Norway – To Nordkapp & the Northern Lights
The aim of our Scandinavian section was to reach the Arctic Circle and drive on up to 71 degrees north to Nordkapp. The North Cape is the most northerly point in Europe (accessible by vehicle; there is another headland to the west you can walk to, but not ideal in winter). Here you are deep into Arctic territory and population densities of the towns drop off significantly.
Prior to reaching the Arctic Circle we met up with 3 other Land Rovers from the UK who were on a tight schedule as they had limited time off work. The plan was straight forward with meeting points for lunch and end of day; easier said than done while towing the trailer on icy roads! Our first night with the group was spent in cabins (luckily as it had dropped to -25 c) and the next day we headed off to our evening meeting point, which was a wildcamp. Jason and Mal moved on ahead to locate a suitable spot for the night as we moved at a comparative snail’s pace finally arriving at 19:30. Lucky for us the guys had the wood-burner roaring and had started to prep food for the group evening meal. We jumped in to give them a hand as you have to move fast cooking food when temperatures are at -10 c with limited shelter opportunities.
The next day everyone cracked on to Alta which was a 700 km push from our wildcamp and I knew this was out of the question for us. I let Jason know and we went at our own pace. A rumbling and drive-line slack had been on my mind the previous few days and it had gotten to the point where it was vibrating heavily through the steering wheel under load. Checking the front revealed nothing but the rear most propshaft UJ (joint) had a large amount of play in it. Luckily I had packed spares and we stopped at a garage in a small town who agreed to let me use their bench vice (for free). All swapped out in about an hour we were back on the road and stayed in a small hotel in Bardufoss that night around the halfway point. Now a day behind the group we continued north to Alta. We had to stop for a while as we spotted a number of White-tailed Eagles fishing in one of the Fjords. As they were nesting in the cliffs adjacent to the road we got a good view of them as the soared overhead.
Further up the road we finally ran into (not literally) Helen and Shane who were on a 3 week cycle tour from Kiruna to Tromso. I had exchanged messages with Helen prior to us departing and promised that if we spotted them we would stop and make them a nice cup of tea. Nobody is cycling along the ice roads of the E6 during winter so when two figures cycled towards us I knew it was them for sure. With nowhere to park we pulled over in somebody’s driveway and had some sandwiches, cups of hot chocolate and a good chat. You can read what Helen has been up to here: http://helenstakeon.com
Finally reaching Honningsvag a day behind Jason and Mal we settled into the lovely fisherman’s cottages down by the sea. They had been to Nordkapp that day in beautiful weather and were back in the cabin around the same time we arrived that afternoon. After some food and an amount of rum had been consumed the Aurora Borealis made a show for a few hours and we all got to it with camera’s, tripods and a host of manual settings to capture the sight. It was a fantastic night with some great new friends and I was sorry to see them leave again the next morning as I knew we wouldn’t be seeing them again for a long time.
We made it to Nordkapp on the 11th February in a complete whiteout and fierce winds. We had to wait for the convoy approximately 6 km down the road and followed the snowplough through the blizzard to Nordkapp. It was a great feeling knowing we had made it, especially driving our Land Rover there from the UK. We spent another night in the fisherman’s cabin before departing the next day for Finland. We followed the familiar route down the E6, then took the E8 southeast to the Lappi region of Finland.