Words and Photos Ros Woodham
Before leaving the UK for Nordkapp, the most northerly point of mainland Europe, I wondered why I was about to undertake an expedition to an Arctic land of such notorious beauty during the darkest and harshest months of the year. However, I was soon to discover that the extreme challenges presented by the Arctic winter could offer unrivalled rewards. Our quest, which we dubbed ‘The Northern Lights Chase’, didn’t dare to guarantee a sighting of the aurora borealis – the northern lights – a phenomenon that requires conditions to be just right, but we knew we would be disappointed to return home without even a glimpse.
There are many ways to see the northern lights; a quick internet search will return countless results detailing where and when to go, as well as offering tips to increase your chances of a sighting. My opportunity came, however, in the form of an ambitious overland adventure.
Our planned expedition routed us along the famous E6, Norway’s Arctic Highway, following a fractured coastline that benefits from the relative warmth of the North Atlantic Drift. We were to follow the road to within 19.5˚ of the North Pole where we would turn off the E6 and continue to Nordkapp – 71˚N – the northernmost tip of mainland Europe. From North Norway, the return leg would then route through Swedish and Finnish Lapland to complete the countries of Arctic Europe.