In 1914, three men walked up a mountain overlooking Tórshavn and its suburbs. They had one mission; to look for the king’s ship in the horizon, so they could send the message down to Tórshavn in order for the city to be ready to greet him. The king took a while to reach the city, so the three men started getting bored. They decided to build three cairns on top of the mountain, right where they were standing. These three cairns later came to be known as Kongavarða – or King’s Cairns in English.
It was the first sunny day that we’d had on our April trip to the Faroe Islands. We knew that we couldn’t miss an opportunity to go hiking, especially considering how quickly and often the weather changes in these islands, far up in the North Atlantic Ocean.
We hadn’t heard about Kongavarða before Poul’s uncle Sæbjørn told us about it that day. It sounded like the perfect day hike, so we went along with Poul, Sæbjørn and our friend Tórur, first to the Kirkjubøureyn Mountain with the characteristic view over Sandoy, Koltur, Hestur and Vágar, and then to the cairns with the most perfect view over the city of Tórshavn and Nólsoy – and the waters beyond it. Maybe we would see a king in the horizon that day?
To the top of Kirkjubøureyn
We started the hike by the foot of Kirkjubøureyn Mountain. The weather was still beautiful, better than we’d had in Denmark for months. The thing with the Faroese weather is that when it’s good, it’s really good! Either it’s foggy and raining or it’s sunny and perfect hiking weather. That day we had the latter, at least in the beginning of the hike.
Hiking up to the top of Kirkjubøureyn didn’t take long. The mountain is only 351 metres high and there’s a well-trodden path most of the way. Usually, people take the trip around the mountain to go to the historical village of Kirkjubøur, which I’ve also done twice, but this time we were going to the actual top of the mountain and then east instead of west.
Once we got up there, we had the most spectacular view of the surrounding islands, and we could even see all the way to the tiny islet Trøllhøvdi at the tip of Sandoy. But my favourite thing about the mountain were all the lakes! It looked like some kind of moon landscape with small lakes everywhere. They looked even more mesmerizing in the early afternoon light with bright sun on one side and dark clouds on the other.
Hailstones at the King’s Cairns
We could see the grey clouds getting closer and closer. We didn’t want to get caught in it, so we hurried up and walked quickly to the three cairns located just a few hundred metres east of the top of Kirkjubøureyn.
But we didn’t quite make it there dry. Shortly before we got there, it started hailing like crazy. Talk about quick weather changes, Faroe Islands! The fog came sneaking in from the north, so we quickly snapped some photos and then it was time to head back down.
And the Sun Shone Upon Us
Getting back down didn’t take us long, and when we got there, the sun was shining from a bright blue sky once again. It was a weird weather day, but a typical Faroese weather day.
We finished off the day at a cozy café by the harbour front in Tórshavn, from where we could see the three cairns on the mountain in the distance.