Day 118. Mehamn to Kinnarodden (north tip of Norway)

Posted by: James on April 28, 2009

Distance 29km | Time 10hrs | Ascent 860m | Descent 880m

Day 118. Crossing the Nordkinn plateau on the way to Kinnarodden headland just visible in the distanceI did not get to bed until quite late as I had the bog and other messages to write. It was 0200 eventually, but still light enough to read outside. It was a nice day when I woke in the morning but I was quite tired I still had to shop for my trip out to Kinnarodden headland, as I had no food to see me through.

After buying a few luxury items of food and packing I did not set off until midday. It did not really matter as although the sun sets around 2200 it remains light throughout the night as the sun just hides below the horizon for a few hours.

Vidar had explained the route and given me a map. He was keen to help. It seemed quite simple but he doubted I would be able to ski all the way.

Just after I set off a friend phoned from Radio Scotland. We did a telephone interview and it was broadcast later that afternoon. It seemed odd to be talking to Bill while skiing up a snowfield in the high Arctic, while he was in a studio in Glasgow. It was broadcast later that afternoon on a prime time current affairs program.

After passing the tiny Mehamn Airport I started up the slopes of Rundhaugen, a hill to the south west of the town. It was covered in snow still, but with many willow bushes sticking through. At the top of Rundhaugen I reached the edge of the plateau again.

Day 118. Approaching Kinnarodden with the Barents Sea at the base of the cliffsThe plateau here was still mostly covered in snow. The interior to my south was plastered in snow, while the headlands sticking out to the Barents Sea to the north were generally bare of snow. There were many herds of reindeer up here. Curiously the herds here seemed to be quite small each with 10 to 15 beasts.

Crossing the plateau to the south west I reached the entrance to a valley with a line of small lakes up it. Vidar told me, and on the map it looked very gnarly to the north. There were large cairns making it easy to follow. It was cold in the valley, well below zero and the snow was firm.

After a couple of smaller ridges between lakes I left the valley at a pass by its upper west end and got a view of some very remote coastline to the north out to Maghetta headland. However, I still had the hill of Bjornviktuva to go over, before I reached the valley I needed to get to so I could avoid difficult terrain. From Bjornviktuva I could see Kinnarodden headland in the distance.

After this hill was a lovely descent into a valley called Sandfjordselvdalen. It was full of ptarmigan and reindeer. The reindeer were wary of me and ran off. I was conscious they were fat with calf and tried not to disturb them too much. This valley was full of snow and a couple of frozen lakes it was still a bit of a winter’s Shangri-la.

The valley however veered of to the west here and descended to Kinnarodden beach where I would spend the night. I had to climb up to the final ridge which went out to the headland. There was little snow here and what was about up the shallow ridge was hard, so I walked. Once up however by a lake the snowfields returned and I could ski across. The plateau on this headland also had a lot of reindeer.

I skied over the last hill called Reipnakktinden and on the descent down the north side the snow just vanished so it was skis off for the last time. Before me in the overcast evening was Kinnarodden just 2 km away.

Day 118. The cliffs on the north east side of Kinnarodden headlandThe trouble is there was a deep valley whose sides were covered in boulders between me and my ultimate goal. Vidar told me it was best to go right along the north east edge where it was firmer ground. It was by far the best and I even went further and went along the edge of the firm cornice. Below me the cliffs descended in a steep sweep down to the sea.

The sea was quite calm with little swell. There was just a slight chop where the current was flowing past Kinnarodden headland. I had expected it to be worse given the weather just 36 hours ago. I would have paddled round without and hesitation. There only problem was it was still so cold with masses of snow up to the waters edge. It had better warm up considerably in the next 3-4 weeks.

There was the odd snow flake in the overcast sky and it was a bit breezy as I started to climb up the boulders on the north side of the valley. I had to go slowly as I was worried about the metal bar in front of my ski boot. I could not damage this as it was essential to attach the boot to the ski. If it broke or bent it would be a walk, rather than ski, return to Mehamn tomorrow, and that could be difficult if the snow pack melted and softened.

I was excited and wanted to go quicker to get to the point I had spent the last 118 days striving towards. As I climbed to the top of the headland the cairn started to appear. It was not the end though as I had seen the headland continued for another few hundred metres until the cliffs started.

So I passed the cairn and continued across the boulders. Above me were spirals of seabirds soaring in the updrafts created by the headland. Occasionally I passed the top of a gully on the west side where the steep basalt columns had weathered more and allowed me to peer down to the gentle swell washing over the rocks below.

Day 118. The end of the road with the top of Scandinavia in the waves belowSuddenly the headland narrowed to a small point. There was nowhere further to go. Beyond were cliffs on three sides. At the bottom of this cliff was a large rounded rock separated by a narrow channel. I stood staring at the rock for a good minute transfixed by it almost frozen in the position I was in. It was the top of Mainland Europe.

There was no outpouring of emotion or excitement as I had read and heard is sometimes the case. I still had a difficult 6 km to go and it was bitterly cold in the breeze. I was rather pleased though, there is no denying that.

