Begin the loop near Ballstad in the car park with views over many rocky little islands littering the bay. From here the route hugs the coast for approximately 3 km on a rocky path winding its way through the boulders – this can be slow going but the position by the coast makes up for this! At Grænvika Bay pause and enjoy the views west to Nusfordheia ridge and up Nappstraumen (the strait of water separating the island of Flakstadøya from Vestvågøy) before beginning the steep ascent on a grassy path to the Ballstadheia Plateau. On gaining the ridge follow a narrow path along to the peak of Nonstinden, the plateau soon opens out on your right. From the peak you have wonderful views over the surrounding fjords, Ballstad below and the jagged ridge of Munkan ahead. Descend on an easy to follow, although at times steep, path back to your car.
Parking: From Leknes drive south on the 818 towards Ballstad then continue south to Ballstadlandet. Before the end of the road (causeway on your left) turn right towards Kraemmervika and park in the gravel car park above Havets Helter restaurant.
A well-walked route this circuit is a popular hike, so the route is easy to follow once onto the plateau – keep an eye on the GPX track though as there are a few possible criss-crossing paths. Although well-walked the route along the coastal part of the walk (the first 3km) is sometimes hard won and can be slow going as it weaves it’s way between the boulders; follow the small stone cairns and keep an eye out for the red T’s painted on the rock that lead you through two tunnel-like features between huge boulders.
The boulders are mossy and are slippery when wet so please take care. You may wish to attach your poles to your pack for the first coastal section of the route as the ends of poles are prone to getting caught in gaps between the boulders, which could render then more of a hindrance than a help. You’ll find walking poles very useful for the ascent from Grænvika Bay on the steep vague path though, so keep them handy.
The terrain is varied and includes walking on dirt path, steep grassy paths, rocky paths, and through boulder. Good walking boots/stiff soled shoes are essential and walking poles are recommended so you can make the most of this great hike.
Points of Interest
The nearby settlement of Ballstad is one of the Lofoten's largest fishing villages, complete with characteristic colourful robuer. The village has a small cafe (open from 11am-3pm and closed on Sundays along with a small Joker supermarket. Why not take a stroll around the village before or after your hike?
The granite cliffs that tower above you as you walk the coastal section of this route are a favourite place for resident sea eagles so keep an eye out for this large distinctive bird of prey soaring high above Grænvika Bay perhaps being mobbed by gulls or crows. If you're lucky you may also spot an elusive fox along the trail or a seal or two bobbing in water beside the lighthouse.
Food & Drink
There is nowhere to stop en route for refreshments, so we recommend bringing a packed lunch. Don’t be fooled by the short distance of this hike, the terrain can make it slow going at times, so make sure to bring plenty of food and water (at least 1.5 litres). There is a café in Ballstad (very limited opening hours and closed on Sundays), along with a small Joker grocery store (closed Sundays). However, there are places to eat and supermarkets in the nearby larger town of Leknes.
Although this a short hike you'll experience mountain conditions and weather - remember you're in the Arctic Circle. Make sure to bring waterproofs, warm layers, hats, gloves, and a buff for warmth. Stiff-soled walking shoes or boots are recommended along with walking poles to help take the pressure off your knees, these will be especially useful on the steep ascent and descent!
Bring plenty of water and food for completing the walk as there is nowhere to restock or fill your water bottle en route.