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Andøya – Arctic Road Trip Day 8 and 9

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Høyvika, Andøya

Andøya is one of the islands forming the Vesterålen archipelago. In the summer you can take advantage of the ferry connecting Andøya and Senja, which makes for a scenic road trip along the coast as opposed to the main inland route, E6. 

Andøya has amazing beaches and is a great playground for road cycling, roller skiing, trailrunning and kayaking. It also offers tourist attractions such as whale safari, bird safari and the Aurora Space Ship, which unfortunately is closed down in 2019. 

I was there for the amazing trails around Måtind, a much photographed peak just south of the fishing village, Bleik, and to go roller skiing along the national scenic route on the west coast of Andøya. 

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Måtinden, with the view of the bird island, Bleiksøya.

The Trails

The coastal trail from Bleik to Stave, which passes Måtinden at 408 meters above sea level, is about 9 km. You can also reach Måtinden from Baugtua, a trailhead starting from a parking about midway on FV976 between Stave and Bleik.

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I did a return run to Måtinden from Stave beach and added a loop on the plateau behind Måtinden. From Stave most of the climb is at the beginning of the run, providing you with magnificent views of the Stave beach and village from the start and, after the first steep climb, you are rewarded with a great view of the beach Høyvika. To reach Måtinden you continue north. It is not always obvious where the path goes, but unless you are caught by the fog (as I was at the end of the run) it is easy to see where you are going and the terrain is easy and fun to overcome off-track. Once at the peak of Måtinden you have great views of Bleiksøya, a small characteristic bird island housing thousands of puffins as well as eagles. 

Strava for details: Måtinden trail runIMG_0470

 

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Rollerskiing and cycling

The national scenic route   along the west coast is almost flat and excellent for rollerskiing as well as cycling. I jumped out of the car at the west junction of FV974 and FV973 and roller skied the 30 kilometers to Stave beach, where we had rented an apartment (see below). After about 12 kilometer you reach the view point Bukkekjerka, and after another 10 kilometer you ski on a breakwater with the ocean on your left and the Skogvoll lake on your right. Another 7 kilometer and you reach the village of Stave while the road continues for additional 20 kilometers all the way up to Andenes, if you would like to go further.

Strava for details: Andøya rollerskiingProcessed with VSCO with l5 preset

 

Where to Stay

We stayed at Stave Camping in a one-bedroom fully-equipped apartment (sleeps 6) called the Shipwreck. The location was absolutely great and if you have the weather on your side, this is the place to be for sunset/midnight sun.

The Drive

The drive from Nyksund to Stave is about 2.5 hours and 140 kilometers. You will pass by Sortland again. Please see previous post on information about Sortland. Make sure you take time to stop at the view points provided, such as Bukkekjerka (mentioned above) and, when driving to Andenes for the ferry to Senja, Kleivodden.

The ferry between Andenes in Andøya and Gryllefjord in Senja takes about two hours and runs only in the summer. You can check the schedule here.

Nyksund in Vesterålen – Arctic Road Trip Day 7

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Queen’s Trail, Nyksund

Continuing north on our arctic road trip, our next destination is Nyksund, a small fisherman’s village in the Vesterålen archipelago, north of the more famous Lofoten archipelago. The traditional fisherman’s village slowly fell into disuse, but is now an active and creative place with artists and tourism businesses. My reason for going there was to run the Queen’s trail between Nyksund and Stø.

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Happy trailrunner!

The Queen’s Trail

The Queen’s trail between the two fiserman’s villages of Nyksund and Stø is a round trip of about 17 kilometers. Due to steep parts it is recommended to run the mountain part of the trail from Nyksund to Stø and the coast part coming back to Nyksund (anti-clockwise). I did the opposite direction, which also worked out fine, but would do the “correct” direction if I got the chance again. With small kids I recommend to take the coastal trail only. The highest point on the round trip is Finngamheia 448 m.a.s.l.

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Skipssanden
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View of Skipssanden

The trail takes you to the beautiful beach Skipssanden, the view of which you can also enjoy from the mountain part of the trail. The beach is a short hike from Stø in case you don’t have the time to do the full hike.

The Queen’s route was broadcasted as part of NRK’s summer program “minute by minute” with the outdoor celebrity Lars Monsen last year, and you can watch one of the episodes and the beautiful scenery here. This is one of my absolute favorite trails in Norway. There is no boring moment and if you do the hike in the evening you may be all alone on the trail and even see the midnight sun.

Strava for details: Nyksund – Stø – Nyksund

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The climb from Stø.

