2011, Scandinavia

The Idea

I always wanted to see Norway and after reading a few articles in the Land Rover press decided that Nordkapp would be my destination.

Nordkapp, or North Cape, is said by many to be the furthest point north in main land Europe. It is actually the furthest point you can drive north which was certainly good enough for me.

Many of the stories I had read were of people travelling in the winter through the snow. As much as I fancy trying this, it didn’t seem appropriate for my first, and solo, expedition. Therefore I settled on September 2011 for my trip.

The Plan

I had my destination, Nordkapp, and I had my month of travel, September. Next was to plan my journey. I did little in the way of actual route planning other than deciding on the ferry crossings I was going to use and there by fixed dates on the trip. The ferries then set a sort of route in place as follows:

  • Ferry, Harwich to Esbjerg. (Sunday 18 September, 2011)
  • Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway to Nordkapp.
  • Nordkapp through Norway to Oslo.
  • Ferry, Oslo to Copenhagen. (Wednesday 28 September, 2011)
  • Ferry, Esbjerg to Harwich. (Thursday 29 September, 2011)
  • Home. (Friday 18 September, 2011)

The Trip

My notes for this trip are not as comprehensive as I would like and it is my intention that in future I will send through blog posts which will allow my to keep more detailed records. That said, a summary of my trip is set out below in as much detail as I am able to provided:

Sunday 18th  :  Home to Harwich  :  115 miles

The DFDS ferry left Harwich at 17:15 for the overnight crossing to Esbjerg.

Facebook1“And so the adventure begins. Arrived at Harwich ferry terminal. 20 hour crossing of the North Sea ahead. Arrive Esbjerg at 13:00 local time tomorrow.”

Arrived Esbjerg at 13:00 as planned and started the drive across Denmark and into Sweden. On of the highlights of this section is the Great Belt bridge which links two of the islands.

Facebook2“Arrived Esbjerg as planned. Travelled across Denmark and about 150 miles into Sweden. Long day tomorrow, hope to top 600 miles if possible.”

Tuesday 20th  :  Varnamo to Harnosand  :  500 miles

Facebook3Through Stockholm on the E04 heading for Uppsala. 1027 miles to go. Just had lunch at Mora Stener where the kings of Sweden used to be elected. Now it is a rest area next to a motorway. I guess that’s progress …..”

Facebook4“North of Harnosand, still on the E04. 740 miles to go.”

Wednesday 20th  :  Harnosand to Idivuoma  :  miles

Facebook5Facebook6Facebook7“Just crossed the Arctic Circle!”

“Just entered Lappland!!”

“First objective achieved, I am officially in the Arctic! 330 miles to Nordkapp. Currently near Idivuoma on the E45 heading for the border with Finland. No sign of FC yet.”

First major objective achieved on 21 September 2011.Reached Lappland not long after entering the Arctic Circle.

Thursday 22nd  :  Idivuoma to Nordkapp  :  330 miles

It was absolutely pouring down as I drove up to the Finish border. I was pulled over and the border guard asked a number of questions manly about the amount of alcohol I was carrying which was easy to answer – none. In order to lighten the mood I asked the officer is it ever stopped raining; “only when it snows” he replied!

Facebook8“Travelled through Finland this morning (not all of it) and am now in Norway. Saw three reindeer cross the road in front of me, but no SC. They were walking. 242 miles to go.”

Facebook9“Arrived Nordkapp. The scenery is amazing, going to have a look around tomorrow.”


Friday 23rd  :  Nordkapp

Spent the entire day on the island exploring the Nordkapp itself as well as the various villages.

Norway4 Norway5 Norway6

Saturday 24th  :

Facebook10“Spent the day on the island yesterday visiting Nordkapp properly and the various villages. Found a really good gift shop in Homingsvag – it was shut, as were most places. Clearly out of tourist season. The scenery is incredible; mountains, lakes and fjords all on the one island.”

Sunday 25th  :

Facebook11“Arrived Tromso this morning. Noticeably colder the further south I travel; very odd. Now heading for Trondheim which is 700+ miles. Be there tomorrow all being well.”

Facebook12“At Skarberget waiting for the ferry to Bofnes. I think it is at 15:30 local time although my Norwegian is not very good. Cant see anything through the drizzle. Fingers crossed I am not here all night. 510 miles to Trondheim.”

Monday 26th  :

Facebook13“Currently south of Trondheim, going to head to Lillehammer tomorrow which is about 150 miles.”

Tuesday 27th  :

Facebook14“Spending my last night in Norway a few miles outside Lillehammer. Been a good day, weather superb; hopefully it will hold overnight. Tomorrow off to Oslo. Ferry is at 17:00. 110 miles to go.”

Wednesday 28th  :  Lillehammer to Oslo  :  130 miles

The DFDS ferry left Oslo at 17:00 for the overnight crossing to Copenhagen.

Facebook15“At the ferry which signals the end of my Norwegian adventure. Get off tomorrow in Copenhagen for the trip across Denmark.”

Thursday 29th  :  Copenhagen to Esbjerg  :  187 miles

Arrived in Copenhagen at 09:30. A couple of hours spent looking around the dock area and military garrison before heading south toward the Great Belt crossing and onto Esbjerg for the 18:45 ferry to Harwich.

Friday 30th  :  Harwich to Home  :  115 miles

Arrived in Harwich at 12:00 and headed for home via the wonderful M25. My first serious traffic jam of the trip was experienced within 15 minutes of the port!

Home in time to collect Lauren from school and start preparations for the London 2 Brighton run tomorrow.

Facebook16“Home!! My 12 day Scandinavian adventure done. Copenhagen was wonderful; just the once mind for those of you old enough to know what I mean 🙂 Crossed Denmark with just enough time to check into my last ferry of the trip. 15 minutes off the ferry and I was into my first traffic jam of the trip and then I got to the M25 – what joy! So where to next? Not sure but it will be warmer!!”

Facebook17“Just in case I hadn’t had enough of sleeping in a tent, Lauren and I are off to do the London 2 Brighton run this weekend. Saturday night camping in Crystal Palace park, Sunday down to Brighton with several hundred other Land Rovers. At least the weather should be good; fingers crossed.”

The Lessons

It is important that from every trip lessons are learnt. It may simply be to confirm that your planned worked or that you took the right provisions. With this trip generally everything went well. Enough food, water and clothing was carried for the two weeks.

There were however a few things to do better next time round:

  • Accommodation. I decided early on that would camp where ever possible. These trips are generally expensive and therefore not having to worry about the cost of a hotel is a way of saving a few pounds. After reading some articles I chose a pop-up tent as it would be quick and easy to use. The problem was that I chose a cheap single skin version which suffered badly with condensation. Every morning I crawled out of a wet sleeping bag and had to ensure that at some point during the day both it and the inside of the tent were dried out properly ready for the next night; not always easy when the rain wouldn’t stop!
  • Maps. On this trip I had a destination in mind and so relied on the sat nav and a road atlas. This was fine as it goes, but ensured that I almost certainly missed many interesting places on the journey. Have decent maps and research a route in advance. That way you will get to see more, but also pick up additional interesting places on the way.
  • Time. The hardest part of any journey is the balance between enjoying the journey, reaching your destination and ensuring that you are back at the port in time to meet your ferry. There is no easy solution to his when you are simply dropping out of the rat race for a couple of weeks. So plan; spend time before you go working out your route, times and daily objectives but leave some flexibility, additional days to be used when ever they are needed so that you can do that extra visit or stop two nights at a particularly good location. There are so many places to see in the world that there is a good chance you won’t be back at the same spot for some time, if ever so enjoy.

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