Thursday, 24 April 2014

Oslo, 5:38 am

Norway is a great place for camping, not just because of all the hiking trails and dramatic scenery, but because of allemansretten (literally, every man's right) – the legal right to roam on foot or skis anywhere in open country, to swim or row in rivers, to sleep in a tent or under the stars, and to pick berries, mushrooms or flowers.

On our second day of camping, we pitched our tent on the shores of Sognsvann, a lake in the Nordmarka (north forest). Sognsvann is easily reachable from Oslo, so in the daytime it attracts joggers and picnickers. But after sunset, we had the lake all to ourselves.

It was a cold, clear night. When I awoke, hoarfrost covered our tent and the grass around it, and as I stood shivering in my boots and wishing I had remained cocooned in my sleeping-bag, I was reminded why wild camping is special to me: the stillness, the frisson of adventure, the vastness of the sky, and the waning gibbous moon setting over the spruce trees.