Norway Mjelle,Saltstraumen&Svartisen Glacier : Part 2, Week 7 2nd- 8th Oct 2017

2nd October 2017

Back on the E6 we made our way towards Bodø as we’d seen on Atlas Obscura that on the outskirts of the city (off the 80 road) there’s a beach with red and white sand (www.atlasobscura.com/places/red-beach-at-mjelle.) Apparently the hue and volume of the red sand depends on various factors including wind speed- something which was getting considerably quicker the closer we got to the coast!After making our way through some crazy roadworks (whole road ripped up and we had to pass by all moving machinery on a gravel track!) we parked up and made some lunch whilst the wind howled round the van!

Wrapped up in a few layers and went out to brave the wind and the cold, didn’t take long to get there and was a cool walk over rocks and then briefly through some woodland.

Saw the red sand from a distance and made our way to the exposed beach where the wind was definitely at it’s strongest! Zo was literally blown over at one point and we even witnessed a few ‘sand twisters’ (the only way we can describe them!. The sand was cool to see but what made this location memorable was the weather conditions!

 

 

Safely got back to the van and after a coffee we headed back towards Bodø knowing there was a camperstop near the centre. Had a quick drive through the city early evening but didn’t scream out to us so we parked up for the night with plans to head straight to Saltstraumen, the world’s strongest tidal current,another place we’d seen on Atlas Obscura. Seeing as we were so close (and the fact it sounded pretty cool) we thought we’d better check it out! (www.atlasobscura.com/places/saltstraumen-maelstrom)

3rd October 2017

Left just before 9am (avoided the parking fee as it was only free between 6pm – 9am!) heading out of the city on the 80 and then the 17 following the signs for Saltstraumen. Parked up and took a walk down to the point where the tide tries to fill the Skjerstad fjord.

Well worth a visit to see the crazy current and the whirlpools that form when it’s at it’s strongest! Spent a good hour in awe of the place before going further south on the 17 and then turning onto a great little road – the 812. Great scenery, no traffic and barely any civilisation either.

 

Eventually got back onto the E6 at Rognan where a river ran parallel to the road as we headed further south. Found somewhere to pull over to take a walk down to the water and were taken aback when we came across a really old abandoned, rusty car -something Tris had always dreamed of…

Not only was the car impressive but the scenery around it was stunning too with an array of autumn colours, a blueberry covered woodland floor and rapids!

 

Before we knew it we were back at the Arctic circle – neither of us had really appreciated how far south we’d come since Nordkapp! We pulled into the carpark to find the centre was closed for the afternoon (or potentially for the next few months as we could see from the door the restaurant had a sign reading “see you next year”).

 

imageDetermined to get an Arctic Circle sticker for the van we decided to stay in the carpark ’til the morning to see whether it would be open. The weather had taken a turn for the worse so Zo made some flapjack and we spent the eve catching up with some of the blog.

4th October 2017

After breakfast we saw a van pull up to the centre and the lights inside came on! Found our sticker and got chatting to the guy on the till who we soon found out was visiting London in a couple of weeks time and was really excited! Ended up chatting for ages before we even introduced ourselves!

Found out Pontus was actually from Sweden and had been working in the centre for the past couple of years. Really friendly guy who was very hospitable, ended up having some food with him as well in the evening. Didn’t move too far today as we spent most of it at the centre!

5th October 2017

Left our spot just a few miles down the road from the centre before deciding to make our way towards Svartisen glacier – in conversation yesterday Pontus had told us about it but hadn’t said the exact location. Made our way further south down the E6 before pulling over in a layby to make some breakfast. Messaged Pontus and soon found out that the road we needed to take to get to the glacier was the one we’d pulled over on!

He’d told us it was between a 4-6 hour, 20km hike to get to the glacier, so having arrived at the carpark just after 12 we assumed we’d be back way before it got dark and said whilst the weather is clear we might as well go for it! Geared ourselves up with boots and waterproofs along with a bottle of apple juice, a few biscuits and a couple of bits of flapjack (yes, we now realise how unprepared we were!).

The first couple of kilometres were easy – flat and along a road which would’ve been open in the summer as it leads to a carpark next to a lake. (During peak season the glacier is much more accessible as the ferry cuts out about 7km each way!)

