Holiday off the beaten track
The House at the Outer Edge in the hamlet of Ringstad in Bø at the outer edge of Vesterålen is a little holiday complex in a truly peaceful spot. In the rolling green landscape out here, there's absolutely no need to do anything in particular, just enjoy the excellent food and take in the view. However, the fresh sea air energises your body and soul, so it's good to know that the hosts also offer some great tours and activities.
The view from the House at the Outer Edge presents the archipelagos of Lofoten and Vesterålen from an unusual angle. Behind the skerries and low islets, the Lofoten Wall appears like a smoky blue mirage against the light to the south and south west. To the west, the rounder mountains of Bø are much closer. To the east, you can see Stokmarknes, with the elegant arc of Hadselbrua Bridge and the roof of Vesterålen, the 1,262 metre (4,140 ft) high Møysalen as a backdrop. Guests here tend to spend a lot of time just sitting, looking out from the terrace, either with gloved hands wrapped around a cup of coffee on a sharp, sunny day in late winter, or in a state of total relaxation with a glass of white wine in the rosy gold of a summer night.
'Local ingredients' are in vogue now, but you can't get more local than at Ringstad. Because at the House at the Outer Edge, they fish for most things themselves, including cod, coalfish and halibut. Freshly caught cod with egg butter and bacon is one of those dishes that visitors ask for again and again. However, they do have to buy some things locally. Vesterålen is full of delicacies, and whole-baked Sigerfjord char is a meal for special occasions. And visitors aren't sure whether to be horrified by fresh whale meat in the summer season or to enjoy it. The restaurant is open throughout the summer, but you should phone up beforehand during winter.
Many of the visitors to the House at the Outer Edge have come to fish, and they will find fully equipped boats, fishing equipment and fish-cleaning facilities waiting for them The village of Ringstad is sheltered and south-west facing, and even when the weather turns nasty, you can still get out on the water here between the islets to fish for coastal cod, halibut and monkfish. When the sea is calm you can venture further out into the richest ocean in the world. Most people come here in summer, but much of the traditional Lofoten fishery takes place right outside the living room door.
The little bay outside the complex is perfect for people learning to kayak. The House at the Outer Edge offers courses for beginners, and you can get your 'Wet Card' here. More experienced kayakers can go on trips of one or more days in fantastic kayaking areas that include sheltered archipelagos and the more challenging waters of the open sea.
The hiking landscape in Bø is kinder than in many other parts of the archipelago. In the lee behind the crags are small lakes teeming with bird life and lush birch forests with well-marked trails. Your hosts provide transport, maps and packed lunches. By contrast, the coastal trail in Bø is along a brutally craggy outer coastline with endless sea views, and somewhat tougher terrain to match. The 465 metre (1,526 ft) high Vetten is a stiff climb, but the reward is a vast panorama of the entire outer coast in Bø, all the way to Hovden, with the characteristic peak of Reka and the whole of the Lofoten Wall to the south. The midnight sun from Vetten is a Bø classic.
The host is an experienced photographer, and can take visitors on photo safaris. The most popular of these is feeding the sea eagles, when you go out by boat, throw out some herring, and wait for the sea eagles to come flying in. Mighty wingbeats and a lightning-fast attack take place only metres from the audience, and suddenly the memory card in your camera is full of images that you never thought you would get. Northern Lights photography, one of the key moments in the art of photography, is a subject for winter safaris.
Winter at Ringstad
Well out in the Gulf Stream, winter in Bø is a lot milder than you would imagine. Snow tends not to lie until after Christmas, and it is rarely less than a few degrees below zero. This makes it a wonderful place to see the Northern Lights in more comfortable temperatures. The hosts are happy to arrange Northern Lights safaris, eagle safaris and fishing trips in the midst of the winter fishery.