Loving the Lofoten

We made the news: http://www.ht.no/incoming/article7981007.ece Kind of funny being at the opposite end of that one after so many years of being in the newspaper business.

The last 10 days have been great. We’ve had sunshine and superb scenery riding south through the Vesterålen and the Lofoten Islands. These clusters of islands off the west coast of Norway are dotted with small villages and towns. Fishing is still king here but in the summer, when fishing doesn’t happen, tourism is driving the economy. However, it was not as busy as we expected.

From Sortland, we rode south along the east coast of Langøya Island and made our way to Melbu on Hadseløya Island. We found a nice beach to camp just outside of Melbu, where the ferry to the Lofoten docks. We watched the sun slowly move across the horizon until it dipped behind a mountain. Yet another endless evening.

Another sunset that lasted for hours in the Lofoten.
Another sunset that lasted for hours in the Lofoten.

The next morning we took the ferry to Fiskebøl on Austvågøya Island. From there, we traveled along the north shore to Laukvik, looping back to the E10 highway, which we were trying to avoid as much as possible, but had no choice at that point. The E10 is the main road through the islands and tends to be a parade of small motorhomes and cars pulling caravans. Not the best place to cycle.

On the road into Henningsvær.
On the road into Henningsvær.
KabelvΌg town centre.
KabelvΌg town centre.

After going through the towns of Svolvær and Kabelvåg on the south shore of Austvagøya we turned south off the E10 to the small fishing village of Henningsvær. The end of the road. There was no camping so we found a spot among the fish drying racks on the hill overlooking town. Conveniently, there was a faucet in the park just a few minutes’ walk away where we could get water for cooking.

Our camp site among the fish drying racks in Henningsvær.
Our camp site among the fish drying racks in Henningsvær.
The view of Henningsvær after midnight from our 'wild' camp site.
The view of Henningsvær around midnight from our ‘wild’ camp site.

After dinner we went into town in search of dessert but the coffee shops were closed and the hotel had a cover charge of 200 NOK ($35) because of a performer playing in the restaurant. So, we went to the only other place that was open: the Climbers’ Café, which also had live music but no cover charge. No dessert so instead we had beer and wine and listened to an amazing singer-guitar player.

In the morning we had a small, reddish brown, four-legged visitor in search of an easy meal. A fox skulked around our camp and made a play for a plastic bag in the vestibule of Alba and Gérard’s tent. But it dropped the bag and did not try again, although it hung around for a while.

A fox checking out what can be had at our camp.
A fox checking out what can be had at our camp.
The fox makes a play for a plastic bag with a kiwi in it.
The fox makes a play for a plastic bag with a kiwi in it.
The fox stalking our camp had a problem with its right eye but otherwise looked very healthy.
The fox stalking our camp had a problem with its right eye but otherwise looked very healthy.

The scenery on these islands is amazing. The sunshine didn’t hurt, either. We could not believe our good fortune with day after day of sun while traveling through this archipelago, from one stunning vista after another, culminating near the end of the road with the villages of Hamnøya, Reine, Moskenes and Å. Along the way, we met a bunch of other cyclists, including Jim Smith, from Oxford, England. He joined us for our final days in the Lofoten and regaled us with some tunes on his fiddle. Here is Jim’s blog of his journey: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=1&doc_id=12589&v=9n and some of his music can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/left-hand-thread

Panorama of Reine.
Panorama of Reine.
Jim playing his fiddle at our camp near Å.
Jim playing his fiddle at our camp near Å.

Our camp near Å under a pink sky.Our camp near Å under a pink sky.

Fittingly, the end of the road also brought the end of the great weather. During the night a system moved in and we awoke to wind and rain. We packed a wet tent and hurried to the ferry terminal in Moskenes. In those five short kilometres we got very wet. But we dried off quite nicely on the four-hour trip to Bodø on the mainland. The crossing was a bit rough for the first couple of hours and sea sickness, or the threat of it, was quite prevalent among the passengers. We all managed to hold it in.

Alba and GéŽrard get their first taste of a downpour.
Alba and GéŽrard get their first taste of a downpour.
Our last view of the Lofoten as we leave on the ferry from Moskenes.
Our last view of the Lofoten as we leave on the ferry from Moskenes.
Which way do we go now?
Which way do we go now?
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One thought on “Loving the Lofoten

  1. Amazing stuff Paul!!! That fox doesn’t even look real – it looks so real, like CG!
    The landscape is just stunning, my visual cortex would be on overload there 🙂
    Missed you on Thursday! I walked past Charlie’s to pick up some dry cleaning and there we weren’t.

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