General Arctic Panda trip!

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General Arctic Panda trip!

Joined
Mar 8, 2004
Messages
250
Location
Devon
In August an old schoolmate and me took a bit of a mission.....to drive my old Panda to the Arctic and back! I think it started as a bit of a drunken bet at uni, and so the ferry from Newcastle to Bergen was booked for the 3rd of August. To make it a proper challenge, we only booked it one way, planning to drive back through Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and France.

Not a lot of preps were done, apart from oil and filters, and the clutch cable which (luckily) broke a week before leaving. The first mission was to get to the ferry from South Devon, a trip of 400 miles on its own... we did get a stop in Manchester though, it takes a while to get there at 60 mph...

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Coffee bar!

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Ferry queue

We caught the ferry on Friday afternoon, arriving in Bergen on the Saturday afternoon, 27 hours in all. It turned out that there was absolutely nowhere with space to stay in Bergen, so we hit the road straight away, stopping for the night in Voss, about 50 miles away.

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Hitting the road!

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Voss

Then spent a few days driving around the fjords of Western Norway, which are stunning. Even though it poured with rain for the first 2 days!

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Panda in the mountains

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In a tunnel.....

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Laerdal tunnel, the world's longest

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fjord ferry

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on the ferry!

I got to drive some of the high passes as well, up to 1500 m, which the Panda got over faultlessly, if a bit slowly as I didn't want to cook it... Even found a bit of snow at the side of the road, which I promptly drove on, and got stuck.... only a bit of pushing needed ;)

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In the snow.....

The Trollstigen is the best known pass, snaking down a near-sheer mountainside in what seemed like dozens of switchbacks, each with a pretty lairy drop of the side... the brakes were stinking a bit at the bottom of that!

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Heading down Trollstigen

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Trollstigen

After that it was the 1200 mile trip north, on the Arctic Highway, roads just as windy as ever, though gradually fewer hills, which I think the car was glad of.

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Crossing the Arctic Circle!

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Obligatory moose sticker!

Eventually reaching Tromso, almost at the top of Norway, it was time for a break for a few days. Its a really cool town, tons of things to do and really good bars and stuff, despite beer being £6 a pint! Being August, it didn't get dark either... its a bit strange walking back at 2 am with the sun coming up!

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Tromso

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Car and cabin

Tromso was as far north as we had time for, we could possibly have gone right up to Nordkapp (the north cape), but it is supposed to be nothing particularly special, and would take another 4 days. So we turned to Finland, heading down through Lapland to the Baltic coast and Sweden. Not a lot to see in Finland, bought a reindeer hide from the side of the road, then narrowly avoided hitting another, bloody suicidal animals...

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Oresund bridge

Sweden is massive. It took a good three days, and 1500 miles to get through it, most of the north is one enormous forest, so not much to see, and it rained a fair bit too. Eventually we got to the Oresund bridge, crossing from Sweden to Denmark, which is awesome. A quick blast (even once hit 80 mph!!!) down the autobahn in Germany saw us reach the Netherlands where we stopped with a mate of mine, before the boring trudge back to Dover and back down to Devon. And the Panda never missed a beat! Which is just as well, seeing as I had no breakdown cover ;)

All in all, it was a damn good trip, I'd reccommend Norway to anyone, and its not as expensive as everyone makes out... maybe next time try the same in January??? :) Preferably with a bit less driving! ;)

In all:
17 days (12 driving)
4461 miles
45 mpg average, not bad for a 4x4!

cheers, Mike
 
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Alan.D

Ban the Mongol rally
Joined
Mar 27, 2004
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13,622
Location
West Cumbria
How could you get stuck in the snow in a 4x4?:eek: :bang:

Looks like an excellent trip was had...(y)
 

JimMagill

Northern Ireland
Joined
Mar 5, 2005
Messages
8,858
Location
Carrickfergus
That looks like so much fun!

We did it in 2004 in our old saab that I'd bought off ebay for 400 quid. That was back in the day when the forum beleived that you needed propper cars to get any further than tescos and I believed them and left the panda at home, hehe!

Jim
 

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OP
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totnesmonster
Joined
Mar 8, 2004
Messages
250
Location
Devon
Cheers All,
In my defence the snow was about a foot deep and not like snow at all, more like ice cubes (it was late summer!). Got a few odd looks though!
 

Wee Smurf

Yellow is the way to go!
Joined
Aug 9, 2005
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3,898
Location
Belfast
The photos remind me of my trip to Norway last summer... Although we didn't venture quite as far up the country as you. We only went up as far as the Lofoten Islands, although I recognised a lot of the places you had gone to. Did you too go to Hell? lol

Hopefully when Jim returns to Norway in 2009 with Sylvia, he will discover that there are more roads in Norway other than the E6 :nerner:, and will also get to travel the Trollstiggen Road... and go to Geiranger. It's amazing how so many of the roads remain open all year, whereas over here everything would grind to a halt at the first flake of snow.
 
OP
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totnesmonster
Joined
Mar 8, 2004
Messages
250
Location
Devon
The photos remind me of my trip to Norway last summer... Although we didn't venture quite as far up the country as you. We only went up as far as the Lofoten Islands, although I recognised a lot of the places you had gone to. Did you too go to Hell? lol

Hopefully when Jim returns to Norway in 2009 with Sylvia, he will discover that there are more roads in Norway other than the E6 :nerner:, and will also get to travel the Trollstiggen Road... and go to Geiranger. It's amazing how so many of the roads remain open all year, whereas over here everything would grind to a halt at the first flake of snow.

Yeah, we missed out on the Lofoten islands, but its on the list for when I go back. Yep, we went to Hell too, and it wasn't all that bad......

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;)
 
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