Norway Part I: Senja Wilderness

So, the event of the year has finally happened! We’ve been planning our holiday to Norway for months, and July 1st seemed to take an awfully long time to arrive.

We spent two fantastic weeks in the north of Norway, way inside the Arctic Circle, and I’ve decided to write a separate blog for each week, mainly because I have hundreds of photos and trying to condense them into one coherent blog was proving impossible.

Northern Norway has some fairly popular tourist spots, and although we wanted to experience some of them, two weeks spent with hundreds of other people isn’t really our style, so our first week was spent exploring some of the areas that many others ignore.

We stayed on the small-ish island of Dyrøya, and although it only has an area of 20 square miles, we managed to fill two whole days without needing to leave the island. Looking at the scenery, it’s not too difficult to see why…

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The view across the fjord from our accomodation, taken at 11:30 pm thanks to the wonderful Midnight Sun

100_1530.JPG100_1438.JPGThere was plenty to do off the island as well, and we spent a day on the islands of Rolla and Andørja. This was our first big trip out, where we were treated to some of the ‘wonderful’ Norwegian weather. Although we had blue skies, low-lying clouds hung frustratingly around the peaks, never quite allowing us the full view.100_1470.JPG100_1478.JPGDespite the cloud cover, the scenery was spectacular. Andørja in particular was an impressive place – it has eleven peaks over 1000m despite only having an area of about 50 square miles.100_1500 (2).JPGNot wanting to risk climbing all the way up to be treated to a view of the clouds, we instead skirted around the edge of the island, enjoying the foothills and the coastline.100_1508 (2).JPGWe were also treated to one of the slightly more bizarre aspects of Norway, which was the sheer quantity of bicycle sculptures.100_1520.JPGThe above picture was definitely one of the more extreme versions, but at least one house in every village we passed had a pastel painted bike somewhere on their property, more often than not with a basket of flowers at the front. I can’t say it was something I was expecting to see, but I loved it.

Although we were in a relatively quiet part of Norway, there were still touristy spots around, and we spent a long day on Senja (the second largest island in Norway, and gaining in popularity) packing as much in as we could. The Norwegian government have designated certain roads across the country as National Tourist Routes, where they combine some of the most spectacular scenery with infrastructure designed to encourage tourists (view-points, places to eat, etc.), and we decided to follow the one on the west coast of Senja. We thought the road would be packed (and I imagine that in certain parts of the country they are), but we were pleasantly surprised by how quiet it was, often having the viewpoints to ourselves.

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The beautiful white sand beach at Ersfjordstranda

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Ersfjordstranda again, and the only public toilet I’ve ever been in that looked like it might launch itself into orbit at any minute!

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Tungenest boardwalk, leading to the Okshornan peaks

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View of the Okshornan peaks, or the ‘Devil’s Teeth’ – described as ‘slightly rugged’ by the information boards

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The slightly vertigo-inducing viewing platform at Bergsbotn

Some aspects of the tourist route weren’t quite so scenic, and we couldn’t drive past the world’s biggest troll – Senjatrollet – without stopping to take a look.100_1631.JPGHmm, on second thoughts, I think I’d rather stick to the mountains and fjords…

After meandering down the coast all morning, we turned inland and headed to Ånderdalen National Park for a quick walk. Despite being in an area popular with hikers, we actually struggled to find marked walks, but luckily came across one to the small peak of Langdalsryggen. Although we had only moved inland by a few miles, we were surprised at how much the landscape changed – there was very little greenery, and much more snow than we were expecting.100_1662.JPG100_1654.JPG100_1668.JPGThe weather was cold (I was very grateful for the kind gift of a couple of snoods!) and overcast, but the scenery was stunning and I’d love to go back and climb some of the higher peaks in the future.

This was our last full day of week one, and my personal favourite. Sam can’t quite decide between the beauty of Senja, or the quieter, totally unspoilt wilderness of Rolla and Andørja – I suppose we’ll just have to go back and take another look!100_1679.JPG

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