We decided to make the most of our hotel room and checked out at 12:00 pm, after enjoying the complimentary all you can eat breakfast spread. As the weather turned out to be TOTALLY crap we were really pleased that we made that decision! It rained most of the morning but the weather forecast predicted clearing from 12-noon and clear by the evening, so it was in a spirit of optimism that we set out. We had a chat to another cycle tourist right outside our hotel who had cycled to Trondheim from Nordkaap and was then continuing south. He was Norwegian and it was interesting to hear about his trip. One of his tips was to cycle at night as this was when most of the wildlife could be seen, another was to wear earplugs when riding through the northernmost tunnel as the noise from the fans was very loud.
We were then on our way, in rain gear of course and it was about a 13 km ride to the ferry terminal at Flakk along the coast. We are sure that the sea views are beautiful, but all we saw was cloud and rain over the water. We rolled on to the ferry and it left soon after. For a 20 min crossing they sure have great facilities; a proper lounge area with hot food and drinks for sale. The crossing was free for us as foot passengers which was a nice suprise! On the other side we alighted at Rorvick and our route took us straight up a hill which it turned out we did not have to ride up, we could have chosen to stay along the coast and met up with the road later. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, we just followed the cycle route! The good thing about riding up the hill is that we did pass a supermarket and bought some snacks. Although we had had a very large breakfast, it was now 3:00 pm and we were feeling peckish. It was very cold and the rain came and went in long showers. Also, the route was sometimes hilly and sometimes not so we were for ever stopping to put on or take off rain jackets and swap gloves. Rain pants and booties are set and forget items so you can only change your temperature with rain jacket, hood and gloves. We were both totally hacked off with the weather and morale was very low. When it comes to rain and headwinds we were by now "been there done that, never want to see rain again" after the long haul through bad weather in UK and Ireland. We had borne all that patiently, always reminding ourselves that summer would appear in Norway. Well, we had exactly 5 days of summer and we need it to come back!
We had one longish climb on the day and then a nice descent along a river and we had already taken note of the campsite at a laybye with toilet so were happy to arrive. There weren't that many options for bush camps today as much of the area is farmland. After about 5 min it was evident that the area was plagued by midges and we were covered from head to toe. We put our hats and fly nets on while we pitched the tent and boiled water and then we got inside. No wash/swim tonight, it would be suicide. We had a light meal (he he most of our meals are light) and fruit and tea for supper. Man, were we pleased we had not left our wonderful clean and bug free hotel room early just to spend a few extra hours sitting here! Hardships are expected when touring but today the midge/rain combo proved too much. Better touring tomorrow please!
We had a good night's sleep dispite feeling a little grimy. We were exhausted after the day's effort. Luckily we had no rain all night and woke to clear skies! Whoo hoo! Norwegian summer wins out, we were very happy. Bit of a palaver getting ready with the midges. They had calmed down a little but there were about a million sleeping happily inside the fly sheet. Trying not to disturb sleeping midges is an art. We didn't have tea this morning as we had not been able to filter water last night, for the same reason that the swim was off the cards! So water was a bit low. Just a note for those interested: we always filter all drinking water with our MSR water filter and then purify with a Steripen. Of course the water in Norwegian lakes and rivers is beautiful and clean, but a water bourne illness is something we can do without. With all the bushcamps the filtering is time consuming as we will usually filter 8-10 liters everyday. Something helpful we have done on this trip is use the Sea to Summit kitchen sink to carry water to the tent and filter where it is more comfortable! Anyhow, water was low so no tea this morning.
