Towards the end of June 2020, the UK Government announced easing of the Covid-19 restrictions, thus from 4th July family and friends can meet in indoor gatherings in homes, pubs and restaurants, so long as they involve no more than two households at a time. Also in the announcement was that foreign travel would be permitted from 4 July.
Hence Duncan and Liz, amended their bookings for an early morning, Folkestone to Calais Eurotunnel crossing for 8 July 2020 and Rostock to Trelleborg ferry for 11 July. They also registered in advance with Swedish Customs that they would be bringing the dogs into Sweden. This was done online and would allow them to use the green, “Nothing to declare” lane, on arrival at Trelleborg. The link to this site is here.
On the 4 July with Covid-19 lockdown restrictions eased, Duncan and Liz’s eldest daughter and her partner took the opportunity to visit them and remain at their premises as house-sitters, once Duncan and Liz embarked on their adventure.
Diary of the Adventure around Scandinavia and the Arctic Circle
Day 1: 7 July 2020 – Mid-afternoon, Duncan, Liz and the two dogs (Freya and Storm), departed on their adventure arriving at an off-road parking area that was 4 miles (6.5km) from the Eurotunnel terminal at circa 23:00 hours. This parking area was found using the wildcamping online forum’s POI database. The route taken was 280 mile (450km) and involved the following roads: M62, A1, A14, M11, M25, A2 and M2. The M25 involved the Dartford crossing which involves a toll charge, which you have until midnight the day after you made the crossing in which to pay. The link to pay the crossing toll is here.
Day 2: 8 July 2020 – Up very early and travelled to Eurotunnel terminal at Cheriton, Folkestone, Kent. Arrived very early, unsure what the protocol would be when travelling with dogs. It was unbelievably easy without any need to exit vehicle. UK customs handed a scanner through the vehicle window, thus allowing for the owner to self-scan each of the dog’s microchip. Subsequently the customs officer verified the code against each dog’s passport. Note: there have been changes post Brexit, since UK dog passports are no longer accepted. More details are available from: https://www.gov.uk/
Eurotunnel staff kindly offered an earlier crossing at no extra charge which resulted in a wait no more than 40 minutes before embarking onto the Eurotunnel Shuttle. This provided plenty of time to have breakfast in the motorhome.
The Eurotunnel crossing took circa 40 minutes from embarking. Free Wi-Fi was available throughout the crossing which allowed for details on some first world war trenches in Belgium to be found.
On arrival at Calais, travelled up the French coast into Belgium and then headed on the N8 towards Ypres. The N8 was a relatively slow road and in parts had a very poor road surface. Just before Ypres, turned off into the village of Boezinge (previously known as Boesinghe) and picked up signs for a first world war trench, which was located on an industrial estate. In 1992, the remains of a British Dugout from 1917 was discovered, with excavation work being undertaken between 1998 and 2002. During this period the found the remains of 155 British, French and German first world war casualties. It is called a “Yorkshire Trench”, since it was originally dug by the Yorkshire Regiment. A section of the trench, with entrances to two tunnels and dugouts, has since been reconstructed and, therefore, preserved in its original location with concrete sandbags and duckboards. Information boards including photographs and diagrams explain the history of the trench and the area it is in were available to read. Further details are available here
Travelled on to Ypres to view the Menin Gate Memorial. The Menin Gate Memorial commemorates 54,395 British and Commonwealth soldiers who fell in the fighting in the Ypres salient from November 1914 and who have no known grave. Names are listed on the memorial under the title of each Regiment by rank, and under each rank alphabetically. On completion of the memorial, it was discovered to be too small to contain all the names as originally planned. An arbitrary cut-off point of 15 August 1917 was chosen and the names of 34,984 UK missing after this date were inscribed on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing instead. The Menin Gate Memorial does not list the names of the missing New Zealand and Newfoundland soldiers, who are instead honoured on separate memorials. The Menin Gate is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders, which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. The memorial was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.