I must say Kinnarodden is quite a spot. Very wild, remote and rugged. Not many people come out here. It is not like its rival Nordkapp which I could just make out in the overcast evening some 50 km to the west which had a road, massive parking space and visitor centre and other fanfare. This here was a reflective undisturbed pristine headland, one for the connoisseur.

The reason I chose Kinnarodden over Nordkapp was partly for this reason. Partly also because it is part of the mainland while Nordkapp is on an island. Finally, partly because I did not want to use any transport, for any reason, on my ski trip up Norway, so would have had to walk illegally through the horrific 8 km of the tunnel to get onto the island. It was not that it was easier. Quite the opposite in fact as it probably added 200 km and and extra week onto my tour.

After reflecting and taking a few photos for a good hour I was getting cold. I still had to camp. I had been told about a wonderful beach nearby. But it was across 3 km of rough bouldery terrain to reach the west side of the headland and then along a rocky shoreline for another 3 km

The journey to the west of the peninsula was pretty much retracing my steps to the boulder filled valley, crossing that and then descending down to the shore on a steep snowfield. The walk along the shoreline was much harder as it was covered in enormous amounts of driftwood and snow. Curiously there were also millions of small fish washed up and dead among the driftwood. As I walked along here the sun went down a blaze of orange so bright it turned the boulders and logs on the shoreline orange. Mercifully I did not damage the bar on my ski boot during this walk, which is testament to how strong it is.

Day 118. After reaching Kinnarodden headland I headed to very beautiful Kinnarodden beach to camp the nightWhen I eventually got to the beach, which I call Kinnarodden beach, it was worth the difficult walk. It was a pearl. Nearly a kilometre of light coloured sand between two steep imposing headlands and cliffs. Behind the flat wide beach was a kilometre of sandy heather and moorland. I found a nice sandy snow free place to camp and put the tent up around 2230.

After fetching water from the stream at the west end of the beach I contemplated making a huge pyre with the hundreds of tons of driftwood lying about. I was tired however and once in my solidly put up tent decided to stay in it and dine in my sleeping bag.

It had been an unusually rare day.

15 Responses to “Day 118. Mehamn to Kinnarodden (north tip of Norway)”

  1. Claire Buchanan Says:

    Well done James. What a fantastic achievement.

  2. e.c.baxter Says:

    Well done for completing your Great Ambition. You will be hearing from us shortly, Hope you don’t get a puncture! L of love MUM & DAD X

  3. Camilla Wikström Says:

    Congratulations James! You have done a great job. I have followed your skiing with great interest every day I have had internet available. I have been much impressed by the length of your daily efforts, this because I have tried myself! I have had in mind to make a new donation when you reach your goal, and I will do so. I hope other people also will do this.
    Now I wish you good luck especially for the paddling. Remember that the water is cold, and will be so for most of your journey. That is what worries me when we go to Greenland for paddling among icebergs this summer. Next weekend we are going to make the premier for the season, and the water is cold here too (about 3-4 degrees (centigrades) (Stockholm archipelago).I will follow your journey down the norweigian coast.
    Best wishes from me and Mats, Camilla

  4. Peter Shaw Says:

    Fantastic achievement. I have read most of your diary entries in my lunchtime sitting at my desk, inspiring.

  5. Gilmour & Primmy Burnet Says:

    James, Many Congratulations on a great achievement. We’ve been getting excited here as you neared Kinnarodden, heaven knows how you must have felt. We can only try to guess at the effort you have put in. Thank you too for all the interesting blogs especially when you’ve been dead tired.
    I heard from a friend a couple of hours ago that you’d made it so a glass has already been raised to you. Slainte Mhath!
    Good luck on the bike. I hope your bum doesn’t get too sore.
    Enjoy your celebrations. Gilmour & Primmy

  6. Stuart Findlay Says:

    absolutely brilliant…you’re some machine

  7. Jo Ryan Says:

    Now you can get the, “Been there, done that T-shirt”.
    I would have loved to have been with you for the last few steps, to share your amazing feeling.

  8. tom Says:

    I met you shortly before you left on your epic trip and knew you would put in every effort, well done on your first major achievement and best of luck in the home leg! Awesome.

  9. Daniel Says:

    Congratulations James!
    I’ve followed your achievement since you entered Sweden and I must say it tickled my feet. Since a few years I lost my heart in the North of Europe so my brains are working very hard and I hope one day I may start the same journey but not on Ski’s.


  10. Trond Erik Vee Aune Says:

    Well done on an inspiring achievement and good luck on the next part!

  11. pb & kate Says:


    We’ve been following your progress the past few months, and it’s made great reading!

    pb & kate

  12. Hans from Stavanger Says:

    I clap my hands for the fullfilling this journy of you life. What a man you are. Congratulation all the way to Kirkenes.

  13. Paul Clough Says:

    Congratulations on a huge achievement – a superhuman effort!

    Will catch up by email soon.

    All the best

    Paul (in sunny Malawi)

  14. Ole Bjøråsen Says:

    Gratulerer James!
    Ta kontakt når du er i Kirkenes!


  15. Teresa Cole Says:

    Congratulation! This is very impressive
    Good luck on the next leg of your Journey
    Teresa (your former American dance partner 1986)