The Next Trip

“What’s your favouritie trip”, is the question part-time travel writers like me get asked. My reply is always the same, “The next one.” I’m definitely not a last minute type person. So where are we headed in 2007?
At first we wanted to go to Greenland but then agreed we needed more kayak expedition experience. Our current plan for this summer is to paddle across the Arctic Circle in a part of Norway called Helgeland. I say “current” because this trip has gone through several iterations.

Courtesy of Google Earth

For some reason Norway seemed the next best choice, but that’s one heck of a coastline. Which bit should we paddle?

My original idea was to just wheel the boats onto the DFDS ferry, wheel them off in Bergen, plonk them in the water and paddle North. I’m still not sure why we rejected that plan, but Liz fancied somewhere else. And we’d need the car.

The Lofoten Islands are deservedly popular, but we didn’t fancy the twenty four hour drive and ferry to get there as it would eat into our two week holiday. I contacted someone in the Norwegian Sea Kayak Association who recommended Helgeland. It had hundreds of islands and was an undiscovered gem. Only problem was, it was a little too far North. Back to Google Earth.

Until a week ago we were planning to paddle from Songnefjord to Alesund, and I put a request on the UK Sea Kayak Guide Book to see if there was anyone with maps of this area they could be prepared to loan on sell me.

The response was terrific. I was e-mailed a set of Mapsource maps to the area (which I suspect are bootleg) and lots of offers of charts, but not for that area. Then I heard from Erling. In the nicest possible way he pointed out that our route would take us around “The Stadt”. He sent me the wave pattern below (black lines) and areas of confused, dangerous sea (red areas).

I’d spotted this prominent headland but hadn’t fully appreciated how serious an undertaking it could be. Erling asked a couple of questions on the Norwegian Sea Kayaking forum and passed the replies to me. We decided to pass on Stadt.

So were to go? For the second time, an experienced Norwegin sea kayaker came up with the same suggestion, Helgeland. It’s a long drive, at least fourteen hours behind the wheel, but the Google Earth images show a maze of tiny islands that look like being fun to paddle. We’ll cross the Arctic Circle in our boats and when we’ve gone as far North as we want to go, we can carry the kayaks onto the Hurtigruten coastal ferry and ride back to the car.

At least, that’s the plan for now.

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