Crossing the Lofoten to the spectacular Vestfjord

By |Published On: August 19, 2023|Categories: Europe, Norway|982 words|0 Comments|


Late next morning, with a light breeze behind us, we sailed the short distance down to Lødingen at the southern end of Tjelsundet. Here, we motored into the narrow and almost indiscernible entrance of the small boat harbour to fuel up. With the wind on our tail, it having freshened up considerably since we left, and a big pilot boat riding hard on our arse, there was no way to keep Yuma’s speed down and we shot out of the entrance channel into the harbour and then, Blues Brothers-like, swung sharp to starboard, through a small gap and broadside onto the fuel dock where we came came, very gently, to rest. If there had been tyres and tar involved there would have been screeching, acrid smoke and skid marks, as it was we calmly adjusted our sunglasses and casually step ashore to fix our lines. Cool, man. Luckily the dock was unoccupied and we had been able to snag the windward side, it might have been a bit messier if we’d needed to take the leeward side but…no one else needs to know that.

A beautiful day sailing, with views back to the Lofoten.


On leaving Lødingen, we hoisted the sails and for the rest of the day enjoyed a brisk sail on a broad reach across the Vestfjord. What a spectacular area this is, a wide expanse of sea ringed by dark, jagged and dramatic mountains which, even now at the end of the summer, sported snow and ice.

Approaching Straumhamn.

Our destination was a very small bay on an island-like mainland promontory, Straumhamn. Straumhamn is entered through a cleft in a rock wall that is the final drop into the sea of a what would once have been a hanging glacier that lay between high peaks of up to 1000m. With a 20kt cross wind and 1-1.5m waves we managed to slip into the narrow entrance to find a jellybean-shaped, deep water pond with a couple of small shelved bays. We quickly realised that these were narrow enough anchorages that we would have to use shore lines to keep Yuma off the rocks and that, given that our dinghy was still down below and not inflated, getting those shorelines established was going to take time that the conditions might not allow us. So out we went in search of an anchorage with a little bit more swing room to wait out the windy weather that was forecast for the next few days.

Entrance into Sandvika.

This proved not too difficult. Just a few miles further southwest along the coast we snuck past the island of Dalsvær, in through the maze of the Skaftholmen skerries, and anchored up in the secluded and mirror-calm waters of Sandvika. All by ourselves, and what a spectactular location it was! To the north and south we were nestled in between high steep mountains, with a small forested valley running in between towards the east. From this valley came the intermittent jingling of the bells of sheep grazing on the little bit of grassland located in amongst the trees. And to the west we looked through the skerries towards the mountain peaks of the Lofoten, and could enjoy a gorgeous sunset over over the waters of Vestfjord.

A spectacular sunset.


The next morning, in stark contrast to the forecast, the weather was still fine. So we felt could leave Yuma alone for a while and prepared for a long-ish hike through hills and forest. We got our dinghy inflated and rowed into the beach where we were greeted by the bell-jingling sheep. Putting a cute bell on every sheep seems strange concept to Australians, coming from a place where huge numbers of sheep graze in relatively constrained and easy terrain. But it makes a great deal of sense where small flocks graze on vertiginuous, forested and fenceless slopes –climbing up and down those slopes would only seem attractive for a shepherd if they could hear that there actually was a sheep up there to fetch.

Happy sheep, with bells on.

After a little bit of bushwacking we found the trail of the Landstrykerstien walk, a 10km circuit around the peaks of Nordlandsfjellet and Vassenfjellet. The first part of the walk was along a dirt road that wound its way east through the forest bordered by grassland with the odd farm or holiday house positioned along the lakes. Once we got to a parking lot we turned north on a foot track and ascended to a pass where we were rewarded with spectacular views all around.

Spectacular views, once again.

To the east and south, we looked into valleys and up towards mountain peaks, and across the skerries and islands to the mountains of the mainland. To the north, in the distance across the water, the peaks of the Lofoten. And at our feet, blueberry bushes growing on open ridgelines and laden with ripe fruit…yum!

Frederieke enjoying the view.


Just beyond those blueberry bushes was a steep scramble down towards the lake Straumvatnet, so having eaten our fill of blueberries, we dropped down from the ridgeline fields, into the forest and down through to the lake.

The lake Straumvatnet, and views to the Lofoten.

Here we rambled west along the lakes beach and shoreline before heading back into the forest where we got ourselves a bit lost a few times. After a bit of bush-bashing though we’d find our way again and gradually headed back to the coast and headed south to the little bay where we Yuma lay happily anchored. We rowed back in the dinghy, serenaded by the jingling of sheep bells, feeling tired and happy after what was a truly magnificent hike.

Yuma waiting for us in the bay.

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Back on mainland Norway
Back to the Lofoten