My Defender, My Travels, Norway

Norway Day 6: The Arctic Circle, Sunburn, and a Maelstrom..

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After many, many months of planning, 1800 miles of driving and about 600 tracks on the iPod, I made it to the Arctic Circle!

Saying ‘I’ is quite unfair really, it’s actually my old Defender that has got me here (with help from SatNav of course). Many have doubted her resolve, but she’s motored on, I’m the one who was paranoid about any problems, she just got on with the job at hand. With the exception of a leaky transfer box seal, she hasn’t missed a beat, and in fact I think she’s enjoyed the chance to cover some miles and de-coke, She seems to have a bit more power.

A chap at work, Scott, thinks that I’ll have grown very attached to her by the time I get home. Truth be told, I’m already fond of her, she doesn’t have a name however, many Defender owners name theirs, and ‘The Beast’ doesn’t feel so apt anymore.

She’s crossed the Arctic Circle too, and has the Sticker to prove it!

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Polarsirkelen

Certain images instantly go through your head when any one mentions ‘The Arctic Circle’. These images will undoubtedly contain all or some of the following; snow, blizzards, dog sleds, reindeer, Eskimos, igloos, whales, Aurora Borealis, Ice road truckers, the North Pole, explorers on skis, wearing large furry coats, dragging sleds with ice forming on their eyebrows and moustaches etc etc. well they’re the images I used to have anyway!

Of all of those images, I’ve seen one in reality so far; snow!

I was thinking that it was a bit touch and go whether there would be snow up here or not. I’d seen a lot of pictures of the region, and there wasn’t alway a lot of snow around. I couldn’t imagine seeing a non-snowy Arctic Circle.

Well truth be told, you can’t actually see the Article Circle, and the dotted line on maps doesn’t actually exist? I couldn’t find it anywhere!

The one point of reference in Norway for the Article Circle is the, Polarsirkel Senteret or The Arctic Circle Centre.

This is situated on the one main road heading North in Norway, the E6, and is about 100km North of Mo I Rana, on the Saltfjellet Mountain Range.

Getting to it is straight forward, and of course beautiful! There’s only the E6 going this way and although I’ve been on it for several hundred of miles, it’s still astounding how one country can have so much stunning scenery.

The centre is an un-imposing red, wooden, domed building that has various monuments around it dedicated to various historical occurrences.

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Inside is very touristy, the normal bric-a-brac of T-shirts, coasters, mugs, shot glasses, key rings etc to purchase as proof of being in the Arctic Circle. So after a couple of necessary purchases (key-ring, stickers, a tin of mints, and a nice new wind stopper jacket), there wasn’t a lot to keep me there so I decided to find some where for lunch.

Only a couple of Km further north was a suitable parking place, and whilst I was getting my stove set up, I realised how hot the sun was, I guess in combination with the Snow, the sun was being reflected all around it was gorgeous. And yes, I’m ever so slightly red in the face and on my arms due to it!

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While I was having lunch and prepping my shower (12v power shower that suckers to the side of the car, a great invention), a chap, and dog, parked up and after a while we started chatting, he and his dog were going to Sweden.

Now, considering we’re only about 50 miles from Sweden that’s no big issue, however, as he unloads a set of skis and 2 sledges from his car, he and his pooch are going across country and his little dog has his own sled to pull!!

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And off they went! Amazing!

Feeling very refreshed after my Arctic shower, I set off to Saltstraumen to see the ‘maelstrom’.

Saltstraumen has the strongest tidal current in the world. Basically, as the tide comes in or out, a whole load of water passes through a relatively narrow gap in the mouth of the river causing huge whirlpools of about 10 metres wide and 5 metres deep that are a danger to ships, boats, and generally anything that happens to be passing on the water.

I got there just as the tide was coming in so was up for a good show, unfortunately it was less of a Maelstrom and more of a mish mash. It’s clearly dependent upon the moons cycles and time of year etc, but it was interesting to watch and of course the town is overlooked by the now ubiquitous snow capped mountains.

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I headed back to the parking spot near the Arctic Circle Centre, which is where I’m writing this. I’ve stayed awake longer today and it’s now 12.20am (actually it’s now my Birthday whoo hoo!). I was wondering what the midnight sun would be like. Well it’s not sunny, but is definitely still light. Probably more dusk than daylight.

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I’ll wake up tomorrow (later today) on my Birthday in the Arctic Circle, I’m not sure many folks can say they’ve done that, but that will be the conclusion for part one of this Journey.

I’ve covered just about 2000 miles in a little under a week, I now have 2 weeks remaining, which I will cover about another 1900 miles. This will be more leisurely however.

In essence now, the rest if my journey is homeward bound, slowly though, with plenty to see along the way. As it’s the only road, I have to retrace a few hundred miles back down the E6, but in about 2 days time I’ll have new things to see. In theory as I’m heading down the West of the country and I’m driving on the right, in a right hand drive car, I should have most of the scenery right beside me.

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