Updated 26 November 2006.

06/08/06 Leka to Holm - Day 9

Woke early to find it drizzling, 987 on the barometer and 22°C. Our cycling clothes were drying on a guy line I’d put up last night. Moved them indoors, put the shorts in the oven on a low heat. Woke the others up when packing was pretty much done, and then we tidied and ate a big breakfast of meusli, bread rolls, and salami. We set off in time to catch the 11:35 ferry back to the mainland.

During the crossing one of the Norwegian passengers got talking to Janet, commenting on how unusual it was to hear English this far North. She was on a driving tour with a friend, but it turned out that she lives about three streets away from us in the UK! While we were marvelling at this coincedence, her companion asked if we spoke Norwegian. I explained that I was learning it, using the Teach Yourself guide on the iPod I was wearing. “Hmmm!”, he said, “I’ll have to warn you to be careful what you say now, because Margaretha here wrote it!”. Now what sort of coincedence is that? We promptly exchanged telephone numbers, and I’ve promised to get in touch when she’s back in the UK in early September so that I can sign up for her evening classes in Guildford.

The sun shines on us from Gutvik to Bogen and the hill climbing is much easier now that the chain is not jumping between sprockets on my bike. Lunch at Bogen, where we talk to another family on bikes who are pulling a trailer and heading for Vik.

The stretch from Bogen to Kjelda is lovely - the 802 is very quiet and switchbacks along a ridge with amazing vistas.

Bogen-Kjelda ridge line ride

Bogen-Kjelda ridge line ride

After the campsite at Bogen, there’s another at the junction with the RV17 at Kjelda. Here we stop at a beaten up snack bar for an ice cream and a chat with a tanned blond athlete on a Cannondale touring bike with triathlon bars and minimal luggage - she’s been riding 150-200 km each day from Finmarken on her way to Trondheim and says she’s loving every minute of her first solo tour.

After Kjelda the RV17 climbs steeply to about 800m and follows the ridgeline along the side of Heillhornet (1050m) - great views. The “tunnel kit” comes out for three tunnels, the longest of which is about 800m. Most of the batteries are flat but the reflective strips are useful.

View from ridge beside Heilhornet on the RV17

View from ridge beside Heilhornet on the RV17

The last 10 km to Holm are flat, riding at sea level into a stiff breeze. We’ve been very lucky with the weather today, overcast skies but no rain since the drizzle this morning.

Mercifully, Holm Camping appears on cue just before we reach the ferry terminal at the end of this stretch of the RV17. Esther Josefine (the owner) is welcoming and speaks good English - she shows me to a pleasantly large bedroom with a triple bunk bed, sofa, table and chairs, and plenty of space. The wooden buildings are long and low, painted predominantly in red paint with window frames and doorways picked out in white. This place used to be the local school until 1995, then it was closed for several years before the current owners bought it in 2001. It is very open and friendly - free hot showers downstairs, and waffles and coffee upstairs next to the TV room. Only two other families are staying overnight in Holm - a Norwegian couple were two doors down from us, and a Dutch family in a spacious canvas tent on the sports field at the back. They’ve driven here for two years now via Denmark to set up a base for a fortnight of local exploration and wildlife photography. Apart from the campsite, there’s very little else for miles here so it makes a good spot for getting away from it all if you’ve got enough in the way of fuel and food with you.

I cook macaroni with tomato and bacon sauce for supper, eaten outdoors on a picnic table. Afterwards P. and I retire to the basement which is a treasure trove of school books and old copies of the Norwegian Quarterly Review. If you haven’t come across the latter, it’s a cross between a Sunday supplement and the National Geographic and was gives a fascinating view of life here between 1962 and 1969.

The browsing is interrupted by the Dutch, who tell us that there are Elk on the lawn again tonight and are happy to lend me a camera tripod for use in the failing light. They’ve seen about sixty during this stay, and the animals often walk onto the campsite later in the evening seemingly oblivious of their tent. Given the low light it’s surprising that the photo below came out, but these creatures are very shy during the day - so this is my best shot of a young one to date:

Yearling elk by the hostel

Yearling elk by the hostel

After stalking the herd for some time with my camera, I turned in, leaving Janet and P. to go for a late evening walk down the absolutely empty road to the dock and back - where they saw a fox.

Big day tomorrow as we’ll try and ride to Brønnøysund to catch a late night Hurtigrute ferry up the coast in the wee small hours. This means we’d better sleep in tomorrow morning because it is going to be a long day.