Båtsfjord on the Varanger Peninsula: At the end of the world and still the sea …
We have been on the Varanger Peninsula in Finnmark for a few days, have been able to discover the Arctic Ocean Road on the Barents Sea and have eaten a waffle lanthandel in the picturesque Kongsfjord. Now we could go back to the south, but the curiosity for a place still holds us. And so we turn off and drive back northeast to Båtsfjord.
After we leave the main road, we screw ourselves in a few curves back to the high plateau of the Varanger peninsula. Softly curved, yet deep valleys, small meltwater lakes and now and then the remains of snow accompany us to the right and left of the straight connecting road, which offers us a wide, even panorama.
Trees are just as rare here as on the rest of the Varang Peninsula, but here are some reindeer. The huge snow guard fences indicate what the combination of snow and storm means at these latitudes.
Then it goes down again, down to sea level. And we are there. Welcome to nowhere. Welcome to Båtsfjord.
Båtsfjord in the sign of the fish
With the entrance to the village, we notice what Batsfjord is all about: fish. Some offshore Trawlers are close together, a smaller trawler has been pulled ashore for repair in a rack. A light scent of salt and fish lies in the Arctic clear air. The clouds dipped Båtsfjord in uniform gray. It is fresh today for a July evening. But those are the temperatures here in Båtsfjord, on the southern border of the Arctic region.
We visit the small center of Båtsfjord. Everything a small town needs to provide people with modest culture, money and food and drink, clothing or gift ideas – all this is here in Båtsfjord. And that, although in Båtsfjord no more than about 2,270 people live. Here, on the north coast of the Varanger Peninsula. In the past, there were several smaller settlements along the coast besides Båtsfjord, but they were only accessible by boat. And so they were given up for different reasons. Unfortunately, one of the saddest reasons was the total destruction by the German Wehrmacht, which abused the Varanger peninsula for the Russian campaign and used Båtsfjord as a supply center. But during the retreat Båtsfjord was spared by the action “scorched earth”, for whatever reason.
Båtsfjord does not necessarily recognize that it survived the war without any damage. The building has a style from the 1960-1970s. So wrong we are with the assessment whl not, also the church in Båtsfjord was built in 1971. As you can almost always find the houses along the Barents Sea, these are simple and functional built, romantic flourishes are not necessarily a matter for the Northern Europeans in these latitudes, often seeds. The settlement, however, probably goes back to the Stone Age. Corresponding geological finds give hints.
But in Båtsfjord some nations meet, the spoiled affluent society will hardly want to live here. And there are people, for whom Båtsfjord is the lesser evil, until they feel at home here.
Almost without exception, people find work in the fish factories and shipyards. These include a large freezing plant, a burring plant and various workshops around marine technology. The entire infrastructure is based on the abundance of fish off the coast of the Varanger Peninsula in the Barents Sea.
The fact that Båtsfjord, with its large fishing port, was able to develop in such a way, lies in the protected fjord, in which the Arctic storms of the port entrance can not affect. And so it is the fjord that gave the place its name. Because the Old Norse form of Båtsfjord is Botnsfjorðr, where “Botn” stands for the innermost of a fjord. And indeed, at this point of the Varanger peninsula, the fjord digs deep into the land, at the end of which lies Båtsfjord.
The fact that there are plenty of fish in these waters has also spread over the years with anglers. This is how successful fishing tourism in Båtsfjord develops. But anglers love the loneliness and lonely a place the size of Båtsfjord can hardly lie.
There is an unmissable sight in Båtsfjord, and it is really visible from afar. Because in Båtsfjord is Norway’s highest television mast. He has a height of 241.80 meters. Another attraction is discovered by geologists, however. For on the cliffs of the coast of the fjord near Båtsfjord, the cliffs sometimes have strange stripes. They have their origin as sandstone layers in the sea and then came by land movements in higher areas. Through the movements, they have changed in shape so that they look like folded.