Kjerringøy – one of the best kept secrets in Europe
Just a stone’s throw from Bodø, the most important ferry to Lofoten, is one of the last undiscovered secrets of Europe. At least if Lonley Planet is to be believed. Ignorant of this assertion, we have currently invited to this peninsula. It is currently the best marketing strategy to market places as abandoned, as undiscovered, as secret tips. If possible, crowds of motorhome enthusiasts, selfisers and flight junkies set out to take photos of themselves in such places and then move on as quickly as possible. Whether that was the purpose of Lonley Planet to describe the Kjerringøy peninsula as one of the best kept secrets in Europe in one of its editions would be going too far. Rather, the author was in love with Kjerringøy, quite in love. And I have to admit, I feel the same way. Fortunately, Kjerringøy has room for two.
Actually we wanted to go to Lofoten
Actually we wanted to go to Lofoten. But now everyone goes there. As beautiful as it is there, we have rescheduled precisely for this reason and always drive the northern road from Bodø along the coast. As is so often the case, such an undertaking ends on the coast of Norway in front of a ferry. You can only get to Kjerringøy by ferry. The ferry terminal is just 30 kilometers north of Bodø. A wonderful and not so short crossing further, we leave the boat with nine cars and a van. And because we like to be the last on vacation, we leave everyone else first.
Admittedly, the Kjerringøy open-air museum with its old trading post (gammle handelsted Kjerringøy) has long been on our wish list. now it lies before us, within reach. As soon as we drove a few hundred meters, it happened to me. I’m in love. In love with this landscape with its glittering and rugged mountains on the horizon, its narrow white sandy beaches and the turquoise water. And the further we go and the more often we stop, the worse it gets.
Somewhere on the rocky shore, a freshly painted boathouse creates a bright splash of color. No car and no one far and wide. But sheep and cows. The sheep seem to belong to Kjerringøy in this area, they self-confidently populate the street in a crowd, but we have time. And leisure. Soon we will reach Kjerringøy. And with it the picturesque bay, the old trading post Kjerringøy with its white wooden church.
Old trading post Kjerringøy / Gamle Handelssted Kjerringøy
In the 19th century Kjerringøy was a very lively and rich trading post. And at times even the richest trading center in all of Nordland. The sea, with its rich fish population, provided the basis for prosperity off the Lofoten Islands. It was also the fishermen from neighboring Lofoten who sold their catch here. From Kjerringøy the fish was dried, placed in salt water and then sold on to Bergen, for example. With the fish trade, a marketplace established itself in Kjerringøy, which now offered everything the people needed. Because fishermen who sold something also had the money to buy something again …
What started on a modest scale until around 1820, then experienced a real boom. Good prices were obtained for the fish and trade flourished. But from 1875 the business went steadily downhill until the old trading post Kjerringøy was finally abandoned.
After 1820 the settlement in Kjerringøy, which today forms the open-air museum, was built. The 15 historic houses and buildings have been preserved, only the church was demolished and rebuilt in its current location.
In the main building there is a recommended audio-visual show and an interesting exhibition, of course with a very rustic café . And where there is a café in Norway, you can also order waffles. With coffee, as much as you can drink. And where you can order waffles in Norway, we’re there.
The open-air museum Kjerringøy is also a wonderful park for undisturbed BEING, for walks, dream dances and to look into the air and landscape. We will spend many hours here with our young children before we go back to the van that we parked across from the church.
The small harbor town of Kjerringøy
Kerringøy, that is much more than the open-air museum that is really worth seeing. Kjerringøy is a wonderful harbor town with a small supermarket, with the neighboring bakery including a café that could hardly be more cozy, with a rustic and modest fishing and sport boat harbor and a hotel that offers its guests an overnight stay in modeled boathouses with direct View of the water.
There is hardly any traffic, so we keep walking the short stretches through Kjerringøy and no matter where we are, we see and breathe the sea.
And so we also see how a thick wall of fog, perhaps only 100 meters high, pulls over from the sea and the Kjerringøy peninsula will soon be covered in opaque cotton wool.
We continue on the peninsula over the narrow road the north, always along the coast of Kjerringøy. Traffic hardly comes towards us, at some point there are a few reindeer on the road. There are hardly any roads here, and the towns are also more than clearly laid out. On the entire Kjerringøy peninsula, just 575 people share their home. Fishing and agriculture seem to be the two main sources of income.
The tourist season is very short with almost 10 weeks. So it might help that wild camping is simply not possible on Kjerringøy, maybe that, in addition to the narrow road conditions and non-existent drive-in bays, also keeps large motorhomes away. We discovered just such a bay, just big enough for our Bulli. Because from a tourist point of view there is only one narrow street, the FV 571, on which in many places there are no two cars next to each other. Sometimes only a guardrail clears the road from the abyss into the sea. All other roads lead to the small residential areas and to the farms.
And it is precisely on this road that we want to get as far to the north of the Kjerringøy peninsula as we can on this peninsula. We would not have dared to dream that we can actually stop and stay at this point.
We are allowed to use a small bulge in which the construction vehicles usually unload their material or turn around on the narrow street and set up everything for our dinner here.
Cars will no longer drive here, because the road is closed for hours in a few meters to protect the steep slopes from falling rocks. From here, actually the northernmost point of Kjerringøy, we enjoy a unique panorama over the Karlsøfjord to the neighboring uninhabited islands. Occasionally a cargo ship or fishing cutter chugs in the fairway in front of us and gives us a feel for the size of this fjord. According to the mood, a school of whales should swim through here. And that shouldn’t be so unlikely during the herring season.
Fancy hiking on Kerringøy
Those who love nature and seclusion, but want to hike manageable and quiet stretches, will appreciate the numerous marked hiking trails on Kjerringøy. The distances are manageable, the surroundings are unique and as dreamy as the whole island. Forests, lakes, fjords and rugged, partly snow-covered rocks on Kjerringøy or its neighbors alternate at short intervals. The narrow streets lead to the paths and offer small parking spaces for one of the two cars.
And so a narrow, unpaved path leads across the small inland area of Kjerringøy to the eastern side, before it becomes a few Kilometers along the fjord. You pass isolated boathouses, holiday huts and a magnificent view of the mountains opposite the water. It’s over in the small fishing village of Øyjorda. The environment is so isolated that you almost suspect our presence.
At some point you saw every stone here, too
It is slowly time to leave the Kjerringøy peninsula again. We stayed here for three full days. That’s a long time for such a small place. But also pretty short for such a beautiful place. It is not without reason that people who drive to Bodø to work every day live here, and it is not without reason that residents of the town of Bodø, 30 kilometers away, build their holiday homes right here.
We slowly get up the next morning and sneak formal, lost in thought, to the ferry that brings us back north towards the European route E6. We look back wistfully and leave a piece of our heart here in Kjerringøy.