Our horse riding adventure to Norway’s Lofoten Islands
Rebecca Harvey shares an account of her recent Norwegian adventure 95km inside the Arctic Circle
Our Norwegian horse riding adventure to the Lofoten Islands
The Unicorn team is always happy when our clients are moved to share their travel stories with us. Rebecca Harvey and a good friend recently joined our Lofoten Islands Northern Lights horse riding adventure in Norway and kindly shared her holiday journal with us.
Day 1: Our Norwegian horse riding adventure to the Lofoten Islands
We are finally here – on the Lofoten Islands, 95km inside the Arctic Circle. Day 1 of our very, very long waited for Norwegian horse riding adventure.
Wow, what a long day yesterday was! After 3 flights in planes that got smaller and smaller the further North we travelled, we finally arrived in the dark and pouring rain only to be told to get changed quickly into riding kit and to down supper, so we could go for a ride, in the pitch black, on unknown Icelandic ponies! The hope was to see the Northern Lights, but it was way too overcast and cloudy for that so we just went for a ride in the dark at 10.30pm returning at just after midnight, as you do!
I have to say, I did rather question our sanity when my pony kept scraping me through the bushes (that I couldn’t see because it was so dark) to get to the softer ground. We survived though and finally fell into bed about 1am. But the view was just incredible.
Our ponies are hilarious- just like big Shetlands – nearly as opinionated, but fortunately not too wide to sit on. We spent most of today avoiding bogs and experiencing the Tölt (a weird really smooth extremely fast walk/trot) and having a fun gallop up and down the beach where we saw otters hunting. Also, we had a massive eagle soaring around above us at one point which was amazing. We had a lovely BBQ lunch while the ponies grazed around us. We even managed to stay dry, which was a bonus as tomorrow’s forecast is not so good!
I still can’t quite believe that we are actually here! Tomorrow we are riding in a different area which is very different apparently. Fingers crossed we see the lights tonight.
Day 2: Our Norwegian horse riding adventure to the Lofoten Islands
Today was a day of Rainbows, torrential downpours, wind, more torrential downpours and a tiny bit of sun!
The guides didn’t think last night that we would be able to ride today because the winds were going to be so high, but fortunately the worst went through overnight – it was a VERY wet windy night – it sounded like gravel was being thrown at the windows at one point. Our cabin is very solid and, fortunately, cosy.
We saw our first rainbow as we came out from breakfast over the sea as we walked back towards our cabin (which is about a 10 minute walk away from the stables/restaurant). We were riding on a different island today, so the ponies were loaded up and we were all driven about 40mins to where we unloaded on the side of a road. There we saw our second rainbow which was stunning. Allegedly the views from there are also beautiful but we couldn’t really see them due to the rain.
We worked our way further inland and finished at a goat farm where we have left the ponies overnight. There we saw our 3rd rainbow which was a double one and properly stunning. The ladies at the farm provided the most amazing lunch made completely with home grown ingredients including a selection of Goats cheeses.
I don’t normally like goats cheese but it was delicious – possibly could have been because I was really hungry having been well and truly battered by the weather.
I am very proud of my riding kit though which actually managed to keep out all of the rain and kept me really warm. Other than the water seeping through the zip of my boots and running off my hair down my neck I stayed completely dry which is more than can be said for most of the others! Poor Bene was rather damp by the end.
Tomorrow we start from where we left the ponies and ride up into the mountains which should be stunning to a different goat farm, where we will be fed again. Fingers firmly crossed the weather is better than today!
Day 3: Our Norwegian horse riding adventure to the Lofoten Islands
WOW! What an adventure we have had today!!!
Disclaimer: We were told it was going to be a long cold day riding in the mountains. We therefore put every piece of clothing we brought with us on and then added the waterproofs that they recommended over the top. I seem to resemble some kind of fat fisherman! The resulting photos of us are anything but flattering!! Going for a pee or getting on or off was a right faff as well!!
Anyway back to the day. After yet another delicious breakfast, We started where we had finished yesterday, at the goat farm where we left the ponies. We then ventured up into the mountains which had had their first dusting of snow on the peaks overnight. The ponies are like mountain goats and so powerful – they just power up the steepest inclines and never seem to slow or run out of steam – perfectly suited to this horse riding adventure.
