Fend for yourself: Børgefjell National Park, Norway
Marc MacMillan, December 10, 2010
Last summer my twin brother Robert and I decided to plan a 3-week tour to the wildest, most inaccessible and remote part of Europe. We wanted to see whether places still existed where you could walk for weeks at a time covering pristine wilderness without encountering any other people. To find such an area on a student’s budget was going to be difficult. Scandinavia was immediately an obvious choice with affordable public transport, some of the rawest landscape in Europe and of course 24 hours of sunlight. After hours of research we settled on Børgefjell National Park, soon finding how little information there is in English. This blog intends to give you a flavour of the area and provide some solutions if you were looking to take on an adventure here.
Børgefjell National Park is in Norway, sitting just below the Arctic Circle along the Swedish border. The park offers 559 square miles of pristine wilderness, which is home to an array of rare arctic flora and fauna including arctic foxes, snowy owls and wolverines. There are no trails or tourist infrastructure in this wild landscape, allowing those lucky enough to access the park the possibility of really getting away. For fishing enthusiasts there are a large number of lakes, waterfalls and ponds which are renowned for fantastic wild brown trout fishing.
The best time to visit the park is during the summer and autumn. June and July offer great hiking but snow melt and mosquitoes can be a nuisance. The ideal time to visit is in August and September when mosquitoes have died down, fishing is hitting its peak and berries and mushrooms are at their best. October offers fly-free hiking and beautiful autumn colours but colder weather.
To fully enjoy the park allow plenty of time for the distances you want to cover, factoring in the chance of a day’s rest as weather in the park can be dramatic. The weather matches the raw and exposed characteristics of the park, in the first 3 weeks of July we experienced 35mm of rain in 12 hours and lows of 1.2C as well as prolonged periods of clear skies with highs of 22C. The correct gear and planning is therefore essential to have an enjoyable time in the park as there are no cabins for shelter or any other help support within the park.
Wilderness in Norway is best accessed using the rail network. Trains tickets and times could not be easier to buy and find in advance online, only coming to a fraction of the price you would pay to reach a similar latitude in Greenland, Canada or Russia. Scandinavians are fantastic at picking up hitch-hikers and from my experience I haven’t been to a country where people haven’t been friendlier or more willing to help in the outdoors. It’s also extremely useful that the average Norwegian speaks great English.
From Trondheim we took a 5.5 hour train journey north to Majavatn. This can all easily be booked in advance through nsb.no, return tickets cost £80 per person. The train stops in both Trondheim and the airport which is situated outside the city in Varna. Two trains leave daily from Trondheim to Majavatn, one in the evening and one in the morning.
Bear in mind no supplies can be picked up in Majavatn (27km to closest petrol station) so we took the airport bus (£8) into Trondheim on the first evening to buy camping fuel and other supplies. Trondheim has many outdoor shops in its centre, be aware however most shops close by 6pm and it takes approximately 45 minutes to travel from the airport to Trondheim train station which is located centrally.
From Majavatn train station it is a simple 2km walk along a quiet gravel road before a further 2km along a marked trial before you arrive in Børgefjell National Park.
Total travel costs came to £288 in Summer 2010. Additional costs: A fishing license which costs £50 is required if you intend to fish in Børgefjell. This can be bought in advance online through inatur.no. Maps: TurKart Børgefjell North and South 1:50 000, these two maps can be bought in advance from stanfords.co.uk, £38 for both maps and postage.