Saturday, 14 August 2010
The Lofoten Islands
We arrived in the Lofotens by ferry and our first impression of the islands was of a jagged wall of rock rising straight out of the sea – a particularly dramatic sight with the setting sun behind the mountains so they appeared as silhouettes.
We stayed in A (pronounced “Uh”) – the last letter in the Norwegian alphabet and the southernmost village in the islands, where we camped on a rugged headland jutting out into the sea with fantastic sea views from the tent.
As in the other villages we’ve seen around the islands, the seafront and harbour were dominated by small red-painted wooden fisherman’s cottages, some standing on stilts above the rocky shore. Settlers first came to the islands drawn by the cod, and these cabins were originally built for visiting fishermen, although they’re now let mainly to tourists. Around the cabins stand great wooden racks – mainly empty now (something Rachael’s quite pleased about!) but apparently completely full during the winter and spring when the cod are left out to dry.
We’ve continued our outdoor swimming while we’ve been here, in increasingly cold water (luckily though for our first 3 days we had warm weather and clear blue skies which definitely helped!). Our first full day from A into the middle of the island, picknicked and swam in a beautiful lake before climbing to a ridge with views over east and west coasts.
Unlike in fjords around Bergen, where the mountain tops were relatively flat, here the islands are dominated by rough pointed peaks and serrated ridges: a dramatic and strikingly beautiful landscape if not a particularly welcoming one.
On Friday we walked to a near deserted beach on the west of the island where we swam (briefly) in the sea, had a bonfire, and watched the not quite midnight-sun disappear for just a couple of hours in the night before the clouds rolled in and the islands disappeared in pouring rain and thick mist which enveloped us during a very soggy Saturday – a bit like camping in the Lake District, just a bit colder!