Following the Menin Gate Memorial opening in 1927, the citizens of Ypres wanted to express their gratitude towards those who had given their lives for Belgium’s freedom. Hence every evening since 2 July 1928 at 20:00 hours, buglers from the Last Post Association close the road which passes under the memorial and sound the “Last Post” followed by a short silence and then play “Reveille”. During the occupation by the Germans in World War II the daily ceremony ceased in Ypres, but was instead conducted at Brookwood Military Cemetery, in Surrey, England. When the Polish forces liberated Ypres in the Second World War, on 6 September 1944 the ceremony was resumed at the Menin Gate despite the fact that heavy fighting was still taking place in other parts of the town and it has continued ever since.
From Ypres, picked up faster roads / motorways and travelled across Belgium and into Germany finding via the Stellplatz Europe app (android version link, apple version link) an overnight camping ground for €9.5 at Jülich in Germany. Wildcamping is not permitted in Germany, so overnight stops have to be at either at a camping site, a stellplatz, or authorised rest area’s (where lorries tend to park overnight). It was a nice clean site where the toilet and waste water tank could be emptied; however, all drinking water taps were either disabled (no tap handles / levers) or the water supply was turned off. This was not a significant issue since, as a habit from ‘wildcamping’ is to always carry a good supply of drinking water and when the opportunity arises ensure that you refill your supply. It is also sensible rather than topping up the drinking water to jettison what you carry and replenish with fresh water.
The journey length from the overnight stay near Folkstone to Jülich was 278 miles (447km) and involved the A16 in France, In Belgium the E40, N8, A19, R8, E17, E40, R0, E40 and in Germany the A44.
The camping ground is situated near the Brückenkopf-Park, which contains a zoo, garden, Napoleonic fortress, playgrounds and fitness garden. The park was closed due to Covid-19 regulations; however, it was possible to walk around its periphery. Unfortunately it was raining thus eliminated the possibility for taking quality photographs. A few ‘snaps’ were taken on a mobile phone, so as to maintain a record of the trip.
Jülich is a town in the district of Düren, in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. As a border region between the competing powers in the Lower Rhine and Meuse areas, the town and the Duchy of Jülich played a historic role from the Middle Ages up to the 17th century. The town has a polygonal Napoleonic castle used as a bridgehead, but history of the fortress goes back to Roman times. The Napoleonic castle is captured in the pictures, as well as the camping site, plus park decoration of old vehicles filled with flowers.
Add pictures of Jülich.Day 3: 9 July 2020 – Filled up the vehicle in Jülich with fuel. The cost of Diesel in Germany is considerably less than in France or Belgium. Afterwards journeyed over 400 miles (643km) to Rostock on the Baltic coast, which was the largest coastal and most important port city in the former East Germany. The route involved using the German autobahn system, circumventing the cities of Düsseldorf, Essen, Dortmund, Münster, Bremen, Hamburg and Lübeck. Part of the route was through the Ruhr valley which is the largest urban area in Germany. The Ruhr valley had far more trees than envisaged; however, from the autobahn could been seen the scar to the landscape left by the former open cast coal mines.
The autobahn system in Germany makes travelling easy; with a well interlaced network of fast roads with ample rest areas in which you can take a break. Not all autobahns are open speed limit and if they are open then there is an advisory speed of 130 km/h (81 mph). For more information click here.
Found rural parking on the Baltic coast at Elmenhorst, circa 3 miles (5km) west of Rostock . After a long journey it is nice to walk the dogs through a wood and then along the stony sea shore beach. After the walk, sought out an overnight parking using the Stellplatz Europe app; however, several stellplatz were closed due to Covid-19. A Stellplatz was available in the centre of the city, but it was on rough land with a prefabricated building for facilities on an industrial estate in the city charging circa €20 for the night. The Stellplatz was not ideal with large dogs and so elected instead to stay overnight at a rest area alongside the autobahn. The Guru Pro App clearly shows these rest areas also identifying if there are toilets (WC) and picnic tables. The rest area used was setback from the carriageway had toilets, litter bins, outdoor seating area with wooden bench / table and an area where the dogs could be walked. Rest areas tend to be used for overnight stopovers by many lorries and even cars at no cost, where the occupants sleep in their vehicle. In Germany you are permitted to spend the night in public parking spaces in your motorhome “to maintain your driving ability” as long as you do not set up your camping chairs and start barbecuing in public, free of charge.
