Island hopping

This started on the islands of Vesterålen. Here we spent 4 nights in Oppmyre. With an indescribable view of the mountain panorama of this group of islands. The following day, we went on a small landscape tour of the two more southerly islands.

In 1994, the Norwegian Queen Sonja hiked a “small” mountain circuit of about 13 km on Vesterålen. In her honour, the route was then called “Dronningruta” (Queen’s Route) and made more accessible to tourists. But anyone who thinks that this round tour is easy is very much mistaken. Looking at the altitude profile, it becomes clear why this route is classified as “red” (demanding). Despite the constantly increasing demands of our previous hikes, this one really demanded everything of us. Up to the summit ridge at 480m, we really had to climb in some places and look for additional support with our hands. Unfortunately, most of the ropes attached to difficult passages had already broken. We were not allowed to be afraid of heights either, because until the descent in about 8km we had to follow narrow paths along the steep mountain slope to the next saddle. The reward for all the effort was great views, despite low-hanging clouds, because in the course of the morning even the sun could assert itself more and more. On the way, we chatted briefly with a Norwegian from Bergen. He was walking this circular trail with his dog, not for the first time, as we learned, from the second possible starting point. But the crowning glory of the day was still to come. We had barely picked ourselves up from lunch when we saw a moose walking leisurely up the valley (see photo of our lunch break view). But it was too far away for our lens. The Norwegian moose really don’t want to be photographed 😉

Then it was off to the most popular and best-known island chain in Norway, the Lofoten Islands. From the centrally located campsite, yet away from the crowds of tourists, we started our “adventure” into this interesting island mountainscape.

The first destination was the Lofotr Viking Museum. Right next to the site of the largest Viking longhouse ever found (83m long, 9.5m wide and 9m high), it was rebuilt true to the original. It is the main house of the Viking village with a guild hall (where the chieftain was enthroned, received guests and organised festivities), a living area (where people lived and worked) and a stable (as winter quarters for the cattle). In the museum we learned about the discovery (a chance find by a farmer ploughing) and were able to see a variety of objects recovered. Among them were tools made of whale bone, an axe head, gold leaves, jewellery (from Europe and also Asia) and shards of drinking glasses (from German and Italian production, among others). In addition, one could see the foundations of other houses from this period in the extensive outdoor area and watch an axe being made in a forge. Archery and axe throwing were also possible, as well as a ride on the faithful replica of the Gokstad ship. The original is in the Oslo Museum and is the best preserved Viking ship discovered so far.

Next we set out to climb the 541 metre high Festvågtind. After 1 1/2 hours of climbing over mainly scree fields, we enjoyed the fantastic view over Lofoten and could even see the Norwegian mainland on the other side of the Vestfjord. As a reward, we treated ourselves to a piece of sinfully delicious cake called Mississippi Mudpie. 😛 We found it in a small, quaint café, which is furnished in an old school, hence its name, gamle skola. The tip came from the Siedler family, Britt’s employer during her studies, when we met for coffee at the campsite.

The following day we wanted to go even higher. Our goal was the mountain Himmeltind, with a height of 931m. We reached the summit after 4 km and 2 1/2 hours of strenuous climbing. The “mountain climb” of the previous day was still slightly in our legs. But we had to make use of the good weather. Unfortunately we were standing in a cloud at the top. 🙁

After all the exhausting work, the last day on the Lofoten Islands still included a drive along the tourist road. We had already driven most of it through the journey to the campsite and the excursions, so only the remaining few kilometres were missing. On the way, we stopped at a pretty little fish shop. Here we could even try smoked whale meat for free. In addition, smoked pepper mackerel fillets and a good mixed bread with grains and seeds ended up in the “shopping basket”. In Scandinavian countries, you can usually only buy different types of white bread; you often look in vain for a nice dark bread. And since it was the right time for a “second breakfast”, we treated ourselves to a cinnamon knot (same dough as the rolls). 😛 Really tasty and fortunately not as sweet as the cinnamon rolls (also thanks to the “missing” coarse-grain sugar).

A real road trip feeling now came with the further stages. More details in the next report.

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