Tried to take a look around the harbour in Narvik as Shaz’s dad had visited here in the Navy in the 50’s. Didn’t see much unfortunately! Couple of fishing vessels and tankers heading out to sea maybe.
At some point I noticed that the 2nd alternator wasn’t working, no light on the dash, and no charging voltage on the gauge. Stopped at a supermarket to shop and after that I did some tests that confirmed the regulator had probably died. Great. We don’t NEED that alternator but its nice to have, knowing we can start the engine if we hammer the electricity. So we were reliant totally on solar. Tried a couple of places in Narvik but they didn’t have anything I could even bodge together.
It was late and everything was closed so we found somewhere to sleep near a ski slope. There wasn’t much snow however, mostly ice, but still a couple of buses arrived and people got out seemingly to go for a walk up the hill in the dark, then go back on the bus an hour or two later? Strange.
Thursday 7th April we got up to find it had snowed overnight and kids were sledging down the slopes. Looked pretty fun. But we needed to try and sort the alternator out. Tried Hellanor, they could get an alternator but it would be a few days, and cost over £400! (~£50 they are in the UK). But hellanordude said he knew a guy who used to recondition alternators across town and gave me his address. We headed over and whilst we were parking up a guy from the Hifi store next to the garage came over, he was Kjell (Chel) from the Norway Landrover club, owner of 2 landy’s -an ’84 110 and a 2006 TD5 90. We went into the garage and showed the guy some photo’s of the offending alternator. He said he didn’t recon alternators any more but he might have one at home, and to wait 30 mins. Off he went and we hung out in Kjells hifi store chatting landrovers and taking advice one what to see and what roads to take. In the end both drew a blank regarding the alternator, the garage guy had none left and Kjell’s friends didn’t have any. Ragnar from Landrover camping Norway knew someone with a spare in Narvik but he wasn’t back til Friday. Kjell said we might get one at the Bilextra shop in Fauske, so we thought as it isn’t a critical part, we’ll head south and try our luck. The solar was working ok despite the overcast skies. We took the 827 instead of the E6 and caught a ferry from Kjopsvik to Drag. 200NOK and 45 mins. It was cold and overcast but luckily calm waters. Off the ferry at 7pm we found a layby about 70km from Fauske and spent the night.
Friday 8th we drove the 70km into Fauske and as soon as we hit the edge town we saw a scrap yard. I went in and they had a bunch of alternators that might work for 600NOK. Though I’d try Bilextra first for a new one, but again they needed to order one and the cheapest was £200. Back to the scrapyard, found one off a ford escort 1.6 that was almost perfect. The guys in the scrap yard were so helpful, one guy cut and welded an old tensioning bracket for me that made the job as easy as swapping out an original. Didn’t have any cash to give the guy a tip but saw him smoking so went round the corner and bought him a pack of Marlboro’s to say cheers. Back on the road again fully charged!
We headed for Bodo and then turned off for Saltsraumen, apparently the worlds most powerful Maelstrom (whirlpool). Created as the tide flows in and out of the fjord through a bottleneck, the currents get really strong and the water is churned violently. We went out in the evening (there is a timetable online for the strongest currents) up on the bridge, pretty high for me, but didn’t see the huge ship swallowing whirlpool we were hoping for (we weren’t expecting that really). we just saw a few small whirlpools amongst the churning frothing water, but still the power and chaos of the currents was great to witness. We would have another look tomorrow. We slept in a layby again not far from the Salstraumen car park.
Saturday 9th we got up and went to view the maelstrom again, it was going the other way this time as the tide was coming in not out, saw a few other spectators and some speed boats but no big whirlpool. Was nice to see the churning turquoise waters again but shame not to have witnessed a Jules Verne style whirlpool!
I was long overdue a web update so we found some camping with wifi just a couple of hundred yards from the Saltsraumen carpark and set up there for the night after a quick shop in the ridiculously overpriced local Coop!
