Continuing merrily on from our last post, we had a great overnight stop at a nature reserve car park by the beach:
Don’t be deceived. Although we’re now enjoying gloriously warm sunny weather, the water was cold. Mark refused to go for a swim under any circumstances, and announced that whereas normally, he would paddle (briefly) for a photo, on this occasion he’d only get sand stuck to his feet on the way back and would trail it all into Kampington, so it’d be best if he didn’t bother….
The next day, what should we unexpectedly come across but another church town?… This one is Lövånger. Only ten of the houses here (of just over 100) are privately owned; the rest are owned by an association. I’m not sure whether this is good or bad; it was certainly nice to see all the little individual touches at the other church towns.
From here we continued South to a tiny little village on the coast called Ratan. This was a planned “pit stop”: a night where we would dig deep into our pockets and pay to stay somewhere with a washing machine (laundrettes don’t exist in Scandinavia….). Our normal approach is to arrive early, around lunchtime, to maximise our access to the facilities. The place we chose is a community-owned “quick stop” parking area at a small marina (one night only; they also have a camping field about 1km away for longer stays). This put us right next to the marina building, which promised laundry facilities.
Holy Heck! This place was AMAZING!
It cost us SEK 150 for the night (£15), including electricity. The locals are all involved; a chap busy cleaning the communal building confirmed that it’s owned by the community (which I take to mean the local council) but run by the villagers. “We’re all pretty much retired here so it’s good”. During the evening, more villagers popped round to collect the money, all 6 spots by now being occupied (as we suspect they must be every evening).
The communal building was a revelation:
The sign by the washing machine informed us that the use of all the facilities was included for people staying there. This was confirmed by both the chap cleaning and the couple who collected our money – so we got 3 loads of washing done for free !!!
We also gave Kampington a good spring clean inside, and used the electric hookup to “fizzle” Kampington’s batteries (a preventative measure to avoid the kind of problems we had in early 2016, problems that Kampington is susceptible to as we so rarely use electric hookups). So we’re now good to go for more dossing!
Before moving on, we should mention that Ratan is currently in the lead in the “funniest motorhoming-related sign in Sweden” competition. Take a look at the section titled “A. Campsite”:
Perhaps what they meant to say was “at the service point near the harbour building”? 🤔
Norway’s winner was the petrol station at Skaidi in the far North, where we fettled on our way up to Nordkapp then again on our way back. Here, a sign on the loo door announced “Please do not empty your chemical toilet here. Do it behind the souvenir shop”. We think they meant “at the service point around 100m beyond the souvenir shop” 😂
We turned inland at Umeå, about 40km South of Ratan, but not without stopping to look at the local museum. This had a gallery about rock art (including lots of photos of Alta in Northern Norway, which we visited en route to Nordkapp, and one about ski-ing (“From the Stone Age to Stenmark”). This offered the World’s Oldest Ski (plus bits of the second ski and a ski pole), dated to 3400 BC and found in a bog in 1924:
The holes are for attaching the skis to your feet (and the bottom is recessed so that your fastenings didn’t drag in the snow as you whizzed along). We also got to see lots of other skis, snow-shoes and the like (when in Sweden…..):
We skipped some other, less interesting-looking galleries (including the one titled “challenging embroidery”) and headed to the outdoor museum which had the same kinds of farm buildings we’ve seen before, some more Sámi huts, and also a really good building containing an exhibit on seal hunting (and the traditional seal-hunting expeditions men in the region used to undertake in March / April each year) and a complete ship, built in 1914 and previously used to tow timber on the local river:
Mark looked quite at home in one of the more modern Sámi huts:
Heading inland from Umeå, our next stop was the region around Dorothea, which is, we are told by our guide book, the bear capital of Sweden. This was the first of the two “big beasties” we had but a small chance of seeing on our diversion inland (more on the second in our next post). Did we see a bear? Did we buggery, but at least we can say we tried……
We parked up overnight in the woods in the middle of nowhere, but no bears came to see us. The nearest we managed was the big bear in the town centre at Dorothea…..
From here we headed South, stopping overnight at a free car park by the free open air museum at Strömsund. This had a few little “houses” we could look into as well as Giant Jorm, you know, the character from that international blockbuster movie “Dunderklumpen”…..
Here’s where we’ve got to (please ignore the black line showing through from the other side of the map! we’re only amateurs!):
Our next stop is Östersund, near where we have big hopes for a sighting of another big beastie 😉