Norway gave me a final send off with ominous grey clouds and a breath -catching hill. Leaving it feels like a landmark in the trip.
I knew I was jumping into the deep end when I decided to cast myself into the wilderness of the most northern point in Europe. And when I arrived it felt like I’d landed on the moon. It’s been a month of extremes -I won’t miss the super sized mosquitoes, dark cold tunnels; days of clouds so low you can almost touch them, and playing chicken with ferocious logging trucks. But I will miss the vast landscape and spotting herds of reindeer; mountains dropping vertically into the sea; and the purple, pink, blue and yellow kaleidoscope of wild flowers on the road verges.
I had never camped on my own before let alone miles from the nearest sign of civilisation, and I have discovered the liberation of being totally self sufficient with the three elements of survival – food, water and shelter on the back of my bike. Living the feral life has been both rewarding and challenging. There is a simplicity and immense satisfaction to washing in rivers and lakes, cooking one pot food, and finding the perfect pitch. And a feeling of smugness when grabbing free wifi in supermarkets to download podcasts and even going round the back and scavenging for thrown out food – a trick given to me by a Norwegian student who I cycled with for a couple of hours. He said it wasn’t illegal but I suspect it wasn’t legal either but when an avocado costs £6 forbidden fruit has never tasted so good!
I was welcomed into Sweden with a heatwave and a country that is very much in the full swing of holiday mode. I cycled down the coast which does not share the same wild nature of its neighbour. It is more like Cornwall in the height of Summer with the same amount of melting ice creams and traffic. A little detour took me to the Koster islands – a sunny, traffic free Truman Show like version of the Scilly Isles with everyone coasting around on bikes with ice creams and smiles. It couldn’t have been more opposite to what I have experienced in the last month.
As I head away from wilderness and into more densely populated countries there will be new and different challenges. I am apprehensive of laden roads and navigating a myriad of criss crossing ways so I feel like I’m entering a different phase. But if I had been asked a couple of days into the trip whether I thought I’d get this far I would have quickly answered no. That in itself is a good feeling and therefore it feels like an appropriate time to promote the two charities I’m fundraising for. Both of whom do amazing work – one through adventure and one through bikes – two causes close to my heart… for obvious reasons.
Any support you can give is very much appreciated.