Accommodation

Truth be told, we did not enjoy our choice of accommodation, which was Holmvik Brygge, where we stayed at “Giseløya” with shared bathrooms. Although the place does indeed have an interesting historic vibe, it does not provide value for money in our opinion. I would recommend to try out other alternatives, suggested here, or stay at the camping ground in Stø.

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Stø

The Drive

The drive from Nordskot harbor to Nyksund is 250 kilometers and takes about 5 hours, including the ferry from Bognes to Lødingen. I recommend a stop in Sortland, where you can grab a bite at Miscela Kaffebar and stock up on snacks and other groceries. If open (check the website), I also suggest stopping at Eldhusbakeriet, a few kilometers south of Sortland.

Rabothytta – Rødøy – Arctic Road Trip Day 4

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Looking down at Klokkergården on Rødøy.

Waking up at Rabothytta, at the feet of the magnificent Okstindan mountains, your best option would be to stay. I am sure I could spend a full day enjoying the views and the quietness, that is if I could avoid exploring the surrounding mountains. This time I had to move on, and already at eight in the morning I started the one hour hike down from the cabin in the morning sun. 

After the almost spiritual experience near Okstindan mountains, I had decided to head out to the coast for the remaining part of the road trip. The first destination was Rødøy, a small island about two hours with the ferry from the mainland, when arriving from the south (important information on travel planning to Rødøy below). With Rødøy on the itinerary, you get to explore the northern part of the coastal route (“Kystriksveien”) as a wonderful side effect.

The drive & the ferry

From the parking in Leirskardalen the drive to the harbour, Kilborghamn, where you can take the ferry to Rødøy, is about 2.5 hours. After about an hour you reach Mo I Rana, the last city of some size on the route. Take the opportunity to stock up on necessities. In another forty minutes you reach the coastal route. Several beautiful view points have been created along the road in order to inspire you to take a break and take in the surroundings, such as Hellåga, about an hour from Mo I Rana.

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Hellåga view point

The ferry only runs twice a day, so make sure you check the schedule and plan your trip carefully, both for your arrival at Rødøy and your departure.

Klokkergården

The place to stay at Rødøy is Klokkergården, a more than 100 years old school building, which has been renovated by Malin and her family to one of the most unique  accommodation opportunities in Norway. The rooms give you the feeling of staying at someone’s home, and the restaurant downstairs serve impeccable food. Klokkergården is also the starting point for the climb to the famous mountain, Rødøyløva, which was my reason for adding Rødøy to my itinerary in the first place.

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Rødøyløva just before midnight.

Rødøyløva – the hike

Hoping to experience the midnight sun from the top, I waited until late in the evening before running up to Rødøyløva. The mountain has its name from the resemblance of a lion (“Red island lion”). Watching clouds coming in, in the end I had to give it a go a couple of hours before midnight.

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IMG_9921The peak is at 440 meters above sea level and if you are in shape you will reach the peak in around 30 minutes. The first part of the trail is in the forest and is improved by the help of steps laid down by sherpas. The last part is quit exposed, but feels safe as long as the stone is dry. As you gain height quickly the view is simply amazing all the way up to the lion peak, and there are several opportunities for grammable pictures, even if the clouds get in the way of the midnight sun. If it is windy, you will hear a spectacular “noise” from the front wall of Rødøyløva.

If you have the time, check out all the connecting trails you see on your way down, one takes you to a beautiful white sand beach. The island is not big, so you wont get lost.

I love this run/hike/climb so much, I would have done it twice if I had the time!

Strava for details: Rødøyløva (and some of the connecting trails)

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From the top of the Lion, looking north.

 

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The white beaches in front of the Lion.
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The Lion wall.

Inderøya – Rabothytta – Arctic Road Trip Day 3

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Rabothytta

From Inderøya, continuing your drive towards the arctic circle, one obvious choice would be the coastal route, which starts in Steinkjer and runs along the coast all the way up to Bodø. Having explored the southern part of the coastal route before, this time I went for the much faster, but oh so boring, drive along the route E6, as one of my main targets for this road trip was the architectural gem, Rabothytta (the Rabot cabin), which is one of many DNT (Norwegian Trekking Association) lodging facilities throughout Norway. This turned out to be a really amazing experience, which I will get back to below.

Exploring Inderøya

Considering the long drive, you may want to get your heart rate up exploring Inderøya in the morning. I went for a short and sweet roller ski workout north along route 761. If you opt for a longer workout, taking the other direction, towards Mosvika, would allow you to get a taste of ski legend Petter Northug’s training ground and the beautiful Skarnsund bridge. Another great way to explore the area would be a run along the 16 km long coastal trail between Vangshylla and Straumen.

