the folks who comprised this photo essay, are committed environmentalists. By sharing this Field Note, we most certainly do not condone this practice. Here’s what we will say.

1. Learn about the history of whaling in the Faroe Islands.

2. Do not project the actions of a few onto an entire country or culture.

3. Join an organization dedicated to protecting marine habitats. We work closely with Save The Waves. But there are many more organizations out there, and they would love your help in taking action.

We promote awareness, understanding, and action, and not condemnation of an entire country or people. The Faroe Islands are awe-inspiring, the Faroese are a fascinating culture, and that’s what this Field Note story is all about.

the crew

Meet Conor MacNeill (@thefella), Greg Annandale (@greg_a), and Zoë Timmers (@zobolondon). Together, they set the itinerary and pace for the workshops, ensuring participants were getting everything they could out of the experience.

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not as far as you think

Why the Faroe Islands? Aside from being gorgeous, and relatively undiscovered by the mainstream traveler, the Faroes are surprisingly easy to get to. Sure, there’s just one airline that’ll fly you there, and one tiny airfield to land at. But from London it’s nothing more than a few hours flight time via Copenhagen.

Vágar from the air
Conor on cliffs besides Sørvágsvatn (island of Vágar)

the gear

The crew stocked up on PD gear for the trip. Everyday Messenger bags provided rugged, weatherproof protection and organization. And a set of Capture clips kept cameras at hand always.

Greg on cliffs besides Sørvágsvatn (island of Vágar)

the puffins

Puffin Penguins are an icon of the Faroe Islands. They live in other subpolar environments, but nowhere else do they nest in such concentrate as they do on the Faroe Island of Mykines.

Trollkonufingur (Witch's Finger) near Sandavágur (island of Vágar)
Puffin on the island of Mykines
Zoë on cliffs besides Sørvágsvatn (island of Vágar)

the weather

Because they are so small, the Faroes impart little influence on the maritime weather. Hence, they’re always at the mercy of the volatile North Atlantic. Days often go from perfectly blue sunny skies to intense wind, fog, and snow, even at sea level. In the image below, all the snow fell during the half hour it took for the crew to walk to that vantage point. It was completely gone the next day.

Mountains above Gjogv (island of Eysturoy)
Hut near the village of Saksun (island of Streymoy)
Zoë beside Sørvágsvatn (island of Vágar)

50,000 inhabitants

And about 80,000 sheep. Below depicts a typical modest home in the Faroes.

Grass-roofed hut in Saksun (island of Streymoy)

the film

Greg put together an epic collage of drone footage. Grab a beer and go full screen.

Road near the village of Saksun (island of Streymoy)
Norðradalur (island of Streymoy)
Natural harbour in Gjogv (island of Eysturoy)
Island of Koltur
Footnote: All photos taken by Conor MacNeill, Greg Annandale, and Zoë Timmers.
Faroe Islands
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