Mileage: 6km, from Brekstad to Austrått
Why: Catching up with the boat and visiting Austrått castle
Food: Waffles at Austrått castle
‘Greenland, the Orkneys and Iceland used to be Norwegian,’ the formidable Austrått guide informed us. ‘And I want them back!’
Our guide was showing us around Austrått castle, and was quite adamant that the shrinking of Norwegian territories had been quite unjust. She was less clear on what exactly we should be doing with a bunch of sheep and unpredictable volcanoes, should we ever get them back, but at least Austrått seemed the correct venue to start her campaign.
Austrått castle doesn’t look much like the grand castles dotted around the rest of Europe, but it has a key location by the entrance to the Trondheimsfjord, and has been the seat of various Norwegian aristocratic families since 1000AD. Many of them have been the subject of plays and operas, such as Ibsen’s Lady Inger of Oestraat’, and our guide had opinions on most of the owners.
She was most incensed by Christian Frederik von Marschalck, whose disastrous tenancy she seemed to view as a personal affront. Ove Bjelke, the 17th century owner who was responsible for the castle’s current look, on the other hand, was treated with a degree of awe, and she finished the tour by throwing open the door to a small, intimate room, declaring ‘meet Ove!’. Ove was happily hidden inside a wooden casket, and therefore not able to greet us, but we still got a fright.
We’d cycled out from Hovde Gård in Brekstad earlier that morning, and had found two further hotels along the tiny high street. Three hotels is no mean feat for a town of 1,900 inhabitants, but then the Fosen peninsula has always been of vital importance to the Trondheimsfjord; originally because it controlled access to the fjord and therefore also Trondheim, but more latterly because it houses one of the Norwegian Air Force’s two main airports.
The Germans also understood this, building a fortress close to Austrått castle, in order to defend their interests in the fjord during WW2. It never saw action, as it happens, but it’s still an interesting sight.
Apart from the castle and the fortress, the peninsula attracts visitors for the fishing, boating and cycling, all of which are stellar. We therefore headed back to the boat, packed up the bikes and set sail for Leksvik for a spot of fishing.
Coalfish is the name of the game in Leksvik, and a combination of flow and ebb and local knowledge was all we needed to rake in 24 sizeable fish in a pretty short period of time. This promoted my mum to captain, whilst my dad was locked out on deck with the seagulls in order to gut fish. Simon, meanwhile, hit the aquavit bottle, having been brought low by a combination of sunburn and seasickness.
It was midnight by the time we returned to Levanger. A few hours later we had feasted on flatbread, pan-fried coalfish and copious anchor drams.
The next adventure was camping, but as bikes never featured I shall spare you the tale of my 104 mosquito bites…