Translate

Friday, 31 July 2015

ARCTIC CIRCLE ROAD TRIP to 66º North.

Friday the 20th of March we have just watched the partial eclipse of the sun through the swirling grey clouds. Three days later and five countries behind us we are in Denmark. First we traveled North East across France, passing by Reims and the ancient battlefields and on to Sedan,  on a wet Sunday morning we passed into Belgium traveling north. A little while later  the city of Liege quickly followed by another country, the Netherlands,  through Maastricht, now we are headed for Venlo, here another change of direction as we head east for Münster in Germany and North again through Germany to Denmark.
We are driving around Copenhagen's ring road, after a night at the pretty harbor at Klintholme haven. The road takes us alongside Copenhagen's international airport with its high rise hotels and terminals buildings, in front of us we can see the Baltic sea and the huge bridge that will take us into Sweden. We sink deep into the tunnel and under the shipping lanes rising again on a island out at sea, diectly in front the bridge towers up, the top disappearing in to the low cloud, a train races past heading for Sweden, we climb steeply upwards like a departing aircraft, buffeted by the wind and rain and then descend into Sweden and the Province of Skåne.
Malmö is to the left but we are turning right, headed for Karlskrona and Sweden's  eastern coast. the journey before us is vast, Haparanda is five days north, that is providing the weather is kind to us, at this border town we will cross into Finland and join the Arctic highway, heading north again for Norway and the Barrents Sea.


The scenery is stunning, driving we are oblivious to the outside temperature, that is until we end our  days drive, take on fuel, or fill our water tank from the heated water closets at most garages. We make our night stops on Fjords, at one with the nature, there is a huge feeling of solitude and peace, in this wild country.


As we progress north, hail and snow showers are becoming more frequent.


Although the sky became blue, the temperature dropped and we saw the lakes and rivers frozen.


The landscape is beautiful in the freezing sunshine.



On day five of our journey the weather turns to rain and sleet and quickly into heavy snow, we are forced to turn back to seek refuge,we follow the snowploughs back south and wait until it is safe to continue.



The roads have been cleared, as is the sky and we continue.
We hope we may see a Moose, sorry Elk in the English language and the name given to them in Eurasia, an Elk in the American language is a totally different species, just a little confusing!


The further North we travel the colder it gets, the Bothnian Sea is also frozen. It has become difficult to find parking places to stop and take photographs due to the snow. We see fishermen sitting round  holes cut through the ice and cars racing out on frozen lakes. This really is another World!


The weather has really deteriorated, thank goodness for snowploughs!


On the journey we have seen hundreds of migrating birds, especially Goosanders, Tufted and Goldeneye ducks, all heading Northwards to their breeding grounds.


We stopped to photograph the ice flows and found  Goosanders catching a lift!



Stillness and silence with just the birds calling out on the water, it has turned slushy, but starts to freeze over again.



Sunday morning, there has been heavy snow during the night and we have seen other camping cars half buried in the snow drifts. There is a lack of parishioners at the local church but the road has been cleared and we can continue.


We have a distant view over a frozen lake of Snow Buntings heading back North always mobile with their restless flight.


At Umeå the city of Birch trees, the mighty Ume river is frozen over and covered with deep snow.


If we can keep going we will cross the 66º North later today in to the Arctic Circle


Next stop Finland.



By lunch time we are within one hundred kilometres of the Arctic circle.


The snow is getting worse but we are determined to get to that imaginary line drawn around the Earth at 66º North, then we will have to decide what to do!


For us only the main road is now passable and that has become difficult. All the minor roads are choked with snow.


We made it! parked up some where north of 66º high in the Arctic circle. For now the snow has relented.
We have decided that it is not worth continuing as more heavy snow is forecast, we would not be able to photograph the birds and landscape that we had come for, we are trapped on the main road, between two walls of snow. It is back to Sweden for us.


This may look pretty, but for us we had to battle South for two days, to get out of the worst blizzards we had ever experienced.
Cannot wait to see blue sky and sun!
Our trip continues.