Whether you have been to Norway or not, you will either know or have heard about how incredible it is, so there’s not much point in me telling you that. Rather, I feel it is better to sum up my trip through a series of hints and photos which will give you some idea of what we got up to, as well as helping you to make the most out of your own trip.
You can camp on pretty much any public land in Norway so make the most of it. With lakes and mountains everywhere and loads of roadside rest areas with picnic benches you’ve got everything you need.
So many of the roads in Norway are privately owned steep, gravelly toll roads. Good traction and clearance will dramatically reduce your anxiety and will make you less bitter about having to pay to use a road that is ruining your car. Having a rugged car will also stop you from having to do the car-based equivalent of a walk-out with all of your kit.
Your boat and paddle will probably take the most intense and long-lasting battering possible, so make sure it’s in good condition before you leave, and wherever possible, take spares.
People tell you that Norway is expensive, but nothing will prepare you for the reality. It costs about £4 to by a normal bag of Haribo. If you’re on a budget, simply avoid shopping.
Get a spraydeck that will stay on your boat and a good helmet that stays on your head. If in doubt, simply avoid running things on your head or face.
We were very lucky with the weather on our trip, so don’t watch the video and be fooled by the glorious sunshine, it rains in Norway. Even if your weather is kind to you, the excessive splashiness of the whitewater will keep you wet for weeks.
Make sure that you recognise this and accept it from the start. Grade V whitewater should be scary and you may occasionally find yourself suffering from Acute Gnar-crisis, a condition in which all confidence is lost and even Grade I looks terrifying. Fortunately, treatment is effective by either continuing to paddle the gnar or by becoming jealous of other people paddling the gnar. Beware however that symptoms may be exacerbated by the overwhelming presence of Professional Boaters and God Boaters in Norway.
Kiwi Supermarkets have free Wifi, toilets and water taps so you can make your friends jealous on a daily basis by telling them how much fun you are having. You are also highly likely to bump into other kayaking bums which can be useful for networking purposes.
So if you love the gnar and you haven’t been to Gnarway, you had better get planning. It is, without a doubt, the most beautiful country I have ever visited and is home to some of the most varied, continuous, exhilarating and scary rivers on earth. I will eagerly await my invitation.
Italian paddling is famed for that perfect combination of food, drink, sunshine and whitewater, so when I got the chance to spend a week in Valsesia at the beginning of June, I couldn’t resist.
Fortunately, over the next few days, the paddling went much more smoothly with clean runs down the Lower Sesia, Gronda, Sorba Slides, Mastelone, Alpine Sprint, Egua, Sermenza and the Landwasser Waterfall. It quickly became apparent however, that the River Gods were replacing our boat-based carnage with a bit of bank-based and kit-based carnage.
I put in a strong entry for the carnage award by climbing down a bank that I would never be able to climb back up in an attempt to rescue the Shewee I had dropped. Not in the history of mankind has anyone managed to waste quite so much time using a labour-saving device.
Overall, my trip to Italy was exactly what I wanted it to be: a holiday; a warm-up for Norway; and most importantly, a right laugh. Thanks to everyone involved for showing me such a good time and to Wave Sport and Canoe and Kayak Store for all of their support.