Tonje's Travelogue 14: Spectacular Lofoten & Henningsvær
We woke up to yet another sunny day in beautiful Lofoten. Even though Lofoten is far north, at 67 and 68 degrees latitude, there have been some hot and dry summers in recent years with temperatures up to 30 degrees.
The night before we had climbed Reinebringen in the midnight sun, and we were excited about what this day would bring. It is said that one cannot visit Lofoten without eating the heavenly cinnamon rolls from the bakery in Å, and since we were right nearby, we could not help but treat ourselves to them for breakfast. The original bakery was built in 1844 in the typical Trønder and Nordland style, with windows just below the eaves. After it burned in 1888, the house was rebuilt in the Empire style with gables and a slate roof. During the fishing season, workers were accommodated here with the servants.
It was admittedly a little different this year. Due to Covid 19, the bakery itself was closed to visitors, but they sold cinnamon rolls from the bakery at a small café nearby. So a sweet and delicious breakfast it was anyway. At the harbor in Å we went for a walk and saw the most peculiar of things close to the harbor walls. A shoal of fish were jumping and splashing as if gasping for air or being chased by some predator from the deep. We stood mesmerized as the display continued for over fifteen minutes. We took this as a great sign of how many fish were in the waters around Lofoten and were extremely excited about our upcoming fishing trips.
From Å, we headed to Henningsvær, a small town located on the islands Heimøy and Hellandsøy. Here we were to spend the next few days fishing, hiking and eating good food with friends as we celebrated a number of 30 year birthdays this calendar year. The cabin we were going to stay at was called Lyngværstua, and was rented through Airbnb. It was located in a peaceful area with a view of a small island made of white sand that had accumulated around some reefs, surrounded by the emerald green water that is typically Lofoten.
Our first night settling into the cabin was spent with laughter as tales of everyone's summer trips so far took center stage. There was a giddy excitement in the air with the group eager to explore more. We threw some ideas around the table for some kind of a plan for the next day and at some point during an awesome taco dinner with a beer or two it was decided we should retire to bed for an early rise to tackle one of Henningsvær's epic mountain hikes the next day.
We woke up to the smell of eggs and bacon with the day's objective to climb the 540metres vertical to Festvågtinden. Don’t let the meter above sea level measure fool you in Lofoten. The peaks may not be the highest you will ever conquer but they are among the steepest we have encountered. Every hike seemed to start by the sea and go straight up, no gentle warm-ups here.
The trip up here is steep, very steep. The insane view already begins to materialize after only a couple hundred metres which really had us question how high we wanted to go. Once at the top, however, we soon realized that this was an incredible spot to look out at panoramic vistas on all sides of the mountain and we were so glad we persevered.
Unlike Reinebringen and some of the other hikes on our trip, there was no sherpa stairway here. The trail up Festvågtinden was old school, and we were again thankful of the sunny dry weather as we could imagine the trail being incredibly slippery when wet. I had to stop quite often on the way up to catch my breath, and used the stops as an excuse to take pictures of the amazing view. This day was incredibly hot, so the wool sweaters were smoked as fast as they were put on.
Close to the top, the trail demands a little clambering up some boulders and a couple of giant steps before leveling out onto a ridgeline at the top. Normally on our hikes, our focus is on a stunning view in a particular direction but here it was completely overwhelming with something awesome to see on every side of the mountain. This was the perfect place to relax and soak up the views as much as the sunshine.
After a few hundred photos had been taken and posed for, the group refueled and carried back down the steep path we came up. On a lot of the trips here, going down can be just as challenging as going up with a constant focus on the footing and the heavy pounding on your legs.
Once safely down in Henningsvær we found the hip Trevarefabrikken which was once a carpentry & cod liver oil factory, now transformed into a multifunctional cultural space to take a well-earned beer looking out over the ocean horizon. You could order pretty tasty looking pizza here and there was also a sauna room with a diving board straight out into the water.
This is also the place where we picked up the number for a local fishing guide with whom we would join on a trip before we left (detailed in an upcoming article.) Lofoten is a place where there is no end to experiences and things to see and do. Douglas and I had high expectations for fishing in Lofoten, and so far on the trip, we had spent so much time hiking that we had not yet dipped our hooks in the water. Tonight was the night we would change that.
Together with a couple of friends, we rented a small motorboat at a campsite near the cabin. Taking fishing rods and a few beers we set out on the clear water to catch the sunset and hopefully a couple of fish.
Our first port of call was the beautiful white sandy beach which formed its own island that we could see from the cabin. Just as we approached we saw a mink swim onto the beach ahead and bound over the sand before disappearing. We were completely in our own little world, laughing about being explorers or castaways on a shipwrecked island. It was one of our stand-out moments from the whole trip. Often the best experiences to happen are those that are completely spontaneous with no expectations, we were loving every minute.
As we were piled back into our little boat with fishing rods sticking out on both sides we were so incredibly content that we almost forgot about the fishing completely. It was time to get serious. We dropped the lines and trawled towards a bridge that we’d been tipped about as a good spot. Suddenly we were in a very strong current that almost stopped us in our tracks as our small outboard engine struggled to power through.
A shriek and a squeal of excitement as we got a fish on the line. A large mackerel weighing around 2 kilos was pulled up into the boat. Mackerel is an extremely lively fish and very fun to catch. A round of high fives before we dropped the lines back in the water ready to catch more. We were convinced that mackerel would swim around in large shoals so we were positive now that we had caught one, more would be sure to follow. Unfortunately, no one gave the fish our script to read.
We were definitely happy to return to the cabin with one fish rather than none and were hailed as heroes for doing so. Nothing tastes better than a fish you have caught by yourself and there was just about enough for everyone to get a taste.
After tales of our epic voyage, we went to bed this evening incredibly satisfied and excited for the Trollfjord cruise early the next day.
Goodnight from us!
Douglas and Tonje
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