Join Dave Cornthwaite on his epic travel along the Norwegian coast - on a water bike.
The journey of 2,300 kilometers along the Norwegian coast from Kirkenes in the north to Bergen in the south west takes six days for the traditional Hurtigruten coastal steamer to complete. That is an average non-stop speed of around 17 km/h. While the speed may not be impressive, the scenery along the spectacular coastline definitely is - and there is plenty of time to experience it all.
If you think the Hurtigruten boats are slow, you have not seen anything yet - try travelling the same route on a bicycle. And not on the roads, but in the waters just off the coast. This is exactly what adventurer Dave Cornthwaite did, on a specially made watercraft, a Schiller Bike, as part of his Expedition1000 project.
The journey started in Kirkenes in Northern Norway on 24 July and came to an end on 3 October, when he reached Bergen in the middle of Fjord Norway. On this page you can see how his adventure unfolded via blog posts and short video stories.
See exactly where Dave is at the moment on this live tracking map that updates automatically every 30 minutes.
We met Dave to ask him a few questions about his upcoming expedition along the Norwegian coast.
You are currently getting ready for a 1000-mile trip by water bike along the coast of Norway. How excited are you?
Very. I have completed many adventures over the years, but this is one of the most exciting. The unique way of travelling on the Schiller bike, the beautiful coastline of Norway, and everything that has come together to make it happen… I am definitely excited!
How do you prepare for an expedition like this?
Well, planning the route and getting all the gear in place keep me busy full time before a trip. I also make sure I think carefully about safety and take any necessary precautions.
Apart from that, I don’t really prepare myself physically. I just take it easy during the first 4-5 days and finish the rest of the preparations while I am on the move. I get fitter along the way and increase the pace gradually. On this trip, Hurtigruten and Visitnorway will support me with the logistics along the coastline, which is especially challenging in Finnmark as there are no alternative routes and the weather can be quite volatile.
You will be accompanied on land by Adam, Laura and their dog Angus. Is that the whole team?
That’s right. I usually travel solo, but this is a slightly larger expedition, and I want to capture it in its entirety. There is only so much I can do with the length of my arm and a camera – you can’t make a selfie on the scale of Norway’s coastline. Adam, Laura and Angus will help me to record the journey.
Have you ridden a water bike before?
No, I haven’t. I wasn’t able to get hold of the Schiller bike beforehand. This is common though – the first time I get on my chosen means of transport is usually on the first day of the expedition. The bike is well designed, and it is the fastest peddler in the world. I have been waiting for the opportunity to travel this way, and now the time has come.
How many hours per day do you plan to spend cycling?
It will vary, because I need to take weather conditions like the wind and the currents into consideration. In the beginning it will probably be 4-5 hours per day, and later around 8-10 hours. Some days will be long, but I will also make sure I get a few rest days to relax and just enjoy myself. I haven’t planned any activities along the way though as I prefer to play it by ear.
Have you been to Norway before?
Yes, once. I started my Hobie Kayak expedition in Oslo and paddled from there to Helsinki. But it was a brief moment and I only saw a tiny slice of Norway. I always wanted to go back and explore the vast coastline, which, in terms of scale, is hard to beat on this planet. A series of events opened some doors, and here I am, doing the Hurtigruten route along the coast by water bike.
How tempting will it be to jump on board a Hurtigruten ship and just sit back and enjoy the views?
If I had a Euro every time someone asked me that, I would be a rich man. But I actually love travelling slowly. It is a brilliant way to understand an area, and gives you an insight into how insignificant we are as human beings, surrounded by magnificent landscapes and nature. Every now and then it is nice to have a comfortable bed and a shower, but I never think about cutting any corners.
How important are sustainability and the environment for your travels?
I see sustainability as a mindset. It doesn’t matter if we always ride a bike if we still drop litter in the ocean. In order to care about nature we have to experience it, go outside and breathe the fresh air. Slow travel without a motor teaches us that we have to earn our reward, and this makes us aware of the environment. Because we see every inch of it.
