Europe | Norway
July 10, 2008
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2007, Wednesday 20 July: rockhopping in the Lofoten Islands

Rockpool at Myrland, Lofoten Islands
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Childhood holidays spent in the further-flung corners of the British Isles taught me that cracking coastlines don't have to be hot, or even especially beachy (although the odd patch of sand does undeniably help). In fact, some of the best bits seemed to be in the unlikeliest - and coldest - of places; the Outer Hebrides, for example, with machair-backed expanses of coral sand, rocky inlets and brine-swept bluffs all within the space of a couple of miles.

On this basis, perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised to discover that the Lofoten Islands, in Norway's frigid Arctic, have some of the most rhapsodic shores in the world. Like the Hebrides, the coastline is an intoxicating mix of wild rock and stunning white strands. But here the scenic volume has been cranked up even further - to full-on, speaker-busting LOUD. Snow-flecked mountains with actual glaciers plunge sheer into dark fjords; skerries and islands cluster offshore; and sand so dazzling it hurts your eyes lies thick and wide. And there's room for close-up beauty too: sea-wrack draped over shoreline boulders, limpets and barnacles under their knobbly pyramids, and mats of algae still vivid green from the tide.

It was such a tableau I came upon while fossicking around the margins of Myrland's little cove. To my eye, the combination of foreground rockpool and background grandeur sum up all that's magnificent about Lofoten's wonderful, wild Arctic coast - just don't try getting in the water without a dry-suit, that's all.
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