After the tarmac it got a bit more interesting… We kept the lake on our left and walked along the shore before we could go no further and had to resort to the woods instead. There was no real “path” just many bogs, treetrunks and roots to catch you out along with the odd stream to jump over – definitely not like any walk we’ve done before but was way more interesting and challenging!

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We had a short break halfway along the lake and reached the other end of the water where the ferry would normally stop to allow visitors to make the 3km hike to the glacier. The scenery changed dramatically and no other soul was to be seen! Felt like we were on another planet.

 

Red paint marked the way as we continued to clamber and haul ourselves up various rock faces with signs every 500m indicating we were very close to the glacier.

 

The challenge was worth it and photos really don’t do it any justice!

 

Not appreciating the time we thought we’d try and walk even further – Pontus had stood next to it in his photos we thought we could too! Turns out it was alot further than we thought in order to actually be next to the ice and there was no sign of a marked path either…

Looked at the time – 5:15. It’d taken us 4/5 hours to get here. And we still had to get back… before it got dark. To say the least we learnt our lesson! After climbing down the route we’d just taken and frantically scoping the landscape to find some red paint, we eventually made our way back onto the trail – pretty slippery as the temperature was beginning to drop and ice was starting to form.

Power walked our way back into the woodland but before we knew it it was pitch black and a phone torch wasn’t really the best light to have!Tris ended up ankle deep in mud as we could no longer see what paths were boggy! But anyway we made it back in one piece… at 8:15pm we arrived back at the van, bodies aching but still in awe of the glacier and what we’d achieved (especially with our lack of preparation!)

6th October 2017

Woke up fairly early; still aching slightly (!), with the plan of having bacon and pancakes for breakfast.. Made a drink first, then the batter to discover our gas wasn’t working properly. Thought the bottle had run out but after changing them over it still only a very small flame and barely any heat! Just about managed to make one pancake before giving up – took ages so saved the batter,put it in the fridge in hope we’d find a solution later on! Left the carpark with plans to visit Gronligrotta (caves which we’d seen on the map) which was just up the road. Challenged the van to a steep hill to get there however on arrival it seemed it was only open in peak season – nonetheless it was a pretty awesome view from the carpark!

After a talk with Tris’ Dad and a few comments on a post we’d put on the T25/T3 club on Facebook it seemed either the regulator on the bottles was broken or it was due to the altitude or the cold. We decided to carry on driving to Mosjøen where we parked up, changed the regulator (had a spare one!) but still no luck so settled with the idea that the bottles were just too cold.

Carried on driving down the E6 with both bottles in the footwell by Zo to warm them up by the heater! Stopped briefly by Laksfossen late afternoon…

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We eventually parked up just off the E6 on road 76 where we tried the gas once again – the cold was definitely the problem as they began working again – but only for so long! Made a few pancakes and a drink before it stopped again…!

7th October 2017

Rained all night and had got so cold in the van overnight we had ice to scrape off from INSIDE! Not much fun when you cant have a hot drink either so quickly got some layers on, started the van and continued down the E6 – bottles back in the warm footwell!

Drove for most of the day – took a detour from the E6 on the 760 and also stopped off at Bordafeltet (near Steinjker) where there were carvings from the Bronze/Stone Age!

Also visited Stiklestad – the site of the battlefield where viking King Olav/ St. Olav was killed in 1030. There was a museum, culture centre etc situated there however we had a short walk round the church before carrying on.

Parked up for the night just north of Størjdal in a layby – luckily the gas had warmed up so we could have some pasta for dinner!

8th October 2017

We’d planned on visiting Trondheim however the weather forecast was looking more hopeful the following day so we decided to see a couple of places surrounding Størjdal instead. Went back up the E6 and took the 753 (great little country road!) then crossed a bridge to get to Tautra island.

Visited the abbey ruins and also came across a quirky tower in a graveyard(which we still don’t know anything about!)

Made our way back onto the mainland and took another little road through Alto and Ekne before going south once again on the E6 and had a walk round the outside of Steikholmen castle…

Somehow managed to avoid the rain all day! Decided to park up in the same place as the night before with plans to set off towards Trondeim the following day to start off next week’s journey!

 

 

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