The Maelstrom


Four times a day the tides send vast volumes of water surging through the narrow gap of the Maelstrom.

Just a few miles south of Bødø is the little village of Straumen where, the guidebook told us, you find the famous maelstrom. We headed there eagerly and were not disappointed. The Salstraumen has the strongest tidal current in the world and four times every day 400 million cubic metres of water force themselves through the narrow channel between islands.

The channel is crossed at one of its narrowest points by the Salstraumenbrua or Salstraumen Bridge, one of the few bridges in Norway that I felt nervous while crossing, for the roadway is only two lanes wide and soars above the raging waters in slender columns that seem inadequate to hold it up. The wind-speed display at either end did not increase my confidence!

There is a free car park and visitor centre overlooking the rapids, from which there is a short walk down to the waterside. I make no apology for concentrating on the incredible, surging water, which is stunning in its awesome power. If it hadn't been so cold, wet and miserable (a week off midsummer's day!) I think I could have spent a whole day just watching the water.

We were, however, slightly disappointed that the rapid looked nothing like Edgar Allen Poe's famous story. We only later discovered that he was describing the Moskenstraumen, at the tip of the Lofoten Islands.