Cycling the Atlantic coast of Europe from north to south during the summer of 2017. View the archive, the route so far, or donate to MSF.

Land of the flies

By Stuart Lowe on

I woke late. Sheena brought out some maps and we discussed routes and ferries. I packed up and said goodbye to my friends on the road and continued south.

The weather was on the change. The beautiful sunshine of yesterday had given way to clouds that threatened rain. I cycled over the bridge at Riskøyhamn. I cycled around the inlet at Buksnasfjord and then had lunch on the beach on the Riskøysundet channel where I think I saw a seal pop its head out of the water. This was one of the few spots I found were I could stop without being mobbed by flies.


Getting anywhere in Norway involves more kilometres than it looks on a map thanks to the fractal coastline. I had another big fjord to go around at Forfjord.

View north from near Forfjord

Eventually I got to and over the bridge to Sortland. Despite a rather pretty church, the centre of Sortland felt drab. It was 4pm on a Saturday and nearly all the shops were shut. The tourist information office had closed at 2pm. I'd been going to ask them about ferries to Bodø. At least the Coop was open.

Sortland church

South of Sortland was more pleasant. There was a separate cycle/walking path which was flatter than the main road. I politely interrupted a Norwegian lady hanging out some washing to ask if she could fill my water bottles. I reached the bottom of Langøya and was up and over the 3km long, 35m high bridge to Stokmarknes. The bridges are so high so shipping can get through the channels.

At Stokmarknes I had a choice of which side of the island to go around. I chose the west side as the map showed a swimmer symbol and that suggested a likely camping spot with a toilet. Unfortunately, as it turned out, I couldn't find a toilet. There was a nice view but as soon as I started putting up my tent the mob of flies were back. I got out my travel head net which solved the fly issue but made eating dinner a bit more of a challenge.

Camp spot

I went to sleep on rather bumpy ground.