Visit Helgeland

Lånan is an outlying fishing community in the realm of the eider duck

The Vega Archipelago is the setting for a true love story, that between the coastal people living here and the eider duck. At Lånan, they live together in mutual respect, to the comfort and benefit of both.

There is nothing more comfortable and warm than a real eider duck duvet. The down has teeny, tiny little hooks, which make it light, fluffy and warm.

On Lånan, one of the 6,500 islands and islets in the Vega Archipelago, the tradition of caring for the eider ducks and harvesting their down lives on. This peaceful coexistence is so unique, even on a global scale, that the Vega Archipelago is inscribed on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.

Caring Partnership

The people on Lånan have a close and caring relationship with the eider ducks. In April, they make sure the tiny eider duck houses are filled with dry seaweed. In May–June, the eider ducks find a house before the male leaves and the female lays eggs.

To keep the eggs warm, she plucks the silky soft down from her own body and places it around the eggs. The people are out and about with their brooms, scaring off the eagle, so the mother duck can feel safe.

The first balls of fluff hatch in early June, and not long after, the ducklings waddle after their mother down to the sea to start their dangerous lives.

Turning the eider down into an eider down duvet

Once the birds have left, the down can be harvested. The down is cleaned on a cleaning harp, removing bits of eggshell and seaweed. This job needs to be done by hand in order to keep the down soft and fluffy. Not until August–September is the down ready to become duvets and pillows of the highest quality.

Scattered Islands

This summer idyll takes place on the plethora of small islands outside the main island of Vega, all they way out in the Gulf Stream.

Green, treeless meadows, small coves with sandy and pebble beaches and a colourful collection of farmhouses and other buildings from a time when Lånan was inhabited year-round these picturesque surroundings make you want to walk the beaches and take photographs, while watching the open ocean on one side and the high mountains of the mainland far away on the other.