The map below, roughly illustrates the route taken to reach Rostock, from the adventures starting location.
Day 4: 10 July 2020 – Had a day exploring the Rostock area. The morning was wet, so took the opportunity to find out where the ferry was to be boarded next morning. Also replenished perishable items at a Lidl supermarket. It was very noticeable in the different way that the German people were reacting to Covid-19 compared to the UK at that point in the Covid-19 pandemic. Facemasks were being worn by all inside all buildings plus the rigorous acceptance of 1.5m space between people – at this point the UK had not made wearing facemasks indoors mandatory!
Also took the opportunity to fill up their motorhome with Diesel whilst still in Germany, before travelling to Sweden the next day.
An observation regarding the area was that several of the houses outside of the city centre had thatched roofs.
That evening returned to the autobahn rest area, ready for an early departure for the ferry next day.
Day 5: 11 July 2020 – Travelled to the Port at Rostock to embark on the 9:00 hours ferry to Trelleborg. Took the opportunity to have breakfast in the motorhome on the dockside whilst waiting to board the ferry. Due to Covid-19 pandemic, elected to stay outside on the deck with the dogs for the entire crossing; thus, isolating from other people as much as possible. The port side of the ferry was in the shade and was extremely cold, whilst the starboard side was in the sunshine and relatively warm. It should be noted that dogs can be taken inside the ferry, but there are restrictions as to where they can go.
The crossing took 5.5 hours with Denmark visible for part of the crossing to the port side of the ferry.
On arrival at Trelleborg, cleared customs using the “Nothing to declare” lane; having already notified Swedish Customs regarding entry with the dogs. Details how to notify customs can be found here. From Trelleborg, travelled through flat arable land with extremely large fields to Satofta, Skane County, parking on the lakeside at Jägersbo camping site. That evening, walked the dogs 9km into the town of Höör and back, where a few thatched roofed houses were seen.
Sweden appeared to be carrying on life as normal despite Covid-19. At the time, it was an exception to see anyone wearing facemasks either in or outdoors, nor was maintaining a distance between people. Signs were displayed advising for regular handwashing and Lidl had 1.5m spacing markers at the till only. There were screens erected in shops to try and protect checkout staff from Covid-19.
Jägersbo camping site was well equipped, very clean and obviously very popular and could not be faulted; however, for regular ‘wildcampers’ used to solitude it was busy with lots of families.
Day 6: 12 July 2020 – Before departing Jägersbo camping the drinking water was replenished and the waste water / chemical toilet emptied.
Travelled north-west into Kronoberg County to lake Anghultasjon. The journey time was under three hours and was in its entirety through forest. Found a fantastic place to stay overnight using the Caramaps app, in a clearing in the forest circa 50m away for the shore of lake Anghultasjon. Had to drive through the forest on a non-surfaced track for circa 1000m to access this clearing.
The lakeside was tranquil with no other people around and had a barely distinguishable path running adjacent to the lakeside through dense forest. Within the forest there was an abundance of bilberries to which Freya (the Northern Inuit) took a liking. Dinner was a smoked mackerel risotto, which was followed by an evening stroll along the Lakeshore with the dogs.
Day 7: 13 July 2020 – A lovely warm sunny day, led to a lazy morning at the overnight parking by lake Anghultasjon. Unfortunately the dogs had become infested with ticks (parasitic arachnids) – far worse than they had ever experienced in the UK.
Departed lake Anghultasjon at midday, and went into the city of Vetlander to purchase some tick repellent (the name of the city was very appropriate!). Tick repellent could only be purchased from a pharmacy and not available in pet stores. Pet stores can only sell herbal recipe-based products. It is recommended that anyone travelling with dogs, ensures that they take with them Tick repellent.
From Vetlander, journeyed to Omberg which is a forested mountain with an elevation of 264m and is the highest point for a considerable distance. The route to Omberg was through Jonkoping County and around Huskvarna and up the north-east side of lake Vattern into Östergötland County. Lake Vattern is the second largest lake by surface area in Sweden, after Vänern, and the sixth largest lake in Europe.
