North

Nordkapp is remote, rugged and unrelentingly beautiful. It’s beauty lies in its isolation and the sheer magnitude of its geography. You don’t get a feel for its scale as you approach from land as the road raises you gently through the hills. You arrive on a plateau some 300m above the sea; these are sheer cliffs of what look like carbonate rock. There is little soil and the grass is thin and weak. It is enough to support reindeer though.

I imagine if you approach this place from the sea it must resemble a huge, dark, petrified tree stump sticking out of the ocean, like some massive middle-Earth troll, shoving its bare shoulder against the northern wind and claiming a foothold in this lonely place.  We arrived early morning under bright sun and blue skies, the fog having lifted and surprisingly the place was alive with people.  There is a visitor centre here, a modern building that could be mistaken for a fast food restaurant.  And there is the car park…

The car park at Nordkapp is massive and when we arrived it was full of camper vans.  But it is a car park and not a camp site, but I don’t think many of the people staying there thought that it was.  There are no toilets or washing facilities; no electrical hook-up and no effective waste disposal system.  It was sad to see these travellers using it as a camp site though and not in a dignified, respectful way.  These people thought it was ok to just chuck their rubbish from their vehicles and leave it where it fell.  Admittedly, some of the more considerate campers bagged their trash before throwing it out.  Most just threw it out.  I saw one person empty the sceptic tank from their vehicle straight on to the grassy area behind; a full load of effluent!  How can that be right?

We made our pilgramage, nonetheless.  We had made it to the furthest point north on the European mainland, 71°10′21″N 25°47′04″E.   About 1,300 miles from the North Pole and almost 2,300 miles from home.  And ignoring the car park and the multitude of travellers here, there was was space to stop and contemplate the vastness of what lay beyond in the frozen north.  The cape has a serenity and stillness that you find in great cathedrals, only it is larger, more serene and stiller.  The wind, the crashing waves and the plaintive cry of the gulls are the choir; the hard, bare rock the message from the sermon.  I knelt at the cliff top, faced the sun and gave thanks for being in this place and for making this journey.

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