Foto: Christine Butz

Lyngsalps – where the mountains touch the sky

The Lyngsalps truly live up to their name; with around 140 glaciers and snow covered, high mountains up to 1833m it’s a truly scenic area and as a friend of mine said: “It doesn’t matter where you go it is beautiful either way.”

Text: Christine Butz

The short 7 km walk to the little top Barheia and back is accessible for most people, and easily be changed into a longer overnight trip, since there are cabins and trails in the area. You can park your car at the Svensby tourist Centre or the Gamslett museum. Those starting points are roughly 500m north of Svensby, where the ferry from Breivikeidet docks.

At good weather the ferry ride to Svensby alone is worth the travel. With the car it’s a 1,5 hours drive there from Tromsø. For those without a car, bus No. 150 goes from Tromsø to the Lyngen as well. There are immensely many hiking possibilities, so you should consider staying for a few days, if there is the possibility for it. Check out the homepage for more information. They offer a free hiking guide for the whole area with a lot of trips including maps and descriptions.

Photo: Christine Butz
Photo: Christine Butz

After following the gravel road up the hill past an area with cabins, a marked trail goes to the left up to the top. The forest is full of mushrooms and reindeers roam through it to get up to the plateau, the same way we follow as well. A great thing with that walk is that it offers some fantastic views after a very short hiking time. When you are on top of the flat Barheia you can see down to Ullsfjord and the mountains like Jægervasstindan with a 360-degree view around you. The area is as well flat enough to go on cross country skis in winter. There is access from Barheia to the Stortinddalen and Russedalen, which would make a nice 20km tour to get out to Koppangen and to the fjord on the other side. If you consider taking a dog sledding trip in the next season, you should check out Tommy owns a small dog compound that is wonderfully different to the big touristy places. Here every dog gets to be seen as the individual they are and are not just as a mean of earning money.

While I thought the name Lyngen comes from the Norwegian word for the plant erica (lyng) that is so abundant in the area, it rather comes from the Norse word ‘logn’ which means silent. Silence being something that is quite prevalent and so sacred by a lot of nature lovers.

Photo: Christine Butz
Photo: Christine Butz

The people in Lyngen protect their silence. One of the locals told me a legend that goes like this…In old times robbers from Finland and Russia called tsjuder came to Lyngsvalley to rob gold and whatever they could get, spreading fear even before they arrived. A small child that was guarding the mountains warned the inhabitants so they managed to hide in a hole. While the tsjuder went up the hill with their spears and arrows they didn’t notice the people hiding. An old tsjud though, walking more slowly than the rest could hear them in their hole. He put a stick in the ground to mark the place and went up to get the others. The child that still stood guard observed the situation and moved the stick to another place. Doing so he saved his people and the legend ends with the old tjud being killed and thrown into the hole, that the others dug in vain.

Another interesting fact about Lyngen is that it is the cradle of the ‘Lyngs-directions’, two types of the Lutheran religion Laestadianism, which is still spread in the area. Nils Gaup made a movie called ‘Kautokeino-opprøret’, which shed a light on the role of Laestadianism for the Sámi people and the impact on drinking habits, which were a threat to the society back then. There is much more to the plot and some great scenery is included that give you good reason to go and watch it. Maybe on the evening you come home from a multiday Lyngen trip after having had a warm shower.