Strava for details: Inderøya roller ski

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Rollerskiing at Inderøya

In any case, make sure you drop by some of the local entrepreneurs, such as Gangstad Gårdsysteri (ice cream/cheese). Look up The Golden Road for more information.

The Drive

The drive from Inderøya to the starting point for the hike to Rabothytta is 355km and about 5h 30min, the last part on roads with poor conditions. There are not so many things to do or see on this drive, so stack up on podcasts and snacks, or spend a few more days and opt for the coastal route. I suggest stopping in Mosjøen (after about 4 hours drive) for a proper meal before the final part of the drive and the hike towards the cabin. Make sure you reach the starting point in time for completing the hike in daylight (which of course is no trouble in the summer).

The Rabot Cabin

Located 1200 meters above sea level near the mountain range Okstindan and the Okstindan glacier, the cabin was designed by Jarmund/Vigsnæs and completed in 2014. The cabin is named after the French glaciologist and geographer Charles Rabot who thoroughly explored the mountain areas in the 1880s.

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The cabin is self-served, which means you have to bring all the food you need for your stay as well as sleeping bag or bed linen. There are beds for 30 people and reservations should be made in advance.

The hike to the Rabot cabin starts from the parking space at the upper end of Leirskardalen and is about 5 km with 520 meters of incline (about one hour hike, if you are in good shape). The trail is well marked with red Ts, however, there is also a well marked trail from the same parking on the wrong side of the river, so you want to make sure you take the trail on the left side of the river (facing uphill). Despite taking the wrong trail and having to run all the way back to the starting point, this was one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done: The views of the green valley in the evening sun was like nothing I have seen before, the thunder from the mighty river, and the incredible sight of the cabin resting in the sun with the glacier and mountains surrounding it, when I finally reached my destination.

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Strava for details: Rabothytta (with all the wrong turns). Look at the last 65 minutes for the right trail.

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Once there, you want to explore the cabin and the surroundings from the inside as well as the outside, from every angle. The weather can extremely tough in this area, this night however, the sun was shining almost the whole night and you felt like an idiot going to bed. Had I known that I would win the jackpot weather, for sure I would have brought a sleeping bag to sleep outside on the terrace.

The Rabot cabin may also be visited in the winter and the surrounding area is very popular for randonee skiing (even in the summer, although you have to carry your skis for a while).

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Closing the Senja chapter: Grytetippen, Keipen and Sukkertoppen

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The view from Grytetippen

Bringing the Senja trilogy to an end (for now), let me take you to three breathtaking peaks, Grytetippen, Keipen and Sukkertoppen. These three may be done in one day as Grytetippen and Keipen are right next to each other sharing most of the same trails, and Sukkertoppen is short enough to make a quick morning or evening run. The drive between the two is about one hour and in between you find the beautiful Ersfjordstranda, the perfect spot for recharging and refueling.

Let´s go!

Grytetippen & Keipen

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Segla, Hesten and “Kongene” from Grytetippen

You find the joint trailhead of Grytetippen and Keipen next to the road half way along the lake Mefjordvatnan. There is a sign next to the road. For exact position see the Strava link provided below. It is also possible to start the run from the tunnel at Mefjordbotneidet (direction Fjordgård). The start of the trail from Mefjordvatnan is a bit messy and wet with more than 450 meters of ascent in less than two kilometers, after which you can enjoy about a kilometer of easy running and maybe get a glimpse of  reindeers. The view is great already from the start and you will have Breidtinden on your left side during the climb. After about 2.5 km from the trailhead the steep climb towards the ridge between Grytetippen and Keipen starts. I went for Grytetippen, the southern and lower peak with 885 meters first and reached the top after about 70 minutes. Despite having been to legendary mountains as Segla and Husfjellet the previous days, my jaw dropped by the sight that awaited me and I was screaming for joy! The view of the “black wall” is brutal and Segla from this new angle looks almost like a small hill. You can also see Husøy, where the TV-program “Da damene dro” was recorded.

Make sure you take a lot of photos before you start the descent of about 160 meters before the climb towards Keipen. On my way to Keipen I met a couple who told me that the view from Keipen was even better than from Grytetippen, and its 360 degrees of glory from 938 meters above sea level did not let me down.

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The view from Keipen

Both Grytetippen and Keipen have steep and dramatic edges and instagramable outcrops, but the trails are safe and fairly easy.

Strava for details: Grytetippen and Keipen

Ersfjordstranda

Make sure you pack what you need for a picnic at Ersfjordstranda when driving between Keipen/Grytetippen and Sukkertoppen. There are no shops or restaurants nearby. This beach is the location of the famous golden toilette and a popular site for camping. There is also an outdoor shower next to the toilette.