Parked at the foot of Omberg and walked the dogs via a wide footpath to its summit whereby a great panoramic view of the area, which includes lake Vättern, lake Tåkern (a bird sanctuary) and the Östgöta plain. Omberg is an Ecopark and is reported to be Sweden’s most species-rich forest landscape, including beech forest on the slope of Vättern, giant oaks, colourful meadows and wild orchids. The view from the summit, highlighted how flat and forested Sweden is, with the expanse of water in the lakes being the only break from the forest.
That evening found a quiet car park near the foot of Omberg. The evening concluded with a stroll in the forest. The beech and Lime trees were enormous, with a photograph included illustrating the girth of a beech tree. The ‘Flora Incognita’ app suggested that the flowers pictured are Nettle Leaved Bell Flower, Bladder Campion and Dark Mullein. The snail was extremely large and is photographed with a wild strawberry next to it.
Day 8: 14 July 2020 – Journeyed north-west past Linkoping, where SAAB aircraft are manufactured and on to Stockholm.
Obtained an impression of Stockholm by driving the motorhome through the city centre and parts of the archipelago without stopping. Would have liked to have explored Stockholm further but made the decision not to, in order to reduce the risk of being exposed to the Covid-19 virus. Below are a few pictures that were taken out of the moving vehicle whilst travelling through the city.
From Stockholm, travelled north just belowof Uppsala on the European route E4, stopping for the evening at a rest area, just prior to where the E4 crosses the C1060. The rest area not only had toilets (WC), but also a designated area where motorhome chemical toilets could be emptied; however, there was no drinking water supply. This proved to be a good overnight stay, with easy access into the forest which had paths through it.
On the 14 July the Norwegian government announced that member states of the EU that were not deemed high risk could now enter Norway. At the time, the UK was still under the Brexit transition period and fell under this agreement, provided residents did not reside in the Leicester area which was the only area in the UK to be deemed high-risk. Also deemed not at high risk were the southerly states of Sweden; however, none of these southerly states had a land border with Norway, which in effect resulted in no land border access to either Norway or Finland.
Denmark also had until the end of August a restriction on UK nationals entering unless they were to stay on a pre-booked holiday-let or camp site for 6 nights minimum or unless it could be proved that you were transiting through Denmark.
Hence, the only option to complete this adventure was to return to Germany, transit through Denmark and enter Norway via ferry. Duncan and Liz duly booked ferries back to Germany for the 17 July and then from Denmark to Norway on the 20 July. Obviously, the route planned for the adventure was now no longer feasible and the remainder of the journey was by enlarge planned on a day by day basis the evening before. However, significant parts of the route previously planned were to be done in reverse.
Day 9: 15 July 2020 – Visited Gamla Uppsala (also called Old Uppsala) which is one of Sweden’s most important historical sites. Gamla Uppsala contains 300 mounds from the 6th to 12th centuries. The earliest mounds are the 3 most impressive. Legend has it they contain the pre-Viking kings Aun, Egil and Adils, who appear in Beowulf and Icelandic historian Snorre Sturlason’s Ynglingsaga. More recent evidence suggests the occupant of Östhögen (East Mound) was a woman, probably a regent in her 20s or 30s.
Christianity arrived around 1090 with a wooden church being built. From 1164, the cathedral was built on the site of the wooden church which was also thought to be built on the pagan sacrificial area.
Gamla Uppsala was also the location for the ‘Thing’ of all Swedes which was a general assembly held from pre-historic times up until the Middle Ages. In the 1080s the Christian king Ingi was exiled for refusing to perform the sacrifices. Instead Blot-Sweyn was elected, but he was killed by Ingi who then reclaimed his throne.
For more historical information about Gamla Uppsala click here.
After visiting Gamla Uppsala, commenced the journey back towards Germany and travelled 354 miles (570km) south down the east side of Sweden using the E4 and then E22, parking up for the evening at Broms at a designated rest area designed for motorhomes and lorries. After an evening meal, took the dogs for a walk and stumbled on a historical Viking site, where there had once been a Viking Fort.
