Whispers from the Past: A Hike to Kjelvik

Once upon a time, a little town called Kjelvik had the largest population on the island of Magerøya.  In fact, the entire municipality was named after it.  Kids played on the shore, fishermen sailed out to sea, and I imagine that the inhabitants never expected that their everyday lives would be violently disrupted.

A step back in time, Kjelvik, Norway
A step back in time, Kjelvik, Norway

But World War II did just that.  In 1944, as the German occupation of Norway came to an end, their army left a path of destruction, burning all the homes, businesses, and livestock on the island of Magerøya (as well as most of the buildings in the northern region of Norway.)

And thus, Kjelvik’s future took a drastic turn.  After the war, a few homes were rebuilt, but in 1950 the municipality was renamed Nordkapp (North Cape) and Kjelvik’s bustling days became a distant memory.  Today Kjelvik’s houses are vacant, except for a few summer cabins.  The wind blows through the neglected graveyard and waves crash against a dilapidated pier.  And if you listen closely, you can hear whispers from the past.

Kjelvik is accessible by boat or foot.  The hike to Kjelvik,  5 mile (8 km) round trip, starts in the town of Nordvågen and follows the old trail over the mountain.  At about the half-way point, the trail leads past the Kjelvik Cabin that was built by volunteers from Nordvågen in 1970-71.  There are, and were, many active hikers in the area and they wanted a place that offered reprieve in nasty weather, as well as a place to enjoy warm coffee and good conversations.

Kjelvik cabin

After the cabin the trail meanders downhill, before the steep descent to Kjelvik.  You’ll see some power lines that fork off to the right of the trail.  If you follow them, expect a great view, but you won’t be able able to make the descent to Kjelvik without repelling gear.  Hence, a little backtracking.

 The power lines lead to a great view
Here it is!

Back on the main trail, beautiful sights that await you:

Old telephone poles leading to Kjelvik

And it is at this point you get your first glimpse of Kjelvik.

Kjelvik, Norway

And here the whispers begin:  Of those that hiked with goods on their back, leaning into the gusty wind, long before roads and tunnels were the norm on Magerøya.

Trail down to Kjelvik

Whispers of lives lived, journeys ended, and stories forgotten:

Kjelvik graveyard

Whispers of hard-working women who ran households as their men braved the rugged seas:

A step back in time, Kjelvik, Norway

And whispers of a fishing community that once bustled with life:

The old Kjelvik pier
Kjelvik pier

If you travel to the North Cape of Norway, take time to explore this amazing area.  Let the places speak to you of a rich history and a hearty people.  Come hear the whispers from the past.

27 thoughts on “Whispers from the Past: A Hike to Kjelvik

  1. It’s a little sad to think that on this side of the world things like a public hikers’ cabin or guest boxes with liquor would have a hard time not being destroyed or taken advantage of (in a negative way).

    On a less cynical note, there is an awesome photograph within a photograph within the windows of the hikers’ cabin. It would be an interesting crop to play with by figuring out how much, if any, of the green planks surrounding the window to include.

    And thanks for another informative post. I’ve never even considered the German occupying the area in WWII.

  2. Thanks Steven. I just looked at the photo within the photo – Thanks! I’ll play around with it. I appreciate your photographer’s eye.

    As for public trust, it is pretty amazing. It’s also allowed to hike on private land. Coming from Idaho, the first few times I went hiking, I kept looking over my back expecting an angry rancher to be aiming a rifle at me and shouting “No tresspassing!” 😉

  3. Hi, just fund your site. I was actually born in Kjelvik, and lived there until we had to evacuate in 1944, It was thew perfect placew to grow up in, As you mentioned Kjelvik was the most important place on the island, We had school, brassband, shop ,village hall etc. All that was needed for a place for people to live an thrive. I live in England now , but any visit to Norway has to include a walk ‘over the mountain’ to Kjelvik . Really appreciated your article. Eline F Ward

  4. Beautiful story and very nice photos. You do an excellent job of using both to their best advantage to tell your story. I love visiting places like this.

    1. Thank you, Pat. This place is really special. I am looking forward to taking a lot of hikes in the next month and blogging about them. Autumn is beautiful here!

      1. Well, I will look forward to it. We are heading to the Pacific Northwest for 4-6 weeks and look forward to practicing my landscape photography.

  5. Så bra och intressant du skriver ! … Förutom mitt stora intresse för djur och natur så gillar jag historia … Och i din blogg lärde jag mig en hel del idag …
    Fantastiskt vackra bilder du lagt in och någon gång ska jag absolut besöka Nordkap…
    // Maria 🙂

  6. the name Kjelvik reminded me of Keflavik in Iceland. Very nice area and keep up the hiking photos! Cheers! =)

    1. Thank you. Hope you are doing well. I`ve been busy With the summer tourist season so I haven`t been on WordPress very much. Time to get caught up on people`s blogs. Hope you`ve had a good summer. Now I`m off to see what you`ve been up to. Ha en fin dag!

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