So I promised I’d get back by the end of the week on my somewhat promising leads with getting from the UK to Norway without plane. It’s looking like planes are still going to be significantly cheaper for travelling in a mode that suits planes best (single passenger, no/not much luggage). So it’ll be a combination effort of economics and environment that ends up leading to my choice.
So far I’ve had two (and a half) promising leads. The first is found via an excellently maintained website called seat61 maintained by a guru of train travel by the name of Mark Smith who has pretty much categorised every train journey on the planet that is not a metropolitan service (that may or may not be an exaggeration, you may need to navigated the swathes of his website to find out). He has already laid out a potential route to get from London to Stavanger by train and ferry which helps me greatly in sorting out my legwork.
There are a couple of options, but it more or less seems to be take the train from London to Brussels, hop onto a different intercity high speed train to Cologne, then an overnight sleeper train to Odense in Denmark. From here, take the DSB (Danish) trains up to Hirtshals which involves another transfer, and then finally an LNG powered ferry that goes to Stavanger. Easy.
The second option that I’ve happily found more or less on my own after some well spent minutes on Google is a freighter that departs twice weekly from Immingham (UK) to Brevik (near Larvik, Norway). This is not a passenger service but has a couple of spare cabins which you can book out if you are organised well enough in advance. Typically I believe this is done by people who want to get a caravan over to Norway for some touring but don’t want to drive through the rest of Europe to get there. The only slight issue is getting to Immingham for a ferry departure at 5am (although I believe nearby Grimsby will have hostels). The other non-issue is getting from Brevik to Stavanger. There are many coach services and a train that can link back to Stavanger and although the route is somewhat indirect, this is not a difficult request for NSB (Norwegian state railways) to figure out for you.
The half an option (because I’m pretty much discounting it immediately) is a classmate’s suggestion of his potential plan to return back to Germany for Christmas via yacht and then cycling the remaining distance from the nearest harbour to his hometown. The issues are: I can’t sail, I get terribly sea sick, it’s the North Sea in winter we’d be sailing across, and where do we get an affordable yacht. So… perhaps that one can be ruled out for now.
There are some more legitimate ferry options (try this link) between here and Scandinavia which in combination with the Dutch and Danish railways could work out as reasonable options, and these options together with whatever else I can find will form the next part of my analysis into getting to Norway without flying.
Next post, get ready to hear about the sustainable food aspects of my personal change challenge!