Archive for July, 2009

Day 207. Hoholmen in Averoy to Storholmen in Fraena

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Distance 19km | Time 5.5hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

I could hear the wind when I woke at 0700. Looking outside I could see it was around a force four. I checked the forecast and it seemed to continue all day and increase a bit tomorrow morning. It was a bit of a struggle to get up and get going but eventually I packed up the wet tent and got going by 1000.

Day 207.1 Ragnar Thorseths replica Viking boat was the same as the one he sail round the world inThe tide was right out and I had to go back to Hoholmen to get out of the cluster of islands. This gave me another chance to see the replica Viking boat “Kvitserk”. Kvitserk was a replica of Saga Siglar, which was an imitation Viking freight boat which Ragnar Thorseth sailed round the world in the mid 1980’s.

I then went out into the sea to the north. There were many skerries protecting Hoholmen from the Atlantic and no swell was getting through. The wind however was against me and there was enough of a chop to slow me down. With the small waves rushing past me I was under the impression I was going fast. However, when I looked down at the GPS speedometer I saw I was just doing 2-3 km per hour.

I had wanted to paddle the outside of the “Atlantic Road”. However it was just too slow. So I cut inside under a bridge. The Atlantic road is a 6 km stretch of road over a couple of graceful bridges and many causeways which jumps across a string of small islands between the mainland and the west side of Averoy. These islands form a chain across the mouth of the Kornstadfjord.

Day 207.2 Kittiwakes on some of the abandoned fishing wharfsThere was quite a current under the bridge filing up the fjord. I then headed west sheltered from the potential waves by the causeways to Stromsholmen where there was a dive centre and another bridge across some narrows. It was drizzling quite heavily now. On the inner side of these islands along the causeway there were many old fishing wharfs. Some had been lost to the seagulls which nested in their window frames.

I had to paddle hard to get through the current here into the sea again. This part of the coast was covered in small islands. There must have been a few km of islets and skerries sheltering the route and the swell was not getting through at all. The wind was still against me and slowing me down.

Day 207.3 The splendidly restored fishing hamlet on the islet of TiestholmenFor the next 5 km I paddled through an island landscape with plenty of cultural buildings. In places the whole of an old fishing community had been restored after it was probably nearly abandoned in the 1960’s after some 200-300 years of existence. As with Hoholmen the restoration was enabled by tourism. One restoration at Tiestholmen was splendid.

After Tiestholmen the sheltering skerries out to sea became minimum and more and more of the swell was getting through. As I paddled past the large beach at Sandvika I could see a headland surrounded in breaking surf which I had to pass.

The wind was still a force 4 from the north west which was bringing a large swell in from the Atlantic. As I made slow progress towards the headland, the height of the swell increased from a metre to three metres. This swell then crashed onto the rocks sending plumes of spray cannoning into the air. The swell was not steep though and I just bobbed up and down on it. There were a few white caps but not many.

There was a beacon on the headland and there was some sort of nature trail out to it. There were about 20 people at the beacon and they all had their eyes on me for a good 20 minutes while I paddled past. I must have been hidden in the troughs of the swell most of the time. I could feel them thinking “look at that mad bugger” but in reality it looked much worse than it was.

Once round the headland I doubled back to a beach for lunch. There were some good remnants of the swell heading for the beach and I caught one for a good 200 metre surf at about 15 km per hour which was also exciting. I beached the kayak and went up to a small shelter where there were some 10 people who had been looking at me earlier. They asked masses of questions which I answered between mouthfuls.

The problem was the spraydeck, although better than the previous one, was leaking water and my legs and waist were soaked. I should have had the drysuit on today. The wind was still a force 4 from the west and progress was slow. The next 20 km down the outside of Hustadvika were going to be a cold wet slog into the wind and spray down an exposed coast with a building swell.

One of the crowd said there were rooms at Storholmen across the bay and I kind of gave up any idea of continuing along Hustadvika and started think about a hot shower. I paddled the two km across the bay at Farstad and reached Storholmen. There were frequent 3 metre swells coming into the bay and exploding on shallows.

