Wednesday 23rd June
Location: Sundsvall. Total distance cycled 1116 km.
When we said we would be travelling in James Duthie’s tyre-tracks, this was supposed to be a metaphor.
But given the state of the roads we traversed yesterday, it could almost literally be true.
Friday 26th June
Accomodation in Ulvön proves more luxurious than expected thanks to the Hallbergs. Tack så mycket!
Monday 28th June
Location: Åsele. Total distance cycled 1520 km. Today we entered Swedish Lapland, and hit the halfway mark to Nordkapp. Husky dogs in kennels and place names in 2 languages: Swedish and Sami.
This is exciting for us because James Duthie’s story was covered by this same paper when he passed through in June 1951.
Thursday 1st July
Having survived last night’s lightning storm, we scarcely noticed this morning’s drizzle. But when it became a steady downpour, we found ourselves on a clay and gravel road which was rapidly turning into a mud slide.
Thankfully we found a village unusually well-equipped with eating houses, including one serving magnificent pizza. Disregarding our muddy state, the chef fed us royally and invited us to watch the ‘fish cam’, a live TV feed from a local river.
Sunday 4th July
Location: Töre. Total distance cycled 2044 km.
We turned the page of our map and found we’re on the same page as Finland. It is getting brighter and brighter at night as we approach the Arctic Circle, and harder to sleep.
Monday 5th July
Tuesday 6th July
Location: Pajala. Total distance cycled 2288 km. The Torne Valley is looking beautiful in the sun, and the myggor (midges) have all but disappeared.
Local youth in trackies and backwards-facing caps remind us of home. A rest day on a campsite with sauna and cold river. Perfect.
Thursday 8th July
Location: Enontekiö (Finland). Total distance cycled 2583 km.
Yesterday we met a reindeer or three, cycled 105 imperial miles fuelled by banana curry pizza, and stayed in a hostel full of religious kitsch.
Friday 9th July
At our campsite we are invited into a laavu (the traditional Lapland teepee), and get chatting with a Sami lady. We discover the effectiveness of the laavu: the fire in the centre is good for warmth and brewing coffee, and its smoke keeps away the midges.
Sunday 11th July
An exhilarating 130 km of cycling across the mountain plateau of Finnmark, culminating in a plunge down through a narrow gorge: sheer cliffs on either side, a rushing torrent beneath, concentrating hard on road and corners.
Munro-scale mountains with patches of snow still lying. It’s tempting to stay and explore, but the Nordkapp draws us on.
Location: Russenes. Total distance travelled 2937 km. Still on target to arrive at Nordkapp tomorrow night.
Today’s cycling was up and over a large expanse of high moorland, ringed by craggy mountains and with patches of snow not far from the road.
Tonight we’re wild camping above a peaceful bay. The sky to the North is clear.