The trip north from Lillehammer to Trondheim (which served as the capital of Norway during the Viking Age until 1217)) took us through some amazing countryside – it seemed that with every bend in the road there was a new vista, another wonder.
Green meadows with hay bales piled up high, picture perfect villages with whitewashed churches and their distinctive skinny steeples, sparkling fjords and lakes, rolling hills, stony mounds and heathland, ghostly bald peaks with not a tree to be seen, mountain cabins, craggy moorlands, bubbling streams, waterfalls, fir covered hills, gurgling rivers.
Then as we drove onto higher ground we started to see patches of ice and snow high up in the mountains, grass covered ski runs scarring the mountain slopes, and climbing ever upwards to our camping spot for the night in a national park, densely packed conifers.
As we drove into the isolated car park (it was miles from any village or any kind of habitation) we were shocked to see the place absolutely full of cars and loads of people milling about, chatting and changing their clothes after some kind of sporting event! We had no idea what the event was but thought it could have been orienteering. Needless to say we beat a hasty retreat!
By this time it was getting late and we were concerned that we wouldn’t find anywhere to stay but we kept on going and around 7.30 pm finally arrived at Storsandgard camping just a short way from Trondheim.
Refreshed from a night’s sleep we set off the next morning hoping to reach North Norway by the end of the day. Again, we found the landscape enchanting and particularly loved seeing the shiny, painted hikers cabins – some with a grass roof!
By mid- afternoon we had crossed over the official line to North Norway. Now we were starting to see more patches of ice and snow on the shaded sides of mountains. We had made good time despite a bit of rain so we decided to head for Levang on the scenic Helgeland coast where we could board a small car ferry to Nesna.
In our normal haphazard way, we hadn’t looked up ferry leaving times but struck lucky as we only had to wait about 15 minutes before one arrived to take us to Nesna. There were also small ferries leaving for nearby islands that sounded very tempting but we were anxious to keep heading north while the weather was still mild.
Being die-hard yachties we were so happy to be on the water again – even though it was on a car ferry! The misty rain gave the mountains that surrounded us a ghostly atmosphere which we thoroughly enjoyed.
Once on the other side we drove out of the ferry at Nesna and carried on for another hour until we reached a very pleasant free camping spot under a big cliff at the side of a mountain.
The following day promised not one but two more ferry rides plus some impossibly dramatic landscapes and many, many tunnels drilled through the mountains.
On the first ferry of the day we had a moment of great excitement when we crossed into the Arctic Circle. The ferry Captain pointed out the marker and told us that we were on the same latitude as Greenland and Alaska.
Having crossed the Equator on our yacht a few times in the last couple of years it was a thrilling experience to be crossing over into the Arctic Circle for a change – and especially wonderful to be doing it by boat.