Journey to the Top of the World : 4

Finally after 2 weeks and 3500 miles on the road we have stopped for a break. The past few days have been spent chasing or running away from the weather. Norway’s climate is never going to betropical but after a couple of good months it has turned decidedly below the seasonal average for August. We expected cold and occasionally wet in the north but it was 5-8 degrees below average and not much better in the south.

After our day trip to the Nordkapp we opted to stay in Alta for an extra day. The weather was cold but bright and we needed to shop, wash the van after the dirty tunnels and there is a an area of prehistoric rock carvings worth seeing nearby the camp site at the Alta Museum at Hjemmeluft. The museum is at the centre of a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes 45 prehistoric sites across the area. Around the museum itself are stone carvings depicting daily life and stories from as long ago as 4500BC. They were discovered beneath turf in 1973 and would have originally been a the shoreline but are now several meters above. They depict people and animals, farming and hunting and they also have boats firstly with just a few people but in the end with many. And all this in the Arctic 6000 years ago.

The next morning we set out for Tromso for no other reason that it was the major city and warranted a visit. We decided to use a couple of short ferry crossings to shave some distance off and the route took us down some smaller roads. There were several small glaciers either side of the road and at one point we passed below one where the meld was shedding a scree of stones and boulders down the mountainside to the fjord and the road had had to be tunnelled through.

The weather had miserable most of the day and it was late afternoon by the time we got to Tromso’s one and only camp site in the city. A modern site and very regimented but oh so busy that the nice new facilities were overloaded and very expensive. And so after a very damp night with our kit stashed all over and under the van out of the rain we woke the next day for a look around the city. I cant say that we were overly impressed but at least we looked and had coffee and a bun outside a smart cafe.

Back on the road the next place we wanted to visit were the Lofoton islands. It was a pleasant afternoons drive and we ended up on a campsite by the shore in Harstad. However nice though it was there were several families of ducks that drove Fred mad and he us! WE had intended to drive to the western tip the next day but the weather forecast was not good at all so we decided to head south. We drove through some dreadful cloud bursts to a town called Furske that was having some kind of music festival. We pitched up at a site on the edge of town and hid amongst the trees from the weather and listened to the noise of the festival until the small hours.

Still the weather forecast was bad. It wasn’t much better further south but we decided to make tracks anyway. Up early and on the road we made the first 100 miles to the Arctic Circle centre, where it was only 7C, by 08:00. It was here that we saw the last herd of reindeer. It was going to be a long day, 400 miles to Trondheim, and to start with being a Sunday the roads were quiet but by late afternoon we became embroiled in weekend traffic until we reached the camp site. It is another expensive site but we decided to stop for a couple of days to do laundry and write blogs in the hope that the weather will improve a bit in the coming days.

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