Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Gales and rain with the odd sunny spell this week

Ony fyr, in good weather
It's turning into an exciting tour - I feel like I'm a long long way from home, riding between very small coastal hamlets on a road just wide enough for one car, with steady rain (and gales at times) in scenery that reminds me of the West Coast of Ireland in the 1970's. The people are friendly and welcoming, no-one locks their doors, but the number of people living here has obviously dropped a great deal in the last couple of decades as people move to an easier lifestyle in the bigger cities. Many shuttered houses for summer use only. And summer seems to be due sometime in July, so I'm seeing about only four or five cars a day on the small roads I'm on.

The route I'm following is broadly described in the Statens Kartverk cycling guide "Øyhopping i Møre & Romsdal" - quite gentle, lots of buttercups and wildflowers, cuckoos calling in the dry spells, and broken crab shells on the roads (dropped by seagulls I imagine).

I'm writing this in a very small rural community center/library in Aukra (try "Aukra Molde" in Google Maps), where the librarian has hung my dripping coat up and given me a seat at her best internet terminal.

I've spent the last two nights riding out a storm on the tiny island of Ona, one of Norway's most famous lighthouse rocks with about fifty people living on it. I arrived courtesy of the small ambulance boat with two or three others because the car ferry that usually calls twice a day is out of service at the moment. Ona is very pretty, little wooden houses huddled beneath the red lighthouse, and the whole perched about forty minutes out to sea on a notorious skerry of low-lying islands battered by the Atlantic. The locals have been very forebearing with my Norwegian and helpfully pointed out the track to Ellebjørn Bjørnerem's house. She then pointed me up a steep grass track to the hut nestling against the rock above us - a two-room affair with a good Jøtul stove and trapdoor attic room with built-in beds just long enough to stretch out in.

I decided to move on today from the cosy wooden hut I was in because the wind and rain battering the hut was starting to get me down and I only have enough cash for another day or two - so far the weather has been bad enough for me to have used the lavvo just once and huts for the other nights.

The night before that I slept in the loft of an open boathouse when I couldn't find anywhere more sheltered to sleep. I think it belongs to a local fishing club, it was at the end of a big lake - biscuits for supper and clothes-drying by candle after getting off the ferry at the wrong stop and finding myself on an island with a road back to Ålesund at the end of it.

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