The forecast was heavy winds, near gale force and some of our group had set off early from Lincoln, going cross country led by Al and Gail on their Triumph Tiger, across the moors, through fords and greenways – the Garmin was already performing true to form. The group grew as they progressed, joined by Malcolm and Lorraine, Alan and Hugh – all on their way to meet us in the pub at Harwich for the start of our adventure to Norway and the Arctic Circle!

En-route I received a call from my Support Rider, John. He had a problem with the fuel cap on his 1250GS – it would not open! Some frantic calls to Magellan support and BMW dealers whilst sitting in a lay-by and another biker stops to see if I was in trouble. It turned out to be Steve – one of our group on his GS stopping to see if I had a problem! All the team arrived in dribs and drabs and the ice was broken. We were to be best buddies for three weeks, and the jibes were already flowing – mainly targeted at me by my ‘buddies’ from the Italy tour the previous year! Meanwhile John had got a temporary fix for the bike, unfortunately that meant he missed our evening meal!

Our ferry was delayed due to the high winds and rough seas therefore pictures were taken, jokes about misadventures at sea were exhausted until finally we boarded and got underway. Fortunately, the winds abated during the night and we all slept well in our cabins.

Arriving in Holland we regrouped at the trucker’s café just past customs (as Mark my mentor on this trip had already primed me to do). A strange country, driving on the RHS plus trying to follow a lead who is 10 bikes ahead through heavy traffic – a recipe for disaster however we all made it to the first coffee stop without any mishaps.

Small groups quickly formed and got nicknamed by the other groups – we had Charlie’s Angels (Charles, Richard and David), the Arctic Wolves (Stuart and Janet) and the Meerkats (Malcolm, Lorraine, Al, Gail, Hugh, Alan). We had Steve who must have covered almost twice the distance as anyone else as he kept bombing past us, taking photographs, passing us, going green laning and still he arrived first at the stops! John flitted between the groups as best he could, whereas I led at the back trying to keep up!

Our days continued along a similar format as we made our way north through Holland, Germany and Denmark staying in lovely hotels, drinking lots of coffee and eating lots of cakes along the way! We crossed the Elbe by ferry, some of us crossed two other rivers by ferry that same day whereas some didn’t! We rode across large bridges and through towns and valleys and finally arrived at our hotel on the tip of Denmark and just by the ferry terminal for the fast cat to Norway in the morning.

Our crossing to Norway was at roughly 30knots most of the way and very impressive and smooth. Arriving in Norway, we immediately took a motorway for around 5 miles then were ejected into another land. Lakes, mountains, lovely picture postcard houses, fjords, higher mountains, waterfalls and this was only 30 minutes after arriving. This place is simply stunning!

Everyone stopped for picture after picture – how many times can you take a picture of a lake or a waterfall – the answer is obviously not often enough!

Our first night was near Stavanger in a lovely hotel where we ate a hearty meal and simply could not talk enough about what we had seen during the ride and what our expectations were going forward.

Tunnels! Tunnels under fjords! Deep, long and dark then suddenly you pop out and go over a bridge! This is tremendous! Another tunnel then a ferry – more pictures and a chance to breathe! Did I mention that the scenery is simply breath-taking?

Our second night saw us at Eidfjord in a lovely hotel at the head of a fjord affording us with a stunning view. We were there for two nights and some of us opted to take the Flam Railway which is reputedly the most picturesque railway journey in Europe! Others took to the mountains and explored the lunar landscape of Hardangervidda which is a desolate area 3500feet above the fjord and often used for Arctic training by the military. Others chose to explore on their own but everyone came back with tales of even more stunning landscapes and exploits – this country never fails to impress!

Back on the bikes again and this time we go through the longest road tunnel in the World (24.5km) plus take a mini cruise to our hotel at Geiranger and our hotel which is 300ft up and above the village with a view down the fjord – words fail to describe just how stunning the view actually is!

Most of us chose to take a day off the bikes the following day and we went for a walk (3 hours) up into the mountains to a spectacular waterfall which it is possible to walk behind the tumbling waters. What a thrill to see the water cascading in front of you and realise just how much force there is both above and in front of your eyes.

Al and Gail were celebrating 35 years of marriage that day so we all clubbed together to pay for their meal and Magellan conjured up a special cake to help with the surprise. A special meal for two special people in a very special part of the World.

Off early the next day to stay at our island retreat but to get there we had to ride down the Trolls Ladder (Trollstigen), take a few ferries, ride through more tunnels and over more bridges – just another day in the office! The Trolls Ladder is a series of Hairpins which the team at Top Gear raced down trying to beat some Norwegians in flying suits – I know who won!

To get to our island retreat, we had to leave the bikes on the mainland then board a Viking Longship with our luggage – what a treat! What was perhaps an even bigger treat was the lovely fisherman’s village which greeted us and we were soon shown to our luxury fisherman’s cottages before setting off to explore the island and climb the hill in the middle! What a fantastic retreat – I even managed to go for a swim in the sea from the jetty however, it was so cold that my swim was more a quick dip then out again!