We were happy to be on the bikes and away as soon as possible and were amazing to escape Midge Camping pretty unscathed. The road today was beautiful, undulating and following a river upstream. We stopped to buy some food at Åfjord which was a lovey town and filled up all our water bottles at the supermarket. We sat down at a lovely spot to eat and then it cooled down as the sun went behind the clouds. Luckily it came out again later on. We so appreciate the sunny weather! Next stop was a lean-to at Lake Momyr. We were interested to have a look at these lean-to's as they are marked on our maps and we may camp at a few. There were a couple of cars parked at the turn off and then a small track down to the lake. There we found everything we would want in a bush camp. The lean-to building was a proper log structure with raised area inside and wood and brickets to be used in the large fireplace. There were benches, wood and stone and then a toilet. There was also drinking water on tap. If you want to, you can even use a row boat to fish. There was a group of 4 guys camping in a teepee tent and another couple who had overnighted to fish were just leaving. Then a family with three boys came down for the day and the father and sons went out to fish in a row boat. We relaxed at some benches and got the stove out to make tea and had something to eat. After a while the "fishermen" rowed back in and the boys had caught two trout! They were going to cook them up there for lunch. We just love how Norwegians seem to embrace the outdoors.
Back on the bikes and the beautiful road continued to climb at a gentle gradient. We had a longish, steepish climb and then a great descent and stumbed apon as wonderful bush camp at the end of a short track to a lake. The lake was pristine and had a rocky beach and a jetty. It was great to be in a bug free environment and to be able to walk off the jetty into the refeshing water for our swim! We spent the afternoon relaxing and catching up on washing. Although we had a shorted day today than we had planned, we could not pass up this fabulous spot and felt we deserved to have this kind of rest after our day yesterday!
We had an early start in wonderful weather and soon hit the spectacular north west coast. The views of rocky islands in a calm sea in the morning were beautiful. We passed through Osen at about 13 km and then started climbing up the long river valley that would eventually lead us to Namsos. We had many fabulous views of crashing waterfalls all through the day along the river. We passed many good campspots too! The 715 road was very quiet all the way to the junction with the 17. We arrived in Namsos after lunchtime and had a nice cycleway in. As it was Sunday, no shops would be open but as it has high tourist traffic we hoped that the Kiwi Supermarket might be open. We pulled in at the Statoil station and bought a cold Coke and drank it while watching happy punters go in, pay for their petrol and emerge with delicios looking softserve icecreams. Another day perhaps, we enjoyed the cold fizzy drink rather. I asked the attendant about Kiwi and he gave us some directions. It was just over the bridge and part of the shop was indeed open which was great. We were able to buy some food for the evening. We then continued on and stopped at the info centre where we could use free wifi to upload the latest website installment. We also asked the young lady working there where the local beach/swimming hole was and she told us the name - Gullholm just along the road. The road we were on bypassed the Namsos Tunnel which was closed to bicycles and as these roads usually do, went straight uphill. Pretty soon we came across the turn off to the swimming hole and went down there. Namsos is surrounded by towering greenhills that seem to plunge down into the sea. The swimming hole area though was small and already quite crowded and the beach seemed quite muddy with shallow swimming, so we backtracked to the hill. Back on the route, the road had some ups and downs and passed through another coastal area. Again, due to low tide very muddy areas and nowhere for camping. On we went and then crossed one bridge over an island and then the next. We could see that things were better suited for bush camping here and there were many cars parked about for fishing or camping. We passed a layby which was quite full and pulled over to a disused track on the right. We were not sure what sort of camp it would lead to, but walked through the forest for about 200 m to our own private beach complete with pine forest and inpenetrable vertical rock wall. Perfect! Camp was set. It was 6:00 pm when we arrived so a long day. The weather is perfect and the sun still high as I write, at 9:30 pm.
