So somewhere along the line I managed to lose 3 days… no idea how but according to the calender the day I travelled from Narvik to Ballangen was in fact day 36 so from now on this shall be the benchmark.
The day I travelled to Ballangen was also, without a doubt, the toughest since leaving Kiruna.
From the moment I woke up, I could hear the splatter of raindrops. Not just a gentle splatter either – these were the big juicy raindrops that leave you soaking wet having just thought about the possibility of going outside. And I was about to spend the day walking in them. I was also strangely achey- though I put this down to the fact I had told myself I was getting a day off but then had to change plans at the last minute.
Still, I had one job to do today and that was to travel the 36km odd down the road to Ballangen. There was nothing to do apart from pack up the tent (upon doing so I think the rain actually stopped for five minutes) and head off on my way, feeling incredibly grateful for the decision to purchase a new rain jacket yesterday as I did so.
The walk itself wasn’t too bad – it was simply a case of following the coastline for 36km – meaning very few hills and lots of potential for beautiful views. I even found myself searching the skies for bright spots – telling myself it couldn’t possible rain all day…
I was wrong – it could and it did rain all day. This meant that by lunch time everything was soaked through and although I was dry and warm (the new jacket proving effective), the same could not be said for my pack or my shoes. I even pitched the outside of my tent for shelter to cook in – which provided some much needed warmth to sit in (when sat still it was still chilly) – however the novelty soon wore off when the water was saturating the ground and actually flowing under the tent…
Eventually the rain did ease off a little, however with most things (including the tent) being soaked through this was of little comfort. The wind had also picked up which meant it was a little cold despite me managing to jog sections to warm the feet up. Amongst all this moaniness (real word) however I did smile twice- once when I saw my first horse of the trip (pictured above) and once when I came across all of these bikes, left without a care (or a lock) as the owners caught the bus to work/school, without reason to doubt they’d still be there when they got back. That right there is a mark of a great society (I thought) and I smiled to myself as I plodded on by.
Before reaching Ballangen, a man enthusiastically approached me, eager to find out details of where I had been hiking from. Despite his English not being great (and my Norwegian still being terrible) we managed to have some kind of strained conversation, in which he said I must be cold and recommended a campsite down the road (about 4km outside of Ballangen). I thought little of it at the time – the plan had been to camp on the roadside as normal and carry on the next day. However as I approached the campsite around half past five, shivering and to be honest feeling a little bit sorry for myself, my feet made the decision to walk me up to reception to enquire the price of the cheapest cabin. I was told 570 krone, however after explaining my story and the fact I am doing this for charity, I was offered the same cabin for 400 krone, or just under £40. I realise this is still quite expensive, but after the kindness of the offer, the lack of place to stay in Narvik and the fact that my kit was in need of drying, I happily accepted and found myself in cabin number 26 about 10 minutes later.
Once inside I was able to hang up my kit, go for a shower and then go for a hot meal in the restaurant. All luxuries which I arguably didn’t need, however the result was a good nights sleep, a dry pack and kit for the following day, and a good feed to power me through. Needless to say – I woke feeling much better the next morning and very pleased with my decision.
My only disappointment was that I couldn’t stay an extra day and make use of the awesome swimming pool (with slide), mini golf course and go kart hire the following day – having to remind myself this is not a holiday and also that I am no longer 15 years old.
Maybe one day I’ll be back to visit and make use of those things, but until then it is back to the road for me, with the race against the seasons playing heavily on mind and a growing addiction to moving southwards burning inside me.
In case you’re interested more details of the campsite in question can be found here: