Day 30: 5 August 2020 – Arrived on the Lofoten Archipelago by ferry from Bodo on the island of Moskenesøya at the village of Moskenes just after 21:00 hours, so needed to find somewhere soon for overnight.
Drove southwest 4.3km to the village of Å, which is as far south as you could drive and where the European Route E10 ends. Here there was a turning place with some parking but we did not deem this suitable for an overnight stay, especially since it was within the village and in sight of residents, so we decided to return back tomorrow to explore the village further.
Ended up parking 2km north of Moskenes, just after the exit of the Seljeli tunnel by Djupfjord Bridge where there was a carpark / viewpoint occupied by circa 10 campervans / motorhomes plus numerous cars. This carpark is used by walkers taking advantage of the almost light evenings to walk the mountain of Reinebringen (448m), which is arguably the most popular hike in the Lofoten archipelago.
The island of Moskenesoya covers 185.9 km and is at the southern end of the Lofoten archipelago in Nordland county, Norway. The island is very mountainous with pointed peaks and deep fjords formed by ice age glaciers. The highest peak is Hermannsdalstinden with an altitude of 1029 m.
Day 31: 6 August 2020 – Woke up to a gorgeous sunny warm morning; however, the weather was forecast to worsen. Hence, we made the best of the good weather and took the dogs for a walk, alongside Djupfjord, followed by breakfast outside sat in the sunshine.
However; black clouds were building to the west and the Norwegian Meteorological Institute weather forecast was ominous. Hence, we decided to have a lazy day exploring Moskenes.
We backtracked to the Norwegian fishing village of Å which we visited yesterday. From February through to April migrating thousands of cod arrives from the Barents Sea and enter the fjord systems. This attracts a massive amount of fishing, especially since adult fish can be in larger than one metre in length. Once caught, the fish are gutted and hung on wooden racks for about 3 months to dry in the cold wind, after which it is moved inside for a further 12 months to mature. This method of drying fish unsalted is called ‘stockfish’ and is the world’s oldest known preservation method, with a storage life of several years. The method is cheap and effective in suitable climates; and was traditionally undertaken by fisherman and their family. Now, immigrant labour is also used. Cod is the most common fish used in stockfish production, while other whitefish, such as pollock, haddock, ling and cusk, are used to a lesser degree.
Whilst walking around the village of Å, the rain became very heavy, so we returned back to the motorhome and parked the vehicle back where we did the night before. The photograph below was taken in the rain but illustrates Stockfish curing underneath the balcony of a dwelling.
We had a very lazy afternoon / early evening reading and catching up on some sleep waiting for the rain to stop. At circa 21:00 hours we went out for a circa 5km walk to Moskenes and watched the ferry come in from Bodo.
We noted that some Norwegians make the best of the 24 hours daylight and go fishing extremely late at night.
The map below illustrates the route taken on day 30 once on tha island of Moskenesoya and also on day 31:
Day 32: 7 August 2020 – Travelled in a northeast direction, generally using the main European route E10; however, we did divert from this road to explore a number of coastal villages, with the first one being Reine. Here there were motorhome service facilities, so we took the opportunity to replenish our drinking water and empty the waste. Parking in the village of Reine is limited and extremely expensive. There is limited free off-road parking outside the village, but any spaces were quickly taken. It is a very attractive and popular holiday village and is one of the most photographed places in the Lofoten’s. Unfortunately for us, there was low cloud eliminating the prospect of capturing stunning photographs.
From Reine we crossed via bridges to a series of extremely small islands with just a handful of buildings on each (i.e. Andoya, Sakrisoy, Olenilsoya, Toppoya, Hamnoya). The islands form a gateway between Reinefjord and the open sea. The image below illustrates this, with each individual building shown on the map:
On Sakrisoy there was a shop dedicated to fish, with an old Bedford truck parked outside loaded with cod heads.
Lunch was had by lake Vassdalsvatnet, where there is parking, picnic tables and a toilet (WC). Here we watched a Norwegian naval vessel in the ocean and could see the village of Hamnoya and the island of Olenilsoya jutting out further down the coastline.
Further along road E10, we came across wooden racks for stockfish curing; however, these still had cod heads strung up. We assume the fish bodies had been removed, but the picture below illustrates the density in which the fish are strung.
From Flakstadoya we crossed onto the island of Vestvagoya where we branched off the E10 to a village called Unstad (also called Unnstad) using county road FV7720. Access to Unstad is via the 640m long narrow Unstad tunnel which was opened in 1995. On exiting the tunnel, you are presented with a picture postcard view of green meadows and lush mountain sides rising steeply, with the Atlantic Ocean directly ahead of you. It is surrounded by mountains 300-650m in altitude and has a sandy beach which is known internationally to be very good for surfing.
We parked up for the evening in a remote carpark just after the tunnel entrance looking down the valley. The day had been dry but predominantly cloudy, but this started to clear towards late afternoon, so at Unstad we had clear skies and sunshine with the temperature reaching 22 degrees Celsius.
Liz explored the valley and Unstad by bicycle, whilst Duncan took the dogs up mountain called Saupstadtinden, whilst eagles soured above. From the carpark there is a small path that meets up with the old zig-zag mountain track which leads from the Unstad valley bottom up to a 160m altitude col which then drops down to the village of Maervoll in the next valley. The Unstad tunnel runs under this col. This track is only walkable from Unstad, but it is possible to drive to the top from Maervoll, where there were wooden stockfish racks and a car park. Indeed, there was a campervan parked up on the summit of the old track.
From the col, there is a small rarely used footpath that leads up to the summit Saupstadtinden (550m altitude), from which you are presented with stunning views of both the Unstad valley and also Steinsfjord with Himmeltindan at 964m in the distance. The Unstad valley, consists of numerous fields surrounded by two mountain ranges either side with the Atlantic Ocean in the distance looking in the direction of Greenland.
In the evening both Duncan and Liz, took the opportunity to admire the scenery walking dogs back up the old zig zag mountain track, which until the tunnel was built was the main access route to Unstad, since the village does not have a harbour.
Just before midnight, Liz asked why the campervan internal LED lights were not illuminating. On checking the leisure batteries voltage, we discovered it was flat. This seemed strange since the it recharges when the vehicle is driven. On checking it was discovered that the 50amp fuse from the split charge relay had blown. Since we carry spare fuses this was duly rectified. Unfortunately, we had to remain without leisure battery power so all electrical items other than those needed to drive the vehicle were out of commission, until we started driving next day when the battery would recharge. This however, was not a big issue to Duncan and Liz, since they were used to camping in their younger days.
The map below illustrates the route taken on day 32:
Day 33: 8 August 2020 – Left Unstad through the tunnel and was presented with a beautiful landscape of Maervollspollen (which is a branch off Steinsfjord).
We re-joined the E10 road and after circa 700m after crossing Skjellstraumen over a 20-metre bridge at the hamlet of Straumgård we found a carpark with viewpoint and toilets (WC). Here we got a great view both Ytterpollen and Innerpollen.
Crossing the bridge we left Vestvagoya onto the much smaller island of Gimsoya. Here we used county roads Fv7624 and Fv7626 to drive clockwise around the island rather than use the much shorter European route E10. We stopped for lunch on the eastern edge of the island overlooking the island of Austvagoya.
Here we collected some Arctic summer fruits consisting of cloud berries, bilberries, crow berries, bog-bilberries and bunch berries.
At Rorvika we took county road Fv816 which is a spur off the E10 to the village of Henningsvaer , which is the most southerly tip of Austvagsoy. Henningsvaer is a lovely attractive village situated on a number of small rock islets; however, when near the wooden stockfish racks, there is a considerable odour attributable to decaying fish.
Returning back to the E10 we travelled northeast through the town of Svolvær where we picked up groceries. The town is largest settlement on the Lofoten Archipelago.
Further along the E10, we came along a view point on the small hill of Stovelhaugen overlooking Austnesfjord. This vantage point not only provided great views of the fjord but also Higravtind (1148m altitude) as well as the Sildpollneset, peninsula with a church at its tip.
By the Sildpollneset peninsula, we left the E10 and picked up county road Fv7638 which enabled us to do a large clockwise loop that re-joins the E10 at the top of island of Austvagoya. On this route we found a lovely place to park the motorhome opposite Vatnfjord and hence decided to stop for the evening. The temperature today rose from 19 degrees this morning to 24 degrees Celsius this afternoon. This is much warmer than we expected for the arctic.
The map below illustrates the route taken on day 33 and where the photographs were taken during the day:
Day 34: 9 August 2020 – Awoke to a cloudy day, with the odd small shower and sunny intervals. We continued travelling to the top of island of Austvagoya. The mountains were impressive, with the cloud adding some mystery; however, not brilliant for picture postcard photography. County road Fv7638 has a causeway that crosses Grunnforfjord. The photograph below was taken from the causeway looking to the head of the fjord.
After about 5km after leaving Grunnforfjord we came across Morfjord which is circa 10km to drive around. As we travelled around the fjord we spotted a couple of white-tailed eagles soaring high above.
When we reached Fiskebol, we decided against re-joining the busier European route E10, but instead boarded a ferry which took us over to Melbu on the island of Hadseloya. When a ferry is open decked, you can stay inside your vehicle, but when the vehicle is put inside the hull as was the case here, you must leave the vehicle and either sit in the lounge or go on the deck. Dogs are not allowed in the lounge so we elected for the open deck, as we had for all ferry crossings.
Technically we left the Lofoten Archipelago when we arrived at Hadseloya, since the Loftens has within its boundary. the islands of Rost, Vaeroy, Moskensoya, Flakstadoya, Vestvagoya, Gimsoya and Austvagoya plus the southern tip of Hinnøya and the southern 60% (approx.) of Austvågøya. Hadseloya is within the Vesteralen Archipelago. Vesteralen is made up of the islands of Langøya, Andøya, Hadseløya, the western part of Hinnøya, the northern part of Austvågøya.
Very shortly after leaving Melbu we spotted a female Elk (moose), with two calves, which we fortunately managed to photograph.
Whilst photographing the Elk, we noticed two pairs of eagles soaring some considerable distance away. It was not until we examined the photographs that we could determine that on pair were white tailed eagles whilst the other pair were golden eagles.
We elected to travel around Hadseloya in a clockwise direction using the more minor 7634 road. On the most westerly side of the island, we found overnight parking. A short distance from where we parked was a very nice if not small beach, with communal facilities for barbequing.
The map below illustrates the route taken on day 34 and where the photographs were taken during the day:
Day 35: 10 August 2020 – During breakfast we discovered we had a small water leak from the underside of Smev tap associated to the kitchen unit sink. This took a little while to repair; however, since we designed the van and had it custom converted for us to our specification, we have made sure we fully understand the workings of the camper and as a result carry a good selection of spare parts. This resulted in us being able to rectify the issue but did make it a late start to the day. It is advisable for any traveller going to remote places to consider how they will manage in the event of problems to key appliances within their motorhome. Thus far on this trip we have had a light bulb fail, the fuse to the split charge relay blow and a small leak on a tap. All were rectified by ourselves, but in the event we could not rectify them, one needs to consider contingency measures since it could take a while to get spare parts. First question is can you manage without the appliance and if so for how long. From this location, the nearest key population areas being Narvik (218km), Tromso (419km) and Alta (656km) and it is likely these will not carry stock of the item you require and it will need to be ordered in.
We travelled around Hadseloya to the town off Stokmarknes, whereby we took the 1km long Hadsel bridge over Langøysundet to the island of Langoya, which is Norway’s third largest island outside Svalbard. The colour of the sea as we crossed Langøysundet was emerald green.
Once on Langoya we had the choice of taking county road 82 which travels northerly up the east coast alongside Sortlandsundet (Sortland Sound) or the Fv7636 road which travels northwards alongside Eidsfjord and appears on the map to be a more winding route. We elected for the Fv7636.
Circa 6.5mn on Fv7636 we stopped at a carpark at by Vikbotnen for some lunch and took the dogs for a walk on a coastal track Here we came across some common-juniper berries and extremely large bog bilberries.
When Fv7636 joined road Fv820 we turned left (westwards) for 400m before turning right (northwards) onto the Fv821 heading in the direction of Myre.
We stopped for overnight parking at a carpark by Steinvikbogen which is at the entrance to Steinlandfjord on road Fv821.
Although sparsely populated compared to the UK, today we have found most of the route had houses lining the road, with the gap between each dwelling being several hundred metres.
We have also found that in Norway parking places are few and far between, thus resulting in not being able to stop to take photographs of some fantastic landscapes. Today, there has been even fewer parking places than we have thus far encountered.
We also saw a lady harvesting wild berries with a combed device allowing her to rapidly collect berries. On investigation we found that they are called a Swedish Berry Picker, to which we subsequently bought one. On further reading it suggested that migrant berry pickers mainly from Thailand and other parts of South East Asia undertake seasonal assignments in Sweden. The internet also suggests seasonal migrant berry pickers are also working in Norway.