Sunday 10th was mainly spent walking, cooking and doing facebook updates based at Pluscamp Saltsraumen. Weather was nice. There are a few motorhomes here mainly OAP’s though! They don’t seem to speak any English so we mainly nod acknowledgement to eachother!
Monday 11th the morning was spent adding pages to and updating the blog, plus trying to sort the domain name link. I’m not paying for the privilege so a redirect to weebly it is! Eventually we got on the road, deciding to just run down the E6 as we don’t think we will get to see any of the Svartisen glaciers from the alternative route, and any smaller roads in are probably closed. We stopped in a layby near Røkland with a heated toilet block but a few HGVs. Was OK, but a lot of diesel engines idling in the night and trucks leaving early.
Tuesday 12th and it was Shaz’s birthday! Nothing exciting planned but promised her a bought coffee haha (her choice!) We had some posh organic coffee brewing packs given to us by Lill and Espen in Skarsvag we’d been saving so we decided to share one so even if we did the find a posh cafe shaz would have had a decent coffee, I even frothed the milk in a pan. Really nice and clever coffee pack. 1 was fine to share though! We hit the road and the snow was back, not much from the sky but loads on the landscape, we’d got used to it slowly disappearing. We found the Krokstand Kafe and stopped for coffee and cake. Shared a coffee as it was just filter, no cappacino and shared the cake as it was like 3 quid! Nice though. The road climbed to 700m above sea level and the scenery was wonderful and white again. Saw a fox, some eagles and a white grouse. We wanted to stop at the Arctic circle centre but when we got there it was well and truly snowed in and closed! We took a detour down the fv355 for a few kms but it was closed as expected as soon as the snow deepened. The snow was higher than the gate closing the road haha. Was a fun sort of off road/bad road drive getting there but the truck got absolutely filthy. Back on the E6 we got to Mo i rana and found a cafe in the coop selling cappuccinos so shaz got one after all. One too many, she felt ill from the caffeine! searched for somewhere to sleep and found another large off road parking/layby with toilets. Settled in for the night when Shaz saw northern lights out the back door. Already in our sleeping bags we turned around and lay with our heads out of the door and watched. It was a great show, at one point we lay on our backs and looked directly up, the lights were shooting down on us from above and pulsing green and purple it was freaky and gave me vertigo, awesome though. I wanted to get the camera but thought this time I would just enjoy. Except for the last ten minutes when I had to get at least one shot of the lights through the back door! Great end to the day.
Weds. It got cold in the night! Didn’t realise it was forecast -13! We headed off for Torghatten (a strange hole right through a big rock/hill. Got down to road 76 which leads to it and there were big road closed warnings. Googled it and a big landslide had blocked the road. Gutted. Back on the E6 towards Trondheim. There was a bit of a lack of things to see so shaz found a ruined abbey called Tautra. We headed there, and it was a nice drive along the 753. Crossed a strange reclaimed land bridge with an electronic gate (briefly thought it was another ‘closed for winter’). Got to the ruin and as we pulled up and as the truck idled I could hear a nasty rattle from the engine. Oh great. Got the bonnet up... the scrap alternator has eaten it’s bearings! FFS lol
Took some pics of tautra in lovely evening sun. A couple of people that lived in the adjacent house walked by and after talking to them they said we could stay in the parking area next to tautra.
Thursday 14th we got up and Shaz took a sunny walk down to the water whilst I took the belt off the faulty alternator and fitted a new power steering belt as the one on there was ancient and cracked.
Back on the road we headed for Trondheim. Stopped at an Ikea for free coffee x 2 . Then we popped into Hell for a bit. Not as bad as you might think. Lots of shopping there! On the way out of Hell we ended up right in the middle of a military convoy of around 10 Mercedes g-wagons, I think the drivers (mostly young guys and gals driving) were equally bemused by us!
In Trondheim we parked outside the Nidarosdomen, the medieval cathedral, and took a walk round before having a little walk into town. Its nice, almost stayed and had a night on the town but then we remembered a modest meal and drinks would probably be more than 100 quid so we legged it whilst we had the sense.