Day 10: 16 July 2020 – Visited Kristianopel, which is a picturesque 17th century coastal harbour town with small colourful wooden houses developed under Danish occupation in the Renaissance style. It was not until 1677 that Kristianopel became Swedish again. It is also a popular holiday destination for many Swedes.
Leaving Kristianopel, travelled 170 mile (275km) down the coast to Boste. Using the Caramaps apps found an overnight parking next to the Baltic sea on an open piece of ground out of sight of dwellings. From here there was a nice shoreline walk along the Baltic coast with numerous of the premises that could be seen having thatched roofs.
Several other motorhomes and campervans all with German vehicle registration plates pulled up at this parking location; however, they left ample space between vehicles and were exceptionally quiet.
It is worth noting that the coast was rarely visible when travelling from Stockholm down the east side of Sweden to Boste using the E4, E22 and road 19 until reaching Ystad on the south coast. The E4, E22 and road 19 are somewhat inland with spur roads running off to numerous coastal settlements. The route was flat and by enlarge forested.
Day 11: 17 July 2020 – Up at 05:30 hours, taking a short journey to Trelleborg to catch a 9:30 am sailing, so had plenty of time for breakfast in the motorhome on the dockside whilst waiting to board the ferry.
The crossing took from Trelleborg to Travemünde in Germany took 9 hours, hence it was a very lazy day, sat outside on the sun-deck reading. Luckily this was in glorious sunshine.
The map below, roughly illustrates the route taken from Rostock, around Sweden and back into Germany at Travemünde.
In summary, the scenery north of the first overnight stop at Satofta was flat and forested and did not offer significant variance. The road-signs had in places warning signs advising that elk (moose) could be a hazard, but none were to be seen. Gamla Uppsala was extremely fascinating. There is much to explore with the various coastal settlements.
After arrival at Travemünde, travelled northwards up the coast. A stellplatz was found; however, this was totally unsuitable especially with the dogs, since there was little distance between vehicles, it was noisy and people were constantly walking alongside the vehicle. Hence, we reverted to using an autobahn rest area. This was much quieter than the stellplatz and was more suitable for the dogs.
Day 12: 18 July 2020 – Two full days to leisurely explore the Schleswig-Holstein area in Northern Germany, before driving through Denmark to catch the ferry.
Topped up supplies at a Lidl, then took the dogs for over an hour’s walk in a wood near Bungsberghof. Discovered wild raspberries, so after dinner dessert was sorted. Freya the Northern Inuit, discovered that she liked raspberries and was picking and eating them from the cane at an alarming rate. Whilst in the woodland we heard rustling in the undergrowth accompanied by snorting. We assume this was from a wild boar and decided against exploring further.
After a leisurely lunch, moved onto Eutin and walked around the gardens of the 18th century castle, followed by an amble around the town. Eutin is a very attractive town.
From Eutin, slowly migrated north to Haddeby where there was a very interesting war memorial, with some nice views of the lake (Haddebyer Noor).
Found a convenient overnight stop at an autobahn rest area that had suitable dog walking facilities, rather than spend time looking for a stellplatz that was suitable for the dogs.
Day 13: 19 July 2020 – A leisurely breakfast was spent watching Polish lorry driver’s cleaning their vehicle cabs – very fastidious in their house keeping. One even did his laundry in a bucket, before hanging it to dry under the bonnet of his lorry (hood) as illustrated in the image below.
A morning walk was taken in the nearby Fröruper Berge nature reserve, which was ideal with the dogs since it was hot and sunny and far too hot for the dogs out of the shade. Within the wood was some amazing fungi including common earth ball and tinder fungus on tree stumps. There were also fungal conks growing under the bark of the trees.
The store of drinking water in the van had started to deplete, having not refilled for 5 days. Potential sources for drinking water were found using the Guru Pro App on the phone (i.e. type ‘drinking water’ into the search option).
Drinking water was obtained from a church cemetery; however, this only replenished the standalone barrels, since the water tap was inaccessible for refilling the motorhomes underslung water tank.
Moved to the last rest area on the A7 autobahn before Denmark. This was used for the overnight-stay, prior to the next day’s transition through Denmark. The map below, roughly illustrates the route taken through Germany since landing at Travemünde.
