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The Lofoten Isles, Norway 2006

Part 1 Røst & Værøy

26/07/06 - Home to Bod°
Up early at 4.30am to get showered ready for our taxi to Stanstead airport at 6.00am. As we were on the A14 we heard traffic reports of a overturned potato lorry on the M11 with long queues south bound just before the Stanstead airport turn off. Fortunately our driver knew an alternative route via Audley End and he got us to Stanstead for 7.00am.
We checked in our bikes and gear with out any major problems, apart from the fact that they could not book our baggage all the way through to Bodø. The flight was uneventful and we arrived safely in Oslo. Unfortunately we had a 6 hr wait for our connecting flight to Bodø, which gave us plenty of time to get our luggage checked through and get a meal. For the flight to Bodø we managed to get a window seat which gave us some great views of the Norwegian mountains and glaciers as we flew north. On arrival at Bodø we were soon in the baggage reclaim area. I'm sure the Bodø baggage handlers were having a laugh, as there were two luggage carousels and everyone had gathered around the nearest one. After about 10mins they started up the other one and everyone rushed to it, after about 5mins it stopped and guess what they then started up the other one and our luggage started coming off!. Fortunately for us I managed to find a minibus taxi outside that had plenty of room for us and the bikes and it was only a 10min ride to our hotel. After putting the bikes together we went to the Naustet Fiskerestaurant where we had a most delicious meal of Halibut and Monkfish.

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27/07/06 - Bodø
After going into Bodø to find gas, maps, petrol and food we spent a great afternoon at the Norsk Luftfartsmuseum. A very nice young Norwegian lady gave us a guided tour. She had extremely good English, but she did confuse us slightly when she referred to 'Double deckers'. We could see no buses and then realised she was referring to the bi-planes. Also when we came to the cold war control room, she kept mentioning that the Norwegian pilots went up to do 'cut offs' with the Russian planes! It wasn't till afterwards that we realised she meant 'intercepts' instead of 'cut offs'. We camped that night at Bodøsjøen Camping, which is just a kilometre or so further on from the museum.
Whilst cooking our evening meal we met Sebastian from Paris. He came over to our tent and asked us for some advice, as he was having trouble with his MSR Whisperlite stove which he had newly acquired. He had unfortunately bought 'Rød Spirit' in Bodø which we concluded was a bit like 'white spirit' and obviously didn't burn very well, We let him have some of our petrol and I showed him how to light his whisperlite.

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28/07/06 - Bodø to Røst
We broke camp and went back into Bodø to the Tourist Information office to check where the ferry went from and to ascertain that there were in fact campsites on Røst and Værøy. On finding the ferry terminal we met up again with Sebastian who had decided to go to Røst as well. While we were waiting for the ferry we also met another tourer, Patrick a Belgium chap who had been out touring since April. He had flown to Prestwick and had been around Scotland, the Outer Hebrides and had then caught the ferry from Shetland to Bergen. He had spent several weeks coming up the coast to Bodø, but he had had cold and wet weather all of the way up. Apparently at Nanes it had been so bad he had stopped there for a week, before it got better. While we waited we had a brew and some lunch and the ferry arrived on time. It didn't take long to load the bikes and we were pleasantly surprised to see Patrick who had been in two minds as to whether to catch a later more direct ferry to Moskenes or catch our ferry and see at least something of Røst and Værøy. The trip gave us some beautiful views of the Lofoten isles as we chatted to Sebastian and Patrick. About a half hour before our arrival at Røst I bent down to pick something out of my barbag and something went in my back. I tried to move but had excruciating pain in my back.
I was in agony! I staggered gingerly off the ferry whilst Patrick brought my bike out. Frank explained to the guy at the information office our problem, luckily for us the owner of Røst Camping had come to meet the ferry. My bike was loaded into the back of his minibus and I carefully got into the front seat still in a lot of pain. I waited in the bar area of the reception while Frank and Sebastian put up the tents. The Doctor arrived who turned out to be Swedish and without touching my back said "I can see you are in a lot of pain where does it hurt?" She thought I had trapped a nerve and gave me a shot of pethadin, but that didn't touch the pain, so she gave me an injection of morphine. I did sleep well that night!

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29/07/06 - Røst
Had to crawl out of the tent on my hands and knees as I was still in a lot of pain with my back. We seriously thought that I might not be able to carry on and we contacted the travel insurance company to see about repatriation should I not improve. Frank went to the shops to buy lunch and under instructions from the doctors to try and keep moving I managed a slow walk up to the church in the afternoon.

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30/07/06 - Røst
Decided that sleeping in the tent wasn't helping my back to recover, so we moved to Kårøya Rorbucamping where we had a room with 4 bunks, the only problem was that it was on a small island and you had to row across from the main island and leave the bikes on the main island. It was quite an interesting place as it had a large colony of Kittiwakes. My back was starting to ease up a bit and we spent the afternoon and late evening taking photo of the kittiwakes. The kittiwakes where nesting on every available ledge and building, the noise reminded Frank of being back in her home town of Lowestoft. The kittiwakes had taken over an old abandoned wooden house, it very much reminded us of Hitchcock's 'The Birds'!

