Scandinavia 2017 Part 2
Having said we had no clear idea of where we were going next, we were heading to Sweden and we started out with two ideas. One was to go north to Lofoten in Norway the other was to go south to the Göta Canal. The more I read about the Göta canal option the more I was put off the idea but to go to Lofoten would be a huge drive. When you leave Åland for Sweden there are two nearby ports you can head for and because we chose to travel with a different ferry company, we had already chosen the more northerly one, Grisslehamn. What was going through my mind was that we could rush up the easterly side of Sweden and make our mind up about Lofoten in a day or two.
Day 18 Monday 10th July. Many motorhome owners choose this first ferry (08.30) from Eckerö mainly because it is the cheapest for motorhomes, the price for motorhomes increases by over a 100€ through the day. The company lets you park in their carpark once the last ferry of the previous day has left. When we arrived at Grisslehamn we followed the main road for a while before heading north and west to Gälve. We headed for the easiest Lidl to get to there. We only have a small freezer compartment so chicken breasts, mince etc were divided up and wrapped into meal sized portions whilst still in the carpark. From Gälve going north on the E4 it is all motorway, which certainly wasn't the case in 2006, the last time we were here. I reported then that the motorways were empty, not this time. Of course there was one other difference we travelled this way on the 16th June 2006, we were now in July and the holiday season is underway. We shared the driving and covered 350km before we found a overnight stop at Kvisslleby just south of Sundsvall. Here is where we decided that with a further 1200km to go that the Lofotens would be out of the question in this vehicle and at our age. However Doreen wanted to see Nordingrå in the highcoast and I fancied Lappland so we had a plan to head a bit further north. We were tired but not so tired to fail to take in our surroundings. We were on the site of a former large industrial works some of which had been preserved. It was near the shoreline of an inlet of the Gulf of Bothnia and the powers that be had restricted access to the shore side because of weak banks. These notices were in four languages and were ignored by many. We stayed on the main parking square. Have to mention this tiny caravan, really very small with a huge TV aerial and those concrete levelling blocks were carried inside it. By the way we have left the eurozone and are spending Swedish crowns SEK at about 10 to the pound.
Day 19 Tuesday So we headed north to Nordingrå (120km away) stopping just before the Högakustenbron (bridge) for a coffee break. The high coast is so called because the land has been uplifted 300m since the last ice age when several km of ice had covered it, pressing down the land, it is slowly rebounding.
Nordingrå was a disappointment, a little township on a lake, allegedly a tourist destination before the word tourist had been invented. Some shops a cafe and a church. A post office that turned out to be the cafe. You buy stamps in the ICA supermarket, 21SEK for a stamp for a postcard to UK! That has to be wrong. We went to drive around the lake and took a wrong turning but we eventually escaped. So with the weather deteriorating we headed on the R334 but they were resurfacing and using a very slow convoy system to get past each section of roadworks. Eventually we gave up and crossed to the R90. Determined to rescue some sightseeing we decided to stop off at the Nämforsen falls at Näsåker. Doreen really needed to phone her daughter, no signal at all. She didn't think much to the waterfall either which was broad rather than high and was partly the result of damming for hydroelectricity. It is also has rock carvings from about 4000BC which are picked out in red paint!
The rain that had been fairly persistant eased and we had a lovely drive up the R90 to Åsele in Southern Norrland. Now we were lucky to get a place in the campsite there as they were working up to the traditional market the following weekend when 150,000 people were expected to arrive. We didn't know about it but its been going for 150 years and is more like a folk festival. This is in Lappland but as well as Lapps there are a huge number of Buddhists. In fact one of the biggest temples in the world was planned in the area at Fredrica but we are glad we didn't detour to see it as apparently it didn't get much beyond the planning stage. However there are Buddhist settlements all around this area. We did another 215 km making 340 for the day.
View from our pitch as Åsele
Day 20 Wednesday 12th July We a had further north and west to go to make the crossing into Norway. We went on to the R92 before travelling sw on the E45 to Strömsund where we turned north again on the R342 to a lake called Gardsjön. We stopped after 170km, still some way before the Norwegian border. This is in the northern part of Jamtland a region that only became part of Sweden in 1645 and there is often talk of the Republic of Jamtland. We didn't see the region at its best but it was still quietly beautiful. We had briefly been in the region 'Northern Norrland' previously it was 'Southern Norrland'.
Day 21 We were now only about 70km from the Norwegian border at Gäddede which we reached quite quickly and we crossed into Norway with no formality at all, in fact apart from the road name changing to 74 and slight differences in the signage we wouldn't have noticed. At this point we were 64.65ºN. We then drove on the R74 gently climbing until we reached the peak at about 700m I'm guessing, then a steep descent with the odd hairpin to meet the E6 near Formofoss. Travelling south we could have stopped for the night almost anywhere on the E6, there were rest areas every 10km or so some with wc etc. Each one was examined as we approached, we were looking for somewhere set back from the road and protected from road noise and we didn't find the perfect spot until we got to the outskirts of Stjørdal, 250km from Gäddede. By the way the maximum speed limit for most of Norway even on trunk routes and motorways is 80kph (50mph). Its a pity that the only photo shows rain on the following morning, the evening had been fine (we did some walking), and by the time we had emptied our waste all was sunny again..
