South Senja – Beyond A to Z

On Saturday I took a driving tour of the south end of Senja along the 860 (the main road running mostly along the coast), taking advantage of some beautiful weather and a bit of free time.

The first port of call was Vangsvik, with it’s view over Solbergfjord to Dyrøy:

Next comes Vesterfjell, a village with a wonderful view over Tranøybotn:

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A little further on is Solheim (literally sun home), again looking out over Tranøybotn. There is an expanse of tidal ‘mud’ here, which in summer looks like mud, but in winter is covered in a much more attractive layer of ice:

At Kampevoll I was treated to  a sea eagle, flying ‘out of the sun’:

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At Gammelsæter a small river empties into the fjord (Tranøybotn). In winter the fresh water freezes, as does the brackish water where it mixes with the sea. However, where the water rises and falls with the tide, the ice is continually in motion and the creaking noise is amazing as great blocks of ice rub against each other:

Next came a detour to Rørsand, a small community on the north side of the southern most peninsula of Senja, noted locally for the fact that the sun rises there in the morning, but quickly disappears behind a large mountain, only reappearing briefly late in the day once it clears the mountain again.  To get there you drive down a cinder road (grisvei), which in the winter is pretty much pure ice, passing through a pretty little hamlet called Olaheim, overlooking a now frozen lake.

After Rørsand I came to the town with possibly the shortest name in Norway: Å (prounounced or) – you could even say the people there have the last word in names (it’s the last letter of the Norwegian alphabet).

I had thought that I would reach the end of the road (Sjursvika) at about sunset, and finally get to see the sun set over the sea. However, I miscalculated. Whilst the sun is only ‘visible’ in Finssnes a couple of hours a day because of the mountains, in reality its ‘up’ much longer, so I arrived rather early. It also turns out that most of the horizon to the south and west of Senja is occupied by many small unihabited islands, and then further away, the mountains of Lofoten, an archipelago of islands which, although lying within the Arctic Circle, experiences one of the world’s largest elevated temperature anomalies relative to its high latitude (according to Wikipedia). However, despite the lack of an unimpeded sunset, it was beautiful:

Turning round to return home, I had some more stops. First in Tømmervika, with salmon farms in the sea:

In Stongland I  encountered reindeer grazing on the village green (or should that be the village white?) – no pics though as I was in a stream of traffic, heading for the village shop before it closed. In the shop car park I encountered one of Norway’s more unusual drivers drivers!

On the way to Vassvik I stopped for views over Dyrøy and Iberstad to Lofoten, all the time the sun sinking:

Storjord has a tidal area of ice;

A little further on Vardneselva (a small river) reaches the sea, this time with clear ice creating beautiful reflections. Slightly weird was seeing the mountains on the horizon reflected in what appeared to be some kind of “mirage”: it definitely wasn’t the ice, because there is a large area of non-frozen fjord between the ice and the mountains!

Anybody guess what made this? Maybe an arctic three-toed sloth?

Finally the sun has gone – picture back at Solheim:

And to close, pictures from Bjørkhaug:

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