Arctic adventure: kayaking in Viking country

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Paddling is the best way to enjoy the sawtooth peaks, white coral beaches, rosy red fishers’ cabins and extraordinary light in Norway’s Lofoten Islands

We arrive by night, the wind and rain battering Svolvaer harbour, the last stop on a 3½-hour ferry journey from mainland Bodø through the ink-black Arctic waters of northernmost Norway to the Lofoten Islands. My girlfriend and I have come here to kayak in some of the world’s most dramatic and remote scenery – an ancient land of sawtooth peaks, ghost-white coral beaches, and a remote beauty unlike anywhere else on the planet.

We awake to lashing rain the next morning: the elements, with a violence akin to Thor’s hammer, are continuing to stamp their authority on the islandIn misty daylight, Svolvaer, the main settlement and transport hub, reveals a jaw-dropping natural drama of vertiginous mountains towering over a blend of low red rorbuer (timber fishers’ huts) cheek by jowl with modernist Lego hotels. It should be architecturally discordant, but the little town, with its confection of galleries, gift shops and cafes has a lo-fi charm that quickly grows on us.

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