Sørvágsvatn and Bøsdalafossur

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Lake Sørvágsvatn or Leitisvatn is the largest lake in the Faroe Islands. Here we can see Bøsdalafossur waterfall (30 meters high) falling into the ocean from the lake, The lake is situated on the island of Vágar.

The lake is located very close to the ocean, but its surface is about 40 meters above the level of sea. It is surrounded by a higher cliff which prevents it from emptying fully into the ocean, the waterfall Bøsdalafossur being the outlet. The greater height of the cliffs on either side of Bøsdalafossur can give the illusion from certain perspectives that the lake is higher above sea level than it is.

Among the locals, there is disagreement regarding the name of the lake. The inhabitants of Sørvágur to the west prefer Sørvágsvatn, which means “the lake by Sørvágur”. The inhabitants of Miðvágur and Sandavágur to the east prefer Leitisvatn, which means “the lake by Leiti”, referring to the territory on east side of it.

The village of Miðvágur is situated closer to the lake than Sørvágur, but the latter was settled earlier. Sørvágur – alongside Bøur and Sandavágur – is considered one of the three original settlements on Vágar. These divided the land on the island into three equal regions of 60 marks, which would place the lake within Sørvágur’s region.

The locals mostly refer to it as Vatnið “The lake”, which is understood as a reference to that body of water. It is mostly when people from other parts of the Faroes refer to the lake by one of its given names that the debate will occur.