(13) The Lofoten islands
Wednesday 20th June
After a good break and Sharon’s hand (aka the claw) improving by the day we woke to rain on the tent which was typical after no rain for days. We packed everything up and dried the tent as well as we could and headed off to Sortland where we would be meeting our new Norwegian friends that we met during our stay in Harstad. It rained all day and we felt soaked to the skin – literally. Our legs felt heavy after a week off but after 45 miles we arrived at Sortland where Alf and Kim picked us up in their truck. They loaded our bikes onto their trailer and we headed to the north of the island to their lovely home. It was great to see Siv, Alf’s wife and their son Yngve again and we met their daughter Vilde. We sat down for dinner and ate the most fantastic reindeer stew with potatoes and veg. It was so good to eat home cooking again!!
After dinner we piled into their car and travelled up to an old fishing village called Nyksund. Alf was a great tour guide and we learned a lot about the history of the area which is near to where Alf’s father was born. The inhabitants of the Nyksund left in the 1970’s after a storm where everything was destroyed. It is now a popular tourist spot and hosts accomodation, a museum and restaurants. We headed back via Alf’s sisters house – it was her birthday and was lovely to see her and her daughters again. We had birthday cake and Tia Maria! Needless to say we slept well that night in a proper bed after such great hospitality : )
Thursday 21st June
Woke up to breakfast and decided to climb a mountain called Nonskollen close to the family home. Vilde and Yngve decided to join us and show us the way. Tim drove their car and did a great job of driving a left hand drive car on the right! The weather wasn’t great, we got to about half way where you could sign a book and we had a cuppa in good old English style! Tim showed them how to light our fuel stove, Yngve lit it first time –we were very impressed. We didn’t climb any higher as there was cloud over the top but we enjoyed the views from where we were.
We spent the afternoon back at the house sorting photos, emailing and sharing music. We had peppered pan fried salmon for dinner. We spent the evening drinking wine and listening to music. We introduced Siv and Alf to the delights of the Wurzels. You never know it could make Eurovision next year…
Friday 22nd June
Our alarm went off at 7.15, we said goodbye to Kim as he was off to work. We packed our things together and said goodbye to the family. It was strange as it felt like we’d known them for ages. We were sad to leave. Alf came back from work to take us back to Sortland to continue our journey from where we left.
Siv, Vilde, Sharon, Alf and Yngve (Kim was at work)
Once on the bikes it seemed to take ages to do the first 10 miles, it didn’t matter as the sun was shining – Tim rode straight past the bakery that Sara had recommended to us – Sharon was behind and yelled frantically at Tim who had his iPod on. Tim finally stopped and we returned back to a delicious smell of fresh baking and treated ourselves to a pastry each. We continued on and crossed a bridge to Stokmarknes. We saw the Hurtigruten – which we call all sorts of names as we can’t remember/pronounce it – our usual name for it now is the ‘humpty dumpty – much easier to remember : ) There are lots of ‘humpty dumptys’ which are tour boats that travel up and down the coast of Norway calling in at sites along the way.
The ‘humpty dumpty’
Whilst we had lunch, we met 3 motor cycle tourists who gave us a piece of reindeer hide that Sharon was going to use on her saddle. After 5 minutes it was decided that her bottom couldn’t cope with the warmth it produced so it’s now used as a doormat outside of the tent– all we need now is a pot plant!!
We cruised along stunning roads the long way around the island towards Melbu, taking in white sands and turquoise seas. Sharon lost Tim who had turned off down a side track and found the most amazing sandy beach – great find (see our campsites page for a picture) We had only done 30 miles but decided to stop there for the night as we couldn’t drag ourselves away. Sharon thought she’d left her sun glasses at the bakery but Tim found them wedged down the side of her pannier – phew! A very kind German couple made us a cup of tea and we settled down for the afternoon/evening reading our books in the sun. Tuna and rice for tea felt really dull after our recent delicious meals.
Saturday 23rd June
Woke up to the beautiful view, got going at 9am. Really great ride to the ferry at Melbu– gorgeous weather. The ferry was taking us to the first of the Lofoten islands called Austvagoy. Tim managed to fly the kite on the ferry much to the amusement of other passengers – don’t think we sped up much though.
Sharky boy helping us along on the ferry
We got off the ferry to be met by a vintage rally of cars and tractors which we joined in on, on their way to a small festival for the Summer Solstice. We had lots of laughs riding alongside them.
Tim joining in on the procession!
Had a look around, the cake looked delicious but we managed to resist as we are determined to stick to our budget – headed off, collected water at a local village hall. Rode 20 miles before stopping for lunch at a lovely fjord.
A great picnic spot for lunch
Continued on and the views just got better and better.
There were so many photo stops!
We continued for another 15 miles to Svolvaer where we ate a well-deserved ice cream and found internet access outside a supermarket where we skyped Sharon’s parents and sisters. It was sooooo great to see them.