Day 207.4 An old cover to put over stacks of klippfisk when they were gathered up from  drying places on rock slabs before rain approachedThe rooms were not cheap and there were no meals. I took the room anyway as I was too wet to consider the tent. I would fire the primus up in the room. I was soon sorted and in the shower. In the evening I wrote and sent a newsletter. The weather had decreased a bit but it will increase through the night and then diminish tomorrow afternoon.

It had been a cold wet day when I should have been in the drysuit. However there were some nice cultural landscapes on the islands at the east end of Hustadvika.

Day 206. Bruhagen to Hoholmen in Averoy

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Distance 29km | Time 7hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

I did not finish writing until 0100 so was still sleeping when Frederic woke me at 0900 for breakfast. The previous night he had arranged a journalist from the regional newspaper to come at 1000, and we needed breakfast out of the way first.

Roald Sevaldsen from the paper Tidens Krav turned up at 1000 and we chatted for almost 2 hours over coffee with Frederic and Sissel at the table with Roald taking notes. He had another meeting so had to go, and I packed up and carried the stuff down to the boat with my hosts.

While we were saying out goodbyes a juvenile mink came and inspected the kayak and even came towards us. It was completely fearless. I eventually set off at 1300 and paddled past the huge pile of stones. The ship from the previous day was loaded and had gone.

Day 206.1 An old fishing wharf in Bremsnesfjord near KristiansundI had about a 5 km paddle up Bremsnesfjord again to reach a level with Kristiansund and then continued to the open sea where there was the Stavenes Fyr lighthouse. I passed a few old fishing wharfs which were falling into disrepair and some large farms along the shore.

A lot of the old shipping wharfs were from half a century ago when small boats landed catch locally and then much of the cod from this catch was salted and then dried on rock slabs beside the sea. This produced klippfisk which is the main ingredient of Bacaloa. Processes have now changed and the traditional labour intensive way of producing klippfisk has now gone and these lovely old wharfs are redundant.

Once round the Stavenes Fyr lighthouse I paddled along the open coast with the minimum of swells breaking on the shoreline. It was quite convoluted with many open inlets. Eider ducks seemed to be thriving in these inlets and there were many rafts of them. They were mostly sitting on the weed covered slabs but took to the water when I approached. The ducklings were now almost the size of the adults but almost black in colour as opposed to the mothers brown. There was still the odd batch of smaller ducklings that probably were conceived and hatched late.

After a couple of km along the open coast I could cut down Sveggesund, which was a narrow sound with houses on each side. It was a colourful thriving place. There were a couple of modern fishing boats and a restaurant, but by and large I would say most people here worked in Kristiansund or had summer house here. A bridge spanned the sound connecting the smaller Sveggoya on the west to the much larger Averoy island.

From Sveggesund I entered another charming area of idyllic small islands and islets. It reminded me very much of some of the island clusters on the Helgelandskyst. The only difference being that there were not so many beaches here and generally the houses and hamlets here were perhaps more numerous and also more affluent. The affluence meant that many of the older traditional properties were actually being restored and maintained which was nice to see.

Day 206.2 Paddling towards Langoy village through the islands in the mist and rainAs I weaved through these islands the mist came in and it started to rain, although not heavily. I pulled up the hood on the jacket Colin Bruce lent me and paddled on for some 7-8 km. Eventually I came to the larger village of Langoy on the smaller island with the same name. It seemed a busy place with an old white Lutheran church, plenty of large deciduous trees and a lot of quaint restored boathouses and wharfs and some nice wooden villas. I also saw a shop.

I made to land on a rocky beach when someone invited me to use his jetty. He was trying to smoke some newly caught haddock in a homemade smokery constructed from an old wooden barrel. I went up to the shop and bought enough to tide me over for the next few days and a grilled chicken and some tomatoes for this evening.

It was then back onto the water again as I paddled through the rest of Langoyasund towards Sandoy. There was no beach on the latter so I carried on passing through many small channels and islets ringed in yellow brown seaweed as the tide was right out. Here and there were some traditional cabins, restored wharfs and some more exclusive leisure homes. There were well spread out and the place still felt empty.

