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.
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.
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.
Back on the main trail, beautiful sights that await you:
And it is at this point you get your first glimpse of Kjelvik.
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.
Whispers of lives lived, journeys ended, and stories forgotten:
Whispers of hard-working women who ran households as their men braved the rugged seas:
And whispers of a fishing community that once bustled with life:
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.