Tag Archives: campervan

The last night of the Scandinavian AdVANture in Europe

Wednesday 20 November 2019

So here it is. My last night on the continent on my Scandinavian AdVANture. This epic journey is reaching it’s conclusion and I’ll be heading for Rotterdam and the ferry home tomorrow.

It has been life changing for me and has made far more of an impression on me than I envisaged.

I have been overwhelmed by some of nature’s most spectacular landscape and I have found that I am very much emotionally involved in the landscape and nature’s importance in my life. I have gained a very small insight into the way that Scandinavian people live, particularly those in the far north and the journey has reinforced my belief that travel is the most important part of any person’s education. If we don’t meet and communicate with other peoples and cultures, in their own country, then we become xenophobic and remain ignorant of the other’s point of view.

A couple of facts and figures –

After over 500 hours of driving I have covered over 14,100 miles (22,700 kilometres) and visited 6 countries, 4 of them twice and 2 of them three times!

Not forgetting that I have made the 12 mile walk to the most northerly point of the European mainland, Knivskjelodden, and raised £1095 for the Alzheimer’s Society in the process. I must say here that I am so grateful to all those lovely people who contributed to my donation pages. Thank you.

I do feel guilty about the amount of pollution I’ve caused by making this journey but when I compare it with the amount of HGVs on the road, my minuscule contribution is put into context.

I’m currently in a rest area in the small Dutch town of Zaltbommel (love that name, it could only be Dutch!) and I’m going to get my head down and leave early in the morning to make my way to Rotterdam.

I’m hoping to get an exhibition together sometime next year of the images I’ve captured and I’m creating a couple of different presentations of the Scandinavian AdVANture. Details in the New year.

Thank you Scandinavia, it’s been a blast!

Heading home

Monday 18 November 2019

Saw Fi to the airport to catch her flight home and I began the journey home.

This journey will take me three days and I’m now in a rest area just west of Odense on the E20 near a village called Skallebolle.

This part of the journey I’m not really looking forward to. The landscape is flat and mainly agricultural. For the most part of the last four months I’ve been on a real natural high and now I really feel I’m coming down to earth to return to my “normal” everyday life.

So I’m heading to Rotterdam via the fastest and easiest route.

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.

Iconic Hamnøy

Thursday 26 September 2019

Up at 6.0am, sorted the van and down through the tunnel into Hamnøy before breakfast and before sunrise. I parked next to the bridge on some spare land where there were already a number of photographers making preparations for the sunrise shoot on the bridge. I joined them and got myself a spot where I thought I could make a good composition. The weather could not have been better for a sunrise image and as the sun made its way over the horizon it lit up the face of the cliff overlooking the harbour. I was so pleased that my plan had worked out and all the elements had come together as I planned. I am so pleased with the resulting image. Yes I know it’s been done thousands of times before, but this is my interpretation.

Hamnøy sunrise

I then moved down the road a little way and got a reasonable image of the tiny island of Sakrisøy with the rising sun now creating some great contrast and side lighting on the mountain above the village.

Sakrisøy village

The Reinebringen Trail is a short, steep climb up 1560 stone steps to the top of the 448 metre high mountain of the same name. The reason why the steps were built (by a Nepali Sherpa team between 2016 and 2019) was because so many people were trying to climb the very steep mountain side to get the view from the summit. And what a view! It took me around 45 minutes to climb the staircase and when I got to the top I realised why so many people made the effort. It’s estimated that around 800 – 1000 people a day make the climb in summer, but on this day I had around twenty people around me at the summit.

The view from the summit of Reinebringen
A good view of Hamnøy and the Lofoten Islands from the summit of Reinebringen

So, after the serious effort of making the climb up to the summit of Reinebringen and the very, very steep decent of all those steps, I made my way back to the van that was parked a couple of kilometres away. There was some indication in the Aurora forecast that there may be a Northern Lights show tonight so I decided to return to Flakstad Beach where I might get a good view if the Aurora did show.

I set off back to Flakstad via Ramberg and decided to give it one more go at a composition there. I did make one image that I’m actually quite pleased with, so Ramberg is in the bag!

Ramberg Beach

I arrived back at Flakstad just as the sun was going down and managed a couple of shots before it got really dark.

