Give or take the occasional Biblical rainstorm and arrival in a village with no apparent accommodation, things have gone swimmingly on Day 1 of St Olavsleden – the world’s most northerly pilgrimage route
This trail follows the last journey of Olav….a Viking warrior and king who landed on the Baltic coast of Sweden and died in battle near the Atlantic coast of Norway as he sought in vain to reclaim his throne.
Olav is revered as the “Eternal King” and patron saint of Norway and there is no doubt that after his baptism in Rouen he set about persuading his countrymen to see the light with the raving zeal of the true convert.
He did this largely by cutting off the hands and feet of those who preferred to stick to the old ways..
But his enthusiastic championing of the teachings of Christ soon began to bear fruit.
Say what you like about mutilation and mass murder, but as a tool of persuasion it’s remarkably effective.
You can almost hear the clan chiefs as they are dragged in chains before Olaf who is narrowing his eyes and sharpening his war axe in front of them and telling them to leave their boots at the door cos they won’t be needing them much longer…
“Me and Erik have been chatting and now we come to think of it we’d really , really like to embrace Christrianity….we think that Thor and Odin are just so 9th century…”
“..and yes , now you’re asking, we would rather like to embrace the Good News of Jesus Christ thank you very much.
The good news being that they don’t have to cancel that order for a new pair of Ox hide gauntlets because their hands will continue to be attached to their arms.
The journey began at the very spot where Olav stepped ashore in 1030. It’s nothing but a pool now. But 1000 years ago it was a major port and an important point on the trade route Olav followed west to his fate. The route I’m now following in fact.