Today was the start of the ferries for us, we would catch many. There was a 10:30 am ferry from Lund to Hofles which we wanted to catch. As this involved a 37 km cycle from our campsite, we aimed to leave before 8:00 am which we did. It was quite hilly all the way, beautiful scenery. We worked at keeping our average around 16 km/h which is normal for Norway! We ended up arriving at 9:40 am which was way before time, but didn't want to run the risk of missing it! The ferry trip was 20 minutes long and the views picture perfect. We had expected to pay 27 NKR each for the trip but first it looked as if we would not be charged and then as we were disembarking we were told it cost 41 NKR each. There must be a charge for bikes, but it isn't published anywhere. We then had a 14 km ride to Kolvereid where we shopped up a storm at the supermarket. We also saw 7 cycle tourists outside the same store and chatted to two who lived nearby and were riding around on a week's holiday. We sat on some benches in town and ate lunch and packed the food away. We had only 26 km to go 'til we would camp, hopefully at Naustbukta or thereabouts.
The kilometres went quickly and we were soon in a beautiful lakeland area with small boulder islands. Typical Norway scenes. We found a wonderful campspot where you could walk up on top of a rocky outcrop and have great views and still be able to swim, etc. Unfortunately it would have been too difficult to get the bikes and our gear up and down and we decided against it. On we went and found another campspot/picnic area just before Naustbukta but it was a bit too much in the open. Naustbukta had a shop where we bought milk and kept going. We passed a few more places but none were really suitable. We knew that there was a campsite coming up a bit off our route and decided that if nothing had come up by then we would stop there. Some spectacular rocky mountains came to view, looking more martian that earthly. As we rounded a bend in the road two things happened: we saw are first national cycle route marker since Lillehammer and there was a campsite right there. Very low key, a very reasonable price and we were sold. The day had been long enough. Best thing was that we did not have to turn off our route to find one! The hot shower was enjoyed by all!
Whilst we were sitting down having our meal, 7 more cycle tourists passed, so we are clearly "on route"!
Once again we had a ferry to catch this morning so no lazing about! We woke to overcast conditions but luckily no rain all day. We had 20 km to ride to our first ferry of the day (Holm-Vennesund) and four tunnels to ride through, all short. One is never certain of how long the ride will take when you are trying to get somewhere by a certain time. It is always best to err on the side of caution, even if it means an early arrival. We had some small hills and the tunnels of course took us through hills so that means no climbing! We arrived about 50 minutes early for the ferry and drank our flask coffee. It was quite cold waiting. When we disembarked in Vennesund we were suprised to be met with 60 km of flat riding! In fact we were quite unprepared! Flat riding in Norway? No wonder you see cycle tourists everywhere here! We stopped for shopping at Vik and Berg. The area was very rural with many fields and pastures down to the sea but towering mountains to our right all day. The mountains look almost unreal, as if it is a stage set. Quite amazing. They were all topped by cloud but this seemed just to add to their mystery. We reached the Horn-Anddalsvag ferry an hour early only to be told we had just missed one by a few minutes as extra ferries were being put on. We were quite happy to eat lunch whilst waiting. As we disembarked we saw we had 17 km to go 'til our third ferry from Forvik, but only 2 km down the road came upon a beautiful campspot on the sea with stunning views. We were sold and stopped there for the night.
We had cold, overcast conditions all day. As we had expected rain this was okay, but still, summer where are you? Max temp 13 degrees and this is to continue for a few days yet. We have revised our estimate on our arrival in Bodo to 19 July 2015 (from 21st). Really hoping for great weather then as we catch the ferry from Bodo to the Lofoten Islands with their crystal clear waters. Anyway, we arrived early for our ferry from Forvik to Tjotta and decided to boil up some water for coffee. We also needed to fill up our water bottles but they were busy building a new ferry terminal so we couldn't find where to fill up. We asked one of the workmen who let us use the new kitchen and then made some coffee in our flasks for the voyage. We had remembered to keep out our Aclima woolshell pants so we were warm. Another pair of cycle tourists arrived to catch the ferry too. They were on a tandem and actually the first cycle tourists we saw travelling south-to-north! They were friendly but did not say much and when we went into the warm lounge on board they took out their sleeping bags to dry. Ouch!
