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Thread: Northern Norway Travels, part two. Langfjorden

  1. #1
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    Default Northern Norway Travels, part two. Langfjorden

    Having fled the border region with an official telling off and lighter wallets it was time to get back onto the water somewhere else. Plan B had always been a trip along Langfjorden, which is Norwegian for The Long Fjord, oddly enough. I thought it helpful to provide a map but rather than trying to teach myself some computer graphics skills I opted for drawing one freehand.
    The map is rather out of proportion in places, but gives some idea of the shape of the land and water. The yellow lines mark roads and bridges. I marked the Iron Mine because although it closed many years ago it is the main reason for there being a town here. It’s also why Kirkenes was a major target during World War 2. It was the second most bombed town during that conflict, after Valletta in Malta. There is only one pre-war building left in the town the rest having been flattened. The map also shows the Pasvik River and a curious bit of Russian territory that for some historical reason doesn’t follow the obvious natural boundary line.

    But on with the journey. We put in at Langfjordeid. In fact, the fjord continues south for another 8 kilometres but as a fresh water lake, the narrows having silted up centuries ago. This was my first time paddling on the sea so I was interested to get an idea of how tides affected the conditions. The weather was pleasant and settled for the next few days so off we went.

    In places the cliffs did drop literally into the sea , providing a good source of fresh water.

    After a couple of hours the first major landmark, the bridge at Sandnes, came into view. I assumed the tower on the hilltop was part of the old mine works but this is Norway, so it’s for the local ski jump.

    Once we were through the bridge we began to look for a good place to camp. Being so far east it gets dark earlier so we had planned to try to get off the water by 4pm. After a bit of searching we found a nice spot (green cross on the map).

    We were about a mile from the site of the ice hotel (what it says: a hotel made of ice. Not open at this time of year) and could hear the sled dogs howling. Someone had been clearing up obstacles for a dog sled route, giving us some large boulders for tables and plenty of firewood.
    After our previous encounter with the Norwegian Army it was troubling to discover this.
    Fortunately we were on the right side of the line. Close examination of the map showed a very large firing area, with the airport right in the middle. Still, not to worry as I wasn’t flying out until next week.
    It was a lovely place to camp and it got cold enough to put an end to the few remaining mosquitoes. It was a cool, clear and still evening. Perfect for the Aurora to make an appearance. Every article I’ve read about photographing aurora says to use a tripod but I had to make do. At first it was teasing us.

    Then it got brighter.

    Then spectacular.


    The next day was cool and misty.




    After a good breakfast and dropping some high explosives into the firing range we set off. We wanted to visit the island west of the feature named Straumen. Given the history of the area and the island’s strategic position we expected to find some old bunkers, but a search found soft grass, flowers and pleasant views.




    I also had a view of the bridge at Straumen.

    What the photo doesn’t show is the sound of the tide race that carried across the still air. Being cautious (sensible) we landed well before the bridge and went to see what we were dealing with.

    We decided to take the nearside line as there was a substantial drop on the other side.


    In fact by the time I ran it the earlier roaring had subsided and was now the gentle meow of a pussy cat. I was learning something about tides.

    Old wreck, perhaps someone who didn’t know about tides.


    The Norwegians like their boat sheds.


    Nice house.


    We carried on paddling for 20 minutes but the tide was getting the better of me so we stopped for lunch. Because only a limited amount of water could get through Straumen there seemed to be some eddies and the first 10 minutes paddling was easy but as we got away from the constriction we faced the unadulterated rising tide. At least, that’s my understanding of it.


    After a leisurely lunch we were able to enjoy the slack water and falling tide for the rest of the afternoon. Soon we had good views into Kirkenes harbour. This catches the Gulf Stream so doesn’t ice up in winter making it a popular place for fishing boats.

    It’s less developed on our side.


    We planned to look for a campsite in the large inlet a few kilometres along the coast. It looked promising.




    After unloading I took the canoe across the inlet to collect firewood. However I had to evacuate early because the tide was still going out, revealing extensive mud flats. These were crisscrossed by reindeer tracks, presumably from the early morning.




    We spent some time exploring the area then sat down to cook dinner. On the menu this evening was spaghetti carbonara, with the bacon cooked on a hot rock over the driftwood fire. It was a beautiful evening with the red light illuminating the hill across the fjord. And all washed down with Highland Park; the perfect setting for Orcadian whisky.








