Vaeroy – A – Reine – Ramberg – Nusfjord – Justadtinden – Henningsaer – Rorvika Beach – Nokksaeta – Sortland – Nyksund – Sto – Andenes – Blevik
Wow. What a stunning part of the world. When we drove back across the border into Norway we were so happy to be back in this beautiful country – endless dramatic mountains, sunshine, lush green valleys and clear blue sea. Here is a little summary of the island archipelagos of Lofoten and Vesteralen (mainly Lofoten as we were there for longer).
Island of Vaeroy
So good it deservers its own section. We started our trip to Lofoten by exploring Vaeroy – one of the furthest islands south. Most of the main islands in Lofoten are connected by a network of bridges and tunnels but Vaeroy is too far off the main archipelago so we had to get a ferry. The island is largely made up of a mountain ridge in a horseshoe shape, a flat plateau where most of the houses are and lots of beautiful bays with turquoise water. We walked 10 miles up and down a mountain that scared me silly, cycled 14 miles around the island exploring the coastline, saw a sea eagle, and finished the day with a rare drink in the evening sun. It was mentally and physically exhausting but absolutely wonderful!
The second most famous thing about Lofoten, after its incredible scenery, is its fishing history. We visited the fishing villages of A, Henningsaer, Reine, and Nusfjord but there was evidence of the fishing industry everywhere you looked. The industry is built on Arctic Cod, caught in the winter and hung up to dry on large wooden frames throughout Spring. The smell, as you can imagine, is horrendous but the locals call it the smell of money. Because of the temperature and wind on the islands the fish don’t need to be salted or smoked and they don’t freeze or rot.
The beaches on these islands are essentially the arctic version of the Caribbean. Crystal clear waters, with white sandy beaches backed by lush green mountains. The main difference being that word, arctic! I managed a few swims and it was f*#king freezing but exhilarating. I even manged to get Graham in the water once. The main beaches we visited were Ramberg, Rorvika and Blevik.
One of our favourite walks of the trip so far was up to Jusradrinden peak. When we initially got towards the top we were surrounded by thick cloud, which was a shame as we had read it was one of the best and most open views in Lofoten. But we are patient, so we sat and waited, slowly the clouds blew away and mountain after mountain was revealed as far as you could see.
We also had a typically Norwegian walk up to Nokkaseata hut. The path started off with nice duckboards over bogs and got us into a false sense of security. But then the standard, more difficult terrain hit us with a mixture of steep rockfaces, piles of snow, bogs with no duckboards and paths that essentially were walking down waterfalls. It’s always a bit of a challenge in Norway.
Not being a big fan of heights and still recovering from 4 years living in flat Norfolk means I find some hill walking quite tricky. Our day walking the horseshoe shaped ridge from the fishing village of Nyksund to the fishing village of Sto and back was my most physically and mentally exhausting day yet. The hardest parts were scrambling up a steep ridge, the narrow sections of some of the paths and the continuous up and down, up and down. But the views were great, I was very proud of myself for being able to do it and I very much enjoyed the beer at the end!
Most of our wildlife spots were in Vesteralen. We splashed out and went on a whale watching trip off the coast of Andenes. We saw a humpback very close to the boat and a pod of about 10/15 orcas. The orcas were an incredible sight! Other highlights were watching an otter wrestling a big fish, seeing sea eagles being mobbed by gulls, nearly walking into a moose on a walking route and fluffy little oyster catcher chicks. As well as lots of other bird species and some seals. Scooby makes a great evening hide!
The most beautiful place on earth
We took our trusty inflatable kayak out on Reine fjord. The ‘thing’ to do there is kayak to the other side, then walk 45 minutes up a small hill to a stunning beach on the other side of the island only accessible by boat. This was lovely but the best part was further down the fjord where no one else was. We stopped for lunch on a kind of rocky beach. The photo doesn’t do it justice – insanely clear water (could see at least 15 meters), lots of great sea life and snow on the mountains. Our version of heaven and not another soul. Truly the most beautiful place I have ever seen.