From the Surface - Norway

   Sea Kayaking / Touring
Norway - June 29th - Aug 30th 2018
Sea kayaking enthusiast Ashley Williams spent two months exploring the coastline of Norway by kayak, connecting with local paddlers along the way to learn about the coastal heritage.

   Sea Kayaking / Touring

Norway - June 29th - Aug 30th 2018

Sea kayaking enthusiast Ashley Williams spent two months exploring the coastline of Norway by kayak, connecting with local paddlers along the way to learn about the coastal heritage.

The team

Ashley Williams

Ashley Williams

Ashley had a brilliant summer padding the coast of Norway, taking each day as it came and enjoying the freedom of expedition life. "


The original plan was to spend two months paddling the coast of Norway from Bergen to Nordkapp, with the option of taking the coastal ferry to make the most out of the areas Ashley hoped to explore. Meeting friends and local paddlers along the way.

Ashley Williams
Ashley Williams

This planned route would take Ashley in a northerly direction, but with strong winds from the north for the first week, she and a group of three friends decided to start the trip in Askvoll on the west coast. There they would spend a few days paddling and exploring a group of islands called Bulandet before the wind turned to the south. Bulandet is famous for fishing and is rich in culture; proud to be the most western populated island in Norway.

Winds being from the north, the group also crossed over to a group of islands further south called Solund, which lie on the mouth of Sognefjord - the largest and deepest fjord in Norway. The landscape in this area was quite different to Bulandet. The cliffs rise high out of the sea and the rocks are dark and gloomy.

Paddling past a cottage on a small island, the people on land signaled to the group to come to shore. They had seen on Facebook that Ashley and friends were paddling in the area and had kept an eye out for the group. It was a lovely experience to be invited in for coffee and sharing of local knowledge for the area. They were told about a group of rocks called “the stools” which was a group of stones that looked like chairs. Not something you would find in a travel guide.

The Stools
The Stools

After a lovely week of paddling as a group of four, two had to return to Bergen for other commitments which left Ashley and one friend Tobias to continue with the now northbound journey. The wind had turned to the predominant southerly wind direction, giving the pair a gentle push as they paddled north.

Ashley and Tobias paddled from Solund to Måløy with winds to their backs. This area was rich in seals and porpoise which greeted them along their journey. The conditions grew exciting on the outside of Bremanger, which was an exposed headland, but this was also where the beautiful sand beaches started.

Seal checking out the visitors
Seal checking out the visitors

Reaching Måløy, the pair was greeted by familiar faces. It was Emma and Kristin who they had met the week before in Solund. It was luxury to be invited for a home cooked meal and a shower. Emma decided to join the paddle for a few days to Ålesund, where she would catch the ferry home to Måløy.

The trip from Måløy to Ålesund was passing one of the most exposed headlands in Norway; Stad. Many ships have wrecked there and often ships have to wait in harbors for a weather window to pass. On the sea chart there was warnings of dangerous waves. Luckily for the group they passed on slack water and the weather was the best it had been in many years, so they had no problems. But it would have been interesting to see the sea state in more rough conditions.

Emma left the group in Ålesund and Ashley and Tobias continued to Bud. The paddling in this area was mostly flat water and sheltered, with long distances of transport paddling with northerly winds and rain.

Bud to Kristiansund was spectacular. The landscape changed from fjords to open sea, shallow rocks and low lying islands with mountains on the mainland towering high. This section is the Atlantic Ocean road visited by many traveling tourists all through the year. The road is magnificent, hopping from island to island connected by winding bridges. Quite impressive.

Kristiansund is when Tobias and Ashley went their separate ways. Each getting on the ferry in different directions. Tobias south to Bergen and Ashley North to Brønnøysund to continue paddling. Brønnøysund is the start of the Helgelandskysten which is known for its spectacular landscape.

Ashley traveled with the ferry north along the coast for 22 hours to Brønnøysund. It was now time for the second part of the adventure to start solo. Paddling alone can be more challenging; tackling the conditions alone and making all the decisions, not having a second opinion. But also enjoyable to have some time alone and enjoy being in the nature.

Ashley transported her kayak and equipment from the ferry port to a guest marina where she would launch for the next leg. Her solo trip started with slight confusion over which way was north, but she soon figured out there was steel in the marina and finally got her bearings.

Helgelandskysten is known in the kayaking community as a must. Ashley was fortunate with the wind direction but Northern Norway is known for fog and thunderstorms which came often. The area was beautiful but the sea was populated with leisure boats and cruises, which on crossings were a challenge. In some areas there were spectacular views of U shaped valleys with mountains towering either side.

After a sporty crossing of Saltfjorden to Bodø with strong headwinds and heavy boat traffic, Ashley was delighted to be greeted by local paddlers and hosted for a few days in Bodø. Enjoying cultural experiences along the way Ashley was taken on a hike to see Saltstraumen, one of the largest tidal current in the world, but got stopped in her tracks by an elk, the king of the forest, and had to turn around before the view point.

Elk blocking the path to the view point
Elk blocking the path to the view point

Continuing her voyage to Tromsø Ashley paddled along the Steigen coast. This part of the coastline is remote; not many settlements and in some areas not even a boathouse or summer cottage. There were areas very exposed and rich in wildlife including porpoise and sea eagles. With no boat traffic it was tranquil to paddle, and combined with the view of Lofoten in the background, this made the area even more special.

The Steigen coast is rich in wildlife
The Steigen coast is rich in wildlife

The next bit of coast took Ashley through Tjeldsund fjord towards Harstad, then to the inside of Senja, the largest island in Norway, then west finishing the trip on the island Sommarøya, west of Tromsø. On her way to Harstad, Ashley was surprised by two paddlers who had been following her. Turns out she had coached them at a ladies event in Norway earlier this summer. After paddling many days alone it was really a highlight to be met by friendly faces. The ladies hosted Ashley for a few days and Ashley joined them for an evening paddle with the local club.

Ashley joins the local paddling club for an evening paddle
Ashley joins the local paddling club for an evening paddle

The finishing line in sight, Ashley made quick progress from Harstad to Sommarøya, using the wind and tide to her advantage. Passing on the inside of Senje was beautiful. On the finishing day Ashley paddled the final 15km in the early hours of the morning before a forecasted storm came in. The area of Sommarøya is very exposed; good timing and luck meant she made it to the finish line before the storm hit.

Ashley celebrates ash she lands at her final destination
Ashley celebrates ash she lands at her final destination

Ashley had a brilliant summer padding the coast of Norway, taking each day as it came and enjoying the freedom of expedition life. Weather conditions were nothing to complain about, company was lovely and the scenery and wildlife was unique.


Ashley had a brilliant summer padding the coast of Norway, taking each day as it came and enjoying the freedom of expedition life. "


The Gear that Made This Possible