This is the first blog post. We're already on the road since 3rd March 2016. I'm writing this from Tromso Camping in Tromso, Norway. We've got a lot to catch up on. I'm hoping to retrospectively add the previous entries in our trip diary to the blog, so that it will flow in the correct order... For now though, this is it! Check back soon, we will get this up to date and keep on top of it (when internet access permits of course...)
Bye for now, Guy
Found the polar raid video! We (the landrover) are in a few of the aerial sequences
Here's a video using a z1 pro Steadicam device and a gopro, walking around Nordkapp then Shaz videos the convoy drive back down.
Real-time vid of the convoy up to Nordkapp. We stop because we snapped a snow chain and it was thrashing against the fuel tank! Took it off and then continued on just 3 chains
After Nordkapp we headed back to Skarsvag (pronounced ‘Skarshvog’) and Espen waved us in from his spot on the frozen lake – we were given 4 arctic trout for our dinner! We parked up and Sharon gutted and cooked the fish, under my expert (!) supervision.
We went to the frozen lake for 7pm and were greeted by the Skarsvag locals with soup, chocolate and booze! The Northern Lights made an appearance so I spent some time trying to take half decent photographs… A little later on as I was stood behind the camera a short and feisty young woman marched up to me in her purple snow suit and said ‘Hey mr photographer, do you want to go somewhere darker to take a picture?’ Next thing I knew I was on the back of a snow mobile, trying to cling on with one arm whilst clutching the camera and tripod with the other. The snowmobile can be quite a rough ride, and after bouncing down a dip before a steep hill, the driver (June) hit the throttle and I just couldn’t hold on! Slipped off the back and landed in a heap in the snow, laughing and unhurt! June apologised profusely and suggested I hold a little tighter!
Nordkapp may be a few K’s on the road, but on snow mobile its very close. June brought me to a bay overlooking the North Cape, and I managed to grab a couple of photo’s before we headed back to the lake. I had a quick go on the snow mobile… crazy thing, you don’t so much steer it more suggest which direction you’d like to veer… bit like the Landy really!
After a couple more drinks and chatting we had an early night.
Saturday we had a lie in and then met Lill and Espen in the tent once again, out on the ice. Espen kitted us out with rods, and ice holes and just in case we were rubbish, another 5 trout he’d caught earlier! We stuck out the cold and caught absolutely nothing! No surprise. We met some great people, as well as the locals, a couple of ‘foreigners’ - Jamie, a photographer from London who quit his job to come and work with his cousin on a fishing boat and North Cape Experience adventure company, and Nathan a Dutch guy from Utrecht who has been coming out to Skarsvag for a couple of years, working on the fishing boats or in the fish company in the village.
After the fishing competition we sadly said our goodbyes. Skarsvag had initially been a low point when we felt we were getting cheated out of our goals by the weather and the dreaded snow barrier, but Lill and Espen and the people of Skarsvag (even if many of you don’t live there all year round) made it the highlight of our trip so far! Thanks so much your kindness.
Convoy from Honnigsvan to Skarsvag - bit of a tankslapper at 4:40 onwards!
Timelapse video, driving from the Alta area up to Skarsvag via Honningsvag. Music is an Aha remix (Norwegian....)
Hungover the next morning (Fri 25th) after an evening at Lill and Espen’s we drove down in the glorious sunshine and blue skies to the barrier – open! Down to the Nordkapp convoy and that looked promising too! There were 2 cars there when we arrived, by the time the convoy was due to leave there must have been 30 cars, most made up of a huge group of young Spanish people in cars stickered up ‘Polar Raid’. One of them had a drone camera and we hope to find the video he made as we are definitely in it. The drive up to Nordkapp was epic, white as far as the eye could see, huge snow drifts – but annoyingly some patches of asphalt. The crunching and clinking of the snow chains turned into a bangbangbang! Got into a layby just in time, found a link had broken on the right rear wheel, flailing a chain on the edge of the arch fuel tank! Straight though the paint, and the metal tank nicely chewed on the edge, but no hole luckily. Pulled the chain off and joined the back of the convoy on 3 chains..
Got up to Nordkapp, paid the entry fee (we had been told by the locals that we must do the full hit and see the panoramic film). Finally there. Hard to fathom really, from map and google earth dreams to reality. Walked around, took pics and vids, had a coffee and a waffle! We were so lucky with the weather. Didn’t have much time there really, the convoy left a little after 11am, and the convoy back was 13:45. Tried to squeeze everything in. Enjoyed the panoramic movie, quite moving, and good to see the surrounding area and how some people live their lives in the area. Quite amusing to see footage of a ferry arriving, doors opening, and a herd of reindeer walking out!
So this update is for week 3 and 4 really. Sorry its so long.. quite a lot happened. I've split out the Nordkapp and Skarsvag stuff. After our frozen fuel filter and skidding escapades we holed up in Alta to sort the truck out a bit and test things without venturing too far from help, and to try out the snow chains etc. All was good but the weather was terrible, lots of snow. So we lost pretty much a week with boring stuff like going to Biltema (cool shop) and getting some spare belts for the engine, fitting and tightening them, in between the snow bursts, and thawing out the frozen pipes and watching Game of Thrones.