The map below illustrates the route taken on day 35 and where the photographs were taken during the day:
Day 36: 11 August 2020 – Our first stop for the day was at the village of Myre which is one of the largest fishing settlements in the Vesterålen region with a significant fish processing industry with the main production being frozen fillet. At Myre we replenished our groceries and replenished the drinking water / emptied the waste at a service point behind a fuel station. We had already established where the motorhome service point was using the Caramaps app:
From Myre we then explored the northern most peninsula Langoya island. County road Fv7668 is 14.6km long and runs from Myre to Sto which is the most northern point on the island crossing the Strengelvagfjord, by means of a causeway. We parked the motorhome in a car park just after the causeway where the old disused road joins the Fv7668 and walked back along it with the dogs. This old road re-joins the Fv7668 half-way along the causeway. From here the following photographs were taken:
We returned back on the Fv7668 until we reached a junction some 650m after re-crossing the causeway by the village of Strengelvag where we took road 7670 to Gisloy on the small island of Gisloya. Gisloya used to be an old viking settlement, with remains of a long-house plus a small islet to the east used as a burial ground. The Grunnforfjorden nature reserve covers part of both Langoya and also Gisloya and is a wetland nature reserve. The wetland areas contain large marshes, long shallow beach areas and marine shallow water areas. The seashore area in Husvågen on the island of Gisløya is the largest salt marsh that has been put on the map in Northern Norway. The wetland birds such as mallards and waders can be seen migrating in large numbers and the red-throated diver, arctic loon and graylag goose are examples of birds that nest here. Up to 100 whooper swans have been registered as spending the winters in the area.
We returned to Myre, back-tracking on the 7670 and then on Fv7668 after which we took county road Fv7674 eastwards to Alsvag (circa 7km) and then on the same road travelled southwards down the west side of Lifjord. We passed through Toften until we reached a small cove at Langosen (which is part of Lifjord) and watched for a couple of hours a white tailed eagle soaring above the crag on top of a mountain. Eventually the eagle came within circa 200m range allowing for a couple of camera shots to be taken. A photograph of Lifjord was also taken from here.
We moved a little way further down to the head fjord and pulled up for the evening. Here we were watching salmon fish jumping out if the water.
We passed through some pretty fishing villages on today’s journey which was all within the Oksnes municipality in Norland County.
The map below illustrates the route taken on day 36 and where the photographs were taken during the day:
Day 37: 12 August 2020 – Awoke to fantastic sunshine so we decided to have a day without travelling and would canoe, fish and generally chill. In the morning Liz had a couple of hours paddle down the fjord in the inflatable SeaEagle canoe, whilst Duncan would do some fishing and look after the dogs. There was plenty of salmon jumping but had little success in catching anything.
Duncan ended up talking to a gentleman who lived at Myre (1 hour away) and had come away in his motorhome for a couple of days to do some fishing. He is employed as a fisherman on a trawler and does 5 weeks on and 5 weeks off, predominantly fishing in the Barents Sea. The conversation was very informative about life in Norway and how it is during the dark winter months. Duncan was advised that the salmon were jumping in an attempt to remove sea lice. After lunch, Duncan went for a canoe down the fjord, with fishing rod trailing a lure behind him. Again, the fish didn’t even nibble the lure!
The map below illustrates the route canoed by both Duncan and Liz on day 37. All photographs were taken during at the overnight parking place:
Day 38: 13 August 2020 – The day was overcast with a cloud cover, although initially it was dry, it rained afterlunch for about eight hours.
We drove to the town of Sortland which is located on the east coast of the island of Langøya, along the Sortlandsundet strait, where we called in for groceries and diesel for the vehicle. Diesel was considerably cheaper than we have seen for many days!
Left Langoya island via the Sortland bridge which is 948m in length and crosses to the island of Hinnoya which is the largest island in Norway when you ignore the Svalbard archipelago (if you count Svalbard then it is the 4th largest island in Norway).
Once on Hinnoya we headed north on county road 82 along the east side of Sortladsundet up to Buksnesfjord, where we stopped for the day at Andøy Friluftssenter outdoor centre which takes mobile homes, caravans, tents, plus has a restaurant. We had planned stopping here prior to our departure since a very good friend of ours, cousin and his wife are the owners.
Here we caught up on our clothes washing and then went out for dinner at the onsite restaurant, where we had a salted cod starter followed by a main meal of fish soup, accompanied with a local Norwegian beer. The food was excellent!
As per the Norwegian Meteorological Institute weather forecast it rained during the afternoon, but stopped in the evening, hence after dinner we went for a walk from the site towards lake Kringlevatnet, after which we returned and had a conversation with our friends cousin informing us about the area, the wildlife, the winters and the Northern Lights.
