Well the good burghers of Mosjean didn’t mind us camping in the Town Hall car park but it turned out that the town was hosting a fly fishing competion and at half past midnight, after an hour or so of lying in bed listening to trucks pass and various rowdy fishermen staggering too and from the bars, we decided you can have too much of a free thing, and moved on. We drove for ten minutes back up the road under a violet sky to a picnic area we had noticed on the way into town. It was completely empty and we parked. Tom roused briefly and went back to sleep. Ironically, a building at the end of the parking area had some kind of function on and the bass of the music was boom booming our way – but distantly – and soon P and I were also asleep.
So instead of a municipal car-park, we woke to a gorgeous view over a sunny lake with the wind flickering the trees. It was the perfect day for getting out and doing something but our day was to be spent covering the 400K to Trondheim through a remote and isolated part of the country which, while vast, doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of high spots. Even the tourist guide to the region that we picked up from a tourist info centre talks about ticking off Helgeland’s “Top 8” attractions, as if they couldn’t think of a couple more.
As we pulled out onto the E6 we saw two elderly cars from Poland, covered with stickers and apparently on some sort of rally. They had stickers on the back from the Baltic states, Finland and Sweden and spare tyres and toolboxes on big roofracks. We saw a few of them on the drive, Yugos and Skodas apparently full of young men and taking it fairly steadily.
The E6 alternates between being a fast wide road with gentle curves, and a narrow bumpy one with tight corners and the camber going the wrong way. It sweeps and dodges through endless pine forest and rolling hills. Occasionally we passed a small farm or a fishing camp but for the most part it was a silent place with few traces of human or animal. There was though virtually no traffic to start with at least, and no possibility of wrong turnings. The sat nav alerts you to the next junction and when we left Mosjean it told me that there was a roundabout I would need to cross in 280K. As we drove, the sun was gradually overtaken by cloud which got more menacing the further south we went.
We pulled in for coffee at one of Helgeland’s top 8 – the Laksforsen Falls, a “17 meter high waterfall” Its actually more like a long series of rapids and perfectly pleasant but not nearly as spectacular as the unmarked one on the road to Jokkmokk. The strange thing was it had been sort of bought up by the cafe, such that you really couldn’t see the falls apart from on one of their balconies, and they charged for going onto the one closest to the water. They charged for using the toilet too. Thankfully we had brought our own. Anyway the coffee and waffle were nice, as was the owner and there was no charge for posing for photos with the trolls.
At Stortjørnlia we passed under a gateway arch from Nordland into Trøndelag, a final goodbye to the north where we have had such a great time.
The area between Mosjean and Trondheim is described by the rough guide as
“windswept” and it certainly was today. We were buffeted by an angry wind all day and at times if felt like driving with the handbrake on, At one point we noticed a sudden flapping noise over our heads and discovered that the wind had lifted part of a rubbing strip. I found a big rock to stand on and eased it back in.
There are scattered settlements along the route, some with great names. I particularly liked Grong and Kvam, which looked like the words printed in a Batman comic during a fight. We had lunch by a river somewhere, where T and I ran over the rocks as P made soup – he only got one foot wet…
At Namsskogen there was a sign showing that we were closer to Leningrad than Bergen, and really, we could have been anywhere. This was particularly true for Tom who had been engrossed in the new lego kit we had saved especially for this day. There was a great deal of clicking and clacking and then zooming and whooshing as he lived in his imagination for a while.
It was a relief to finally see an expanse of water again at Vegset, where the long finger of a lake stretches inland. We followed it to Steinkjer.
The town was bombed flat by the Germans in WW2 and replaced by what the Rough Guide kindly calls a “tidy” new town. Next to where we parked, at the edge of a vast shopping centre they were growing a hedge maze which Philippa and Tom ran around in, and we saw a young Mum and toddler get lost in as we were leaving. She was trying a locked side exit with a frown.
From here on it was barley country. Wonderful rippling fields of it, matt gold in the late aftenoon sun. Big, prosperous-looking farms looked down from hilltops. The traffic had built up and we passed so many campervans heading north that I began to get bored with all the waving.
The sky had now darkened to a point where it had no choice but to rain and it started to hammer down. This was the home stretch now and the roads were really quite full of rush hour traffic outside Trondheim. The campsite we chose is behind a petrol station and is somewhat shabby, full of rather too many caravans whose travelling days appear to be over. The young goth in reception in the motel that runs it was friendly enough though, and its handy for the bus for Trondheim, so no prizes for guessing what we’ll be doing tomorrow.
P cooked some delicious fish in a Lofoten sauce and afterwards we snuggled up for a movie as rain pounded on the roof. It was a lot of driving today – 410K – but hopefully that gives us more time in the fjords and mountains to come.