    We got up early and moved the boats out to the headland to avoid being caught high and dry by the falling tide.


    Then we could have breakfast and decide on a plan. This was forecast to be the last good day, with more wind and much bigger swell for tomorrow. We had planned to go east across the fjord and down to Elvenes. This was a 2.5k open water crossing. What put me off was seeing the speed of the merchant vessels in the main channel, the potential size of their wake and being in a tiny, silver-grey boat on a large silver-grey sea. There had only been a couple of ships passing but we couldn’t see what was round the corner. So we settled on a return to Straumen (Norwegian for stream or current, strangely).

    Once the boats were loaded we headed out to the bay to enjoy the stillness. First a seal popped it’s head out for a look at us. Shortly after that porpoises made an appearance. I had seen these animals many times before from bigger boats, but even though they didn’t come up very close this felt like a much more intimate encounter.



    Next we paddled towards Kirkenes and having established that no big boats were on the move went for a closer look.

    The big ship to the left is the Hurtibåt, the coastal ferry that runs from here to Bergen carrying goods and wealthy tourists.


    Somewhere in there is the iron mine. There are some tunnels that come out behind the harbour.


    We landed on these grey dunes for a break and an explore.

    Here’s a couple of interesting finds. The balls are iron ore pellets, apparently. They were certainly very heavy.

    The bottle contained a message.

    Curiously, a few days later, we met a teacher from the local school who didn’t know of a girl called Sara with blonde hair who would now be 10 years old, so perhaps the bottle had been carried up from further south. The next time I am somewhere with ocean currents I’ll launch it again and see what happens.

    It was a quick paddle back to the bridge where we had arranged to be picked up. We played in the tide race for enough time to experience it change direction. Finally we paddled round to the get out point, pausing only to disturb a Russian guy who was having a bad fishing day.


    I still had a couple of days left in Finnmark. The first of these Michael and I paddled across the fjord from their base and climbed up to another lake for some fishing. It was an unsuccessful day fishing (karma?) but such an enchanting area that I went back alone the following day.








    I’m told by a local man that this is bear poo, though technically it was not in the woods.


    I was thrilled to see wild reindeer.






    And to finish we had more Aurora. But still no tripod.


    I just noticed the bear in this picture.


    All told it was a really interesting week in a comparatively remote part of Europe. It was a good time to visit, with few mosquitoes, plenty of daylight, warm enough and beautiful autumn colours. My thanks to Mat Howes of this parish putting me onto the place.

    Thanks for reading.

    Mike




    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Bananaboat; 11th-October-2018 at 07:17 PM. Reason: Just checking

  2. #2
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    Wow. Looks splendid! May be in another life...still so much to discover up in Scotland or in my former home! Thanks for sharing.

  3. #3
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    Fantastic stuff Mike, worth waiting for after the excitement of international border incidents! Amazing part of the world to explore at canoe speed.

    The aurora is something I really must see, and I'll try to remember a tripod!

    Straumen is the common name for such narrows. One of the best known is Saltstraumen, near Bodo, which I visited as a 9 year old. 400 million m3 of water pass through it's 150m width every tide.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by French Erick View Post
    Wow. Looks splendid! May be in another life...still so much to discover up in Scotland or in my former home! Thanks for sharing.
    Well I agree with you about Scotland, but it’s good to see what the neighbours have as well!

  5. #5
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    Great stuff Banaboat, Mike.

    It looks like a good bit of canoe water and camping land.

    Thanks for sharing your adventure.

    Doug
    When there's trouble on shore, there's peace on the wave,
    Afloat in the White Canoe.
    Alan Sullivan


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    Fantastic stuff Mike, worth waiting for after the excitement of international border incidents! Amazing part of the world to explore at canoe speed.

    The aurora is something I really must see, and I'll try to remember a tripod!

    Straumen is the common name for such narrows. One of the best known is Saltstraumen, near Bodo, which I visited as a 9 year old. 400 million m3 of water pass through it's 150m width every tide.
    Thanks Mal. Tips for photographing Aurora, should you get the chance: set the lens to manual and focus on infinity and use a tripod. I’m sure the pros on here could add a lot more but...

    That’s a lot of water through Saltstraumen. Ours was much smaller but we did see it from the bridge on the way to the airport and it was epic looking.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougoutcanoe View Post

    It looks like a good bit of canoe water and camping land.


    Doug
    Thanks Doug, that’s an excellent summary!

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