Dronningruta (Vesterålen) & Raftsundet, July 29-30 2020

Summer vacation day 11 & 12

Continued from day 10

Along “Dronningruta”
Index
Date Peak/Place Height PF Location
29.07.2020 [DRONNINGRUTA] Kjølen 456m 72m Øksnes, Norway
29.07.2020 [DRONNINGRUTA] Kjølen, sør for 446m 53m Øksnes, Norway
29.07.2020 [DRONNINGRUTA] Sørkulen 518m 305m Øksnes, Norway
29.07.2020 [DRONNINGRUTA] Fingamheia 448m 155m Øksnes, Norway
29.07.2020 [DRONNINGRUTA] Mælen 314m 141m Øksnes, Norway
29.07.2020 Nyksund Øksnes, Norway
30.07.2020 Sortland Sortland, Norway
30.07.2020 Raftsundet Hadsel, Norway

Dronningruta (Queen’s route)

This is a route that runs between the fishing villages Stø and Nyksund in Øksnes, Vesterålen. H.M. Queen Sonja took this trip in 1994 and the route was then named after her.

It is a fantastic walk either which way you walk. We decided to start at Stø. The village was quite crowded, but most of the tourists were waiting to get on a whale safari.   

Our hike

The route passes Kvalaksla where there is a military installation on top and access is prohibited. It’s a good thing that this top does not have a prominence of 100m or more. That could tempt some of us eager beavers  to violate the law…

We continued up to Nonstinden, a stepping stone to the higher Gjuraheia.

On the ridge below Kvalaksla

From the ridge, we were overlooking Skipssanden bay.

Skipssanden bay below

From Gjuraheia, we got a good look at what’s ahead, and the thought struck me –  that this is a very different kind of terrain than what I am used to. Even if the terrain is comparable in many ways – back home on Ytre Søre Sunnmøre. Here – gentle and wild at the same time, green slopes and steep cliffs towards the Norwegian Sea.

From Gjuraheia to Kjølen

When I got Mælen in view, I was quite determined to also visit this top on our way back to Stø. It is not part of the normal route, but the detour is fairly short.

Mælen

From point 446m, we had a Sørkulen (518m) – the highest point on the route – in full view. There were indeed other hikers, but not *many*. We talked briefly with a couple coming in the opposite direction and parted with “see you later”

Sørkulen ahead – and parts of the route onwards

On our way to Sørkulen, we noticed that the main trail continued below the top, at approx. 400m. That was not an option for us, and some minutes later, we could celebrate our first top on this hike with a prominence of 100m (or more).

On Sørkulen – the highest point on the route

That was of course nice, but the main attraction were of course Klotindane. They looked very fascinating, but far enough outside the trail to not become part of our trip.

Klotindane

The density of rugged peaks reminded me of the very heart of the Sunnmørsalpane mountain range back home.

This is yet another place I should have stayed for a year…

Next followed a somewhat steep descent along Sørkulen’s southwest ridge. Some will probably find this ridge a little bit cumbersome, but there are no real difficulties here.

Descending from Sørkulen

Next, we ascended up to Fingamheia. The main trail passed below this top also, so Karma and I took a quick detour up to the top while Anne enjoyed a break.  

Sørkulen seen from Fingamheia

Then we continued across the Fingamheia plateau and headed for the pass between Fingamheia and Mælen.

Across Fingamheia

We had originally planned to hike all the way to Nyksund, but plans are meant to be changed and the new plan was to skip Nyksund and drive there after the hike. Anne was not so interested in Mælen so Karma and I increased the pace to visit the top and catch up with Anne.

The ridge down to the pass below Mælen was also somewhat rugged and there were places where you don’t want to stumble. We learned that some prefer to go up this way, as they have heard that the descent is spooky. People are different. Karma and I were running down this trail while some we met were clearly uncomfortable here.

On the path down to the pass

Just after the pass, we reached the Stø – Nyksund trail fork. Left for Nyksund, right for Stø and straight ahead for Mælen.

We hurried up the path and enjoyed the nice views before trying to catch up with Anne.

On top of Mælen

It would have been nice to hike all the way to Nyksund, but we all felt that our plan B was more practical.

We caught up with Anne down by the sea, where she decided to take a refreshing bath

Crazy woman…

On our way back to Stø, we enjoyed long sections of a wooden walkway.

Nice path!

A bit later, we passed Skipssanden bay. The water was way too cold for my taste.

Passing Skipssanden

Finally, we returned to Stø – 5h:45m after leaving. It was a long hike (OK, everything is relative – we’ve done hikes of 40km+ in a day) but it’s a hike I’m very happy we did.

Trip statistics: 15,3km, 1000 vertical meters, 3h:50m

Pictures (Canon EOS RP/Iphone):

Nyksund

According to plan B, we drove to Nyksund. The parking was full (this is a popular place for tourists), so we had to park further out and took our bikes to the fishing village. to enjoy dinner at the Ekspedisjonen restaurant.

Let’s go to town!

Nyksund was indeed a picturesque place!

Nyksund

Getting the dinner ordered and served took its time and before we had finished the meal, a bunch of people gathered to sing. I got the impression that several choirs from the region joined forces. Anne was overjoyed while I wasn’t able to share her enthusiasm. I’m not sure if she was more happy about the the singing or because it was her first cultural happening since Norway shut down in March. Probably a combination…

I enjoyed more taking a bike trip around the village and see the cultural happening from a distance.

Ekspedisjonen restaurant

Nyksund’s version of “town car“:

Very practical…

Indeed a nice place and well worth a visit!

Views from Nyksund

Eventually, we had to find a place to crash for the night and we found a nice spot alongside the road, 5 minutes outside Nyksund. We had a mighty fine sunset!

No complaints…

Sortland

The next day was resting day. We had made the decision to hike Møysalen (1263m) the day after. Møysalen is the highest top in the Lofoten – Vesterålen region and a top we both really wanted to visit. When we passed through here 4 years ago, Møysalen was on our agenda but the weather wasn’t good enough.

Møysalen is a strenuous hike23km and LOTS of vertical gain. A day for resting and transport was called for. And shopping too. We had neither ice-axes nor crampons and it could be that some or all of that could be needed on Møysalen. But as the weather was quite warm, we decided to settle for anti slip ice cleats.

We stopped in Sortland to shop. We got our ice cleats at Felleskjøpet and Sport 1 had ice-axes. We settled for one axe, as Anne had hiking poles. I also decided to upgrade my old GPS to a new Garmin 66S. Then we stopped for some Thai take-away and had a nice lunch down by the fjord.

Lunch in Sortland

Afterwards we stopped by Prestegårdens Sommerkafé for cakes and coffee – AND – charging my dead flat camera battery. Very nice service!

Anne is trying to spot Møysalen

Raftsundet

From Sortland, we drove LOFAST to Raftsundet. We took the road towards Digermulen, hoping to find a nice place to park for the night.

I am not sure if we would find more astonishing scenery than we found at Tennstrand. And we didn’t mind that Coastal Express just went through the sound.

My oh my…

Of course, Anne had to go into the sea again. Karma took a very short swim too. Very unlike her, but it was a HOT day…

That crazy woman again…

I was mostly busy with the camera.

My kind of fun

It was the perfect warm-up to Møysalen!

We are privileged…

Pictures (Canon EOS RP/Iphone):

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