In summary, the Schleswig-Holstein, Germany is very attractive and hopefully will be explored further on some other trip in the future.
Day 14: 20 July 2020 – Arrived at the border to Denmark at 6am where the autobahn funnelled into one lane for a border check. Questioned by a soldier as to the reason for entry. Travel through Denmark was permitted but staying over was prohibited, hence had verify with proof of the ferry ticket to Norway that the trip was purely transitional. Also had to present both dogs and human passports. Glad we arrived early since the tailback could have been horrendous!
Stopped at the first rest area in Denmark on the E45 for Breakfast – the A7 in Germany continues as the E45 in Denmark). Unlike the rest areas encountered in Germany, this one also had both drinking water available as well as campervan waste emptying drain.
Travelled on the E45 through rolling hills up the central spine of Denmark. The E45 runs the full length of Denmark. Picked up the E39, 37 miles (60km) from the seaport town of Hirtshals which is at the very north of Denmark and is where the ferry departs to Norway. The journey length for the day was 230mile (370km).
At Hirtshals, filled the vehicle up with fuel then had a walk-in a coastal wood just east of the town. Afterwards caught up on some sleep in a parking area underneath a wind turbine.
At 20:00 hours drove to the dockside for boarding the 23:30 ferry which was to arrive at Kristiansand in Norway at 01:45 hours. Awaited 2 hours for the check-in to open. Was given boarding tickets, but when the boarding commenced large vehicles went on last. Encountered a problem with the size of our vehicle, since the height is electronically read and it did not match the booking size – the Thurl sun canopy protrudes circa 10cm above the vehicle roof height and when booking the height of a Mercedes sprinter had been declared which did not account for the sun canopy. There was a VW caddy van also held back. Advised there was no room on the ferry and instructed to report to the terminal building, even though there appeared to be plenty of room on the ferry when looking at the loaded car deck.
Duly arrived at the terminal building to be advised that there was no room on Kristiansand ferry in the morning. Was offered a place on the 9am Langesund crossing which takes 4.5 hours but had to pay an additional excess premium. The booking office would not take cognisance that legally an overnight stay in Denmark due to Covid19 was not permitted. The best advice given was that the police don’t often visit the port area.
Day 15: 21 July 2020 – At 01:30 hours pulled up in a beach carpark to sleep until access to the ferry port was reopened. At 06:00 hours, was the first vehicle in the queue under an illuminated signed lane for Lagesund, whilst waiting for the ferry check-in staff to appear at the check-in booth. Check-in staff duly arrived and subsequently changed all the illuminated queue signage, so now we are first in the queue to go to Iceland. Absolute bedlam with circa 30 vehicles having to manoeuvre out of the queue. The experience of using Hirtshals Fjordline ferry port is not very favourable!
Duly boarded the ferry and was now on the way to Norway on a 4.5-hour crossing.
The key excitement for the 4.5 hours crossing was the Norwegians search and rescue using the ferries helicopter landing area for practice, which involved three helicopters.
Remember that if you are to take dogs into Norway, they must be given tapeworm treatment by a veterinary no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours before entering the country. Proof of this must be recorded. For EU citizens this will be in the dog’s passport. With Brexit, regulations have changed and no longer are pet passports issued, so for UK citizens there will be a new process to be followed. Check this on https://www.gov.uk/.
The next blog will describe entry into Norway, and the journey across Norway to the Atlantic Roadway and then onwards towards the famous coastal route on road FV17. See rough map of the next blog below. Further blogs will follow covering the arctic regions of Lofoten Archipelago, the most northerly mainland lighthouse in the world on the Nordkinn peninsula, journey down the border with Finland, Hammerfest and the Island of Senja.
Note: Photographs included in this blog are available for download without the watermark from the IMAGE CATALOGUE. These are high resolution suitable for wall prints and magazines. If any used in the blog are not in the catalogue, it is because they have not met the quality criteria; however, on request they can be made available. If you have enjoyed this blog and wish to contribute, please feel free to purchase pictures.
The map below is a summary of the approximate route taken in this blog: