Visiting R 164 31

This post is part of a bigger trip I made through Scandinavia with focus on Norway.

This is the end

If you take the Varanger Scenic route and drive it to the end you will end up in Hamningberg. And there the road really ends. No more roads going up North from here.

It used to be a fishing village. However, the harbor conditions were difficult, especially as the ships started to grow bigger. Harbor development was discussed but never done and the inhabitants moved away over time with the last all-year residents leaving in 1978. Now they use the houses as summer cottages.

Brown wooden two story house, looking old, having a white sign over the middle window saying "Telegraf - Expedition"
Looking like one went through a time machine

The village was not burned down during WWII. So some of the buildings are older than usual.

Weather vane with inscription 1906 as a shadow in front of a red dark sky

Regarding the inhabitants of the village – reindeer are feeling very comfortable here.

Yellow and red wooden houses in the background, 4 reindeer standing in front of them, eating gras

Face to face

When I was strolling around the village, taking a look at the remains of the harbor, I went around a corner and was a lot closer to one of the wildlife inhabitants that I originally wanted to be.

Reindeer in between rocks and grass, the antler is almost as high as the animal itself.

Even though they are used to people it felt a little scary to be so close to such a giant antler. I chose to slowly go backwards and around the corner again and wait for it to go somewhere else. Later on I had the chance to take some nice pictures using the telephoto lens (which felt a lot more comfortable with that distance).

Reindeer looking into the camera, in the background the ocean
This reindeer knows how to pose

Hiking with surprises

It was such gorgeous weather that I thought I better don’t just leave the next morning but take a look around. There was a sign indicating a hiking path for the small mountain “Hardbakken”. You will get a very nice view.

Stones and green-yellowish moss in the foreground, dark blue ocean in the middle, in the background cliffs from the other side of the bay, blue sky

Hamningberg even offers a small sandy beach that you can see from up here. I didn’t expect this so far up North. However, why not. After all, sand is not only found in warm regions.

Small, u-shaped bay on the left with a small strip of sand on the "bottom" of the U

What I didn’t have on my mind at all was that WWII left ruins of bunkers, batteries, and gun sites. The Germans really built a long defense line up here. I had been already amazed when I saw the ruins in Vadsø. But this was a lot more.

Bricks piling up, some walls still slightly visible
Sometimes it is just a lot of rubble
Remains of walls, path going downhill towards a doorlike opening, rusty something lying in the foreground
You can still go inside some of the ruins
Gun site, big concrete round area in between rocks with ocean in the background; rusty plate in the middle that used to hold the gun
This is where the big gun was mounted

It is not just one place. There are multiple remains of gun sites and a lot of former underground structures. This required so much personnel. How did somebody think that could be ever successful?

Cleaning up

We all know that the ocean is full of garbage. Here is a place where you can see it first hand as it seems like the current constantly provides replenishment. Big ropes, shoes, plastic parts from boats, bottles, canisters, small plastic pieces, they are just everywhere here.

There is a collection point down at the East shore (stony beach, not sandy beach). You can grab a mesh bag and start collecting garbage.

Big white sacks standing next to each other, in between and on top fisher net, canisters. Information boards explaining the procedure.

Obviously right next to the collection point you will not find a lot. But if you go along the beach for just some minutes you will have no problem filling up the net. It really doesn’t take long to collect more than you can carry.

Big mash bag filled with plastic garbage
Result

Did you know that each year roughly 50 million tons of plastic from industrial fishing gear gets into the oceans? There were ropes and nets all over the place (and they are really heavy).

Until now I was only at beaches that seem to be either cleaned regularly (in touristic areas) or weren’t to exposed to that much garbage (perhaps because of the currents). It is one thing to read about it, but definitely another thing to see it for yourself.


Some travel tips (from 2021)

  • The big parking lot is free to use. Loving it!
Gravel street on the left, parking lot style place with gray and reddish gravel on the right, some camper vans placed on it, in the far background the ocean
  • Other campers drove down the hill to the beach (not the side you are seeing on the picture but in the direction of my back). Basically this means going off the track. When I was there the ground already looked pretty battered. Yes, it might feel awesome being directly at the ocean. However, I am not sure what happens to the site if people continue to use it like this. I hope they don’t kick campers out like we see it in many other places.
  • Bring some time to clean the beach.
  • Bring some time to go for a hike.

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