When the weather is good in the Lofoten, it really is an incredible place to be. I have to consider myself super fortunate for the weather I had this coming week and for the stuff I managed to get done.
Highs and lows of the week(s)
Highs: Good weather windows allow for some incredible hikes.
Lows: Knees of an old man hindering my brain from doing what it wants to do.
After an incredible day on Thursday and the Lofoten offering some of the best weather I have seen this far North, today was back to typical Norwegian weather. Low cloud, fog, and adding a bit of an atmospheric tinge to the already wild Lofoten Islands.
I moved further South on the island, about 10 minutes outside of Leknes, and found a good park-up spot that offered clean toilets and amazing panoramic views.
After some big steps over the last few days I had been told I could rest, but when it doesn’t rain, as planned, in the Lofoten Islands, you just have to take advantage. Luckily the spot I had parked for the night was also the trailhead for a small, but mighty, peak called Offersoykammen.
Only a small peak in comparison to its Lofoten brothers and sisters, but one not to miss as the views from the summit were incredible. The cloud shrouded the older siblings, which made for some moody and atmospheric panoramic views. I think it’s funny how sometimes it’s always the ‘done thing’ to climb the biggest mountain, but from my experience, the mountains that offer the views of the biggest mountains are often the best.
Maybe something to consider next time you’re planning your own hike. Look for the surrounding mountains instead of the biggest ones. A case in point is that the views of Snowdonia are the best from Moel Siabod, where it’s often overlooked as it’s not even one of the 15 3000ft peaks.
Back to the van and with the cloud rolling in and the weather not looking too good, I made base in the back, made some dinner, and stuck on some Netflix.
The forecast for the morning wasn’t meant to be as good as it was. But there’s one thing I’ve learned about weather in the Arctic circle is that you just take what you’re given and never plan ahead. I knew I was staying in an apartment for the next two nights, as I had some work to catch up on and 15 people to get going on the next intake of the 8-week rapid fat loss challenge, The Shred.
I remember visiting Haukland beach 3 years ago and was amazed that this beach, with its golden sands and turquoise waters, was in fact in the arctic circle and not in the Maldives. It was a short drive from where I had stayed the night so thought I’d take a detour before heading to Svolvaer.
When I reached Haukland beach the cloud was low and had black clouds rolling in so the idea of hiking to a nearby peak for potentially no summit views wasn’t too appealing. When I got around to Ukeliev Beach, the clouds disappeared and the blue sky presented itself above me. As previously mentioned, when the Lofoten weather gods present you with a window, you take it.
Bag packed, crocs off, and away up to the nearest peak, Mannen.
And yes, it means the man.
The peak closest to the sea is called the wall. So, the man and the wall. Ok, Norway.
I don’t usually like hiking on a Saturday, or a weekend for that matter. But when the sky is blue, your shoes are dry and you’re in one of the best-hiking destinations in the world, you can’t say no.
Thankfully Mannen isn’t too arduous and doesn’t present much of a challenge. However, in the classic Lofoten style, the views and the reward for minimal effort are nothing short of incredible.
That all being said, I wasn’t expecting Mannen to offer a Ridgeline to the summit. It did. And it was wonderful. Sorry, Mum.
From Mannen, I drove back towards Svolvaer where I’d stay in a nice apartment for the next two nights. Knowing I had 10+ hours of work to do and to catch up on, it made sense to be able to have somewhere with solid WiFi, a sofa, and somewhere comfortable to work. Also meant I was able to go to the gym, and sauna, wash my clothes and basically do all of my life admin outside of the van.
That was my entire weekend and most of my Monday.
I’m not sure you’ve ever seen a picture of the hobbit hut that is nestled on a Norwegian beach, but you’d have definitely seen pictures of Kvalvika beach because it’s out of this world beautiful and it’s posted everywhere.
However, there’s a documentary called “North of the Sun:” and it’s about two fellas who pack a car, and drive north to the arctic circle with nothing more than some clothes, a wetsuit, and their surfboard. With the hopes and dreams of spending an entire winter surfing.
