Disclaimer: Due to the number of comments that have been received it has been felt necessary to clarify that this trip is in no way based on "The Long Way Round" which the authors of the trip were not aware and nor was it first broadcast of at the time at which this trip was drunkenly conceived. The authors of this trip would like to distinguish their intended trip from the journey undertaken in "The Long Way Round" in that unlike Charlie Borman and Ewan McGregor they are not experienced riders (they have both only been riding motorbikes for just over one year), they are not receiving sponsorship and they will not have a support crew with them at any point on the journey. Just to avoid any further confusion it has been thought that it would be helpful to point out that Tom Horovitch and Peter Caley are both fictional characters and are not famous film stars.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Nordkapp and Knivskjellodden, Norway (within the Arctic Circle) - 3204 miles from London

Map showing Nordkapp, Norway

After a reasonably short ride from Tromsø, during which we battled against some of the worst rain we have seen so far, we arrived, thoroughly soaked, at a place in the north called Alta. This was a tiny town with a central area that was reminiscent of a business park and not much else. The guide book had recommended a campsite just outside of town which had been Norwegian campsite of the year in 2000. Despite having this option we opted for the next campsite along which had a sauna and mini-golf and ended up spending the night in a small wooden hut with a bad smell of damp and a Baby Belling stove. We left this place the next morning with dark threatening clouds overhead and rode north for Nordkapp and Knivskjellodden. The countryside became increasingly bleak and windswept as we neared our destination and for the forty or so miles before we reached the end of the road at Nordkapp nearly all signs of habitation disappeared and the only houses we came across were in the coast and were either Sami tourist shops or small clusters of fisherman’s houses. The Sami are the indigenous people who live in both this part of Norway and also in Lapland in Finland and historically survived by both fishing and herding reindeer. Nowadays both these are things are dying out and so one wonders what the future holds for these peoples.
Nordkapp itself is billed as the most northerly point on mainland Europe. However, it turns out that Nordkapp is not actually the most northerly point, but that this honour belongs to the next peninsular along – Knivskjellodden. We presume that the reason Nordkapp claims this title is because this is where the road ends and as Knivskjellodden cannot be reached by any way other than a long walk. It is additionally somewhat confusing that both Nordkapp and Knivskjellodden are actually on an island which can only be reached from the Norwegian mainland by driving through an eight kilometre tunnel linking the island with the mainland.
Norkapp, Norway
View of Nordkapp from Knivskjellodden
Whatever the merits of the claims of both Nordkapp and Knivskjellodden we made the trip and upon arriving at Nordkapp on our bikes we were greeted with the sight of toll booths and beyond what appeared to be a large car park and a visitors centre. We were not going to pay for what we believe is nothing more than access to a car park, restaurant and gift shops and instead, after a nights sleep in a nearby campsite, made the free eighteen kilometre walk to the actual most northerly point in Europe – Knivskjellodden.
Peter at Knivskjellodden, Norway Tom signing the book at Knivskjellodden, Norway
Peter standing at Knivskjellodden and Tom signing the book at Knivskjellodden
The walk was a good way for us to get stretch our legs after three weeks of riding most days and doing little in the way of proper exercise. Amazingly we were incredibly lucky with the weather. When we woke on the morning of the twenty-fifth the rain was heavy and the sky (as it has seemed to be almost constantly for the last week or so) dark and menacing; however when we set off on the walk the skies cleared and it warmed up nicely. In fact when we got back from the walk almost six hours later the skies were blue and the weather warm (well as warm as it probably gets up here). Although there is no properly marked path to Knivskjellodden piles of stones have been put at various points along the route and these serve to send you in the right direction. When we arrived we were the only people there and it was quite a strange though to think that at that precise moment in time we were standing at a point further north than anyone else in Europe. We signed the book which is kept in metal box on a rock. We discovered from the signatures in the book that due to the winter weather no-one does the walk between October and April. People also leave odds and ends in the box, we came across a lighter, some coins, business cards, pens, and a photo of a random chap.
Nordkapp, Norway
The Nordkapp car-park and ticket booths
Judging from the fact that we saw almost no-one on the walk and the sparse number of cars in the car park serving as the jumping off point for the walk it would seem that relatively few people make the effort to come to Knivskjellodden and instead make the far easier trip to the Nordkapp car park. While this is a shame it does mean that Knivskjellodden is pretty much untouched by humankind and incredibly peaceful and that made the effort of the walk all the more worthwhile.
One of the events on the walk was bumping into a British couple just before we got back to our bikes. He was a wood scientist who specialises in wood, rotting wood and the things that live in wood and he had come with his wife to Norway for a conference in Norway’s conference capital - Tromsø! Further confirmation, if this was needed that Tromsø does not party, but instead conferences.

Written by Peter

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