The snow finally stopped and we made a dash for Nordkapp after some re-stock shopping and truck adjustments. We headed out quite late and only managed about 70 kilometres before it started to get dark. The road was stunning however, we seemed to be climbing up into the mountains, everything was white and the temperature plummeted. We saw -14 on the in car thermometer but in our experience so far it’s a little bit optimistic, so no idea how cold it actually got (prob -18? Without the wind chill). It was so cold that even though we were warm with the heaters on full, the window glass inside froze condensation or breath immediately. We didn’t fancy a repeat frozen landrover episode so we pushed on until we found more civilisation. We slept in a layby in Skaidi.
Next day we continued with no chains as the ice was patchy. We came up on the coast and the road followed the waters edge, with the occasional long tunnel. Lovely views and so many bays and mountains. We passed through the Nordkapp tunnel, onto the Mageroya Island, its so long and so steep down and then up inside the tunnel (for a landrover anyway). Parked up in Honningsvag by the ferry terminal just as the ship was leaving and blasting its fog horns, nearly fell over it was so loud haha.
There wasn’t much going on in Honningsvag and we hadn’t spotted anywhere nice to sleep (and the Ice Bar was closed) so we thought we’d head to Skarsvag, as that was only a couple of K’s from the Nordkapp convoy entrance. The road was quite steep and sketchy but we got through without problem. We slept in an open area right by the water. In the night the wind picked up and we could hear snow and ice hitting the windows. In the morning we woke to another 6 inches of snow and thought we had plenty of time to catch the Nordkapp convoy at 11am, so after breakfast we headed out of Skarsvag at around 9:45, only to find the snow barrier down. The convoy times were 9:15, 13:00 and 14:30 and so on. We were so gutted, knowing we had at least 3 hours to kill before we could leave, and then when we could leave, we’d have missed the Nordkapp convoy, so no way was it happening until the day after. Eventually the plow turned up at 13:00 and we followed it out with a few other cars. We had intended to stay at the Nordkapp convoy meeting place but the plow guys would not let us leave the convoy and stay there (and we understand why!). So we ended up back at the Honningsvag side of the convoy, and the plough guys advised us to go back to Skarsvag and catch the convoy in the morning. They also told me to drive faster and keep up with the cars in the convoy, I explained that we didn’t have studded tyres (Pigg Dekk) and he looked at the tyres and said ‘it fine, it’s not slippy!’ So in the convoy I put my foot down a little more, only to hit a patch of deeper snow and go snaking down the ice. Sharon screamed (you can hear her scream on the go pro video even though the gopro is OUTSIDE the truck!) We were ok though, trundled back into Skarsvag at 30mph…
We parked up outside a closed motel to make butties and generally wait, only for the motel owner to turn up and tell us to move around the corner – we apologised and went to move but the truck woudn’t start! Just a click, no drain on the voltmeter. Starter motor isn’t even trying! Great, in the cold, lying across the engine bay, hand down the back of the exhaust manifold to confirm my fear – the exciter spade had fallen off the starter. Got it back on eventually, what a mission, moved round the corner, slept there. Before sleeping we noticed that the snow barrier was up once again and cars were free to come and go.
In the morning (24th March, Thurs) got up and got to the barrier, down again! A car was waiting with us. 9:15 came and went, no plough. Great. The guy in the car behind came to talk and said as it was ‘Maundy Thursday’ of the Easter weekend, the plough might be operating Saturday or Sunday times. He added that this was the first time he’d ever known the plough not to turn up. The Saturday time 10:15 came and went. At this point Shaz and I were really fed up. Missed Nordkapp again even after following the plough team’s advice. We sat parked near the barrier, talking to the locals that occasionally walked by. We even took a walk up the road to kill time and get some exercise. Back to the truck and more waiting. The snow blower came along, great! But on speaking to him he said we couldn’t follow him and he was inspecting the road to see if the plough could make it through. An hour later he came back, the machine chewing the snow off the ground and blowing it 20ft into the air. He said maybe there is a plough at 2pm… A local, Lill, came by and talked to us, she didn’t know why the barrier was down or why there was no plough, except maybe its because it’s a public holiday. In the distance a snow mobile came speeding across the hills and Lill managed to wave him down to us. Turns out he is the snow plough driver and finally it all became clear – there had been a huge snow storm in the night and although we’d only had 6inch in Skarsvag the road between Skarsvag and Honningsvag (and indeed the road up to Nordkapp) had been buried in some sections, so they’d cancelled all convoys as they couldn’t get the snow ploughs through. He also explained that if the barrier is down between Honningsvag and Skarsvag then the Nordkapp convoy is cancelled altogether! Lill said she would make some calls, and if we parked up in the old school’s car park she would come and find us if she had any news.
Later on, sure enough, Lill knocked on the window and said the plough was now running again, but why don’t we just wait it out, and come over to hers and have food, coffee and a shower! We jumped at the chance (Neills/ Overlandbirds rules number 4 5 6 7 applied).
Coffee snacks and showers turned into beer and dinner, then wine then Acquavit and gin. Lill and Espen were our Skarsvag saviours and we were all pretty hammered by the time we turned in for the night. We had also been invited to their Easter Sami party on the frozen lake the next day, and to their annual ice fishing competition on the day after.
We finally made it to Nordkapp, here's an exciting pic of the truck in the car park. Taken at 12:21pm - that's as high as the sun gets today