Off north again relentlessly heading for the Arctic Circle, our weather was still in the high teens or low twenties which made for very comfortable riding. We took two days to get to Mo-i-rana which was to be our most northern hotel and the town itself was quite a surprise in terms of size. There was another surprise in that the statue of “the man from the sea” by Antony Gormley is here! It is also much bigger than you think when you see it in real life!

The following day was to be the realisation of our dream – the Arctic Circle itself with a visit to the Polar Centre, the most northerly motorcycle museum and what perhaps capped the lot – our trip to the Arctic Circle Raceway. The Raceway took some jiggling as I had contacted Øystein Bentzen (one of the founders and manages it currently as well as being one of the key investors both in time, money and passion) a few days previously and asked if we could pay a visit. We chatted briefly then he offered to meet us there and explain the raison d’être over a coffee plus the opportunity to ride round the track should we wish – as if we weren’t going to given half the chance!!

We altered the routing order for the day so we could visit the racetrack in the afternoon to meet Øystein and off we went – this time in one long line so we could all be at each destination together rather than arriving in dribs and drabs.

The museum, our first destination, was quite a surprise and houses quite a number of pre-war BMW’s, Urals, and some British bikes – all in excellent condition. It also has quite a collection of memorabilia from the 40’s and earlier, spare parts for classic bikes (including Triumph and BSA) and some great posters and photos. We spent the best part of an hour here mulling over the collection and sipping coffee. Back in the saddle, we went in our convoy climbing the plateau towards the Polar Exhibition Centre, the temperature dropped to around 9 degrees C and I was getting chilly in my riding jeans and mesh jacket however – it was bearable. Finally we arrived (at latitude 66° 33’ N) which is the position of the Polar centre.

The Arctic Circle marks the northernmost point at which the centre of the noon sun is just visible on the December solstice and the southernmost point at which the centre of the midnight sun is just visible on the June solstice. The region north of this circle is known as the Arctic, and the zone just to the south is called the Northern Temperate Zone. As seen from the Arctic, the Sun is above the horizon for 24 continuous hours at least once per year (and therefore visible at midnight) and below the horizon for 24 continuous hours at least once per year (and therefore not visible at noon). Quite an achievement for us all considering we had travelled all the way from Harwich to here.

After some exploring plus some cakes, we left to head still further north to a visitor centre about 20 miles on. The road and scenery reminded me of what I thought Canada must look like. Lovely forests, big fast flowing rivers and hardly anyone about! The temperature had also climbed to a balmy 15 degrees C so all was good! An ice-cream and refuel later the convoy left to ride the 60 odd miles, past the Polar Centre and museum to the Raceway.

Øystein met us behind the administration building and control tower and soon we were in the lounge drinking coffee listening as he explained how the race track came to be – basically it was something to keep wealthy workers (and single men) who had moved to Mo-i-Rana busy and out of trouble! Twenty-five years ago he was involved as one of the investors and the track came to life. It is one of the few racing circuits which is anti-clockwise but this is simply due to the fact that a run-off on one of the tight bends is too short had it been clockwise!

The track is still in use and Øystein himself has sponsored a number of teams over the years – some have been quite successful. The immediate plans are to raise another £2m and spend this to improve some of the facilities and make minor track improvements. Soon the first of us were racing round the circuit! Lovely smooth fast bends, sticky tarmac which gave you oodles of confidence. Malcolm and Lorraine on their 650 Scooter must have set the lap record for a scooter as I doubt there would have been any others raced round this circuit! What a fantastic day – we all returned to the hotel with grins from ear to ear! All too soon and we were riding out of Norway climbing the high plateau in drizzle into Sweden – a land of large lakes, forest after forest and the occasional pretty village with the traditional red painted wood clad houses. It was certainly cold and with the drizzle the 9 degrees C felt much colder. We ended up in a small town in our hotel for the night and warmed up although, by then the sun had come out and we had dried out as well!

Off the next day to Mora which is a popular destination for the Swedes and very pretty with our comfortable hotel by the banks of a lake and a small town with all the amenities just behind. There was a Harley Davidson rally being held over the weekend so we were treated to a feast of chrome and thumping exhausts.This was our last rest day and most used it wisely to relax however John and Richard chose to do the ride out round the largest meteor crater in Europe and they thoroughly enjoyed it!

What then followed after we rode to Gothenburg and took the ferry to Denmark was almost a reverse of our outbound route although we took a very scenic ride along the west coast of Denmark which was a pleasant change. At our last hotel in Germany I was presented with a lovely bottle of single malt (from everyone) which was very much a surprise and a lovely gesture, how Stuart and Janet managed to choose one that I do not already have is a mystery but they did! The overnight ferry, apart from Steve arriving just in time to board it, was a smooth crossing and most of the group was home before lunch. What a fantastic trip!!

Book yours!

Book this trip