So sustainability is definitely an important part of this project, but the key message is to use slow travel as a means to challenge ourselves in order to understand where we are.
Do any of your expeditions stand out as particularly memorable?
He he, this is like asking me to choose between my children. All expeditions have incredible memories attached to them – meeting strangers out of the blue, getting a hand when I really needed it, or finding the most wonderful campsite on a remote island... But if I can highlight two, it would be my first expedition, on a skateboard across Australia, and paddling on a board along the Mississippi River. They are definitely two of my favourite trips.
And I already know that the Norway expedition will give me a heap of new almighty memories. After a lot of “work”, I am able to share my stories for a living and encourage others to go out and make the most of their lives.
What about your future plans, have you already started to think about your next adventure?
Naturally, I have some ideas as I’m in the middle of the Expedition1000 project, with 25 journeys of 1,000 miles or more of non-motorised travel. The Norway expedition is number 14, so there are another 11 to go. But I never plan very far ahead, and I haven’t decided what the next trip will be. Anything can happen during the next three months, and if I look too far ahead, I might change my mind!
Englishman Dave Cornthwaite quit his day job back in 2005 and has been adventuring the world in various non-motorised ways ever since.
He is currently 13 journeys into his groundbreaking Expedition1000 project: 25 journeys of 1000 miles or more, each using a different form of non-motorised transport.
He has also created hundreds of short films, delivered hundreds of lectures worldwide, and founded the life-fulfilling brand SayYesMore.
"One hundred people stood on the front deck as Hurtigruten’s MS Finnmarken approached Kirkenes on the morning of 21st July.
I was one of them scanning the horizon as the final islands passed by, but I supposed I’d be the only one leaving our new destination under my own steam. And, I was pretty confident, there definitely wouldn’t be anyone else leaving on a waterbike."
"I travel slowly, especially with head wind and waves, and the average moving speed is around 3.5 mph. These endurance journeys are always as much a mental battle as a physical one, you only move if you want to. Luckily, that’s what I’m here for.
After sixteen miles, two light houses, several hundred waves that would have dwarfed the guesthouse I stayed in last night, and the gradual reeling in of the fishing town of Berlevåg, I made it to the next marina, shattered."
"Three and a half weeks earlier I’d flown into Tromsø then jumped aboard Hurtigruten’s MS Finnmarken for an enjoyable 34 hour journey north and east to Kirkenes.
It has taken me all of three weeks to make the return journey, and passing beneath Tromsø’s bridge was a milestone to be celebrated. It feels wonderful to have completed that section, one third of the journey to Bergen, over 450 miles under the bows."
"Everything felt familiar getting back on the water after a week-long break, except for this time I was solo. Luckily, in the first of a string of kind offerings from the locals, a forklift driver from Nor Lines in Finnsnes lifted up my Schiller Bike and drove it the 500 metres to the small pontoon which had greeted us a few days earlier.
The next day I reach Bodø and cross my halfway mark on this journey. 700 miles complete so far, the rest is downhill."
"I felt blessed by the weather, all around isolated rain showers fell across fjords, everywhere but over me. Until a 150 metre-wide column of water started making its way in my direction and all of a sudden I was utterly drenched.
But boy was it worth it, the resulting double rainbow diving beyond its pot of gold into the water at each end of the arch. Gorgeous."
"Norway is a country famed for its wild beauty, but all too often that rugged country can be taken for granted. Mobile phones don’t work everywhere. Weather can change in an instant. As important as it is to experience wide open landscapes and push our boundaries, there is no point risking our lives for the sake of reaching a goal."
"I chose to take on this journey for the same reason behind the other 1000+ mile expeditions I’ve enjoyed so far - to be alive."
To an extent, all Norwegians have salt water in their veins, and learn at an early age how to behave in boats and along the shore. Thus it happens that we forget that the same is not always the case for our visitors, who might need some tips in order to stay safe - not to mention dry.Read more