The map below illustrates the route taken on day 38:
Day 39: 14 August 2020 – Had a relatively lazy morning involving a dog walk to a small lake called Mandalsvatnet.
Afterwards enjoyed watching a couple of porpoises in the fjord whilst an eagle was soaring above.
We then crossed via a 750m long cantilever bridge onto the island of Andoya which is the northernmost island in the Vesterålen archipelago, situated about 300 kilometres (190 mi) inside the Arctic circle.
Once on the island we elected to follow the coastal road in a clockwise direction around the much larger northern loop of the island. To the west side of the island there is a ridge of mountains very near the coastline running northwards. County road 7698 tracks the coast at the foot of this steep rising ridge. At Normela we joined county road 7702 which took us northeastwards along the west coast of the of the island until we reached Andenes.
Andenes is a village at the very northern tip of the island of Andoya, to which to the east is the Isle of Senja and to the west the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Andenes is one of the largest fishing ports in Northern Norway, supporting factory ships and associated onshore fishing industry.
Just to the south of Andenes is the Andoya Space Centre, which is a rocket launch site operated by the Norwegian Space Agency and has provided operations for both the European Space Agency and NASA missions with scientific research.
From Andenes we returned on county road 82 down the east side of the island, is relatively flat with the mountain ridge in view to the west. The slope up this ridge is a much gentler gradient compared the other side of the island.
The flat-land is a mix of grass fields and forest. It is within the forested area that we spotted a female elk.
Just prior to reaching the bridge that returns to Hinnoya Island, we caught sight of Nilsandersatinden (altitude 731m) which is on Hinnoya. This mountain had both a corrie and a hanging valley.
We returned to Hinnoya and began to back- track south along county road 82, where we found an ideal place for an overnight stay at the head of Roksoyfjord. Here within 20 minutes, we picked a pot of bog-bilberries and bunchberries. The day had been mainly cloudy and was somewhat colder than it has been (13°c) with the rain later in the evening.
The map below illustrates the route taken on day 39 and where the photographs were taken during the day:
Day 40: 15 August 2020 – Had a leisurely morning at the head of Roksoyfjord head, watching a couple of white-tailed eagles souring in the distance and a seal in the fjord. There was also a beautiful rainbow looking down the fjord.
For breakfast we used the berries picked the day before and had pancakes filled with bog-bilberries, bunchberries and honey.
Given we were getting a worsening weather forecast, we decided it was time to leave the island of Hinnoya and hence the Vesteralen Archipelago. This entailed a lengthy drive following around numerous fjords before we arrived at the Tjeldsund Bridge, which allowed us to re-join the Norwegian mainland in county of Troms og Finnmark. There were some sizeable mountains just south of Gullesfjordbotn (i.e. where county road 85 meets European Route E10) and also southeast of the village of Kanstad. Unfortunately the cloud was hanging over the peaks eliminating any possibility for descent photographs.
Enroute we stopped near Kongsvik and walked the dogs on a trail through the forest, picking cloud berries along the way. Later, as advised we cooked these with sugar; which for us, greatly improved the flavour. On this walk we found an interesting rickety bridge across the river.
The day was generally cloudy, with rain; which was accompanied in the late afternoon with extremely strong wind. The forecast was for gale force 8-9 winds (using the Beaufort Scale) overnight and into the morning, hence we found overnight parking for the motorhome in a carpark surrounded by trees alongside the fjord at Gratangen. Here there was signifgicant evidence of elk and also a number of different fungi
The map below illustrates the route taken on day 40 and where the photographs were taken during the day:
The longer-term weather forecast is for rain for the next five days. This has made us revise our plans, since we were next going to visit the Island of Senja, which is supposed to be a photographer’s dream. After which we were to move on to Hammerfest. We are now going to head northwards towards the most northerly point in mainland Europe (which isn’t North Cape as many thinks, since North Cape is on an island). Based on the weather forecast this should take us above the band of rain. After this we will loop back and visit Hammerfest and Senja.
The next blog will cover the trip up to the most northerly mainland lighthouse in the world on the Nordkinn peninsula facing the Barents Sea.
Further blogs will follow covering the journey along the border with Finland, Karosjok where the Sami people’s parliament is held, Hammerfest and the Island of Senja, before travelling back south down through Norway using as many central / easterly roads as possible including the blood road near Rognan, the UNESECO world heritage mining town of Roros and the Rondane National Park. After which the journey back to the UK through Sweden, Denmark and Germany.
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 over the eleven days detailed in this blog covering the Lofoten and Vesteralen Archipelago’s.