Tag Archives: campervan

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.

Washing and Packing

Thursday 19 September 2019

(Most of this post written by FIONA Illingworth, whilst enjoying her well deserved holiday with me here in Norway)

9.05 am

We stopped in a rest area last night, shared only with some sort of tanker. It was bitter cold and windy, so we slept with the roof down. We had a good meal of pasta with sausage and tomato sauce and managed to catch up on some writing. John’s blog has not had the same attention since I arrived and he has used a lot of text from my journal to update the days we have shared. He will have to get back into the habit of doing it more regularly when I go home.

It has snowed in the mountain tops overnight and they look spectacular this morning as we drive along the E8 with the Balsfjorden to our left. The E8 was traditionally a track built for reindeer and sled, built along the borders of Northern Norway, Sweden and Finland for market trading. It was only navigable in the winter. It has a number of border crossing points along its spine into Sweden. It was the Germans who built a road for traffic when they occupied Norway during the Second World War. Now it is open all year round and is an impressive road, it must be said, stretching for 622 kilometres.

We don’t have far to travel today and our plan is to spend most of the day in the very expensive campsite at Tromsø, where I need to pack my bag and John needs to use the laundry facilities. It will be good to get a shower as it feels like it’s been a while!

The cooking gas finally gave up this morning. I think it has done really well to last this long given the amount of usage it has had, particularly whilst I have been here. It was a bit of a struggle to get the new bottle in the locker. The trick, we learnt, is to put it in head first. The new bottle should last John the rest of his trip, with a bit of luck. He won’t cook as much as I have done for a start!

5.30 pm
Well, I have managed to pack my rucksack without much of a problem. There is something rather depressing about packing dirty clothes into bag, not nearly as much fun as packing clean clothes in a bag to set off somewhere. I managed to get everything I needed for the plane in the little crappy black rucksack that John brought with him. He is pleased about that: I can leave him the far superior orange rucksack that I brought out with me.

I wasn’t too sure about this campsite as it seemed expensive and looked huge and rather regimental. I thought it might be somewhat impersonal. But actually the facilities are brilliant. We have eaten boiled eggs for lunch, had a shower and John has done one load of washing. We’ve also enjoyed a fabulous sauna, all included in the cost Great site!

Tromsø Camping

So we’re all packed and ready to take Fiona to the airport tomorrow. It’s been a great three weeks and it’ll be back to talking to myself tomorrow afternoon!

Bergsfjord

Wednesday 18 September 2019

(Most of this post written by FIONA Illingworth, whilst enjoying her well deserved holiday with me here in Norway)

8.30 am

We are up and have had half our breakfast. We will also have toast but John has gone to ask the Norwegian air stewards if he can take their photo whilst they have their breakfast outside. It is quite cold this morning and we are both full of admiration for them. They are made hardy here if nothing else. 

There are two caddy vans here too and I am amazed how much they manage to cram into the small space. They have to cook mostly outside or from the back of the tailgate. We have seen both extremes: huge mobile homes and then these small caddy vans. I think we have got it about right. John and I have shared this space of ours, with two lots of camera kit and a drone. It has been a tad squashed at times but mostly it is fine. Having said that, I am sure John will be glad of the extra space when I go back. 

It is colder and breezier today and there is a real threat of snow tonight so let’s see how today goes. John wants to have a go taking a time lapse this morning. If we are going to potter about on the beach for any length of time then I am going to have to put on some more layers. Packing the rucksack tomorrow and deciding what to take and what to leave in the van will be an interesting one. John suggested I leave the tripod but I am reluctant to do that because I may want to use it at home.

4.15 pm

We are on a small road between two mountains, just off the 854, and on our way to Storsteinnes and have come upon a perfect little lake, Ytre Fiskelaus-vatnet, by Furudal. The mountain peaks have a covering of snow.  I had a go at shooting the mountains and the water using my cokin filters. Not sure how successful it will be but time will tell. It is freezing cold even though the sun is shining; the car dashboard says it is 6 degrees. 

On our way back over the mountains we stopped at a place called Bergsbotn where a viewing platform has been built to enable visitors to view the whole of Bergsfjord and the mountains in the background. The mountains in the background include Hesten and Segla that we visited and hiked up, Hesten, a few days ago.

Bergsfjord

Not sure where we will stop tonight but its about time we started thinking about our night stop before the weather deteriorates