Day 219. Mjomna in Gulen to Haoya in Meland

Posted by: James on August 7, 2009

Distance 50km | Time 11.5hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

I managed an early start from Mjomna and got away by 0800. It was overcast but dry and virtually wind still. I thought if I could do the lion’s share of the distance to Bergen today I might be able to reach Platou Sport before it closed on Saturday afternoon. This was the shop which kindly agreed to receive my new Reed spraydeck from the UK.

The first part of the day was more of the larger channels between grey rocky islands of gneiss which I experienced yesterday. It was easy paddling and not at all challenging. I soon reached the end of this wider channel by the hamlet of Gravika. From here I had to cross the 7-8 km wide Fensfjord. There was a slight south easterly wind blowing now and it had an evil smell.

This smell turned out to be the refinery across the other side of the open Fensfjord at Mongstad. It was just 7-8 km away. It was a large refinery with a few flare towers and some ships unloading their thick black cargo. The smell of the refinery was quite powerful and the sight was quite a shock after the relatively pristine last 2000 km with just a hint of industry compared to this. Luckily I was not going past it and as I paddled over the fjord it soon disappeared from sight. The smell lingered though.

The crossing of Fensfjord was also easy but the increasing south east wind started to produce a few waves and through a few rain showers with it. The wind never reached force four and it hardly impeded me and I soon reached Kilstraumen.

Day 219.1 Some of the lush islandscape along some of the quiet channels in west LurefjordHere for once there was a good current flowing and it was in the direction I was going. There was a large basin of water ahead called Lurefjord. This basin only had three narrow channels connecting it to the sea and this one at Kilstraumen was one. The water was flowing in like a mature river through the 100 metre wide channel trying to fill the basin and I rode along on it for a brisk 2 km.

It eventually spilled me into the basin of Lurefjord which was another land altogether. This had the feel of an inland lake. It was only the jelly fish and seaweed which gave it away. There were masses of small islands covered in tall spruce and pine and the undergrowth was thick with willow and rowan.

Day 219.2 A view in Lurefjord along a wide channel and beyond to islands across the fjordMy pace slowed considerably now as I weaved in and out of the islets and islands stopping to take photos and admire the lush surroundings. It was a bit like paddling in the Stockholm archipelago. I deliberately sought the smaller channels even if it was not the most direct route just to explore. I was sitting back now and reclining in the seat. There were a few cabins here and there tucked away in forest glades.

When I got to Vallerneset I managed to ask someone if the channel I wanted to go through later was navigable. He confirmed it was so I headed south down the west end of Luroy island to the hamlet of Instebo where a friend of mine in Bergen hails from. It was the usual hamlet with a couple of still operating small farms and the other farms now being leisure homes.

The channel started across the water from Instebo. It was called Grunnesund, translated as Shallow Sound. It was a quiet and enchanting strip of water which was at times only 20-30 metres wide and a metre deep. The whole of Grunnesund was about 3 km long. There were a few cabins along the side to the east end but otherwise it was deserted all the way to Radsund at Festo.

Day 219.3 Radsund was a busy trtoughfare for boat traffice heading north of BergenRadsund was anything but deserted. It was like going straight from a farm track onto a motorway. The whole sound was buzzing with cabin cruisers mostly heading northwards. It was Friday late afternoon and everybody would be heading up to their cabins on the islands in the basin of Lurefjord. There was a constant wash. Then suddenly from around a corner appeared not one but two of the large high speed express boats. There was a speed limit here otherwise crashes would have been inevitable.

After Festo, Radsund opened up a bit for the next 10 odd km, with farms on each side of the sound and the odd hamlet along the steepening shores. It was not really good fishing grounds here compared to the outer isles along the coast but there were still quite a few older boatsheds. The nearer I got to Alverstraumen the larger the hamlets got with some house perched high above the water with steep steps down to boat sheds.

Day 219.4 One of the islands in Radsund near Alverstraum which were adoened in lavish houses and exotic gardensAt Alverstraumen there were some more islands again and some were formed into nice gardens with a lavish older house among more exotic deciduous trees like copper beech. There were many other houses along the bank with all manner of boatsheds from decorative wooden ones to large old corrugated sheds with a mess of broken moss covered boats beside along the damp bank.

There was quite a current here and it was against me now as the basin was filling again. It lasted for about 2 km and at times I had to paddle hard to keep moving forwards. Eventually I passed under the high bridge and paddled into the relatively still waters on the larger Radoyfjord.

It was now getting late and I needed somewhere to camp. The trouble was it was getting quite built up now and the sides of the fjord were steep, and it was difficult to find a suitable place which was not a garden. I found something which looked flat and unpopulated on the map on the island of Flatoy a few km ahead and decided to head down to it. From there Bergen was within easy striking distance.

I paddled into the sound south of Haoya and past a hotel and marina on Holsnoy island called Litle Bergen which looked exclusive. As I paddled round Haoya and before I got to Flatoy I came across a grassy lawned area with a couple of stone jetties and a tiny beach. It was a quiet recreation area belonging to the council. It was on the site of ruined barracks and artillery emplacements which went back many centuries. It was getting late and would be dark soon and this was the perfect camp spot. What a stroke of luck.

I put the tent up and started to write at a picnic table while I cooked. The midges however drove me mad and I had to abandon it and get into the sanctuary of the tent. Here I soon felt drowsy and crashed out.

It had been a very good day. The paddling was easy to almost be boring but the wonderful scenery in Lurefjord was enchanting and idyllic.

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