When we arrived in Tjotta we bought yoghurt at the local store and had a second breakfast. We were off on our way and it was about 11:30 am, the ferry ride was an hour with a few stops. The road continued as before, flat, rural area with unreal mountains sliding into the backdrop. We reached Sandnessjøen which is a large town and went to the info centre to check the ferry times for the Levang-Nesna route as these were not posted in our book. We also updated our website and changed our hotel booking for Bodø. Yes, we will have that hotel stay again as a little treat! Leaving Sandnessjøen we shopped for the evening and then crossed the Helgalandsbrua, a very impressive cable span structure with a sweeping uphill. We were suprised that there wasn't a cycleway on it especially as it is quite a new structure. After this the road was no longer as flat as it had been and we ended on a climb to Levang, the nest ferry terminal. We stopped about 5 km short when we saw a track turning off along a river and got a great campspot. The river ran clear and fast from the snow covered mountain behind. Eek, the swim was quick and we felt clean!
We woke to very low cloud and misty rain. One of those days when you just want to stay in your sleeping bag, listening to the rushing river beside you. However, there was no certainty that the weather would improve tomorrow and you can't get to Nordkapp by staying in bed, so up we got. We had only 6 km or so to the ferry terminal at Levang and this was a bit of an uphill and then downhill to the coast. The ferry was at 8:45 am and 25 minutes long and we disembarked at Nesna, doing our day's food shopping at the only supermarket we would see today. We had a 340 m climb from Nesna with what should have been stunning coastal views of the many islands here. We saw mist and cloud. It was raining slightly all the way up and when we reached the top very misty with low visibility. We put on wet weather gear for the descent which was steep in parts and challenging with the low visibility. At the bottom we stopped to eat. The road would take us through 4 tunnels today, two of which were long, just under 3 km each. We enjoyed the tunnel riding. It is a wonderful thing to see the 600 m contour on your GPS over your head when the riding is flat! We had rain off and on along the route which has great scenic lookouts as well which we would have fully appreciated in better weather. We passed through Stokkvagen and were on the lookout for a bush camp as the weather did not support riding much longer. We found a good spot, unfortunately no swim tonight, but we had plenty of drinking water. It was 3 pm when we stopped and we got the tent up just in time before the heavier rain came through. I can't believe that it is mid-July and I'm still saying it, but we are hoping for better weather! One good thing is that wind is not a factor here, if anything we seem to have a tailwind mostly.
Well, all hopes of summer reappearing seem to be vanishing into the mist, as are the mountain peaks! We rode mainly in the rain today. We woke to it, set off in it, and it came and went, but mostly came, all day. We had to time things well today as we had three ferry trips to make. They divided the day nicely and it was great to have a break from the rain! The first was Kilboghamn-Jektvik after 22 km, then we had a 27 km cycle before the Ågskaret-Forøy ferry, and then we rode 30 km before the Vassdalsvik-Ørnes ferry. The first ferry was quite exciting as we crossed the Arctic Circle whilst on it, but it was such a strange ferry. There were no windows so you could not see out, the cafe was closed and the travellers just sat in this dingy little room below deck looking at the four walls. It was a 60 minute crossing and even the short 25 minute ferries have great viewing windows and drinks and eats for sale. Not even a poster on the wall saying "You will cross the Arctic Circle on this ferry..." or anything. After this ferry we had two tunnels, one over 3 km long which was great as we were out of the rain! This tunnel was so straight that once over a rise, for the final 2 km you could literally see "the light at the end of the tunnel" that steadily grew bigger as we whizzed down towards it along a slight decline.
We had to make sure we made the next ferry at 1:15 pm (only 15 min long) in order to ensure we also made the 4:00 pm ferry to Ørnes. After disembarking in Forøy we shopped at Halsa as the cycle route booklet told us it was the only supermarket for the rest of the day. We sat at a table in the supermarket to eat and then Mike said it was after 2:00 pm so we should probably get going. We had a bite of lunch and then back into the rain for the last 30bkm stint. As the road wound down one side of a fjord and then up the other side we had quite a bit of headwind and it was a push, but we arrived with 15 minutes to spare. This was good as the next ferry was only at 6:30 pm. We had decided to camp at an actual campsite tonight as we knew the day would be long and wet, and we would want a hot shower! The nearest campsite was at Reipa just 8 km past Ørnes, hence the need to make the 4:00 pm ferry! The ferry trip was 50 minutes long and we were happy with our hot shower and also the luxury of a campers' kitchen complete with kettle!