Then I waited. This time I was more or less on my own and it was much colder on this evening. Unfortunately on this particular evening, although the Aurora did show for a little while, it was nowhere near as intense as the previous occasion. Well, some you win and some you lose and so I retired to bed.

It’s still an Aurora Borealis 🙂

Flakstad to Hamnøy

Wednesday 25 September 2019

A bit of a lazy day today. I made a slow steady drive south from Flakstad towards Hamnøy. I wanted to stay the night near Hamnøy to get some images of the classic rorbu huts/houses in Hamnøy in the early morning light. The forecast was good for the following day so I headed south down the E10.

I called in at Ramberg that has a long white sandy beach but it’s one of those places that just doesn’t inspire me. All the buildings at the end of the beach a very modern and I really don’t like the look of them. Anyway I tried a couple of shots but to no avail.

My next stop was just a few kilometres down the road at a place called Sandvika, that is, I wasn’t actually at Sandvika but I could see it across the fjord from where I parked. I made a couple of pano shots and they look ok but need a bit of working on before I publish them anywhere

So eventually I made it to a rest area just before Hamnøy tunnel. I’ve stayed there before whilst Fiona was with me and we found it ok. Decent heated toilet facilities and hot water (a big bonus when washing up the pots and pans!)

Whilst sorting the van out for the evening I noticed in the distance a large ship passing by and then saw that the mountains in the far distance were visible. I got the 100-400mm lens out and stretched it to its full extent and took this image. I’m really pleased the way it’s come out.

So not much else to report today. Get my head down ready for an early start and hope for good weather and light in the morning.

Reflections, fishing boats and the great aurora light show!

Tuesday 24 September 2019

I had spent the night at a campsite called Sildpollnes Sjøcamp in a tiny community called Valan, which sticks out on a small peninsular in the area of Vågan, Nordland. It was a really pleasant site and the location was very picturesque. There was a white church a few metres from where I parked the van and later, as I prepared to leave, I put the drone up to get an aerial view of the site. The water was completely still and the reflection of the mountains in the fjord was stunning.

Superb reflection of the mountains behind Valan

I left Valan but stopped about a kilometre up the road at a rest area that gave a great view over the fjord and the harbour I had just come from. I spent more than two hours making images from all kinds of angles and perspectives. I watched as a small fishing boat returning to the harbour was dwarfed by the huge mountains in the background where it had been fishing.

The tiny fishing boat is dwarfed by the mountains behind

The weather was perfect. I’ve been so lucky with the weather, it could have been so different had the weather not played the game for me.

Passing a tiny harbour called Nappsvågen I noticed three large trawlers moored up in a row with the afternoon sun lighting them up. Well I couldn’t miss an opportunity like that.

Tied up in the afternoon sun

I had decided to spend a few more days on the Lofoten Islands before I had to start thinking about heading south, so I headed for Flakstad beach where Fiona and I had really enjoyed our time a few days previously. Also the Aurora forecast promised a bit of a spectacular this evening.

Trolldalsvatnet mountain lit by the setting sun

On arrival at Flakstad I headed straight for Skagsanden Beach (its real name) and the colours of the dying sun did not disappoint. The setting sun was lighting up the west face of Trolldalsvatnet mountain and using the 16mm lens I was able to get an image using the foreground rocks on the beach as leading lines pointing straight at the mountain. I really like this image.

There were quite a few people on the beach and many of them were on road trips like me. I met and got talking to a couple from Luxembourg/Belgium who were travelling together with no end date for their journey. There were also two German guys, one of whom was married to an Australian woman, who were all travelling together on a long holiday from their home in Munich. She was an excellent portrait and wedding photographer. Take a look at her work here. She was also a great talker!!

As the evening wore on and the sun sank lower creating beautiful deep yellows and then reds in the sky, everyone was getting more and more excited at the prospect of a really special Aurora show.

Sure enough around 11.0pm the Northern Lights spectacular began! It was just awe inspiring! The Aurora seemed to fill the sky and wrap itself around everyone. It was like a multi tentacled green monster about to devour whatever it felt like. Yet it also seemed that I could just reach out and touch it, even though it was many miles high, because it filled the sky it felt so close. This was certainly something I shall never forget.

And then it was all over. After around 30 minutes, everything just faded away. But everyone on the beach was just speechless. We all then went back to our vehicles to ponder on what we had just witnessed and how we could describe it to our friends and families. What an end to an unforgettable day.