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In the European Arctic 2015 PDF Printable Version E-mail


Reflections on a Summer Motorhome Journey through the Arctic Regions of Northern Europe

Or: Life for the over 65's!  

Barry and Margaret Williamson
July and August 2015

Introduction

After a winter in Greece, we made our motorhoming way back to England via Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, France, Ireland, Northern Ireland and in May a tour of northern Scotland. June passed with the Grand Tour of Northern Wales, Lancashire and Yorkshire accompanied by Australians Rebecca and Kevin (the original developers of our website). This was followed by the servicing of our Carado motorhome by its dealer (Brownhills of Newark) and of the bicycles by their maker (Paul Hewitt of Leyland), visits to a few friends and a check on our houses in Huddersfield and Thornton. By the end of June we were more than ready for the overnight P&O ferry from Hull to Rotterdam's Europort.

Breaking our journey for rides on their excellent networks of cycle paths, we passed through the Netherlands and Germany, making for the ferry across the Baltic from the island of Ruegen to Trelleborg near Sweden's southernmost point at Sygehamn.

Our Route to the Arctic Circle

After just over a month and 2,016 miles (3225 km) by road from the port of Hull, we arrived at Sweden's Arctic Circle, 5 km short of the Sami town of Jokkmokk. A simple café and small campsite marked the crossing into the Arctic Regions on the Inlandsvagen or Inland Road. This is the last section of Europe's longest north-south route, the E45, starting in southern Sicily and ending on Sweden's northern border with Finland.

Latitudes along the Way

1° of latitude = 69 miles approximately

No of Places

Country

Place

Latitude

Distance by Road

Total Distance

 

 

 

 

(miles)

(miles)

 

GR

Southern Greece

36.39166° N

 

 

 

UK

Huddersfield

53.64861° N

 

 

 

UK

John o'Groats

58.63611° N

 

 

 

S

Southernmost Sweden

55.33638° N

 

 

1

S

Jokkmokk (Arctic Circle)

66.55014° N

 0

 0

2

S

Gallivare

67.12902° N

65

65

3

S

Karesuando

68.44073° N

133

198

4

FIN

Kilpisjarvi

69.01413° N

75

273

5

N

Storslett

69.83880° N

114

387

6

N

Alta

69.92735° N

104

491

7

N

Havoysund

70.99496° N

126

617

8

N

Stabbursnes

70.17835° N

88

705

9

N

Mehamn

71.03677° N

155

860

10

N

Slettnes Lighthouse

71.09066° N

16

876

11

N

Kjollefjord

70.94883° N

35

911

12

N

Austertana

70.44173° N

157

1,068

13

N

Berlevag

70.85716° N

26

1,124

14

N

Batsfjord

70.63175° N

58

1,182

15

N

Vestre Jacobselv

70.11888° N

99

1,281

16

N

Hamningberg

70.54159° N

81

1,450

17

N

Vaggatem

69.21272° N

150

1,600

18

N

Kirkenes

69.69942° N

65

1,665

19

FIN

Kaamanen

69.09244° N

106

1,771

20

FIN

Inari

68.90233° N

19

1,790

21

FIN

Ivalo

68.64283° N

25

1,815

22

FIN

Sodankyla

67.41770° N

100

1,915

23

FIN

Vuostimo

66.98119° N

120

2,035

24

FIN

Luusua (Arctic Circle)

66.53428° N

40

2,075

Summary of Travels within the Circle

We were within the Arctic Circle for 40 days (25 July until 2 September), staying in 24 places and travelling 2,075 miles (3320 km). All of it was above 65° N and for 13 of those days we were above 70° N. Although we were too late to see the 'midnight sun' along our route, in late July and early August there was only about 2 hours between sunset and sunrise: that is, the sun only just dipped below the northern horizon. There was constant light; when darkness did return in late August it was a shock to see the moon and the stars! Typical of life within the Arctic Circle, Inari in Finland at 68.90° N claims that 'one summer day lasts for two months' and 'the sun never sets between 22 May and 22 July'. But of course the price for this is paid in the winter months with equally prolonged periods of darkness.

This was our sixth visit to the Arctic Regions of Europe. The first was a summer vacation bicycle ride in 1990 from Hamburg to Tromso via a newly liberated East Berlin, a ferry from  Gdansk to Helsinki, a visit to Leningrad (as was) and a long ride through Finland, Sweden and the far north of Norway.

If we had to find one word to describe life within the encompassment of the Arctic Circle, it would be 'entrancing'. Norway has mountains and fjords, Sweden and Finland have 190,000 lakes and the three countries share part of the trillions of conifers which circle the northern hemisphere (the Taiga). This richness is broken only by the startlingly empty high tundra of the northernmost fells. Throughout the Region reindeer roam where they will, shadowed in their migrations by the indigenous Sami people oblivious to geographical borders!

Scandinavia_Summer_2015.jpg

 Map of Norway, Sweden and Finland showing the Main Features of our Journey

Map_Top_of_Norway.jpg
Map of Northern Norway and Finland showing our Route and Numbered Campsites

Arctic_Circle_near_Jokkmokk.JPG
Margaret crossing the Arctic Circle in Sweden travelling North near Jokkmokk

Arctic_Circle_near_Luusua.JPG
Our Carado Motorhome leaving the Arctic Region near Luusua in Finland

The_Arctic_Circle.JPG
Information on the Movement of the Arctic Circle. Santa's Workshop near Rovaniemi in
Finland is now 1 km to the South of the Circle!