Day 22 Friday 14th July So the last few days hadn't got us much in the way of holiday, too much driving but we had visited some parts that we hadn't seen before. We went to Stjørdal Coop for bread etc (194 NOK, I will talk about Norwegian prices later).
If we could we would have now bypassed Trondheim but the E6 goes through the suburbs and is tolled. The tolls are automatic and you have to pre-register which we had done. To the south and west of Trondheim is Fjord Norway and it was tempting to revisit it. We decided however to skirt the fjords and travel further south on the E6. This we did by way of Oppdal (lunch), The Dovrefjell National park and Dombas. We camped for the weekend a few km further on from Dombas.
Day 23 Saturday Our walk started out flat enough . Down a gentle slope from the campsite to the river and flat on the other side, during this bit we saw a red squirrel and encountered several biting insects, or at least I did. Then as we climbed a little away from the river we had to run the gauntlet of guard dogs on either side of the road, however the gradient was still not too bad but it definately was going up.
We had to meet cows and then sheep on the verges and still we went up. I could tell that one of our party had had enough of going up but luckily we had just got to the fourth side of our rectangular route and down was indicated, unfortunately it was very down, then after crossing the river again the gentle slope back to the campsite, previously referred to, looked and felt steeper.
This was a lovely break from driving but the next day promised to be a very scenic one.
Day 24 Sunday 16th July I had noticed that the R51 skirts the eastern side of the national park Jotunheimen. This is where Norway's two highest mountains are,Galdhøpiggen and Glittertinden which in my atlas are 2469 and 2470 meters high (other maps give slightly different heights but always very close to each other). In 2006 we were forced by circumstances to travel from Lom on the R55 just to the north of those mountains. We set out towards Lom and the little section between Otta and Vagamo gave us a taste of what was to come.
We then turned left on to the R51 and steadily climbed then we crossed to a valley floor it flattened for a while near the treeline where there was a lake that we went alongside. We climbed again to the top of the pass at 1389 meters. There was a large rest place near the top of the pass with a sculpture called 'one rock on top of another' and where there were views in all directions. To the North you could see clouds forming above the mountain peaks of Jotunheimen.
There was a little group of motor caravans forming a circle in the rest area, one of which was trying to find a signal with his oyster dish. Irrespective of why you would want to watch tv in this area of natural beauty, the wind was so strong he was putting his dish at risk. The other side of the peak we entered strong sunshine and began the easy descent towards Fagernes passing many ski lifts, ski resorts and holiday cabins at this point we were only 180km from Oslo and it was very busy at you might expect on a Sunday in July. Before we got to Fagernes we came off the 51 and climbed past the airport on a small road and looked for a suitable wild camp, we eventually found a church car park which would have done at Nordre Etnedal but just when we were considering turning round to go back to it we found a spur a little way off a 'T' junction where we could slip back into. Although we look quite exposed in the photo, people travelling in one direction couldn't see us at all. In another direction only saw us if they looked right as they passed and those to and from the other direction were too busy coping with the junction its far to say that those going up the hill to our left would see us but as they had a sharp right coming up probably paid us little heed. Some people who were struggling with directions stopped at the sign post 50m away and they probably noticed us. It had been a lovely drive, 200km travelled..
Day 25 One or two of the cars we had seen had canoes or kayaks on their roofracks. The reason soon became clear. The little stream that accompanied us on the unnamed road which joined the 251 down to Bruflat was a white water paradise. We took time to visit the shop there and view the river close up as it bored its way through the stone banks.
A little while later we stopped for breakfast at Sigurd Lybecks Veg. Sigurd was a storyteller who used to sit here and write, there are statues of his comic characters, famous only in Norway I think.
We now were heading back to Sweden but our night stop was to be still in Norway, by about 40km. Our route so far put us on course to avoid Lillehammer and the E6, but we didn't realise what a slow trip this would be. It wasn't helped by yet another bit of road surfacing with a convoy system, at least it was sunny. At long last there was a 20km stretch of motorway into our night stop at Kongsvinger. Here we walked up a steep hill to the castle then back through the old town and to the main street which was closed! This included even the pubs and restaurants. We were by the river and on the opposite bank was the main railway station. Actually the riverbank was not idyllic, since it had been entered into the Camper Connect app it had turned into a building site behind us.
As well as being closed there was very little in the way of shops, no supermarket for instance. We found out the next day that there were more shops on the other, southern, side of the river. However when you want to do a big shop many make the drive into Sweden. Prices in Norway are very high, According to one comparison site groceries 40% higher than Sweden, (the same site said 90% higher than UK). We entered Norway with some Norwegian crowns left over from my trip on the Hurtigruten Ferry last year. We had spent some on food and had two nights in a campsite and were now down to about 400NOK which would have done for some fuel. However in Scandinavia you can't rely on spending notes at a fuel station, nearly all are card only and automatic.
Link to Part 3 franksblog.webnode.com/blog/scandinavia-20172/part-3