Category Archives: Lofoten

Guided sea kayaking in Lofoten

We are arranging a guided sea kayak trip to the exposed and remote West coast of Moskenes island in Lofoten. This will happen 23-29 July 2016.

This is one of the most spectacular sea kayaking destinations in the world.

See here for detailed information:
http://www.kajakknord.no/guide/

See here for a trip report from the West coast of Moskenes in 2014.

See here for photos from the West coast of Moskens island.

 

 

Remote beaches in Lofoten

Here’s a short review of some great beaches on the west coast of Moskenes island in Lofoten.

The west coast of Moskenes island is remote and isolated with no roads. Access to these beaches is only through hiking, sea kayaking or boat.

All of these beaches used to have settlements before the inhabitants moved to more central areas in the 1950s.

Some of the beaches are huge and ancient. They have been around a long time and are surrounded by some of the oldest mountains on this planet. They are a bit harder to get to, but they are great to camp on and the midnight sun can create long lasting memories as it paints the sky and landscape orange. Watertemperature? Cold!

Skjermbilded

 

Bunes beach

Accessible by ferry or sea kayak from Reine, Bunes beach is one of the more popular and accessible beaches. It has a fresh water source, toilet and plenty of campsites. Privacy is usually not a problem here as it’s such a huge beach. It’s also possible to hike up to nearby peaks, such as Helvetestinden.

IMG_4714
Looking down on Bunes beach from Helvetestinden.
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0265.
Tentview towards the midnight sun.
From Helvettestinden.
From Helvetestinden.
A campsite near Bunes beach.
A campsite near Bunes beach.
With good weather the beach can be spectacular.
With good weather the beach can be spectacular.

 

Horseid beach

Accessible by ferry from Reine and a following one hour hike. This beach is one of the least visited beaches. There is fresh water near the beach. Horseid beach is the largest beach.

DCIM101GOPROGOPR5243.
Looking down on Horseid beach from Branntuva ridge, a great hike from Horseid.
Hiking towards Horseid beach.
Hiking towards Horseid beach.
DCIM108GOPRO
Exploring the huge Horseid beach.

 

Kvalvika beach

Without doubt the most visited beach, This is mostly due to that it’s easily accessible by a short hike. Kvalvika has also recently received attention from the movie “North of the sun”.  There is a fresh water source on the beach. Excpect many visitors on this beach.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0392.
During summertime you may have trouble finding a good campsite.
IMG_5152
Peaceful one moment and rough the next. Conditions can change within minutes.
IMG_0643
Sea kayaking to this beach is only for those who knows what they are doing. The conditions can be rough.

 

Refsvika beach

Only accessible by boat or sea kayak. A long and steep hike from Å is possible but only for the most dedicated hiker. The beach is small and surrounded by steep mountains. There is a cave nearby with 2-3000 year old paintings. There used to be a settlement here and you can see the remains.

IMG_5293
Sea kayaking here requires planning and preparation. It’s not for beginners.
IMG_5277
One of several caves on the west coast of Moskenes.
DCIM108GOPRO
Looking down into a cave on the west coast of Moskenes.
IMG_5252
Inside one of several caves on the west coast.
Today view: 3 - Total View: 2445

Lofoten

Lofoten is one of the most exciting sea kayak destinations to explore in Norway.

During July 2014 Tomasz Furmanek (www.furmanek.com) and I had the opportunity to paddle from the small island of Vaeroy up along the uninhabited west coast of Lofoten to the small town of Ramberg.

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 16.24.59

The plan was to paddle from Værøy, cross the Mosken tidal current and explore the exposed west coast of Lofoten.

Værøy is a beautiful island with many sea eagles, puffins, numerous other kind of birds and lots of fish. There are white beaches with no one on them, awesome campsites and fantastic mountain peaks from where you can see Røst to the south and Moskenes island to the North.

IMG_7588
Campsite on Værøy
IMG_7658
Exploring Værøy on foot as the midnight sun is shining
DCIM118GOPRO
From a peak on Værøy, looking south.
DCIM117GOPRO
Værøy padling

 

On day 2 we had nearly circumnavigated Værøy island and we were ready to begin the crossing of the Mosken tidal current north of Vaeroy. However, the weather had other plans for us, as thick fog and strong wind moved in from the west. Visibility was poor and unacceptable for crossing this tidal current. We had to pitch our tents and wait another 12 hours before conditions were acceptable.

DCIM118GOPRO
Landing in thick fog

 

The word maelstrom originates from the Norse word of male, which means to grind. The Moskenstraumen or Mosken tidal current, was in the old days marked on maps with enormous whirlpools and dragons. The phenomenon has also been described by poets, explorers and authors as something very dangerous. It seems this may have created an undeserving reputation, as it is possible to cross it with a sea kayak.
The Mosken tidal current forms between the small island of Mosken and the larger island of Moskenes. As the tide pulls and push a large amount of water through the narrow and shallow Mosken strait, the water speeds up through this overfall. At its strongest the tidal current forms a system of eddies and currents which, given rough conditions, is risky to cross with a sea kayak. However, given low waves, low wind, good visibility and good weather the tidal current can be crossed fairly easily.

