We had bought a new tent for the trip. It’s an Outwell Nevada, but that’s not really important and I don’t intend to review it, suffice to say, it’s an ok tent. It lasted the night and it was blowing a hooley and tipping it down. It’s a five person tent and althoughthere’s only the two of us I had planned to use the extra space as storage. We could leave most of kit in the tent and go off exploring. The original intention was to base camp at Pajala and then take the explorer tent, a stove, a few rations and the sleeping bags up to Nordkapp overnight. That way, if we didn’t reach our destination we could bunk down in the back of Big Blue. But plans change.
Oli and I had got bored with Pajala and the weather there and decided it was time to move on. We packed early this morning, showered, breakfasted and we were on our way by eight, which is an achievement for us. I think Oli is hitting those teen years when hours in bed are all that count (apart from computers!). Pajala is about 25km from the Finnish border and the intention was to hop over and travel north on the E8/E21 and then take route 93 to Alta and then on to Nordkapp. In all, I reckoned it to be an eight hour drive, not including breaks, which we have achieved on a couple of occasions this trip. We had navigated by map for every inch of the journey so far, mainly because I love maps and they tell you so much more than the anodyne sat nav with its monotone instructions. They don’t make driving a pleasure. But today I decided to switch on the artificial guide, just as a back up; I new that it was eight years out of date for this part of the world in any case, but at least it would indicate where we were. Or so I thought. No sooner had we approached the border then the map went blank. Apparently, Land Rover don’t think Finland exists!
Still, we had the map and I had a good idea of where I was going: E8/E21, route 93 and then turn right at Alta for Nordkapp. Couldn’t be simpler. Except I was so engrossed in the magnificent scenery that I didn’t see the turning for route 93. That was 200km from our starting point. It wasn’t until we were 200km further along E8 that I bothered to check the map. And discovered we were not where we were meant to be. We should have been hitting Alta, but we were just north of Tromsø! We we were both quite relaxed about this as we had been travelling through some scenic pathways, reminiscent of the Welsh mountains. Some of the sheltered north facing slopes were still snow covered and the cloud descended low in to the valleys. The drizzle kept away the mosquitos so we had the joy of a fairly clean windscreen too, to enjoy the view.
We picked up the E6 and travelled north east towards Alta, which was now 270km away. What an amazing road this is. Admittedly, it would have been great to drive it in the big, sexy cat; that would have left me grinning for weeks. But in Big Blue, at a sedate 90kmh it gave us every opportunity to to take in this breathtaking part of the world. Driving along the fjords, with the clear, calm waters of the sea on our left and steeply sloping valley sides to our right, every inch of the way was beautiful.
We encountered reindeer herds, sheep and cows. We have yet to come face to face with moose, but these are secretive, elusive creatures, so we’ve been told. It has become a compulsion to find one. We stopped at a Saami settlement and bought hand crafts. This community lived as a trading post, selling reindeer skins, pelts from polar foxes, hand made hunting knives and all manner of goods, all crafted from what was available, usually reindeer. But what really struck me was the trader who sold us a knife, a bracelet and some dried reindeer meat, resplendent in his traditional clothing, was the fact that he completed his deals on a mobile phone! A real collision of cultures.
We arrived at Alta about 18:00hrs which meant we had been on the road for ten hours. We thought about pressing on to Nordkapp, but we have ended up renting a log cabin for the night. Neither of us had the stomach for pitching the tent in the rain. We have eaten well and now we are off to the smokehouse to dry out and warm up.
Night night xxx