There was no rain last night and it was quite clear and very bright all night. Although the Midnight Sun no longer shines up here, it remains light all night. We were pleased to wake to overcast conditions but no rain and had a rain free day on the bike. Whoo hoo! The ride today followed the coast all the way except for some sections where it wound it's way inland and there were some long climbs there. We had 5 tunnels today which is the most on the trip for a single day! One was over 3 km but the rest much shorter. The mountain and fjordland scenery continued to delight especially as we could see the tops of the mountains now! More and more snow about as we move northwards. It was still relatively cool on the bike but we were comfortable. In the early part of the day we saw a white tailed sea eagle. These are huge birds and this one was being chased away by some seagulls (or the seagulls were trying to chase it away!), It was sitting on a rock not far off the road. We have been so impressed by Norway's roads and the way that they take you right into the drama of the landscape. We saw so many waterfalls today, some really vertical rivers running down flat stone walls. Amazing.
We decided to camp at an official campsite again, mainly to do the laundry. We had not done a big wash since 19 June! I know, my housekeeping skills have gone to pot! Of course we have washed bits and pieces of cycling gear by hand in rivers and lakes of course without detergent. This is not the same thing as a proper wash though. So we picked a large campsite with washing facilities. It was right at Saltstraumen which is the strongest tidal maelstrom in the world and occurs with the tide going in or out every 6 hours. Apparently this is a must see for Norwegians who have it on their bucket list. It is very impressive. Probably more impressive for us was the bridge over it! You cannot belive the pitch of this thing! As we came round the corner you could see that we had a descent down to it and could see the cars going up it at a crazy incline. We stopped just before it for the only supermarket that we could shop at on the way (we had passed one other but it was closed). We then rode UP the bridge on the tiny narrow cycle/pedestrian walkway, which was packed with busloads of tourists viewing the maelstrom who of course did not give us an inch. Norwegians build fantastic bridges but do not cater very much for cyclists on them. We checked into the campsite after ensuring they had laundry facilities. We had the tent pitched by 2:00 pm and then spent the afternoon doing the washing and using the drier. I don't think that doing the washing at home gets me this excited! Wonderful to have clean clothes. We took a walk later to the check out the Saltstraumen as the water rushed out back to the sea. Tomorrow we have only 33 km to ride to Bodø and our hotel.
It rained quite a bit overnight and was still raining this morning when we awoke. The weather forecast predicated that the rain would clear around 10:00 am so we slept in and set off just before that. It was very cloudy and drizzled off and on but we did not have far to go, we just hoped to get there dry-ish! The cycle route deviated from route 17 to avoid a tunnel and then rejoined the main road with a cycleway the whole way to Bodø. As it is Sunday, no supermarkets were open along the way. We stopped at a petrol station to buy some milk as our hotel room had a kettle. We arrived before 12 noon and could only check in at 3pm. As it was cold and wet, we just sat inside the hotel lounge until a room was available after 2 pm, making use of the free coffee machine in the foyer! Our room has a great view of the Bodø harbour and we had a shower and then went out to chase down some food. We ate various take-away things from various places. We find eating out in Norway very expensive (actually eating in Norway is expensive!) and even the fast food we bought cost a lot, but hey, you've got to eat! We then went back to our hotel room to relax. We catch the ferry to Moskenes, Lofoten tomorrow afternoon, so we have a bit of a break from cycling. We have ridden a total of 6,355 km since the start of the tour and are about half way to Nordkapp (North Cape) from Oslo.