Wow! What a day! Utterly amazing!! I have fallen in love, hook, line and sinker, with the Lofotens. I have travelled to many places in this world – but this has to be up there with the best. As we sailed into the Lofotens yesterday evening, the chain of mountain peaks, known as Lofotenveggan (Lofoten Wall) reared up like a dragon’s tail on the horizon. We stood on the deck of the ferry, with the sun glinting in the water, and watched, as the slither of land slowly grew closer and closer. The excitement was tangible – not just for us, but everyone on the ferry was stood staring straight ahead, in anticipation.
As we drove off the ferry, it was almost disbelief that we had arrived at last.
The campsite that we had opted to stay in was literally within spitting distance of the ferry terminal. Luckily, we were one of the first off, since a whole line of Big Whites followed us into the campsite. On first glances, it looked fine, so we opted to stay for two nights. This turned out to be a smart move. ‘One nighters’ were allocated a rather miserable pitch on a piece of gravel, away from the sea. ‘More than one nighters’ were given an allocated number pitch, with a much better aspect. The premier spots, however, looking out over the cliffs to sea and to the harbour in Moskenes, were already taken by the time we arrived at gone eight. Nonetheless, we pitched up quickly, and scuttled off to the ‘Pub’ on site, where we treated ourselves to a fish burger for me, and fish stew for Howard. We passed on much of the menu – Pizza Deep Desire, with marinated whale meat, and chopped whale meat and pommes frites amongst some of he offerings!!
We awoke this morning to a bright blue sky, and decided to make the most of our one day of forecasted good weather.
First we headed south, to the far tip of the Lofotens, to a charming village called ‘A i Lofoten’ or just simply ‘A’ to the locals. Having been pretty much left isolated for decades, ‘A’ is more of a living museum piece from the 19th century – a preserved fishing village, with rows of red rorbuer (fisher’s cabins) and cod drying racks. At it’s peak, 700,00 cod would have been hung up to dry here. Today, there were still plenty of cod drying racks in evidence – mainly drying the cod’s heads, which have become a delicacy in African countries such as Nigeria. The air drying of whole cod, known as Stockfish, is also carried out, and these are mainly exported to Italy and Croatia. ‘A’ also housed the world’s oldest cod liver oil factory, now just a museum, but very popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries. We visited the bakery, which has been in operation since the 1800s, and bought a splendid cinnamon bun and chocolate and walnut pastry to have with our coffee.
Words cannot really describe how picturesque this place is, save to say I used up the remainder of my memory card on taking photos – it was just beautiful.
We then headed north to a town called Reine, another picture postcard location, looking absolutely marvellous in the sunshine, with a clear blue sky silhouetting the rows of red fisherman’s huts on the shoreline. We stopped for a coffee in the sunshine, and couldn’t believe our good fortune to experience this place on a day like today – something of a rarity in the Lofotens. Several tractors passed us by loaded with dried cod – today seemed to be the day for harvesting the fish from the drying racks, I guess being the one guaranteed dry day of the week. Very similar to our farmers back in Fife, who bring in the harvest with the good weather.
Moving on, we came to Ramsberg, with it’s stunning white sandy beach. I couldn’t resist dipping my toes in the sea, just to say that I had paddled in the Arctic Circle. Howard, who initially thought I had gone bonkers, then decided to join in, for fear of looking a wimp. Howard, being Howard, had to go one better, and do a little dance in the water, just to prove he was enjoying the intense icy cold on his feet. Who was he fooling?!!
Trying to make the most of the good weather, we carried on to a fishing village on an improbable road off the main road called Nusfjord, which proved to be the icing on the cake. This village took picturesque to another level, which explains why it’s photos are used in many of the promotions for the Lofotens. Situated all around the pretty fishing harbour are genuine 19th century rorbuer, their bright red colour contrasting vividly with the blue fjord waters and the mountains beyond. Since we had arrived late in the day, the usual entrance fee to walk around the village had been waived, and the whole place looked utterly beguiling in the early evening light.
It was really hard to drag ourselves away, but by now, I was getting ‘camera fatigue’, having taken so many photos. We slowly wound our way to our campsite in Moskenes, stopping just once on the way home, to have a quick look at the old Kirke in Flakstad, a red wooden timbered church with an onion dome dating from 1780.
Arriving back at our campsite, we had been upgraded to a pitch with an ocean view, being one of the few to be staying more than one night. We sat in the sunshine sipping the last of our Hendricks, looking out across the glimmering sea, watching the ferries come and go into the port. As we ate our tea, the sun dropped behind the mountains, and if the forecast is correct, that is the last we will see of the sun for a few days, at least.
In all honesty, I am just delighted to have witnessed the Lofotens at their best today. Anything else will be a bonus. I can categorically say, though, the this is one of the most stunning locations that we have visited so far in our six month odyssey. The Lofotens are positively one of the most beautiful places on earth, and I feel very privileged to have visited them. I simply love the Lofotens!!
Despite being one of the most stunning places on earth, as predicted, their 4G and WiFi is far from stunning. Consequently no photos until better signal.