Getting Into Trouble at Saksun

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I only have a handful of travel related regrets, but unfortunately, I have a new one to add to that list.

I thoroughly and wholeheartedly regret visiting the town of Saksun in the Faroe Islands.

The town itself exudes a dark and dreamy kind of beauty and looks like nowhere else on the planet. It has all the elements of a place that I’d love to visit, but unfortunately, it lacks charm and instead projects hostility onto those who visit, which all culminated in a seriously unpleasant encounter on what should have been an amazing day.

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Located on the northwest coast of Streymoy (the same island that is home to the capital of Torshavn), Saksun is home to an amazing waterfall, an incredible lake and some absolutely gorgeous traditional Faroese turf roofed houses.

It is home to just 8 inhabitants, and unfortunately, this is where the problem lies.

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Now, I feel as though I should preface this by saying that there have been a handful of well documented incidents in the past of tourists behaving badly in this town. Trespassing and illegal drone flight by misbehaving tourists has left the inhabitants of this town feeling frustrated and disrespected – feelings which I understand and will make no attempt to disregard.

However, the undeniably bad actions of a few absolute dickheads has now caused said inhabitants to view all travellers as potential assholes, and treat them with the hostility that such a point of view can cause.

I made a real point to try and be as respectful as I possibly could be, and it still ended up with me being threatened and verbally abused.

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So, here’s what happened.

After nearly cracking open both mine and Dan’s skulls whilst slipping and sliding up the trail next to the waterfall, I stood back to admire the beauty of the landscape and spotted what looked like a trail going down past the church towards the beach.

I had done research in advance and learned that there is a small turf house on the right side of the valley, down close to the water, and it is this property that has been trespassed on the most. So when I spotted what I thought was a trail leading to the left side of the valley, it made sense to me that this was the public path and trail.

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I followed this road down towards the church, and this is where the trouble really began.

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At the end of this road were a few small signs saying ‘keep off the grass’. I took this to mean ‘stay on the trail’, as there was a very obvious stretch of what looked like an extremely well trodden pathway.

So, off I went, making sure to walk on the slippery and treacherous muddy ‘path’, as the signs had said to keep off the grass. At this point, I was completely under the impression that I was doing the right thing.

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After a little while, the muddy ‘trail’ started to disappear and staying off the grass started becoming harder and harder until eventually it was pretty much impossible. At this point, I started to doubt that I should continue onwards and I stopped where I was to take some photos before turning around and heading back to Dan and the car.

This is where things went wrong.

I turned around to see walking towards me Dan in the distance, so I stayed where I was and waited for him to reach me. Once he got to me, we stood and admired the views for a few more minutes before starting the walk back to the car.

No more than a few minutes later, I suddenly heard a rumbling and a man on a kind of quad bike quickly came into view.

It took me a few seconds to register the look of fury on his face, but as soon as my brain could comprehend it, I also realised that yep, we had definitely made a mistake.

As soon as I had realised this, I opened my mouth to apologise but before I could, this Faroese guy leapt into an abusive tirade. He informed us that we were trespassing, and I tried to explain how I’d misunderstood the signs, which caused him to start mocking us and asking us if we were ‘fucking blind or fucking dumb’. He then started yelling about how he was ‘so fucking sick of stupid tourists raping this land’ and it was this comment in particular that really made me upset.

In the past, I have divulged the fact that I was raped in Ireland in 2012, on this blog, and honestly, having someone compare purely mistaken trespassing to rape is completely unacceptable.

I am well aware that we ended up in the wrong area and that we did the wrong thing, but how dare this absolute imbecile compare rape to this particular situation.

He obviously has no idea what being raped feels like, and I hope that he never does, however, he should probably learn a little bit of sensitivity and self awareness.

His swearing, yelling and abuse continued for far too long before he finally rode off on his turf pulling quad.

To that note, I’d like to point out that the huge quad bike he chased us down on was probably doing a lot more damage to the land than we were!

I would urge anyone who is visiting the Faroe Islands to skip Saksun. The people living here clearly don’t want visitors bothering them, so people should respect that.

However, I have a few thoughts. Firstly, the tourism board and website should stop promoting Saksun as a place to visit. Secondly, the inhabitants should make some signs that say something a bit less vague than ‘keep off the grass’. Thirdly, to the Faroese asshole with the quad bike, maybe stop complaining about tourists ruining your land whilst you run around and ruin it yourself?

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It’s really a shame, because Saksun is undeniably gorgeous, but no matter how pretty it is, I’d never want to go back.

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THE LOWDOWN

Getting to the Faroe Islands: We flew with Atlantic Airways which services daily routes to Copenhagen, twice weekly connections to Edinburgh and regular routes to Reykjavik
Car Hire: We hired a small 2×2 through 62°N, the largest vehicle provider in the Faroe Islands
Turf House AirBnB: We spent five nights in this fabulous AirBnB, click here to get a discount on your first stay with AirBnB!
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 lenses
Remember: Skip Saksun, it isn’t worth enduring the negative energy

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20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

13 thoughts on “Getting Into Trouble at Saksun

  1. Painting everyone with the same brush springs to mind… And yes, the use of the verb “rape” in these figurative terms is really unfortunate. But I really like how balanced you are in your recollection of the events, many other bloggers would go down a much more dramatic way for the sake of a few more clicks and the hope of going viral. Well done to you, hats’ off!

    Fabrizio

  2. Sorry this happened when you very clearly had made a mistake. If the inhabitants don’t want visitors then Saksun ( however beautiful) should be taken out of the tourist guides as you say. xx

  3. I agree, if a piece of land is privately owned and you don’t want anyone walking on, make that clear! A sign that says “This is private property, do not go beyond this point!!” would probably get the job done better. But sometimes I think people enjoy not being as clear as they could just so they can get their rocks off verbally abusing people, you know?

    1. Honestly, I think you might be onto something. The guy I encountered definitely seemed to take some pleasure from verbally abusing us!

  4. If I were really inclined to visit Faero (which I am not, at present), I would likely befriend a local and get that person to guide me to the waterfall. Saksun sounds like a place to avoid, in any case.

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