The Torghatten mountain with its characteristic hole, De Syv Søstre (The Seven Sisters) mountain formation, Hestmannen (The Horseman) mountain, the three mountain peaks of Træna, Rødøyløva and Lovundfjellet which tower above thousands of flat little islands; the Helgeland coast has an other-worldly beauty, the kind of landscape which creates fairy-tales and folk tales in the folk memory, which inspired the great, local 17th cleric and poet Petter Dass, and which has generated many happy holiday memories.
History and cultural heritage
Helgeland’s cultural heritage is mature and complex, including the prehistoric marble phallus and 12th century Gothic church at Dønnes, Petter Dass’ church and parsonage at Alstahaug, brightly painted wooden houses along Sjøgata in Mosjøen, the 12th century soapstone church on Herøy island, and the Renaissance garden on Lurøy island. Hildur’s humour-filled Urterarium herb farm and restaurant, the sculpture landscape “Nordland” with its many striking artworks, and a host of galleries and exhibitions bear the cultural heritage onwards.
“Himmelblå” and World Heritage
The Norwegian TV series “Himmelblå” (“Blue Sky Blue”), based on the British TV series “Two Thousand Acres of Sky”, may entice you to the islands of Ylvingen and Vega. In this maze of islands and islets, the local communities of fishermen and their families have lived alongside the colonies of seabirds to their mutual benefit for thousands of years. The nesting houses built for the wild eider ducks, the boathouses, the fishermen’s huts and the old coastal houses cluster harmoniously among islets, reefs and rocks, so remarkable and beautiful that the Vega Archipelago is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
On two wheels among the islands
Out among the archipelagos of Helgeland, it is easy to go island hopping by bike. The narrow, flat country roads with minimal traffic along the shoreline are ideal for cycling and take you to fine sandy beaches, little communities and historic and cultural sights. When you’ve cycled just enough, you simply jump on a local ferry to the next island. There are plenty of people living out here, so you’ll find shops, accommodation and places to eat.
Kayaking, walking, caving…
The coastal landscape with its thousands of islands is as though made for kayak expeditions. Guided tours of the caves in Rana are just scary enough to be fun. Glacier walking on the Svartisen glacier takes you high up into the mountains, but even higher to the Okstindan peak. You can fish at sea, in salmon rivers and quiet mountain lakes. Walking tours range from 20 minutes through the famous hole in the Torghatten mountain via climbing all the Seven Sisters peaks in a single day, to experiencing the great lonely wilderness of the Børgefjell National Park. Mountain biking along the Villmarksveien road is tough and fast.
To the mountains
Inland along the Swedish border you will meet a quite different Helgeland, with deep spruce forests, some of Norway’s finest salmon rivers, Norway’s second largest lake and large mountainous areas. Børgefjell National Park is a wide-stretching realm of valleys and mountain plateaus with lakes teeming with fish. Further north, on the roof of Northern Norway, is the 1,900-metre high mountain Okstindan, with its sharp peaks and glaciers. Furthest north in Helgeland is the mountain mass of Saltfjellet, with Norway’s second largest glacier, Svartisen.
One of the most fun things to do in Helgeland is to take a boat out to sea, spend the night in a tent and go to a concert to hear the newest bands at the Trænafestival. The art festival Galleria uses the old wooden houses in Mosjøen as its galleries and exhibition spaces. The Jazzfestival in Hemnes and the Rootsfestival in Brønnøysund are colourful summer music festivals that are well attended and offer a great atmosphere. The world championship in crab fishing in Sandnessjøen has nothing but winners, as everyone gets to eat lots of delicious crab!
There is lots, lots more to see and do in Helgeland. We recommend a visit to the website of the Helgeland Reiseliv tourism organisation, where you will find 10 different suggestions for cycling tours, among other activities. For more information, please contact Helgeland Reiseliv at www.visithelgeland.com.