Lofoten Islands

Lofoten Islands

...Mountains and Arctic Ocean...

This story has begun about fifteen years ago, when, as teenagers, we played in a small, and often loser, basketball team in our city, Biella. Born and raised at the foot of the Alps it certainly wasn’t possible to think of a future far from the mountains. Yes, the mountains, which have been the background of every part of my life, from important decisions during the various hikes to a deep thoughts, looking at that horizon made of jagged peaks and glaciers, these are, in part, the absolute protagonists also of this short story.

The mobile phone vibrates and the WhatsApp message notification appears on the display. “Ok for the holidays, I have the week”.

We begin to think about the various possible places, I moved to Switzerland for working purposes and the mountains certainly, do not lack. We then start to look various possible trekking to be done in such my “new areas”. From the weather forecast it looks nice and so I start to surf  the various websites of the Alpine Groups studying the various routes.

And again on WhatsApp: “Why don’t, instead of staying in Switzerland, we choose an adventurous trip with the tent?”

A week before departure: I am abroad for business purposes in a hotel in Moscow and I have started to look for some destinations, from the various possibilities I have seen that, the Lofoten Islands seem the perfect destination: free camping, mountains, trekking, midnight sun and nature. Weather forecasts are also on our side as it seems to be always sunny (the sun never sets).

“Gigi, come on, I will book the planes, then we’ll do the rest …” Said, done. Saturday (three days before departure) all flights are booked and, on Sunday, the car is also rented.

The Lofoten Islands are, for nature lovers, a true paradise. So why not visit them having the freedom to find out where to sleep and where to go?

Flight to Oslo and, then, to Narvik…lets the adventure begin.

Already on the plane, observing the peaks overlooking the ocean, you can enter in a fantastic world with breathtaking views. I would not be surprised to see dinosaurs run through the forests or the meadows that follow the mountain ridges, it seems to be the location of the film “Jurassic Park“.

Taken the car to Narvik, we decide to do a “tour de force” of almost 6 hours, crossing all the Lofoten Islands to the most extreme point, the village of Å i Lofoten. It is in the Guinness Book of World Records for its short name, along with the villages of “Y” and “U”. The road, the legendary E10, is a succession of curves that follow the morphology of the islands, our Nissan Qashqai, with its panoramic roof, makes us enjoy every single kilometer. The village of ” Å ” is small, but full of beautiful corners to photograph or, even, to be contemplated immersed in the deep silence interrupted only by the seagulls.

We decide to stop there for the “night”, because, in reality, the sun never sets. Just above the village there is a promontory overlooking the sea with a prairie that surrounds a small lake, surrounded by mountains that stand above it … the ideal place for the night. The weather is fantastic and we decide to prepare a gourmet dinner – linguine with pesto, speck from South Tyrol and anchovies. We hear only the singing of birds and the breaking of the waves on the sea shore, while we are pitching the tent we are seeing a group of clouds dancing attached to the top of the mountain. There are not many people around us as there are so many possibilities to camp in all Lofoten that there are no problems of overcrowding.

The following day we decide to go to see the stock fish museum (typical fish of the area), but we find it closed. We then proceed through the various streets that diverge from the main road discovering fairy-tale places: Reine is one of these. We park the car in one of the many lay-bys along the road and decide to “climb” a mountain to admire the view from above. The peculiarity of trekking in Lofoten is that they are spontaneous, you don’t necessarily have to plan something specific, just put the backpack on your shoulders and start walking or climbing the slopes, you can be sure that you’ll reach breathtaking destinations.
On the top of it, in fact, the whole village of Reine is below us with its small harbor, the promontory and the various bridges that connect the islands. We arrived at the top of a mountain that frames a large lake (Reinevatnet), from where you can admire the islets of Lofoten with its characteristic cliffs.

We go down to pick up the car and again on the E10 … clouds that descend from the ridges of the mountains, lakes hidden behind remote corners, small churches isolated from the world and peaks illuminated by a sun that never sets … wow…

We read that Henningsvaer is a pearl set among a group of islands almost attached to each other, the port is dominated by a cliff overlooking the sea and the soccer field, one of the most northerly in the world, makes everything more fascinating (obviously in synthetic grass because of the winter temperatures …). We decide to spend the night here. We pitch the tent in a beach just before the village, Rørvikstranda beach …literally amazing…
In the evening (which however is lit up by day) we also decide to go in a pub in Henningsvaer suitably darkened with blankets on the windows to create a “night” atmosphere. Unique experience.

We then decide to move towards Eggum for a fairly easy trek in front of the ocean to reach one of the many lighthouses in the islands. During the trek, looking to the left it seems to be immersed in an austere and alpine environment, to the right, instead, it looks like a walk by the sea in the late afternoon. These are, in my opinion, the Lofoten, islands where you can “taste” a little bit of everything … from the breaking of the waves on the shore to the noise of the waterfalls from the top of the mountains breaking on the ground, all of that causes strong emotions and makes you feel really small.

The days go by, the nights are never present, the streets that deviate from the E10 make you discover corners that are as hidden as they are beautiful; the beaches and the water are of such a lively color that it seem to see postcards in every direction you look. The Lofoten are certainly a place to spend time in contact with nature, discovering the beauties of the planet and with which a strong bond is established immediately thanks to their beauty. We often feel attracted to something subjectively beautiful, Lofoten are objectively islands that attract you, nature is pure and you realize how fragile and magnificent that ecosystem is. I could quibble about the respect we have of our unique Planet, but this is not the occasion …

This is a short story about how two friends had fun as if they were children again, with the simplicity that only a campsite can give you in a place as extraordinary as it is unreal. You can think about the various sacrifices made during the year to save some money to spend on trips. The true value of sacrifices is rewarded by the beauty of nature and places like Lofoten.

Alex Battù background image