The truck was still filthy (and I mean gravel stuck in the mud on the doors filthy) so we thought we’d jet wash it.. found an automated place and put my card in the machine and somehow managed to get 15 quid onto the token card without choosing anything! Couldnt find anyone willing to buy the card after our quick jetwash, and its non refundable, and the only place that you can use the card. What an idiot. So the truck had a mega clean, soap, brush, gloss waxing, 2 litres of screen wash and 10 minutes of hoovering... still had 30nok left on it so left it in the machine for someone else to enjoy. Wish I’d got shaz to hot jetwash me too in hindsight!
Out of Trondheim we climbed into snow world again, so continued on until the road dropped down again. Another layby, OK but a truck driver swap and noisy wild geese in the fields behind.
Friday morning and we think the milk had gone off. Gutted. Took about 20k to find a shop and as we pulled in there was a landrover 110 there! Norwegian but there was a union jack on the back. As we parked the owner jumped out, a British woman who was amazed to see us. She had met a norwegian in Oxford, married him and ended up moving to Valsoybotn and buying a farm.
We ferried from Halsa to Konestraum and headed for the Atlantic road. Passed through Kristiansund and were charged about 9 quid for the privilege to drive the Atlantic highway . Was pretty impressive area though, I was gutted but Shaz was pleased that the sea wasn’t crashing over the road!
We headed in to Molde, had to as we’re from Mold in Wales, and ferried to Vestnes. Lots of roads are closed, including Trollstigen, and the ferry across Geiranger doesn’t start til 1st May! But you could still get to the fjord via Linge and Eidsdal so that’s what we did. Epic drive from there down in to Geiranger. Weather was snowing up high and raining lower down but still geiranger was incredible. Just go there, it’s lovely! First stop was the viewpoint, even the mist couldn't hide that we hadn’t seen anything like this yet. The road down was steep, with loads of hairpins but no trouble, and the road was dead quiet which helped. We camped in a layby right on the waters edge.
Saturday we breakfasted in the layby and Shaz washed her hair. Headed down into Geiranger village for some pics and mooch around, sun was out, prob about 8 degrees which is warm for us at the mo! Really nice, some posh hotels too I bet you could have a lovely expensive holiday there. Took a drive up the other way out of geiranger, towards the closed Trollstigen road, some great viewpoints up there, had a little walk and scared myself on some of the high cliff overhangs (most with railings... I’m a wimp!). Hardly anyone around, lovely, I bet it’s heaving in summer.
We climbed back up the road we came in on, not as hard on the landy as I thought it might be but not really able to get out of second gear much! Stopped at the viewpoint and enjoyed the views minus the snow and cloud. Had out lunch overlooking the fjord, toyed with the idea of staying to catch the fjord boat tour the next day but hit the road back to Eidsdal, ferried to Linge, retracing our steps before turning off for Valldal and then Gravaneset, ferrying over to Stranda.
We stopped at the parking place for the old Bridge Honndalsroken, toilets and nice and quiet. Shaz cooked Welsh griddle cakes in the frying pan. Pretty good but lots of washing up.
Sunday we left in search of Glaciers, Shaz looked at the closed roads etc but thought we could make it to Kjendal and see a bit of Jostedalsbreen. The road down to the carpark/trail had a sign saying ‘Vinterstengt’ (closed for winter) but the blockade had been moved and we could see cars further down the lane. We got as far as the picnic area, where a fallen tree had blocked the track. I could have pushed or dragged it out of the way but decided not to risk the landrover paint! Parked up and walked from there, about 4k, to the bottom of a branch of the glacier. Lovely walk, the last kilometre was picking our way through rocks but was really nice to have a walk in the sun, not a person in sight until we were almost back. Back on the road we headed for Bergen via a couple of ferries. Stopped at a waterfall on the way, strange position tucked behind a school, but lovely setting with a crystal clear river joined by another, via the water fall. The weather deteriorated to heavy rain and we had a wet camp, trying to hear the Walking Dead over the noise of rain drumming on the roof.