The world’s most northern pilgrimage route. Day 1

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.

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