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31/07/06 - Røst
Went up to the bank, but found that it was closed, then on to the health centre to try and see the island doctor as I was now feeling better. The insurance company insisted that I get a signed statement from the doctor to say that I was fit to continue. Unfortunately I couldn't see her but managed to get an appointment for the next day. We hurried back to the Rorbu to have some lunch before our bird trip on the MS Inger Helen. What a brilliant trip we saw thousands of Puffins, Shags, Razorbills, kittiwakes and numerous White tailed Sea Eagles, at one point we had 18 Sea eagles circling above the boat. According to the son of the skipper Roald Olsen who acted as our guide, they have counted nearly 60 sea eagles on one visit! The weather was absolutely perfect as the sea was calm with clear blue skies.

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1/08/06 - Røst to Værøy
Got up early as JH had an appointment at the doctors at 9.40 and FH had to row the boat across from Rorbucamping. We cycled up to the health centre and FH went to the bank. JH saw the doctor and she gave him the all clear to carry on the tour. FH had less luck as the bank was still closed as apparently the sea fret meant that the planes couldn't land to bring in the relief cashier from the mainland as the normal cashier was on holiday, she had also been sent to the Post Office at the other end of the island with no joy. Slight panic, what are we going to do about paying the lady at Rorbucamping? Will the bank be open tomorrow?, it would depend on the weather. JH decided to try the shop to see if he could get some money. He explained to the lady in the supermarket our problem and the fact that his card would not allow money to be taken out but that I could buy food with it. The manger said 'No problem I'm sure I can do it, how much do you want?' She swiped my card through the machine and we had the 400kr to pay the camping! After rowing back to the campsite, we had an early lunch, packed our gear and paid Mrs Olsen for our stay. We used the big boat to get to the main island to save FH from having to row across again!

As we had 8 hours to kill till the ferry to Værøy left, we decided after buying some food for tea that we would do a tour of Røst. We went up every road we hadn't already been up and spent some time bird watching a some of the inlets. We spotted Red shank, Sandpiper, Knott and Stints. On our way back down the island we met up with the Norwegian couple who had been on the bird trip with us. His wife was getting a ride on the back of his electric wheelchair. We had a long chat about their horses back in Oslo. In the course of conversation I asked how far he could go on the electric wheelchair. His wife came out with a great expression "35km, but you need to keep the battery top loaded ".

We explored nearly every road and path and ended up at the cemetery where we met the Swedish couple that had been on the Sea birds trip (it's a small island!). They had their camper van parked outside, we soon found the reason why, the cemetery had a little building with a toilet and hot water. With the sea fret and a keen northerly wind by then it was getting a little nippy. There was a nice bench to the lee side of the building and it seemed at the time a good place to while away some hours before the ferry and have some tea. Well we had just got our stove lit and opened our tin of 'Sodd' (what a wonderful name for your dinner!) when a lady arrived to tend some graves. We quickly turned off the stove and packed away as much as we could and sat there nonchalantly reading, as we were conscientious that we might offend her. Soon afterwards an old guy arrived in a taxi. He was in his 80's if he was a day and started chatting to the lady. After they had finished tending their graves they passed us and the old guy said something to us in Norwegian. I explained that we were English and he immediately said ' Ah Queen Elizabeth' then more Norwegian then 'Prince Charles'. They then both came and joined us on the bench, We then had one of those wonderful one way conversations, where he and the lady spoke to us in Norwegian and we just agreed, smiled and laughed at what we hope were the appropriate times! I did understand some of it as he was talking about the war and mentioned King Harkon! The Old boy's taxi reappeared and we said our goodbyes.

We decided that we had better move out of the graveyard and sat huddled behind the graveyard wall and heated up our tin of Sodd! After we had finished our tea we decided that as we were now sitting in our down jackets and nearly every bit of clothing we could find that it was getting a little too cold to be sitting around! We packed away the stove and headed back down the island to explore one road left that we hadn't been down. As we went a round a bend we spotted a very anxious Grebe with 3 chicks. she was trying to cross some open water to get her chicks into some reeds for some shelter, but unfortunately she had been spotted by a Kittiwake. It was like one of those wildlife documentaries, the Grebe tried every tactic to repel the kittiwakes diving attacks, but alas she was unsuccessful and only managed to get to the reeds with 2 chicks! We caught the 20.45 OVDS Ferry from Røst to Værøy (70kr per adult). There was a lovely sunset as we approached Værøy and an amazing cloud rolling over the hills. As we cycled around to the campsite at Nordland, Frank spotted an Otter on the shoreline. Unfortunately it was only a short glimpse as it quickly hurried into the sea and swam off. We arrived at the campsite just after 12.15pm it's at the old island airport and is now a campsite and pub. The lady who owned it wasn't at all surprised to see us at that time of night, I suppose with the ferries running at such late times they get used to it. We explained our position as to money, no problem she said we take credit cards. She eventually managed to get her Visa card machine to work and as she still seemed to be serving I suggested to FH that we might celebrate our arrival with a pint. My did they slip down well, mind they cost more that the nights camping!