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Ersfjordstranda

Sukkertoppen

Sukkertoppen is only 456 meters above sea level and a fairly short run close to the hotel and restaurant Hamn. You can start the run from the hotel or take the car to the parking next to “Nikkelverket”, about a km from Hamn. The Strava link provided below starts from Nikkelverket and finishes at the hotel.

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From Sukkertoppen
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From Sukkertoppen towards Hamn and Husfjellet

The trail is easy to find and is marked towards Sukkertoppen. The beginning is quite easy and runable, while the last climb gets steeper and raises your heart rate. Given the short distance and reasonable climb it provides a great opportunity to play with some speed, also because you will have your back towards the view for the most of the climb. Don´t forget your camera though. Once you reach the top you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the archipelago of Hamn. In the distance you can also see Husfjellet.

Strava for details: Sukkertoppen (“The Sugar Peak”)

Some last notes

  • Go back to Senja – Segla, Hesten and (almost) Breidtinden and Husfjellet – my favorite on Senja for more on Senja, where to stay, how to get there, other attractions along the road and a suggested itinerary.
  • The best season to check out the trails is June – September. Go in June/July for the midnight sun and try to do at least some of your runs in the late evening in order to enjoy the midnight sun from a mountain top (weather permitting).
  • Remember to fill up a cooler with food and beverages as there are few supermarkets and even less restaurants on the island.

Coming up

I have a series of posts in the making, which will take you on an exciting road trip all the way from Oslo to Senja. Stay tuned!

Husfjellet – my favorite on Senja

 

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Husfjellet towards Steinfjorden

The trails of Senja continue and I decided that Husfjellet deserves its own post. This beautiful run/hike is my definite favorite on Senja, and the tale goes also the queen´s. One reason may be that it saved the day when I with great disappointment failed to reach the peak of Breidtinden, but there are so many other reasons to love this mountain: The amazing views, the kind terrain, and the thrill of exploring the outcrops when you reach the top – all this without the crowds you usually meet on the more famous Segla. Last summer I tried to time my run with the midnight sun, only to be surprised by heavy fog when reaching the ridge. The added excitement of not knowing if and when I could make a safe return and the spectacular view created by the fog compensated for the lost view of the midnight sun and gives me another reason to return.

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Halfway up to Husfjellet facing Okstindan (the Devil´s teeth) behind the fog

The Trails

You find the trailhead behind the picnic area next to the church in Skaland, where you can also park your car. After a few hundred meters a sign points you to a trail on your left, but you can also continue straight ahead for a dryer option through the forest and follow the next sign towards Sommerdalen. Soon you gain some height and can enjoy the views of Bergfjorden to your left. Don´t bother to take up your camera just yet, the views will only get better.

Follow the trail across the boardwalk and the ascent towards Husfjellet starts. Stay safe running with good distance from the edge on your right, but don´t be afraid to move close to the edge to take in the views.

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Husfjellet towards Okstindan

 

After less than 3.5 km and reaching 635 meters above sea level, you are on the top of Husfjellet, hopefully with the weather on your side to take in the panoramic views and to explore the outcrops. Bring some extra clothes so you can afford to stay a bit before you return the same way or down towards the beautiful Bøvær beach. On my last run to Husfjellet I met two girls who set up their tent on the top. I can only imagine the beauty of watching the midnight sun from here.

Strava for details: Husfjellet 2018 and Husfjellet 2016

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Husfjellet outdrops towards Bergfjorden
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Husfjellet 635m

Nice to know

  • more on Senja and how to make Husfjellet a part of your Senja puzzle: Senja – Segla, Hesten and (almost) Breidtinden
  • The best time for running up Husfjellet is june – september. If you are there during the summer, do plan for a midnight sun run if the weather is on your side.
  • Include the Bøvær beach in your run (I will, next time), either by doing your descent from Husfjellet towards Bøvær, or go for a run or drive there after returning to your car (the beach is less than 5 km by road from the trailhead next to the church).
  • Stock up on groceries at the store in Skaland (grocery stores are scarce on Senja).
  • You can also attack Husfjellet on the bike, of course.
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Bøvær beach

Senja – Segla, Hesten and (almost) Breidtinden

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Downhill from Segla

From one paradise to another, Senja is my magic place, the place I always dream of returning to. The island is said to be a miniature of Norway, and with its spectacular fjords and mountains it very much lives up to this tale, and is as perfect for road trips as it is for trail running. If you have not visited the region before, I recommend to fly to Tromsø (more about Tromsø in a post later) and spend a night or two there before or after visiting Senja.

