This is the story about taking our dog to the Arctic Circle and back in our camper van. It’s an Elddis Evolution CV40 (2020 model) – a retailer special edition model built by Elddis, exclusively for Brownhills.
In the years we’ve had our motorhome we’ve had no mechanical issues with our campervan – a Fiat Ducato 4-berth model. We have completed many trips, long and short since purchasing her and, yes, there can be hiccups along the way, but it’s all about enjoying the moment!
We haven’t made any modifications to her, but have installed a full depth double mattress in the back, which makes sleeping so much more comfortable and cosy.
So, just a quick introduction to us. We (Kat And Darren) are a married couple who both work full time … kids are all grown up. However, our six-year-old Alaskan Malamute, Koa, is the fur baby. He loves to travel and enjoys trains, ferries, buses but most of all our camper van. It’s his second home and wants to be in it all the time!
We used the park4night app throughout our whole journey - over 10 days - finding somewhere safe and comfortable to sleep every single night. We had some really, really good places that we stayed and some that were just exactly that, just somewhere to park for the night.
This journey is intense and not for everyone - the miles covered are indeed excessive. We hope to become much more leisurely as we retire!
This journey started at Hull port, where we crossed over to Rotterdam. When we disembarked we followed the A1 all the way toward Hamburg, although the weather was rainy, it was very warm still, around 22°c.
As we pulled into our first camp of the break (actually the only one that I booked in advance) called Kluthsee and Seeblick, near Lubeck, northern Germany, we found a nice spot and settled in. I took Koa for a walk, but he spotted a rabbit and chased towards it, which would’ve been fine … however, I was still holding onto the other end of the lead, so down I went in the mud!
After enjoying a hot shower (washing off the mud), we got cosy and enjoyed a well-deserved night of sleep.
The next day, we headed north to Denmark, our ferry heading from Hirtshals to Kristiansand in Norway. As we crossed the border into Denmark, my husband checked his emails and unfortunately there was one to say that our sailing that day had been cancelled due to bad weather. We kept a level head and pulled into some services so that we could re-plan our holiday route. Google Maps said it would now be better to drive through Sweden!
So, because the route was now taking us up through Sweden, it also meant that we had to miss out part of our journey - Kristiansand, Bergen, as well as Stavanger. However, we tried to be realistic about it as this was going to make it easier for us (hopefully) to get up to the Arctic Circle and our northern goal! We made the decision to go the long way round through Odense and Zealand, in case the next sailing was also cancelled.
We headed east through the tunnel and towards Sweden, over the great belt. There was a massive bridge, probably the biggest I’ve ever been on and out towards Copenhagen.
We then crossed the Oresund, which took us under and over the water and into Sweden. We took the E4 north towards Stockholm, and stayed at night on a beautiful lake, called Sodertalje.
The next day we carried on north through Stockholm and Uppsalla, up to Sundsval before heading inland to make our way across the country by the 14.
We stopped at Fjallsjoalven to cook, clean up and let Koa have a really good run. It felt very cold all of a sudden, so we guessed that the journey was also going to get colder from here on and we needed to get the thermals out! We got onto the 45 and, as we hit Vilhelmina, the snowy conditions became quite apparent. When we pulled up for the night at Sorselle, we were almost a foot deep in snow! It was brilliant for Koa because he had never seen the snow and he loves the cold, but it was a very chilly night for us. Of course, we did have to have the heating on in the campervan to make it snuggly, but always turn it off for bed. Brrrrrrr! The Following day we continued onto Slagnas. Then we turned off towards Arjeplog to get onto the 95, towards the Arctic.
The scenery was breathtaking. We saw deer, reindeer and birds of prey. The lakes of ice went on for miles, and their swirling patterns were captivating. We listened to ‘Not 19 Forever’ by the Courteeners as we crossed into the Arctic Circle.
A while later, the border with Norway came into view and the weather and climate changed immediately. The snow was gone, everything turned green and everything was breathtakingly lush and beautiful.
We continued our journey west towards Bodo. We had a lovely walk around the town and time for food before heading south, down the e6 towards Mo I Rana, but guess what? The snow was back.
It turned very cold, very quickly. We gave the dog a quick walk around and headed back to the van and we drove a little further south to Mosjoen, where we stayed for the night on a beautiful beach.
That night, all we could see was a strip of pale cloud in the dark, black sky. However in the morning, wow what a shock! This was actually a snow-covered mountain, just a few hundred metres on the other side of the beach. Koa had his morning swim and we had our first trip to a Norwegian supermarket. Needless to say, we bought Freia (Norwegian brand) chocolate and Scandinavian meatballs - they were the first in the basket! I enjoyed cooking them (but eating them was better!).