DCIM118GOPRO
Approaching the Mosken island in the middle of the Moskenes strait.

 

Given that all the risks above are eliminated, there only remains the risk created by the tidal current itself. So how is it possible to eliminate this remaining risk? It is essential to understand how tide and this specific tidal current works.

IMG_7624
Looking over to Mosken island and Moskenes Island from Værøy island. The Mosken tidal current is between the Mosken island and Moskenes island.

 

The tide moves in and out with an interval of 6 hours. So after high tide, low tide occurs after 6 hours.

The flow (speed) of the tide increases with 1/12 of the total difference between low and high tide in the first hour.
The second hour = 2/12.
The third hour = 3/12.
Fourth hour = 3/12.
Fifth hour = 2/12.
Sixth hour = 1/12.

DCIM118GOPRO
Landing on the small Mosken island for a break.

 

In Lofoten the total difference between low and high tide is about 3 meters. So in the first hour after high tide, the water level decreases with 1/12 of 3 meters. So the water level will decrease in the following manner:

First hour: 1/12 of 3 meters = 25 cm
Second hour 2/12 of 3 meters = 50 cm
Third hour: 3/12 of 3 meters = 75 cm
Fourth hour: 3/12 of 3 meters = 75 cm
Fifth hour: 2/12 of 3 meters = 50 cm
Sixth hour: 1/12 of 3 meters = 25 cm

So, knowing this we can see that the third and fourth hour is when the flow of the tide is the fastest, while the first and sixth hour is the slowest. The first and sixth hour is of course when the tide is turning, and hence there will be a brief moment when the tide is standing still before it starts moving in the opposite direction again.

Knowing this we have to find out how the tide behaves locally at the Mosken tidal current. There is a Norwegian Pilot guide (a rather large PDF document, see page 234) which describes in Norwegian the Mosken tidal current in detail. According to the pilot guide, the Mosken tidal current turns 1,5 hours before high tide and 4,5 hours after high tide. Knowing this we can use the tide chart for Bodø and plan to be in the middle of the tidal current either 1,5 hours before high tide or 4,5 hours after high tide.

DCIM118GOPRO
In the middle of the Mosken tidal current, low tide.

 

We left Værøy at 10 am and paddled over to the small Mosken island in the middle of the Moskenes strait. At Mosken island we took a long break waiting for the optimal time to make the crossing to Moskenes island.

The crossing itself went fine as all the risks above had been eliminated with careful planning and favourable conditions. The crossing would not have been attempted if any of the above risks had been unacceptable. This place can kill you and it is certainly not worth risking anything, to cross this tidal current. As we were crossing we noticed that waves were moving in a very gentle current. There were a few hotspots where eddies and stronger currents formed. I can imagine these hotspots will be rough when the flow is at its strongest in the third and fourth hour. The waves were mostly 0,5 meters with some 1 meter waves. All in all it went well and we felt in control.

After arriving on the uninhabited and exposed west coast of Moskenes island we landed at Refsvika for a snack and a rest.

 

IMG_7840
Refsvika

 

Our aim, due to pretty much perfect conditions, was to paddle as far as we could in order to avoid being stuck due to bad conditions. So we paddled on towards Bunes beach, which we knew had water and a possible escape by portage to civilisation if conditions turned ugly.

DCIM119GOPRO
Reaching Moskenes island after crossing over from Mosken island.

 

The west coast is wild and truly an awesome place to be. There are several large caves and tall, steep, craggy mountains all along the coast.

DCIM120GOPRO
One of several caves along the west coast of Lofoten.

 

We arrrived at Bunes beach 11 hours after leaving Vaeroy island. The midnight sun was shining from a blue sky and we were two very happy and tired paddlers sipping whiskey and soaking up the atmosphere.

DCIM120GOPRO
Approaching the Bunes beach,
DCIM120GOPRO
Campsite at Bunes beach.
DCIM120GOPRO
Enjoying the midnight sun view.

 

The next day, fog was forecasted to set in at 3 pm. We knew that part of the trip would be encased in fog, so we started early towards Ramberg.

IMG_0972
We just had to stop at the Horseid beach, it is awesome.
DCIM120GOPRO
The fog moved fast at 3 pm, exactly as forecasted.
DCIM120GOPRO
Staying close to land due to fog

 

After a couple of hours in the fog, it cleared as the wind picked up. We ended the journey with some following wind and waves, allowing us to surf towards our destination. A great end to a fantastic, challenging and most memorable kayaking experience.

DCIM120GOPRO

Surfing towards our destination in Ramberg.

 

Here’s a video from the trip:

 

And here´s a video from a trip done in July 2015 in the same area:

 

Today view: 1 - Total View: 5303