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02/08/06 - Værøy
We awoke to another beautiful day. The campsite on Værøy is situated on the old airfield which is no longer in use. Apparently 20 years ago a plane crashed into the sea on take off, killing all on board. The authorities deemed it too dangerous to continue using it as an airfield and the island now has a helicopter service instead. It's quite strange to be camped on the edged of the runway and you half expect a plane to suddenly land! We cycled back around to Sorland the main village on Værøy to go to the bank. At last we had got some money! The bank is in the same building as the library and the tourist information, so we picked up several leaflets on the island. One suggested a 2hr walk to an abandoned village at Måstad. As this started near to our campsite, we cycled back to the campsite.

Ater a quick bite of lunch we set off cycling along the track that led across the Nordlandshagen. The track soon became a narrow track so we locked up the bikes and carried on on foot. It was a great walk to Måstad with wonderful views of the island and it's shear sided mountains, all along the path there were wonderful wild flowers and butterflies. After a while we met the English couple that we had seen in the bank. We stopped and had a chat. They were saying how disappointed they were that they hadn't seen many birds on the island. They had hoped to have gone on a sea birds trip that morning but the guy wouldn't go with just 2 people. We told them of our wonderful trip with the Shags, Razorbill, Kittiwakes, Puffins and 18 Sea Eagles. "Don't say any more you are making us jealous" they said. I suddenly though that they could do our trip, I explained to them that they could catch the early ferry to Røst, do the bird trip and come back on the 8.45pm ferry. So we told them that it was organised by Ronald Olsen from Rorbucamping on his boat the 'MS Inger Helen' which is moored close to where the ferry comes in. We told them that it cost 275kr for the 5hr trip, apparently the guy from Værøy would have charged 375kr for a 2hr trip! Right said the lady thanks for the advice we will certainly do that and turned to her husband 'you remember Inger Helen and I will remember Rorbucamping'.

We said our farewells and carried on. Although our cycling shoes have good grip soles they have steel cleats and they are a pain when it comes to scrambling over rock. Half way along the path there is a very large boulder field to cross and this very much hindered our progress. A lot of flotsam and drift wood was caught up in the rocks by the shore and some enterprising soul had made a very impressive sculpture with it. All along the path you follow a series of poles which must have at some point carried electricity to the village. I suspect that it must have been very susceptible to damage from winter storms. The villagers must have at some point started to build a road, as at Eidet there is a very well made causeway across the small valley. Just before this we had spent some time watching a black backed guillemot who had a nest in a nearby rock face. We watched as she dived in the sea and surfaced with several small silver fish in her beak and disappear into a small cleft in the rock face appearing shortly afterward to set off on another fishing trip. Unfortunately she was too far away to get a good photo with the camera, but we saw her clearly through the binos. Due to our slow progress through the the boulder field it was getting late as we rounded the small col above Eidet and got our first view of Måstad. We decided that it was a bit too late to continue on as it still was a long way further on to the actual village and we still had to retrace our steps back over the boulder field. We were treated to a lovely sunset on the way back and it was nearly 11.30pm by the time we had got back to the tent, so much for their 2hr walk!

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03/08/06 - Værøy to Moskenes.
After breakfast we decided to take it easy and have a relaxing morning, as the ferry didn't go until 10.45pm. FH took the opportunity to relax with a good book, while JH took advantage of a moderate but constant wind coming off the sea to fly the quad line NASA wing kite. Later we checked out the slight wobble problem with JH's back wheel. The wobble turned out to be a damaged side wall that was slightly bulging. We weren't that long into the tour and we weren't sure how long it would last and whether it would last until we got to Svolvær where we might get a replacement. The one year we decided not to carry a spare! We had been so pleased with last set our Vredestein Spider tyres that we had bought new ones last year. Looking at all four they were showing signs of cracking on the side walls and they had only done about 700 miles! We contemplated going back to Bodø to get a replacement, but considered that it would just add more expense and put us 2 more days behind. We decided to move the rear tyre to the front to take the weight of it and carry on. At about 3.00 pm we packed the tent up and cycled over to Sorland where we spent a bit of time exploring that side of the island. We ended on a nice little rocky out crop near the Heliport where we brewed up and FH made another of her fancy salads, this time with fried fish cakes. At about 10.15pm we sauntered around to the ferry terminal to await the ferry. It was on time and we waited as it unloaded and who should come walking off but the English couple we had met on the walk to Måstad. I asked them if they had enjoyed their bird trip. The lady looked a bit taken a back, "oh it's you, sorry I didn't recognise you at first in your cycling gear!" Apparently they had an absolutely wonderful bird trip too with glorious weather and 24 sea Eagles! They had hoped to bump into us to say thanks for telling us about the trip! So We felt rather glad that we helped them out. We boarded the OVDS ferry from Værøy to Moskenes (58kr per adult) and got into Moskenes just before midnight. We thought that we were going to have to find a wild camp, as none were marked on the guide at Moskenes. Weren't we so glad to see a camping sign just as we got off the ferry, as all we wanted to do was get our heads down.

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