Lofoten Islands – Norway

This half term break in Norway helped to secure the country as my favourite of all the destinations I have visited.

I don’t often return to places I have been before as I would prefer to invest my money and time in seeing new things, trying new foods and getting new photos, however I have a particular love for Norway since visiting Tromsø in 2014. So I decided to visit a different part of Norway, still within the Arctic Circle. I much prefer cold destinations to hot, sunny beaches and the whole ‘chilled out’ (excuse the pun) vibe of Norway is particularly appealing to me.

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The Lofoten Islands are an archipelago of small, remote islands on the west coast of Norway, extending out into the Norwegian Sea. We based ourselves in the middle of the island chain, in Svolvaer – one of the more densely populated areas of Lofoten with a population of about 4 thousand people, many of whom are fisherman who use it as a base during the winter fishing season.

With fishing being the main industry in the area we stayed in a traditional rorbuer – a cosy, wooden fishing hut. As we were there in the off season we ended up with a large hut with a kitchen, lounge and dining room.Normally, i’m not too bothered by the accommodation but the rorbuer was a real highlight of our trip.

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The landscapes in Lofoten are simply incredible. I was constantly pulling our hire car over to jump out and take a quick snap of the surroundings. The photos, much like those I took in Iceland, don’t really do the scale or beauty of the Lofoten Islands any justice. So I was a little disappointed with the photos I took but I’ll share them anyway!

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We left early in the morning to make the 200km trip to Hamnoy, towards the far west of the Lofoten archipelago. The roads are deserted and in a two hour trip we probably passed about 10 other cars.

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Still lake reflections from the roadside.

Luckily, Nadine managed to spot some of the more unusual traffic as I turned the corner on the mountainside road!

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There was particular view I had seen of the small fishing village of Reine that I was desperate to get a photo of. This involved an unexpectedly steep, rocky and slippery climb to the top of Reinebringen. It was really dodgy and pretty dangerous at times but we made it to the top and the views didn’t disappoint. The Lofoten Island’s landscape consists of dramatic mountains rising straight out of the sea, with still lakes and waterfalls forming between the mountains and tiny villages and houses built upon the rugged scenery. Give me mountains over a beach any day!

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The much photographed village of Hamnoy.

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Fish drying frames occupy seafront rocks all over the islands.

A difficulty I faced with many of my photographs was just how low the sun was on the horizon. Yet again, Nadine and I had been really lucky with the weather, however as a photographer having a bit of cloud cover may have helped to reduce some of the huge contrasts, blown out skies and long shadows in my photos.  I took the chance on the drive back from Reine to shoot some of the white sand beaches along the route. It was perhaps a little too cold for a dip.

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Making the most of the 8mm fisheye lens.

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We had clear skies in the evening and stayed up late to try to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis. As mentioned in previous blog posts, I’m not too bothered about seeing the northern lights, in that – unlike many tourists, they are not the reason for me holidaying in the far north. But they are there and capturing them really does test my photography skills and when captured correctly the images can be quite impressive. We had been looking at geomagnetic activity and solar wind rates while we were in Norway. They weren’t particularly strong – about Kp3 or 4 when they had seen rates of Kp6 and 7 in the days prior to our arrival. An explanation of the Kp scale in relation to aurora visibility. Many other factors also effect visibility such as cloud cover and amount of light pollution:

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We were due a solar storm on the night before we left, however the sky also clouded over. I was pretty pleased with these shots though.

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The cheesy ‘stand still for 20 seconds’ shot.

The following day, we opted for less climbing and a more relaxed visit to some of the virtually deserted beaches of Lofoten:

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We drove through the nearby fishing village of Henningsvaer – and it looked really cute so we decided we would return the following day to do some more climbing!

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Fish drying racks – Henningsvaer

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Football pitch at Henningsvaer

The stadium at Henningsvaer, which between January and May is overlooked by thousands of cod being preserved on drying racks. Best viewed by drone.

After a slightly easier and less dangerous climb we were rewarded with some cool views of Hennignsvaer.

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