Just after the bridge connecting the smaller Sandoy in the west to Averoy there was a large body of water called Hendvagen. It was a nature reserve. The curious thing with Hendvagen is that it was topped up and emptied by about a metre by the tide which had to flow up a short river to fill and empty this sea lake. As I paddled past the river was flowing out vigourously.

Day 206.3 A mink swimming across a sound to the west of AveroyI saw a family of mink near here. There was an adult and two juveniles. They would play havoc with the ducks and eat many eggs and chicks. One of the juveniles swam across the sound and I pursued it to get a photo

Day 206.4 The exclusive guesthouse of Hoholmen is owned by the explorer Ragnar ThorsethI continued south past more islands with cultural buildings still on them and then came to Hoholmen. This was a more salubrious restoration from an old fishing wharf to a high class guesthouse and restaurant. There were a lot of older wooden boats and even a replica Viking ship on the jetty. There were also a few larger bayliner type cruisers from some of the better off guests. It was not for me but I needed somewhere to camp soon and had almost run out of options.

Day 206.5 Beside Hoholmen was the islent of Lamholmen where I camped and used the cabin to write inJust beyond Hoholmen was Lamholmen. It had a beach which extended the whole tidal range and some grassy land to camp on. It was perfect. I pulled ashore and inspected. There was a very small open cabin on this islet. I went in and saw a table and a couple of bunks. There was a visitor’s book on the table which I read. This cabin was also owned by the Hoholmen and was intended as a place for the staff to come and escape occasionally. Lamholmen was only connected to Hoholmen at very low tide.

Hoholmen was owned by Ragnar Thorseth and his wife. Ragnar is a well known sailor and explorer. He spent most of the 1970’s and 1980’s exploring the Arctic Ocean in small boats and sailing a Viking boat across the Atlantic to show the Vikings could easily have discovered America and “Vinland” long before Columbus did.

I decided to camp near the cabin and then when the tide was in and it was dark I could sneak into the hut and use the table to write at. This is what I did from 2200 until midnight when I crashed out.

It had been a good day again. There was a slow start but I liked the sociable morning. The afternoon paddling was easy as I drifted through the cultural landscape of reviving fishing villages.

Day 205. Magnillen in Tingvoll to Bruhagen on Averoy

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Distance 26km | Time 5hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

I woke late as I did not finish the writing until late last night. It was already 0930. The whole Bruce family were up and eating breakfast in their cabin and outside. I soon joined them and by 1030 was ready to pack and set off. Colin gave me a fantastically comfortable mattress to use for the rest of the trip. I had been pampered by their copious food and good cooking. It was not their home but it felt like hospitality.

Karen and Kirsty were eager to use their new kayaks on a longer trip and decided to follow me down to Arsund some 6 km down the fjord towards Kristiansund. We set off around 1130. Colin and the boys followed in the inflatable.

Day 205.1 Paddling west towards ArsundIt was virtually calm and there was hardly a ripple on the water as we left. The tide should have been coming in but there was a good current carrying us west. We followed the coast and then crossed over to the more pristine island of Langoya and followed its south shore. Sometimes it was ice scoured slabs and sometimes boulders, but above both were the pine forests.

Both Karen and Kirsty were getting confident and one of them would blast off ahead while I chatted with the other or Colin in the boat. Eventually we reached Arsund after an hour and a half. We paused here for snacks and said our goodbyes as they returned to the campsite at Magnillen with the two younger boys now in the kayaks and eager to paddle.

It had been a very nice interlude with lots of banter, good company and it gave me the chance to repair things, rest and catch-up. I was sorry to see them go. I had to now paddle past Kristiansund to visit an ex uncle-in-law who had a cabin on Averoy.

Day 205.2 And then there were three as Karen and her daughter Kirsty came out in their kayaksFrom Arsund I paddled over the quiet Freifjord to the west side where there was a sound called Omsundet which separated the island Kristiansund was on from the island of Frei. It took less than an hour and I soon paddled past a headland an saw a number of large ships docked in front of me and the newer docks at Kristiansund.

Day 205.3 The oldest of the Hurtigruten ferries heading past the town of Kristiansund in the backgroundI avoided this area and headed down a smaller channel under a older bridge and past some wooden houses along the shore. When I emerged the other end of it I was level with the industrial area of Kristiansund on the other side and could look up past this to the more commercial and residential area of the town which looked more pleasant.

