Håholmen, Geitøya, Atlantic Ocean RoadJuly 23, 2017 in Norway
Travelling through Norway is unlike any other country we've been to. Within a kilometre of leaving our island stopover, we'd submerged ourselves in the 5km long Freifjordtunnelen undersea tunnel, complete with crawler lanes for each ascent. We then crossed countless bridges, little and large, hopping over the islands on which the town of Kristiansund was based, before once again descending into an undersea tunnel. The Atlantic Ocean Tunnel was longer, at 5.7km and levied a toll of 138NOK (about £13). Yet more bridges skipped over the large island of Averøy where we passed the village of Kårvåg and officially began our journey on the section of the 64 known as the Atlantic Ocean Road, an 8km route over an archipelago of small islands and skerries and is reputed to be 'The World's Best Road Trip'. Along its length it passes over 8 bridges that connect 17 islets.
We pulled up at the Håholmen restplace on Geitøya island. A number of vans were staying overnight and we were lucky to find a spot facing away from them all, looking down at a pond sized section of sea in which Terns and Gulls dived for food, bobbed on the calm surface or hung around on the rocks. Beyond was a small wooden jetty, a swathe of peaty grassland and a whitewashed cottage keeping its distance from the hustle and bustle of the tourist area. The day was calm and dry and we wanted to explore this unusual section of sea with its spatterdashing of rocky islands by canoe. We launched a little awkwardly but successfully over the slippy seaweed covered rocks and set off, towards the landmark Storseisundbrua bridge. As we passed a hump shaped, uninhabited island, our attention was drawn to a Tern-like bird circling overhead crying out at us. Unlike many seabirds, this ones' feathers were all dark grey or black. It had a distinctive long fork in its tail and made it clear it did not want us near 'its' island.
Moving on we encountered a moored boat with a jetski attached. It displayed a blue and white flag, again, something we hadn't encountered before, but luckily the person on board signalled for us to pass to the seaward side. After a few minutes we saw divers and guessed they must have been what the flag was alerting us to. However, when we saw the unmistakable silhouette of a spear gun emerge from the water, we began to think that the flag was there to protect us, rather than the divers!
By this point we were approaching Storseisundbrua bridge and were intending to paddle underneath it, but the flow was so fast it produced standing waves. We didn't want to risk capsizing in this busy channel a few kilometers away from the van so we instead took a circuitous route back. Once Will had dropped Vicky off on the small wooden jetty, he carried on exploring for an hour or so, finding a small bridge to skirt under and approaching the van from the other side of the island.
Upon his return we looked up the black seabird and found it to be an Arctic Skua; a pirate of the sea who feeds by terrorising other birds until they disgorge their last meal for it!
That evening we were enveloped by a blanket of fog that blotted out all but the nearest features of the island we were on. It persisted through the night and we were considering postponing the second leg of our journey along the highly scenic Atlantic Ocean Road until the following day, but after we'd had a walk up to a nearby viewpoint, it had lifted and there was even hints of blue sky!Read more