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Welcome To My Blog

Published by John Illingworth Photography

A photographer from the YORK area of the UK, I love to travel. My passsion is in landscape photography, though I also find myself photographing architecture, wildlife, abstract and pretty much anything that pleases my eye.

Currently on a four month road trip around Scandinavia, mainly northern Norway. I intend to reach the northernmost point of the European mainland called Knivskjelodden and then explore as much of Norway as I can, including a long stay in the Lofoten Islands.

#AScandinavianAdVANture #vanlife #ilovescandinavia #landscapephotography #zerotohero #myfirstblog #livingthedream #doitwhileyoucan #justdoit

Cinnamon Buns and a Cruise Ship!

Thursday 10 October 2019

Not a great sunrise this morning so off on an early start to make my way to Geiranger. 

Journeyed through some stunning landscape and came to a rest area a few kilometres from Geiranger situated at the top of a mountain with stunning views down towards Geirangerfjord. Flew the drone but not happy with the pictures I got. 

Made my way down to the popular viewpoint not far away and spent some time making pictures from there. 

Geirangerfjord

Even though it’s completely out of season, the tourists were arriving by the coach load from a large cruise ship that was moored in the fjord. 

Geirangerfjord

I made my way down to the small town and had a walk around. It’s a lovely vibrant place that obviously owes a lot to the visiting cruise ships. And why not. 

I found a little coffee shop, the CafeOlé, and when I asked the owner if she had a cinnamon bun, she said, “if you have 30 mins to spare, I’ll bake you one!”  So who could resist an offer like that 😁

Cafe Ole, Geiranger
Cinnaman buns – delicious!

I walked up above the village and took the pathway down the side of the Storesfossen waterfall and got some photos. It was getting dark by this time so I made my way in the van up to the rest area above the village on the route 63. 

There’s a superb viewpoint there that overlooks the whole village and I enjoyed watching the cruise ship AIDA Mar leave the fjord in the dark.

The AIDA Mar leaving Geirangerfjord

Nysætervatnet Nature Reserve and Trollstigen Pass

  Wednesday 9 October 2019

Got up at 6.0am this morning. It was freezing last night but I was snug as a bug in rug with my quilt and blanket and didn’t need the heater on at all. It was still dark but there was a feint glimmer of dim light in the east. I had breakfast and got the camera gear together for a short hike. 

The rest area was completely empty when I arrived last night but another camper van had arrived and parked right next to me. Why do people do that?!

I was in the Nysætervatnet  Nature Reserve so I took the path at the back of the rest area and began walking, watching the light all the time to see which of the mountains were going to light up in the morning sun first.

After a bout a mile the sun rose and I saw some potential images beginning to appear. The light wasn’t great but certainly worth a go. There are lots of small birch trees or perhaps they’re aspen, I don’t know how to tell the difference, anyway they’d make good subjects if I could find a good composition. 

Nysætervatnet  Nature Reserve

I took a few images and made my way back to the van.

Nysætervatnet  Nature Reserve

I intended to go and see the Trollstigen pass today so off I went .

Trollstigen pass is a unique piece of highway. I am amazed that, what was obviously just a pony track, has been made into a perfectly good vehicle roadway. You can see in the pictures what I mean. A very robust and extensive viewing platform has been built, together with a centre that explains the history of the road and, of course, a souvenir shop. You won’t be surprise when I tell you that the centre was closed and only opens in the summer months.

Trollstigen Pass

I then made my way back to the same rest area for a good night’s kip!

Autumn leaves, Arctic Circle Centre and Antony Gormley

Wednesday 2 October 2019

From the campsite at Straumen, after a good night’s sleep, I once again joined the E6 and headed south towards Mo I Rana. I’d read that Antony Gormley had a sculpture there that stood out in the fjord.

2.30pm Autumn leaves and a wreck

Where the E6 crosses the River Luonosjåhkå I parked up to look for a place to photograph the woods there but walked down to the river to photograph the beautiful colour of the trees in their autumn foliage.

The colour of the trees” foliage was amazing

However, right next to this spot was this old wreck that’s just been abandoned there. seems a bit strange that it’s never been moved, its obviously been there for many years.

Why?

3.30pm The Arctic Circle Centre

I couldn’t really drive past the Arctic Circle Centre when I saw it coming up in front of me now could I?? After all this was a momentous moment in the road trip. After two months north of the Arctic Circle I was now leaving the Arctic and really moving southward. I called in and found a huge souvenir shop! I was told by the guy behind the counter that they also had a 150 seat cinema in the building too, but like many things this far north, it was closed as from 1 September for the winter. So I had a look around and took the obligatory ‘selfie’ and went on my way.

Crossing the line at 66° 33′ N. And to think I was clean shaven when I started this trip!
“Silver Fox” outside the Arctic Circle Centre

5.0pm Mo I Rana

On arrival in the town of Mo I Rana, I had no trouble locating the sculpture and parked up to have a closer look. Mo I Rana is quite a big town and I didn’t want to stay overnight in the town. I wanted to get a photograph of Havmann and park up somewhere out of town for the night away from the traffic.