For them to survive they’d need somewhere to live. This is the shelter they built. It was so cool to see in person and I actually couldn’t believe how well built it was. Hidden amongst the rocks on the beach, it can be difficult to see if you don’t know where you’re looking.
Kvalvika beach is a wonderful spot and is a totally secluded bay in which some of the best arctic surf is available. The last time I was here, I didn’t hike down to the beach, but instead up towards Ryten, which overlooks the beach.
Both are awesome if you’re in the area.
The bad weather rolled in again and the clouds that had lifted came back in again. The rain came with them and basically wrote off the next day. Thankfully I was productive and spent the entire afternoon editing wedding photos from my recent trip to America.
The biggest day yet. Not listening to the forecast and basically planning my day as the curtains draw open of a morning it’s always exciting to see what lies ahead.
On the drive back from KValvika beach a hike caught my eye, Volandstinden. A Matterhorn-Esque peak towering from the fjord below.
Can I climb it? Yes, I can.
That was on the list for the day.
The morning took a slight detour when I offered a hitchhiker a lift from the supermarket we had both slithered around. Too, however, had the biggest backpack I had ever seen and thought fuck me, this boy’s going far.
Too, from the Netherlands, was heading to Kvalvika. Which was a bit of a detour for me, but I’ve hitchhiked before and people have gone way out of their way to help me, so it was only right I did the same for him.
As if good karma exists, I waved Tos a safe journey and drove back over the impressive bridges leading to Volandstinden when something in the water caught my eye.
Was it Orca?
Had I finally finished the quest of seeing Orca in real life?
I pulled up in the next possible spot. Swapped out my lens, grabbed my camera, and ran up the steepest bridge I have ever seen. Made much more difficult in crocs and carrying a fairly large and expensive camera.
Maybe they’d crossed under the bridge.
A quick check for traffic and over I went.
Sadly, it wasn’t orca. But they were Harbour Porpoise, or Nise, as they’re called in Norge.
Onto Volandstinden, and thankfully the hike itself isn’t as bad, nor anywhere as steep as it looks from the valley below.
It almost circles the mountain before heading across a boulder field and up towards the summit peak. Overlooking the sea and bridges I’d just been on earlier whilst watching the porpoise.
The southern part of the Lofoten Islands has more layers than Mandy’s cakes, and good lord are the views endless.
From Volandstinden you could see right down to Reine, Hamnoy, and all the ‘famous’ spots in the Lofoten. Unfortunately, it looked to be quite cloudy and socked in down there. I wasn’t too hopeful for my sunset adventure.
Back to the van and I fancied a drive south towards Reine and Hamnoy. Probably the two most famous towns, besides Å, in the Lofoten. Quintessential Norwegian finishing huts along the water’s edge with towering mountains as their backdrop.
As I was driving through the clouds were lifting and I could sense that an epic sunset was going to take place.
Unfortunately, the last time I was here, the most famous hike in the Lofoten, Reinebringen was being repaired by Nepalese sherpas, and not open to the public. This time I knew I had to do it but wasn’t sure if I was mentally prepared for the 1978 steps to the top.
Having only 90 or so minutes to get to the summit before the sunset, I knew I was racing against the clock. Now, 1978 steps sound a lot, but when you’re actually stepping them, with a heavy backpack and all your camera gear. They’re different.
Some of them are so high it cannot be classed as a step, and surely putting two would have been safer and easier.
However, head down, backpack strapped in, and away I went.
40 minutes later I reached the crest of the summit, and even I wasn’t ready for what was to come.
Hands down the best view at the top of any hike I have ever done.
It blows my mind that people don’t recommend Reinebringen because of how busy it is. And yes, I got to see it with just 2 other people because it’s September and because it was for sunset.
But lord. If you’re in the Lofoten, you HAVE to hike Reinebringen.
What a week.
What a place.
What a country.