Kjerringøy – one of the best kept secrets in Europe
It is currently the best marketing strategy to market places as leaving, as undiscovered, as secret tips. If possible, flocks of mobile homes, selfi disciples 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 point of Lonley Planet to describe the Kjerringøy peninsula in one of its editions as one of the best kept secrets in Europe would be too broad. 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.
We actually wanted to go to Lofoten
We actually wanted to go to Lofoten. But everyone is going there now. As beautiful as it is there, we have re-arranged for this reason and always drive the northern road from Bodø along the coast. As is so often the case, this endeavors ends on the coast of Norway in front of a ferry. You can only get to Kjerringøy by ferry. The ferry dock is just 30 kilometers north of Bodø. A wonderful and not so short crossing we leave the barge with nine cars and a van. And because we like to be the last on vacation, let’s leave everyone else first.
Admittedly, the open air museum Kjerringøy with its old trading place (gammle handelsted Kjerringøy) has been on our wish list for a long time. now it is in front of 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 drive and the more often we stop, the worse it gets.
Somewhere on the rocky shore, a freshly painted boathouse forms a splash of color. No car and no one anywhere. But sheep and cows. Kjerringøy seems to belong to the sheep in this area, they confidently populate the street in a crowd, but how much time we have. And leisure. We will soon reach Kjerringøy. And with it the picturesque bay, the old Kjerringøy trading center with its white wooden church.
Old trading place Kjerringøy / Gamle Handelssted Kjerringøy
In the 19th century, Kjerringøy was a very lively and rich trading center. And at times even the richest trading center in all of Nordland. The basis for prosperity was the sea with its rich fish population off the Lofoten Islands. So it was the fishermen from neighboring Lofoten who sold their catch here. The fish was dried from Kjerringøy, placed in salt water and then sold on to Bergen, for example. With the fish trade, a market place was established in Kjerringøy, which now offered everything that people needed. Because fishermen who sold something also had money to buy something again …
What started out modestly until about 1820 then experienced a real boom. Good prices were achieved for the fish and trade flourished. But from 1875 the business continued to decline until the old Kjerringøy trading center was finally abandoned.
After 1820 the settlement in Kjerringøy, which today forms the open-air museum, was created. The historical 15 houses and buildings have been preserved, only the church was demolished and rebuilt in its current place.
In the main building there is a recommendable audio-visual show and an interesting exhibition, of course with a very quaint café. And where there is a café in Norway, you can also order waffles. With coffee as much as you like to drink. And wherever you can order waffles in Norway, we are there.
The Kjerringøy open-air museum is also a wonderful park for undisturbed being, for walks, dream dances and looking in the air and landscape through the exhibition of the buildings. We will spend many hours here with our young children before we go back to the van that we parked opposite at the church.
The small harbor town of Kjerringøy
Kerringøy 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, which could hardly be more comfortable, with a quaint and modest fishing and sports 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 distances 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, moves across from the sea and the Kjerringøy peninsula will soon be covered in opaque cotton wool.
We drive north on the peninsula along the narrow road, always along the coast of Kjerringøy. Traffic hardly comes to us, at some point there are a few reindeer on the street. There are hardly any roads here, and the towns are also more than clear. Just 575 people share their homes on the entire Kjerringøy peninsula. Fishing and agriculture seem to be the two main sources of income.
The tourist season is very short with almost 10 weeks. It may help that wild camping on Kjerringøy is simply not possible, maybe that in addition to the narrow road conditions and non-accessible bays, this also keeps large motorhomes pleasant. We discovered exactly 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. Sometimes only a guardrail removes the road from the abyss into the sea. All other streets lead to the small residential areas and to the courtyards.
And it is exactly on this road that we want to get as far north of the Kjerringøy peninsula as we can on this peninsula. We would not have dared to dream that we could actually hold and stay at this point.
We can use a small bulge, in which the construction vehicles normally unload their material or turn on the narrow street, and set up everything for our dinner here.
Kodak Ektar, Leica Summilux 1.4 50 asph.,Kjerringøy, Karlsøfjord | © mare.photoCars will no longer drive here because the road is blocked for hours in a few meters to secure the steep slopes against rockfall. From here, which is 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 trawler chugs in the fairway in front of us and gives us a feeling for the size of this fjord. According to the mood, a school with whales should swim through here. And it shouldn’t be that unlikely during the herring season.
Fancy hiking on Kerringøy
If you love nature and seclusion, but would like to hike manageable and quiet routes, you will appreciate the numerous marked hiking trails on Kjerringøy. The distances are manageable, the surroundings unique and as dreamlike 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 from Kjerringøy to the east side before it runs a few kilometers along the fjord. Passing isolated boathouses, vacation cabins and a magnificent view of the mountains opposite the water. The small fishing village of Øyjorda is the end. The surrounding area is so isolated that our presence is almost suspiciously eyed.
At some point you saw every stone here
It’s time to leave the Kjerringøy peninsula. We stayed here for three full days. It’s quite a long time for such a small place. But also very short for such a beautiful place. It is not without reason that people live here every day to work in Bodø and it is not without reason that residents of the town of Bodø, 30 kilometers away, build their holiday homes right here.
Slowly, we set out the next morning and literally creep, lost in thought, to the ferry, which takes us north again on the European route E6. We look back wistfully and leave a piece of heart here in Kjerringøy.