I woke with excitement. Today, we are heading to Europe’s most northerly point, a place that’s been on the bucket list for donkey’s years. But first we need to find a wifi signal to check out the weather forecast and publish some posts.
We drove onwards to North Cape or NordKapp as the Norwegians say via Honningsvag, which is 35 km southeast of the cape. The drab place is the world’s northernmost village, which is uninviting despite being the main tourist point for passengers embarking the Hurtigruten. We had a toot around but not for long.
As we set off the landscape started to change. The craggy hills with defined tiered rock formations got us talking about how the rock was formed all those years ago. We don’t know a lot about rock but we made a few guesses and in the end we both agreed on the theory it was most likely compressed prehistoric whale poo. The things we chat about on the open road! Including the fascinating Sami people and their Mongolia roots..the great global herdsmen. To the Sami the North Cape held great religious significance and was a site for many sacrifices. Hope they hold off the sacrifices today!
North Cape is a place we have never been and for which we have low expectations. Everyone who been says don’t bother, there is nothing there. But it is one of those places we’ve always wanted to visit. Well, we were pleasantly surprised to find the drive to our first point was very picturesque, with its old sami homes, the odd gift shops and wooden sheds. The majority of the area is covered by open spaces, fjords, rivers and hills. The roads felt very quiet but a five minute pit stop in a lay by and you soon realised how many coaches zoomed by, jam-packed with tourists and tootling motor homes.
Northernmost tip of Europe can be found on the island of Magerøya. The tunnel from the mainland to the island is one of the longest tunnels in Europe with reindeer lurking at the entrance and exit. Once through the tunnel, it was not long before we arrived at Knivskjellodden car park (GPS position N071.12189 and E025.7075) just 6 kilometres from the North Cape tourist centre car park. We wrapped up warm and followed the sign post to the natural stone path and began our hike to the promontory of Knivskjellodden.
The 20 kilometre hike over rocky moorland was good fun. It certainly is no easy walk though, so if you plan on doing the walk make sure you bring good footwear. Its rained every day for at least the last week, so the ground was sodden. We had to trek through boggy marshland, clamber over boulders, wade through streams and hike up and down hills but it was brilliant. We trekked all the way with the sun on our back and not a rain cloud in the sky. At times we nearly got lost, the trail is a natural trail, so not easily defined especially with this weather. However, the trail is marked with the odd stone markings that resembled huge doner kebab. Craig loves his doner’s after a night out, so he was in charge of kebab hunting.
After 3 hours we made it! The four of us, sat on the headland and looked out in to the vast ocean. Europe’s most northerly point, at 71°11’08”N. An amazing feeling to finally reach the top of Europe and what an achievement for two little dachshunds. I bet they are the 1st dachshund twins to reach Nordkapp. We rubbed their little paws and gave them a big drink ogf water and a little biscuit treat.
We sat for a while just soaking it all in. With beautiful blue skies we had an excellent panoramic sweep of the North Cape Plateau with the 982 foot cliff to our right. Before leaving we signed our name the Knivskjelodden hiking association’s minute book, it just had to done!
The trek back was equally as stunning although the weather did take a turn for the worst. The rain decided to pelt us for a short while and top up all the puddles. We got a tad wet and I managed to completely miss a stepping stone and get my feet wet through. The dogs enjoyed the free roaming and chasing each other through black, smelly mud. But we didn’t care we enjoyed giddying views of the ocean breaking onto the rocks far below. Stunning views across remote headlands and vistas that will stay with us forever. We had the stone path almost to ourselves and walked along it in a state of quiet amazement and achievement.
We arrived back at Vin at 10pm, some 7 hours after setting off. We were cold, wet and shattered but happy. My feet however went in to shut down mode and refused to function. Covered in blisters and suffering from several hours immersed in a soggy boot. Time to put the kettle on and put our feet up.
Our wild camping spot tonight…on top of Europe, yeah!
Route: Smorfjord to Knivskjelodden
Weather: Low 10 and high 21, sunshine all day with just a few evening showers