Today was, for the first time this holiday, overcast. The low grey cloud did not encourage me out of my sleeping bag, and again it was gone eleven by the time I got going. Stamsund is described in the Rough Guide a having a "certain laid back charm", which is not a bad description. It is strung out along a couple of miles of road, but extends for very little distance either side. Shops pop up at odd intervals along the way, ranging from the locally utilitarian (a supermarket with no tinned prawns, but 6 different kinds of fishing rod) through the plain tacky (a "craft" shop selling souvenir "Present from Lofoten" wooden plates) to the idiosyncratically good (a little place with the best postcards I've seen on the islands, where I was eventually served by a little girl who appeared from the back room and shyly asked for my 15 Kroner).
Not wanting to stick to the main road I took the next minor loop road southwards, towards the village of Sennesvik. A grassy spot on the coast sheltered by some little rowans provided a pleasant lunch spot, and I lazed away an hour or so writing postcards and reading "Martin Chuzzlewit". I nearly rode past Sennesvik's best feature, but a sign to the "Museum" intrigued me and I turned back after going past it. A kilometre along a side road I came to what was marked as the museum, but looked like an ordinary house. The door was open and I went in to first the porch, then the hall, by now wondering if I'd misunderstood and was barging into some poor Norwegian's home! However, there was someone sitting in the first room off the hall, and my tentative "Is this the museum?" evoked a positive response. I paid my 25kr and ended up with a personal tour of the house and outbuildings, which were preserved as when lived in around the turn of the century. At that time, and indeed until the end of the 2nd World War, a moderately wealthy landowner such as would have lived in the house ran a practically feudal system. He owned many of the local cottages, and the fishermen who lived there had to sell their fish only to him. I was led to believe that he would typically give far from a fair price. The women worked the land while the men fished - indeed, it was apparently considered unlucky for the women to even come into the boathouse.
Glad I'd made the detour, I cycled on. Over a low mountain pass and into the town of Leknes. This had little of interest and I rapidly passed onwards towards the tunnel to Flakstadøya, the next island west. This had been looming large in my imagination all day. I had felt quite vulnerable in the short mountain tunnels that I had already come to and the thought of a mile on a main road under the sea was quite daunting. It certainly took a certain amount of courage to plunge into a dark roaring hole in the ground on the unlikely sounding premise that I would come up again a mile later on the other side of the sea! The concrete hissed wetly under my tyres and the rocky walls glistened in the small pools of light from the overhead lamps. A cold wind blew in my face, pumped by the roaring fans at the entrance which sent an echoing whirr down the rest of the tunnel. In fact, there was little traffic and a pavement to ride on in any case, so the only difficulty was the effort of the half mile steady ascent from the lowest point. Nonetheless, it was with a certain feeling of triumph that I came out into the warm open air again, Vestvagøy now behind me and a new island ahead.
I did not travel much further, turning off to the north along the coastal road to Vikten. The mountains seemed higher and more jagged than they had all day, the cloud seemed to be breaking and I soon found an ideal campsite on a little promontory with magnificent views of the rest of the island. I settled down early for an extravagant feast and a lazy evening with Dickens.