By: Blonde Two
There was something entirely magical about driving north to the tip of Norway (and Europe). We took our time over it and when we arrived at the Nordkapp peninsula after mile upon mile of snow-edged mountain roads, glistening fjords and troll-cave tunnels our excitement (despite the less than kind reviews of the place) was palpable.
Nordkapp was the main reason for our trip. Mr B2 had expressed a desire to drive there (from home) and we could have done it but for that one elusive travel aspect, namely time. We had driven though from Tromso in our Norwagon camper and still felt like a significant journey had been made. Nordkapp really was the last stop mainland stop before the North Pole (2,102 kilometres) and this fact was made clear to us because, as we drove up the road (not in snow plough convoy as you have to in the winter) we really did feel like we were going to drive off the edge of the land.
Nordkapp’s precipitous cliffs are 307 metres high and it has a wide, flat plateau that offers the most astounding sea and snow views. No icebergs or polar bears but one sniff of the sharp, fresh air and you could really tell that you were in the Arctic. When we arrived the peninsula was still covered in soft, deep snow (by the time we left Norway it had melted) which added to the understanding that we were actually at 71 degrees north and well inside the Arctic Circle. Our ticket allowed us entrance to the Nordkapphaller building (with limited opening times) and 24 hour parking (or camping) in the car park. When we arrived at about 2 in the afternoon, there were already a couple of campers so we pulled up next to them and admired our view for the night.
The term ‘magical’ is used for Nordkapp in many descriptions. There are probably better words but I can tell you one thing for sure, there was something about the place that made us not want to leave. We stayed almost for the whole 24 hours and spent our time alternating between exploring, dozing and taking photos of the near-midnight sun.
From 8 o’clock in the evening onwards I left the van, waded through the snow to the iconic Arctic Circle monument, stood in exactly the same spot and took photos to show the sun’s movement.
At 11 o’clock we decided that we wanted to do the midnight sun job properly and donned most of our clothing (we counted around 14 items each), packed our sleeping bags into our bivvy bags and walked (undoubtedly looking most strange) over to the deserted monument. We had the place to ourselves which I think was very unusual, none of the Germans came out of their campers and we both experienced that glorious ‘I am English and I am mad’ feeling.
It took a while to work out the logistics of getting into bivvy bags without getting either us or the sleeping bags wet in the snow, we discussed it for a while but in the end the snow was so dry that its crystals brushed off without leaving a trace of moisture behind. The wind made the manoeuvre entertaining but in the end we were there, just the two of us, a single beer chilling in the snow and the wind blowing straight from the North Pole. We sat there chatting and dozing but mostly just gazing at the spectacle before us. The sun skimmed its shallow arc towards to horizon and then, as midnight was nearly upon us, slipped nonchalantly behind a low bank of cloud.
We toasted it with our Norwegian beer nonetheless, nothing special for the sun but a unique memory for us. In the end we lasted until 1 in the morning before our camper called us home. It took a while to warm up again but we eventually drifted off to sleep replete with the knowledge of a unique and very special memory made.
Nordkapp is 540 kilometres by road from Tromso. The suggested journey time is 9 hours but we took two days in total, free camping in roadside locations on the way. The entrance fee to the peninsula is high but for that you get to camp (a word of warning, the only toilets are inside the Nordkapphaller visitor centre or behind a pile of snow), enjoy the facilities (some were stunning, some a bit odd) and buy hot coffee and cake. We went at the beginning of May just before the summer opening season started and were lucky enough to combine both snow views, an open road and very low visitor numbers.
You have my admiration for maximising on your stay there. By comparison after seventy-seven days I arrived at John ‘o Groats and just had twenty minutes before jumping on a bus – time to buy a logoed shirt in consideration for fellow passengers in lieu of the one I had been wearing for the duration.
My delicate shade of green is fast approaching a deep and lurid bottle-green. Though I think the cold would get to me – you seem to be admirably equipped. When I finished the Southern Upland Way, there wasn’t even a postcard of the finishing point for sale in the village post office, let alone a baseball cap or a shirt. It was deeply disappointing. Skimmie and I couldn’t even find someone to take a photograph for us!
How did you find he SUW? I was geared up to do it a long time ago but plans fell through. It seemed to me to be a wild walk with few places for stocking up on food if one camped the whole way. I have walked on bits of it since and get the impression that t traverses superb country.
Green is a lovely colour and will help with your camouflage when you are out bird counting! The cold is fine, you just need lots of layers and maybe a convenient dog to cuddle!