Probably the first big milestone of the trip, something I am very proud of. Reaching Nordkapp in northern Norway. At 71 degrees North, Nordkapp sits as the most northerly point in mainland Europe a 1000km drive within the Arctic Circle. Days spent driving in short daylight hours and nights spent camping at minus 20 degrees C. It was bitterly cold the day we arrived and the wind was howling as we stood on the precipice looking out over the Arctic ocean into nothingness. Nothing between us and the North Pole. A beautiful day.
Crossing into the Lappi (Lapland) region of Finland from Norway on the E8 still deep within the Arctic you notice an immediate change in landscape. Suddenly the roads straighten out and all around you is an endless snowy plateau interspersed with forests and frozen lakes. There is also substantially more snow here than in Norway. Passing Sami reindeer herders and the odd snowmobile there is little life out here, It is the frozen tundra of the last great European wilderness.
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. (more…)