Sunday 8 July 2018

Walking in Norway

I'd picked Kate up from Trondheim airport and, after an excruciatingly cold morning wandering round the city itself, we headed for the Trollheimen mountains. It poured with rain for the journey, and snow was falling on the hills. An entertaining drive up a dirt road took us to our first hut, Gjevilvasshytta.
Our original plan was for a triangular route taking in two other huts, with an extra night back at Gjevilvasshytta on the return. The warden helpfully told us, however, that we could change our bookings to spend two nights at a different hut if we wanted. Since they are all run by the DNT (Norwegian Trekking Association), there was no additional cost to this. Catered huts are effectively remote hotels, though with bunk beds and sometimes outside toilets. The buildings are full of character- ancient wood and turf roofs.

Our route turned out to be a Norwegian "classic". The first day to the Joldalshytta took us up through birch woods and across high ground. There was a brisk wind and fresh snow on the ground.

We passed a reindeer herding camp, with the woodburning stove left for use next time round.

A few reindeer were still around.

Bridges, where they exist, pose a special problem. We tended to shuffle across them, rather than walk, so that we didn't tripp-trapp. We didn't want to attract unwelcome attention from below.

Our second day gave us a fine ascent of the Geithetta, en route to the picturesque Trollsheimhytta.

From here, with a weather forecast which promised more than it delivered, we climbed Snota, one of the favourite peaks of the area. There is a well waymarked trail, but thick mist and lying snow made it hard to follow at times. Our summit view lasted about five seconds.

Finally, on the only warm and sunny day I encountered in Norway, we returned to Gjevilvasshytta. Our Norwegian hut experience was wonderful, with good accommodation, food which was either delicious or interesting (possibly not both at the same time), and friendly staff and walkers.

Friday 6 July 2018

Lofoten, after the storm

Thanks to the forecast we retreated to a small apartment rented out by the campsite. The storm which arrived had already done a lot of damage in Scotland a couple of days beforehand. We used the time to visit a restored Viking settlement and museum, and to visit (in the company of hordes of others) some of the pretty villages of the area. It was hard work in a wind threatening to blow us over.

Strangely, it seems that sea birds around here prefer nesting on buildings rather than rocks. How they stayed there in the howling gale I do not know.

John had brought fishing gear along. I'm pretty sure I was promised cod for my dinner every night, but this was as close as I got.

As the weather cleared we were left with 3 days of paddling. We launched from Ramberg, where the local ladies took us to task for wearing so many clothes.

We first had views into the Selfjorden, to which we would return.

Then we entered the narrows of Sundstraumen, which took us from North to South between the islands, with a strong tide flowing.

Sund, the village at the south end of the narrows, was a delightful place. We stopped for waffles, and to watch the local blacksmith. His main source of income is the manufacture of cormorants. It would have been tough to fit one in a boat, though.

Our camp was on the island of Kunna. In his guidebook Jann had mentioned two potential campsites. We only found one, but it was enough. Jann's idea of a good campsite is not quite what I'm used to at home. Around here a good campsite is a piece of flat ground big enough for a tent. There isn't necessarily a good landing spot, and there probably isn't a water supply.

Our return journey took us to a mountain hut in the Selfjord. Norwegian huts (of which more later) are well maintained and generally in in very scenic spots. This was no exception. The Billy Goats Gruff seem to feature on their stoves often.

From here we had our last short paddle back to Ramberg, with the weather clearly deteriorating again. John was to fly home the following day, while I had to start the long drive south. Fortunately I had only a couple of days to travel before picking up Kate at Trondheim airport, for another phase of the trip.

Tuesday 3 July 2018

Lofoten, the wild side

The weather wasn't entirely bad. Sunny spells did happen, though sometimes at inconvenient times of night.

We moved base to Flakstad, a pretty but tiny village with a campsite that could have come straight from the Outer Hebrides. The cemetery suggested a fishing history.

I was very keen to see the west coast of Moskenesoya and to paddle past the fabled maelstrom. Unfortunately a major storm was approaching, and a forecast of force 10 on land couldn't be ignored. We had 2 days in which to make a dash to this coast, surely the biggest kayaking attraction of the Lofotens. It was time only for an out and back trip, passing Kvalvika beach on the way to a camp at Horseid.

Kvalvika featured in a wonderful film on Vimeo, called North of the Sun. Two Norwegian surfers spent a winter here, living in a shack made of driftwood, and spending the short days surfing and beach cleaning. It's pay to view, but well worth it.
We camped at Horseid, one of Earth's special places.

With heavy hearts we then to retreat and find a roof over our heads for the storm.