There are a number of peaks and runs to explore in Senja, and I love that most of them are fairly short, which enables you to reach several summits in a day. In this post I will take you to the legendary peak Segla, which is featured over and over again on several instagram accounts promoting Norwegian nature, its neighbor peak, Hesten (“the Horse”), and Senja´s highest mountain, Breidtinden. In the next post we will explore Sukkertoppen, Husfjellet, Grytetippen and Keipen.

Segla

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Segla

The climb to Segla starts from the school in the village of Fjordgård. Go in the early morning or in the evening if you can. During the summer, you will have 24 hours of daylight.

The path is well marked and easy to find. The distance to the top is only 2 km, but with a total elevation gain of almost 600 meter, it will get your heart pumping. The start is pretty easy, with about 15% incline during the first kilometer, before the tough last kilometer with an average of 40% incline. For safety keep to your right when climbing the ridge, but do look for the gramable spots close to the edge on your left, without taking any chances. The paths will show you where it is safe. Once you have reached the summit, do allow for some time to enjoy the panoramic view. Although Segla is already a social media hero, most photos are taken from the other side, from Hesten or the area between the two peaks. For this reason, Hesten is your next run.

Strava for details: Segla

Hesten

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Segla from Hesten

After Segla, the easiest way to reach Hesten is to run all the way down to the parking and a few hundred meters through the village to the bottom of the ski slopes (see Strava link for guidance). The path starts next to the wooden shelter and is easy to follow all the way to the peak. The last part of the climb is a bit technical, but no equipment is needed. From Hesten you have the iconic view of Segla to the south and the multiple Kongen peaks to the north. More about these mountains here.

The Hesten run is not as steep as Segla, but a little longer. It took me around 2:30h to complete both (with additional time for photographing, of course).

Strava for details: Hesten (together with Segla)

Breidtinden

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Downhill from Breidtinden

I have seen people run down the ridge of Breidtinden and was caught by surprise when fear prevented me from reaching the summit. It was with great disappointment I had to give up Senja´s highest mountain. Maybe it would be easier had I not been on my own, thus  I am determined to give it a second chance. In the meantime, why don´t you give it a try? The run is beautiful whether you reach the peak or not. In any case, leave a comment on the blog if you give it a go.

To reach the trail, park on the right side of the road after the tunnel “Svartholla” if driving south.

Strava for details: Breidtinden attempt

Races to join

Sans Senja Skyrace takes place in the early summer every year, in 2019 on 22 June. Its 25 kilometer and 2800 meters of elevation gain will take you over some of the most spectacular mountains in Senja.

How to get to Senja

You need a car to explore Senja. Unless you bring your own, I would suggest flying in to Tromsø. In the summer, the ferry will take you from Brensholmen, about 50 minutes from Tromsø Airport, to Botnhamn. From Botnhamn I highly recommend to follow the Norwegian Scenic Route driving south. You can return the same way, or make it a round trip via Ånderdalen National Park and Finnsnes back to Tromsø, or, if you have even more time, take the ferry (only in the summer) to Andøya and explore Vesterålen islands before returning to Tromsø.

Another option is to go on a cruise with Arctic Haute Route.

The Norwegian Scenic Route

One of the 18 Norwegian Scenic Routes goes through Senja and makes it almost as much a pleasure to stay on the road as on the trails. However, the roads are narrow and bumpy, so pay attention, and make sure to take a break or two at one of the many attractions along the road. For sure, Ersfjordstanda, with its amazing beach and mountain backdrop as well as a toilet made in gold, should be on your radar. Other spots are the “Devil´s teeth” (Tungeneset) and the viewpoint Bergsbotn.

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Tungeneset

Where to stay

Unfortunately, there are not that many options for accommodation in Senja. My preferred option is renting an apartment at Hamn. The location is great and the apartments are fairly new and with great views. If you don´t mind sleeping in a tent, Ersfjordstranda provides an amazing spot to do that, but you will probably not be alone. For other options, check out Visit Senja.

Suggested itinerary

Day 1: Morning ferry from Brensholmen to Botnhamn. Hike/run to Keipen and Grytetippen (next blog post). Drive to Ersfjordstranda. Make sure you bring a cooler and some food, or pick up some food at the store in Mefjordvær (check opening hours). Stay at Mefjordvær or Hamn.

Day 2: Early morning run to Segla and Hesten. Pick up some food in Fjordgård after the run and have a break at Tungeneset or the beach in Bøvær.

Day 3: Breidtinden in the morning and Husfjellet (next blog post) in the evening (try to catch the midnight sun).

Day 4: Morning run to Sukkertoppen (next blog post) before departure.

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Bergsbotn