As we had been cycling along, Tim had noticed a bumping feeling only to discover he had a bulge in the side wall off his tyre but decided to continue and hope it would last until Bodo. We rode on late into the afternoon and evening where we passed through a tunnel and turned left to Henningvaer. At around 10.15pm, we found a great camp spot next to some very dramatic cliff faces. We were exhausted and hungry but pleased to find such a great spot to see the midnight sun on the summer solstice. A big thanks to Marlene and Lydia who we met in Harstad who told us about this spot. For the first time on this trip, we were attacked by Mozzies and had to wear our highly attractive mosquito head nets – Tim ran wildly around flailing his arms about in an attempt to avoid them. It was better than TV. Rode 60 miles. In total we had ridden 658 (plus tunnels) miles from Nordkapp and climbed 8,636 metres.
Sunday 24th June
Woke up expecting to be mauled by mozzies but they had disappeared much to our delight. Headed along the road to the pretty fishing village of Henningvaer and pottered around before heading back to the main road.
The village of Honningsvear
We were both feeling really hungry after our long day yesterday and we had a headwind which made riding feel so much harder. We crossed a couple of bridges and turned to the left, grateful for the tail wind. We were then on the island of Vestvagoya.
We stopped to say hello to a couple of fellow cycle tourists and ended up joining them for lunch. They were Claudia and Martin from Switzerland and it was Claudia’s birthday! We were impressed by their salami and cheese for lunch – much more adventurous than our noodles. They shared their chocolate with us, much to our delight. They were a lovely couple and great company. Tim and Martin compared bikes and equipment and how they could be both improved. We rode with them for a couple of hours chatting all the way to a campsite – we were treated to an ice cream in honour of Claudia’s birthday.
Riding with Claudia and Martin
We left them there and rode on up a big climb, Tim not happy about carrying an extra 10 litres of water that Sharon had filled up… especially with a bulge in the back tyre increasing by the day.
We had been told about this beautiful camp spot by Claudia and Martin. We weren’t sure exactly where it was and it felt like we were cycling for ages. We finally arrived to a stunning bay where we camped on the beach. We had passed a couple of walkers earlier and Tim rode back to help them with their bags whilst Sharon cooked dinner and they joined us at our camp spot. We spent the evening sat around a camp fire and shared stories of our travels while watching the sun move across the sky and sheep wander onto the beach. We climbed in to our tent wiping our feet on the reindeer door mat and drifted off to sleep with the sound of the sea breaking on the shore. Sharon fell asleep on a tennis ball which she uses to ease muscle pain waking an hour later wandering what the lump was.
Our camp spot for the night
Monday 25th June
We woke up to a cooler day, packed up and the curiosity of a tunnel near the beach got the better of us. It led to a small remote hamlet of Utakleiv which would have been only accessible by the sea before the tunnel was built. We headed back to the town of Leknes which we had passed through the day before and stopped at a supermarket to stock up on supplies. It started raining and so we enjoyed free coffee (supplied by many food shops along the way – can’t imagine Sainsburys doing this) and chocolate sprawled out on display chairs for a while before finally stirring ourselves to get back outside.
The riding was great, so picturesque and we kept stopping to take photos – we need a few reasons for our slow progress…. We met an English couple who were riding in the Loften islands and had a good chat with them. Great downhill to a pretty lunch stop. Getting fed up with wasas (don’t tell Sara) and need a bit more variety for our stops. We eat wasas with peanut butter, peanut butter and jam, peanut butter and marmite (although we’re running very low – arghhhh) peanut butter and chocolate spread….. think we have got through about 7 jars since our start in Nordkapp – Amazing views continued as did the head winds and tail winds as we meandered along the coast. This made the difference between cycling at 3 miles per hour to 25 MPH. We continued on the E10 towards the village of A (pronounced Oar).
We were about 3 miles away talking about what our favourite meal was in one of our local pubs ‘The Railway’ in North Tawton. We decided on breaded brie with cranberry sauce, steak and ale pie with chips (Shaz) and new potatoes (Tim) and a pint of Real ale. We came around the corner slowly working our way through the courses and Tim stopped to say hi to a group of cyclists. They were medical students from Germany, Switzerland, Australia and Brazil. They were celebrating finishing their placement in Oslo by cycling in the Lofoten islands. They invited us to share their beer – we couldn’t believe we had been dreaming of beer only minutes before meeting them!
Thank you guys!
We wobbled off on our bikes to the village of A (pronounced Oar) Tim more so with his now bulges getting bigger in his tyre and stopped at a shop to buy bread. Tim wondered in, leaving Sharon worrying that Tim had control of the wallet in a shop that sold chocolate and lots of other goodies. Sharon couldn’t stop herself going in after him and found him down an aisle with arm fulls of goodies – which she made him put back. Tim finally emerged from the shop with a loaf of bread and some beetroot looking victorious that Sharon hadn’t spotted the beetroot (can I just mention here that Norway is really expensive! – S). We continued on to the end of the island and stopped at some toilets to collect water.
The beautiful village of A
We headed on for about another 100 metres and discovered a stunning camp spot. We felt shattered but cooked dinner and had a cuppa before turning in for bed.
We are off to Bodo tomorrow on the ferry and are treating ourselves to a campsite so we can wash our clothes and have a hot shower – hurray!!! and hopefully find a tyre that fits!!
Tims new tyre was a little bit big he asked for a 26″ not 2.6metres