The old Kristiansund was completely destroyed in the war after a fire bombing campaign by the Germans. It was pretty much just the chimney stacks which remained after this onslaught and they were flattened to build the town anew.

I then phoned to get directions. It was a little south of where I really wanted to go but the total detour would only be some 5 km or so. Their cabin lay on the island of Averoy near the village of Bruhagen. Unfortunately so did the landmark I was to head for which was a huge quarry and pile of stones and a large ship loading.

I paddled over the Bremsnefjord towards this eyesore. There was a reasonable tide against me flowing north out of the fjord. As I approached the quarry and quay another eyesore soon appeared near Bruhagen. It was a monolith of a factory belching steam as it produced massive amounts of feed for the numerous fish farms up and down the coast.

I paddled past the huge loading bulk carrier ship and a few hundred metres after it met Frederic and Sissel on a weedy covered quay. We carried the kayak above the high tide mark and then walked up to their cabin up the hill with the minimum.

It was good to see them. I had a shower and then supper was served as we sat out on the terrace on the opposite side of the large ship and quarry which was just a few hundred metres away.

After supper we moved inside and chatted until midnight when I stared to write and they went to bed. It was a warm hearted evening with relations I had only met once before. They were very easy to get on with. The cabin had a lot of sentimental value to Sissel as she grew up beside it. Once the quarry has removed the hill to the north of them in a couple of years, and loaded it into ships she hopes the place will return to the peace and quiet it was previously. One can only hope.

It had been a short paddle in easy conditions in a mainly sociable day. I had been on tour now for nearly 7 months and one needs the occasional social day.

Day 204. Magnillen in Tingvoll weather and rest day

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Distance 0km | Time 0hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m I woke late. I had one task today and that was to catch up with the blog. It meant writing up five days. At the same time I could not be too rude to my visitors and hide away in the cabin all day. At 1000 Colin and son Rory made a wonderful cooked breakfast while Karen went for a run. We then ate outside in the still warm morning. It was an easy relaxed social affair. I then went to write some of the blog while the Bruce family went out with the two kayaks. Everybody wanted a shot in their new boats and it was easy for the parents to let the kids paddle by themselves in the sheltered harbour. I had a slow start and had to deal with some pressing office work regarding Edinburgh City Council. Not my favorite pastime. But eventually by lunch I had a day written up and out of the way. I then put on a wash and rattled three more days out of the way in the afternoon with some welcome breaks from the Bruce family. They were still absorbed with the new kayaks and in these still conditions were exploring the small islands just off the shoreline. Colin went shopping and got all the ingredients for a great BBQ while I finished off writing and put on another washing load. I then had a shower put on the clean cloths Colin brought and was dressed for dinner. The BBQ was an easy social affair in the overcast evening for a couple of hours. Before it got dark I sorted out the broken tent pole with Colin’s help and replaced the part on the stove from the spares he brought. Colin also leant me a better larger mattress for the rest of the trip and a good cagoule which would save the need to hunt around in Alesund or Bergen for a paddling jacket. Once all this was done we could make a fire and sit round for a few hours chatting while the kids put themselves to bed. We had an earlier night and all crashed out at 0200. It was totally dark and the first time I had seen it so dark for months. Tomorrow I will go to the island of Averoy to the west of Kristiansund to stay with some relations there before I continue in earnest again down the west coast towards Bergen. It had been a pleasant day but I was a bit of a hermit with the writing. Luckily it did not dominate the day and there was plenty of chat.

Day 203. Sandvika on Lesundoya to Magnillen in Tingvoll

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Distance 37km | Time 9hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 203.1 The boathouse and farm at Sandvika bay on Lesundoya islandI had fully intended to get up early and arrive at Magnillen early to meet Colin and Karen Bruce there. It was not to be and I did not wake until 0930. The sun was shining, the tent was warm and everything was dry and crisp after the last two days downpour.

After the packet of biscuits for breakfast I finally left this lovely bay at nearly 1130. I paddled past the beautiful boatshed and into the gentle north east breeze before turning south west and having it in my back again. I have had remarkable luck with the winds in the last month.

