Sunday, 7 January 2018

Gamvik, village and museum on the extreme North of Norway

At 71ºN, this coastal village has the northernmost museum and church in continental Norway (in Svalbard island, farther up into the Arctic, there are churches and museums). As one could guess, this is also the most depressed and poorly cared for region of Norway.

is a fishing village in Finnmark county, Norway, located on its northern shore along the Barents Sea. Once thriving of fishing and whaling activity, Gamvik declined dramatically after the fish factory closed. But it's a charming little coastal village.

Gamvik has been progressively abadonned in recent years, several houses are for sale. Maybe some tourism could help.

The village was historically only accessible by boat, but due to the poor harbour conditions it lost the ferry connection in favour of the neighbouring Mehamn. In the 1970s, Gamvik Airport was built and in the 1980s, Norwegian Road 888 started linking Mehamn to Gamvik.

The Old Norse form of the name may have been Gangvík. The first element is then gangr which means "path" and the last element is vík which means "cove" or "wick".

Lonely house in Gamvik: it could be in Greenland...

Gamvik, Norway

: 71° 02′ N, 27° 51′ E
:  ~ 1400 (municipality)

The church, the school and the museum are the main buildings. The building quality is under average for Norway.

A herd of reindeer wandering through town.

Kids from Gamvik municipality bring life to the local school.

Brygga, the old pier in decay.

Gamvik old church

Gamvik Church, 1958, on the site of several previous churches.

The northernmost church in mainland Europe.

The altar, baptistery and pulpit.

The organ gallery and a votive ship (kirkeskip) honouring Gamvik seamen.

The Museum

Housed in an old fish factory, the restored "Brodtkorbbruket", and facing the Barents Sea, the Gamvik Museum is an authentic framework for the history of the fishing industry and coastal culture.

The Museum was founded in 1978 with a collecting of photographs and artifacts, revealing the turbulent history of Nordkyn.

Pomor trade items.

'Pomor' is the trade carried out between the Pomors of Northwest Russia and the people along the coast of Northern Norway. It dates back to the Viking Age and the Middle Age.

The exhibition is extended outside:

Tradtional large 'A' frame used for hanging cod on to dry.

The expedition vessel "Gamvik" was built in 1971. It was the last major wooden boat used to shuttle goods and passengers between Gamvik's quay and the Hurtigrutan ferry.

The "pramma", as it was commonly called, played an important part in the economic and social life of the communities. In bad weather, passengers had to go to the "sail" - a kind of basket in sailcloth - which was then taken on board. The "pramma" was in use up to 1990.

The vessel was given in 1991 from the shipping company to Gamvik municipality; later it was decided that the vessel was to be landed at Gamvik Museum.

Slettnes Lighthouse
, 71° 05′ N

Built in 1905, and located about 3 km north of Gamvik, this is the northernmost lighthouse on continental Europe, also known as the 'North Cape Light'. The round cast iron tower is 39 metres high. It has been declared an heritage site and provides tourist lodging.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Hamnavoe, harbour village on Shetland's West Burra

Hamnavoe is a Viking word meaning "safe harbour"; any coastal settlement with a pier might have taken the name at the time. Stromness, on the Orkneys, was the main known hamnavoe, but several villages in the Shetlands are old safe harbours with the same name.

Now this one Hamnavoe is on West Burra islet, west of Scalloway. Right on the Ultima Thule route from the north of the British Islands upwards to the Arctic.

Hamnavoe, Burra, Shetland Islands

Coordinates:  60 06' N, 01 21' W
Population:    300 - 400

Hamnavoe is the main settlement on Burra, but there is no historic heritage, and nor specially rich architecture or picturesque sights. The hamlet had just a few cottages in 1890, but in the 1920s, when access was still by ferry from the Mainland, it was expanded with rows of fishermen cottages, as part of an urban planning policy. It's common to see fishing boats outside someone's home.

The  fishing community, built on the site of an older small sheltered harbour, grew rapidly: around 1920, there was even a family of boatbuilders, the Duncans of Hamnavoe.

Row of fisherman's cottages

The cottages are typically single storey with two rooms, a central front door and a porch, often highly decorated.

Fullerton cottage

Sunnybrae, Highmount

Hamnavoe is 5 km from Scalloway and 9 km from Lerwick, with regular bus service. Those provide all the shops and services. In Hamnavoe there is only a Community Hall, a Primary School, and a grocery shop that is also the Post Office: Andrew Halcrow's store.

Andrew Halcrow is a quite renowned lone yachtman from Hamnavoe who attempted twice to sail round the world, in a boat he had built himself - the Elsi Arrub (that's Burra Isle backwards). But that's a long story, to be found elsewhere.

Andrew Halcrow in the Elsi Arrub, leaving Hamnavoe.

One of the most iconic cottages is a small shed whose walls are covered with natural seashells:

The unique Honeysuckle cottage.

A local attraction...

The heart of Hamnavoe is its harbour, complete with its pier. Sheltered from the ocean by a granite promontory, that's the reason for the village to exist.

The haven is suited to small boats that can be harboured close inshore.

Large scale fishing ended long ago, nowadays only fishermen's boats and leisure boats are moored at the marina.

Recently, a local resident, Anne Eunson, started making fences for the garden around her house with fishnet strings, knitted in an artistic manner that ravished everyone who saw.

It has been a success - transmitted by the social media they became widely known.

Around Hamnavoe

West Burra island is approximately 7 km from north to south and 3km from east to west at its widest point. The highest point on the island is 65 m above sea level. 

The Fugla Ness lighthouse

There is a lighthouse at Fugla Bay opposite Hamnavoe. It was built by David A. Stevenson in 1893 and rebuilt by Charles and David A. Stevenson in 1936.

Meal Kirk and beach

Meal Kirk was built in 1907 for the Church of Scotland. It's no longer in service.

A small grey-harled church with white painted window surrounds. Improvements are planned to increase use of the building by the community.

Meal Beach

The path downhill to the sea.

One of the most magnificent in the island at low tide, just to the south-east of Hamnavoe.

So, a kind and southerly (!) Ultima Thule, more a stopover to higher latitudes.