I was totally blown away by the beauty and colours up there. The greens, browns, reds and yellows were just stunning topped off by the amazing light, skies and water that there is here. The pictures really don’t do justice. Every corner we turned or peak we went over, a new vista appeared more beautiful than the last. There is SO much water everywhere.
We finally made our way back down to sea level via a lovely herd of inquisitive goats. Next on the agenda for our horse riding adventure we had to navigate riding in a lake (yes, actually in a lake – right up to the horses’ bellies). We had to hold our legs up to avoid getting soaking feet and just prayed they didn’t trip over any of the large boulders that were on the bottom of the lake. Going for an unscheduled swim in a lake in the Arctic Circle in October was definitely not on my agenda for the day. Fortunately we all survived unscathed other than a couple of soggy feet (not mine or Bene’s thankfully).
Having survived that, we then stopped for a quick snack before carrying on up over the next mountains; again, breathtaking views in all directions. To get down the other side of the mountains we had to dismount as it got too steep and slippery to stay on board. The ponies are absolutely incredible as they are SO polite. Horses and humans were all sliding down this hill and you never once felt that you were going to get run over by or squashed by any of the ponies as they politely slid down beside you! I am not sure who found it most slippery – humans in riding boots with smooth soles or the ponies.
Now we were back down at sea level again we had another good gallop/ Tölt down a track towards the sea. These ponies can really shift when they want to. Then we had one final mountain to get over before we reached the farm where the ponies were staying the night. This involved going up an old road that snaked its way up to the top of the mountain and back down the other side; again just beautiful in all directions. We finished at another goat farm that also fed us. The food has been amazing all week as well. Everything is absolutely delicious!
We had apparently covered about 40km today in about 5 1/2 hrs. The ponies seemed to be as full of energy at the end as at the beginning. They truly are the toughest little horses and such fun to ride.
I had failed to see, as yet, the northern lights on our horse riding adventure. Too much cloud and rain sadly. I am hoping that the clouds might clear and we get a glimpse of them tonight.
Day 4 (The final day) of our Norwegian horse riding adventure to the Lofoten Islands
AT LAST – WE HAVE SEEN THE NORTHERN LIGHTS!!!
Today’s Disclaimer: Bene resorted to desperate measures to counteract the wind and rain, resulting in looking like a damp nun!
Today was another wet one! BUT between the downpours the light was just incredible! We started at the goat farm where we had left the ponies overnight and headed up over the mountain and down into another very different but beautiful valley, which is dominated by Unstad Beach, famous for its Surfing. Who in their right minds wants to surf in the Arctic Sea? There was one mad/brave person surfing.
To say it was wet was an understatement. There are not many photos of our ride down into the valley because it was raining so hard and blowing an absolute ‘hoolie’!
We headed up through some trees (which was just lovely to be out of the wind/rain) and had a very glamorous lunch in what could best be described as a bus shelter on the edge of the mountain.
After lunch it cheered up a bit and we rode back through Unstead village which is full of lots of beautiful colourful Norwegian houses and sheep/goats. We then had a long gallop/trot/walk, and then it was back up to the top of the mountain to get back over the top. Our Horse riding adventure had been a test of strength and even the ponies were definitely feeling a little weary today after a long busy week. Mine however just powered up this very, very long track in trot and never slowed down once. The Icelandic horses’ stamina is absolutely incredible!
We then headed back down to the goat farm where we started. The lorry was waiting there to transport the ponies back home after their busy week.
The light on the way home was incredible and we even saw a massive Moose calmly grazing on the side of the road.
Then to top off a fabulous week the Northern Lights are currently giving us a fabulous light show. They keep coming and going and moving and getting brighter and dimmer; Such an incredible phenomenon.
What an amazing week we have had thanks to Unicorn Trails Horse Riding Holidays Worldwide who organised this incredible horse riding adventure for us.
Thank you, Beverly, for sharing your adventure with our readers and for the fantastic photos.
If you would like to find out more about our Norwegian horse riding holidays, contact one of our travel advisers