Havmann “The Man from the Sea” is a granite stone sculpture by the English artist Antony Gormley located in the city of Mo i Rana in Northern Norway. The sculpture stands proud in the “Ranfjord” in the city of Mo i Rana, which is often referred to in Norway as “Polarsirkelbyen” (in English: the “Arctic Circle City”). The sculpture is 11 metres (36 ft) tall, weighs 60 tonnes (59 long tons; 66 short tons), and according to Lonely Planet is “forever up to his knees in water, turns his back on the town and gazes resolutely out over the fjord“.[1]

Havmann by Antony Gormley located in the town of Mo I Ran

It was getting dark already and I thought a long exposure image of the sculpture showing its position in the fjord was the best approach.

It’s been an interesting day!

Reflections

Tuesday 1 October 2019

0900 Tømmerneset

Woke up to a fine morning and sorted the van out ready for travel. I’m now about two and a half hours drive from Bodø, so a gentle amble in that direction and see what I come across on the way. 

1130

A change of plan! Before setting off I decided to take a little wander in the area of the rest area and found a gem of a place made up of small pools containing water plants with really good reflections. I ended up spending 2 hours photographing small details. 

And so I made my way south on the E6 passing through Moan (I’m sure it doesn’t mean the same in Norwegian!), Sildhopen, Vesterbotn and Straumen where I stopped and checked into the Strømhaug Camping campsite, having decided it was time I had a shower!!

I spent the rest of the day tidying the van up and giving it a clean inside (it has to be done sometime) and tidying myself up with a shower and washing some clothes.

The evening was spent processing photographs and writing this blog.

Time to begin the journey south

Monday 30 September 2019

Woke up to snowfall around the van. I guess the Arctic winter is about to kick in. More snow is forecast throughout the day here. Trying to decide if I should stay here and shoot some snow scenes (more snow forecast for the next two days) or head back to Norway and the coast, where it’s 10 degrees warmer. Decisions.

0900

Decided to play safe and head back down the mountains. The snow continued to fall and there was a distinct possibility I would get snow bound in Sweden. I returned over the border back into Norway. So I’m now on my way to Skardberg where I’ll get the ferry to Bognes and I’ll head down to Bodø. 

The journey down the mountain was fairly uneventful though some careful driving driving was required to negotiate some of the tight bends at the same time as large articulated trucks coming the other way! 

1630

Caught the ferry from Skardberg to Bognes that took about 30 minutes and then continued down the E-6, eventually stopping in a large rest area near Tømmerneset with half decent facilities. 

On the way I passed Lake Skilvatnet and got some nice images of the sun going down over the lake with some grasses in the foreground. Certainly worth working on when I get home.

Lake Skilvatnet

The rain, that seemed to be following me most of the day, eased off and I settled down for a quiet, but chilly, night. The temperature now falls to freezing and just below most nights. 

I wild camped that evening on the shores of Lake Sardnesvatnet. Very pleasant.

Abisko Canyon

Sunday 29 September 2019

Abisko Canyon turned out to be a really interesting place. On first arrival it looks like a great torrent of water is pouring from a hole in the rock but various, very helpful information panels tell you that at the end of the nineteenth century railway workers had diverted the river through the hole in the rock they had blasted out, in order to avoid the expense of building a bridge across a fast flowing river.

The man made hole in the canyon wall.

The rest of the canyon makes its way downstream for about a kilometre and on the banks there are a number of, what look to me like, alpine plants. I’m not very well informed on wild plants so I’d appreciate any comments as to what the plants are.

I’ve never seen these plants before. Any suggestions as to what they are would be welcome.

There was also a very incongruous looking symbol of the National Park. See the photograph below –

Also in the same area was a military museum informing visitors about the Defense Rangers of the local area, their history and equipment.

Let’s go to Abisko Canyon in Sweden!

Saturday 28 September 2019

Had a sleep-in this morning until 9.0am after staying up until 2.0am. I shot lots of photos of a brilliant aurora display and on returning to the van I did some catching up on the blog.

There were some lovely reflections in the fjord this morning of the cabins on the campsite that have been built in the style of the old rorbu or fishermen’s cabins.

Whilst having breakfast in the kitchen I got chatting to a Dutch guy who was also travelling. He had been on the road for two months like me but unlike me he had no end date. We got chatting about global warming and how it’s altering the seasons here in Norway according to the local people. I really enjoy meeting people on this trip and though it’s usually only for a few minutes, it’s encouraging to find so many positive people who just enjoying travelling.

I left the campsite at Brustranda Sjøcamping and thought I’d try something I’ve had in mind for a while – flying the drone under one of those beautiful modern bridges they have here. I did it and to be honest I was a bit disappointed with the result. I’ll try it again later.

I had contact with Tim Parkin on Facebook who told me about Abisko canyon just over the border in Sweden and I decided that that would be my next port of call. However it is a five hour drive!

The weather doesn’t look good for the next few days but I can’t do anything about it so I’ll just head over to Sweden and see what happens.

On the way I was struck by the glorious colour of the leaves as they turned from green to gold. Autumn was really kicking in now and I knew it wouldn’t be long before winter was upon us and I really must begin heading south.

I’m basically following the E10 off the Lofoten islands and towards Sweden.

On the way I past a memorial to…..well, I’ll let the memorial explain.

I had a look round for a while and tried to image the horror they must have gone through. War does such terrible things and in the end you have to ask what is the point of all this suffering?

I found Abisko Canyon quite easily and found a quiet place to spend the night.