As we followed the e6 south towards Trondheim, we had planned to stay by a river at a lovely site called Halland, but when we got there the pipework had frozen and they could not offer showers or toilets. However, the owner was really informative and let us know that further down the road, at the services, they hired out shower rooms so we could go there for a nice hot shower. It was lovely!
We then slept in a secluded place not far from the road at Rennebu. In the morning we walked Koa around the area. It was very pretty with waterfalls, forests and clouds that came right down to your feet. We headed off to a beautiful frozen lake at Hierkinn, before lunch in Otta, a very cute town where two rivers meet.
That night, we were so lucky to have fallen upon a beautiful spot in Ringebu with a private beach for Koa, a river beautifully mirroring images of the trees around it. It was silent. It was serene. That night the sky was so clear we were able to get a shot of the green glow of the Northern Lights. However, that was one of the coldest nights, very, very cold! Wrapped in blankets taking photos of the starry sky!
The following day we carried on our trip and we went to Lillehammer. We enjoyed a wonderful Riverside walk before heading up the mountain to see the slopes of the winter Olympics.
We then had a beautiful leisurely walk along the water at Koigen, enjoying the water, the beach and the many statues – after which, we got packed up and headed towards Oslo.
We stayed at Bogstad top camp near a little town called Roa. We enjoyed great amenities here - such a good campsite! We had a great walk into the town that night.
The next morning we had sent our information for our ferry boarding from Rotterdam, and it came back with a problem … Koa needed to have another worming treatment to come back to the UK as it had been longer than five days. Panic stations! It’s been difficult enough sorting out his appointments back in the UK to bring him abroad - never mind trying to find an emergency vet in another country without an appointment! Good old Google. I wandered into the first that we saw and they could not have been more helpful. After Koa had had his treatment and the paperwork was completed (and the payment) we sent off for a day in the city, back to civilisation.
Oslo is amazing and far too much to write about here - so go! You won’t regret it! There’s architecture and sculpture in abundance, high-end stores and places to eat to suit everyone. Koa got lots of attention … he is now in lots of travellers’ photographs, as people posed with him! We enjoyed a great meal and had a wonderful time before heading off to Larvik, south west of Oslo in readiness for our trip back to Denmark next day.
That night was very, very cold and we gratefully used the heating in the Elddis. Luckily the campervan heating is excellent and warms up very quickly, which was welcoming after that evening’s brisk (bloody freezing) dog walk!
However, there was another email from the ferry company. It said our sailing would be delayed in the morning by two hours, with no mention why. I was just grateful it wasn’t cancelled, but I had a hard time sleeping, just in case.
The next morning was grey and wet, and I was very sad to be leaving Norway - where I felt so free, and the dog had had the best time! We drove onto the vessel and headed up the stairs to the café area. It was then that we were told that we were going to be further delayed due to a technical fault. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t getting upset. At this point, I knew that if this ship didn’t sail, we would be at risk of missing our crossing back to the UK the next day.
At lunchtime, the inevitable happened and it was indeed cancelled. We could not get back to Denmark that day. It took a further hour to get all of the cars and lorries off the vessel taking us to 1 o’clock in the afternoon. This was going to be a very long journey back to Rotterdam!
We also had to cancel our Lego house tickets for Billund in Denmark. Just another part of the trip that had to be terminated because of these cancelled ferries!
We then drove a solid 14 hours, taking it in turns - three hours each from Larvik, all the way back through Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and back to Germany by 3 am on Sunday. We had arrived in Bremen and we threw ourselves into bed. Exhausted, yet relieved. Proud of ourselves for powering on!
When we woke, we had a nice walk with the dog, and then we took him to the beach at the Hague. It was a blustery day and the North Sea looked violent.
We drove on to Rotterdam and the Europort, checking into our cabin on the boat. Boy, was I hungry and ready to rest! We were so happy that our campervan did not give up on us, especially in the last 2,000 miles. We had really pushed the vehicle in the last 10 days and we were so grateful.
Because of the cancelled ferries we did miss out on places that we wanted to visit in Norway and we had no option than to change our plans or run the risk of missing our ferry home to the UK, but this trip made us want to return to Scandinavia again and again, and can’t wait to go back!
Next year we’ll be touring the beaches of northern France. It will be an emotional holiday, thinking of all who lost their lives in the War, but our route will take in all the stunning scenery, towns and villages other CVers have recommended – as well as our own discoveries to feed back. And … it should be several degrees warmer than the Arctic!!
Traveling Van Life bought their Elddis campervan in late March 2022, and, ever since, have fully embraced campervan adventures. Weekends and holidays, rain or shine, …
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