25th July 2016. The Road to Hell and Back.

I was rather surprised at how quiet it was last night considering we were parked alongside the road, not a single vehicle passed by all night, bliss!

It was a beautifully sunny day, with clouds hanging over the mountains.  I went for a quick wander over to the water and found this on the ground!  “Gulp!”  I wonder what happened to him and indeed what type of animal he used to be!  I’ve seen so few animals on this part of the trip that it seems I’m now thrilled to find just a small piece of one, what a sorry state of affairs!

We had decided the Vesterålen Islands weren’t doing it for us, we’re not huge fans of moorland (we are SO quick to judge considering we’d only actually seen Andøya!  This is a very bad trait of ours!) so we made the decision drive to the Tourist Office in Sortland (Vesterålen) to decide where we should begin our visit on the Lofoten Islands.

The road was single carriageway from our overnight stop with the landscape changing quickly.  The beautiful farming village in the next bay with its lush green fields dotted with grazing sheep and lambs, turned to desolate moorland again.

Further on in our journey it changed to low, dense vegetation dotted with pools and  then mountains appeared with their sides covered with deciduous trees on the upper the slopes and conifers on the lower slopes.

We turned onto the main road to leave the island and hit a small queue of traffic.  There was a man working his way up the queue talking to each driver advising they were doing road works and there would be a ten minute delay.  He spoke to us in Norwegian saw the look of “Huh?”on our faces and said ‘English?’ he then spoke to us in perfect English.

There was a lot of beautiful scenery once we’d crossed the scary bridge back into Hinnøya, of course there was never anywhere to stop when I saw the best bits so Darren pulled over in a workshop car park for me to take some photos.  As an added bonus there were some great vehicles in front of the workshop, one of them had tracks.

We arrived in Sortland and went to the tourist information office to ask about the Lofoten Islands, they seemed a bit peeved as they told us they were the Vesterålen Tourist Information Office.  Oops!  We picked up some info and they recommended a trip to an old fishing village called Nyksund on Langøya (turns out this may have been their revenge for us asking about the Lofoten Islands!)

Before we left Sortland we wandered over to look at the sculpture ‘Ocean Eye’ on the quay that the Tourist Information lady told us about but not before we’d gone in for coffee at the coffee shop she’d recommended beside the water and very nice cakes they were too!

Sortland is working its way to being ‘The Blue City” they are aiming to have all the buildings eventually painted different shades of blue but apparently there is some opposition to that.  They have lots of lovely art everywhere, they’ve painted their sub stations with different scenes and there are poems written on surfaces throughout the city.

The journey through the island of Langøya was lovely, it was vibrant green and lush with a lot of farms scattered through it.   The water was varying shades of vivid blue and there were clouds hanging over the steep craggy mountains.

We stopped at a parking space to take photos of a fjord and as we drove up the road we saw a deep blue lake on a small plateau 20 feet above the fjord, it was a strange sight, it looked like it was hanging over the water below.

As we came to the beginning of the ‘road’ to Nyksund we began to get a feeling of foreboding!

Closer to Nyksund the road turned to a single track lane which was FULL of strange circular pot holes and twists and turns, the lane was cut into a mountain, the other side had a great view of the sea below!   We were pooping our pants on one particular stretch of the lane where it became EXTREMELY narrow and twisty.  I took the photograph below of a caravan doing the ‘death run’ while we were recovering from our ‘exciting’ never to be repeated, journey, it was too good an opportunity to miss.

We were both rather concerned that there might not be anywhere wide enough to turn around once we’d reached the village so we stopped at the first wide(ish) area we came to when the village was in sight and walked down the lane from there.

The village turned out to be about a mile away, as we rounded a corner we were greeted by the sight of the road going into a nice wide curve and, just to rub our noses in it, right beside the bridge that crossed the water to the village, was a spacious parking area with more than enough room for a many motorhomes to turn in and in fact park.

Our moods didn’t improve when we realised we’d walked from glorious sunshine into a cold damp cloud and it looked like it could rain at any moment!

We were a bit disappointed in the village, although that may have had something to do with our frame of mind from the nerve racking journey and the manky weather.

It was interesting to see the buildings but the galleries were shut and there were very few people wandering around so it had the air of a ghost town about it.  It must come alive in the evening judging by the large number of cars driving past our overnight stopping place.

We were driving back and laughing about how the ‘scary’ bit seemed much shorter and not so scary on the way back when we discovered that we hadn’t actually reached it at that point and there it was in front of us as scary as ever!  Mind you, we are obviously scaredy cats because just after we’d got past that stretch of road with our adrenaline pumping we pulled over to let a car go past in the direction we’d just come and the driver had his little daughter sitting on his lap!  The mum was sitting in the passenger seat unencumbered by a child on HER lap.

Once we’d successfully navigated the Road to Hell we drove a bit further along the track to a parking area beside a memorial to Torstein Reinholdtsen.  The view was jaw droppingly gorgeous so we stopped to recuperate from our traumatic journey.

We decided to sit at the picnic table outside to warm up in the sun now that we were out of the cloud.  We set out leaflets, maps and our flask of coffee on the table and started to make plans for the next day (I’ve no idea why we bother because we usually end up doing something completely different).

A couple of bikers parked and came over to ask if they could sit at the table with us and if we would take a photo of them together which we did and they took some photos of us together as well which was very nice of them.

They were Norwegian and they lived on Senja (another island in the area) and they were touring the Lofotens for a couple of weeks.  They suggested we visited Henningsvær which was their favourite place on the Lofotens.  They said they enjoy visiting Nusfjord too.   As they rode off another Norwegian man came over.  He had an unusual accent, we thought he was British at first but it turned out that he spends a lot of time in England because he’s been following Derby County Football Club since he was a little boy.  He told us he and his wife were building a house just down the road from where we’d parked earlier at the fishing village (we’d seen them in the front garden as we’d walked past) and they planned to rent it out.

He pointed to an island on the other side of the water and told us his mother and brother live there, apparently only the locals go over there , he said it is like a different country all together but that it’s impossible to get off the island if it gets too windy.

We sat out late into the evening, I watched two sea eagles soaring above the sea, it’s strange to think we’ve travelled so many miles and I’ve only seen three sea eagles in that time, in British Columbia they were everywhere, we counted six in a tree on one occasion, so I thought it would be similar here, WRONG!

Another van parked in the lay by with us in the evening which made us feel more relaxed, we still don’t feel comfortable parking outside of stëllplatz and we weren’t really sure whether it was OK to park here but we decided it was fine if they were there too, then another van parked further up the road so we felt certain it was OK.

Our neighbours were a French couple with two very well behaved children.

I took lots of photographs of the sun setting, every time I thought I’d taken enough the sky would change and require another photographic session.

I watched a man who was also taking photographs of the sunset, he looked very professional with his tripod and remote control.

Lucky for me I heard someone clapping their hands together as if they were trying to squash something and turned round to see him fighting off the mosquitoes, that was my cue to scoot back into the van before they came for me too!

We were amazed at the amount of traffic that came down the road during the night considering the track only went to the fishing village and it was a Monday.  There were cars travelling up and down the road until 4 a.m which is ironic as the previous evening we’d camped beside a main road and only one car went past all evening.  I think the moral of that story is DON’T wild camp beside a view point!

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