I paddled in my drysuit which was overkill on this warm day. I quickly passed the island of Grisvagoy and started across the calm sea to the peninsula which sticks out from the north of the mountainous island of Ertvagoy. The trip across the bay was easy and I passed the small Baeroy island, where I was pleased to see someone was restoring the only homestead on the island.

There were three islands here, nearly four, which were tall and mountainous with steep rocky peaks on them. Each island was separated by a deep sound. I was making for the last, most westerly, sound between these islands and heading down through that. These three islands formed a chain and would have been a steep side peninsula if it were not for the spectacular deep sounds separating them.

From the north of Ertvagoy I then crossed another bay to reach the north of Stabben island, perhaps the most mountainous of the three. This was an interesting bay with a few larger islands and many small islets. On the west of the bay forming the western border was a lovely island of Solskjel.

The east shore of Solskjel looked very idyllic with old small holdings in green forest clearings along the shore. When I got to the south however it looked more dilapidated with ruined houses and collapsing jetties. There was a sandy beach near were the cable ferry from Nordheim across the 300 metre sound docked. I landed here. The most obvious thing about the place was the huge piles of clutter. Broken fish farm cages, collapsing sheds, rusting plant, piles of rotting timber, jetties piled high with rotting fishing nets with turfs of grass growing from them. It looked just like the west coast of Scotland or Ireland where everything is collected in untidy piles and nothing tidied of disposed of.

Near this was a notice displaying the islands history. It seemed this was one of the first places stone age man settled in Norway some 10000 years ago. The island was smaller then and these ancient sites are now 25 metres above the present shoreline. It was one of the place first free of ice after the last ice age and the lifting of land was smaller here than in Oslo area where it was 160 metres over the last 10,000 years and nearly 800 metres in Northern Sweden in the same period.

This area was part of the Forsna Culture, the oldest habitation found on the Scandinavian Peninsula some 12000 years ago. Here the first settlers built simple houses and fished, hunted and collected of the small islands and islets in the region. The hunted seal and used the skin for tents, cloths and boats. The island seems to have been almost continuously populated since then. Perhaps in 10,000 years time when future archaeologists are looking digging the south side of this island they will come across this midden on the south and call it the culture of a Homo sapiens sub species called Homo detritus.

Day 203.2 Crising along the wooded north shore of Stabben island with the steep high mountain in the interiorI left the island and paddled down into the sound again the north side of Stabben. Stabben was a much wooded island with a steep mountain. It was separated from Tustna by Solheimssund, a narrow a deep sound with quite a few farms down each side. It was only some 8 km long and with the increasing north wind behind me I cruised down the slot of water in a little over an hour. At the south end were some narrows where the tide was beginning to flow north again.

Day 203.4 The wooden shoreline and fjord side of Halsafjord which is an arm of ArsundfjordI now just had some 7 km of the large Arsundfjord to cross to reach Magnillen on the other side. This was a long and convoluted body of water with many long arms stretching nearly 50 km inland to the mountainous interior of More and Romsdal. On each side of this steep side fjord were heavily forested slopes. Towards the sea at its mouth was the city of Kristiansund.

Day 203.3 An islet basking in the sun in the otherwise overcast ArsundfjordI made quick time across the fjord and was soon approaching the far side with a back wind. I soon saw the flash of a kayak paddle in the overcast evening. It was Karen, and her daughter Kirsty, in their brand new kayaks. Then I saw Colin doing the safety patrol in the inflatable. I paddled over and greeted them. I had stayed with them some 4 years ago at their cabin in Trollheimen in Norway and saw them yearly in Scotland. We greeted and then we all returned to land.

Colin had arranged two cabins at the nice campsite here at Magnillen. We quickly carried up the kayaks and all my stuff and then I got myself ensconced in the cabin where I would spend two nights. The ever thoughtful Colin brought a full set of cloths for me to wear during the stay here. Karen made a wonderful vitamin rich meal and then we all sat around until late in the evening catching up. The three kids went to bed first, and then Karen, and Colin and I finally made it around 0130 after a few beers and whiskies.

It had been a great day. Good weather, wonderful scenery an interesting cultural visit and ending up in the company of friends I have known for 25 years.