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Norway. The longest coastline in Europe.
Mighty fjords carved by great ice sheets.
It's a landscape written into the blood of the British Isles.
Because we share a common heritage -
brought across the sea by Viking boatmen.
Our starting point it Lillesand, in the south.
This quiet, southern coastline is popular with Norwegians for summer holidays.
And it's also a desirable destination for yachting folk,
who travel across the seas from all around Europe for the thrill of sailing on Norway's Riviera.
One of these yachtsmen is a Brit.
Peter Walker left Liverpool to live here.
But the coastline wasn't the only attraction.
I met a beautiful Norwegian lady in England.
She was working as an au-pair.
Since then we've got three boys,
and here I've been, living the most beautiful life I can ever think of.
Is there anything about the lifestyle that you'd import if you could?
Yeah, I would import a typical English pub
-and a fish and chip shop.
Peter and his family made their home in Lillesand,
a small town of 9,000 people and neat, wooden houses.
The lifestyle revolves around boats.
But navigating this rocky shore isn't easy.
There's hundreds and hundreds of underwater skerries.
It's a small rock, sticking out from the seabed.
If they're not marked, and you don't know about it, they can sink your boat.
Much of this curious coastline is hidden just under the sea.
It's a mysterious, treacherous landscape,
which keeps sailors on their toes,
poking its head up above water, creating countless tiny islands.
The only way to appreciate the beauty of what lies beneath is to get seriously wet.
Are you sure about jumping into the water with lead weights on?
What will I do if I jump in and I go straight to the bottom?
That should be tight so it doesn't slip.
Everything about this is tight.
Put your head down now!
Snorkelling here is a real eye-opener.
Above the surface it looks so black.
Down here it's awash with colour and life.
As you explore, you start to get a sense of a truly coastal country.
No wonder Peter and his family love it here.
Norway's southern Rivera is a stunning surprise.
I'd expected fjords and ice, not a myriad of micro-islands.
But as we head northwards, the landscape starts to rear up out of the sea.
It's more mountainous, with deep fjords carving through the rock.
This is like Scotland on steroids.
These inlets snake far inland,
taking the coast deep into the heart of the country.
Waterways like this were a challenge that spurred the early boat-builders onto greatness.
1,200 years ago, after the Vikings had mastered their own craggy shores,
they turned their sights south to Britain and beyond.
Deep down the Hardangerfjord,
Mark Horton is in search of their boat-building secrets.
I can't believe I'm here in Norway, and about to find out how the Vikings
made their most awesome weapon - the Viking longship.
Boats are in the blood of the Norsemen, both ancient and modern.
Maritime historian Atle Thowsen knows the value the Vikings placed on their vessels.
The boat was important to get transport, to get from
one place to another, to get their food and so on.
It was their way of communicating.
This was the way to survive in, for instance, Norway.
They got into the deep fjords, up the rivers and so on, to Paris or...
Almost everywhere you could find the Vikings.
These master mariners sailed west to Newfoundland in North America.
Looking east, they navigated down the River Volga into the Caspian Sea, to trade with the Islamic world.
And of course, they came south to the British Isles,
using our waterways to penetrate deep inland.
So what kind of boats could cope, riding raging seas,
and powering through placid rivers?
The Vikings have vanished into legend, but their boat design has stood the test of time.
These waterways were tamed working with wood,
and these skills have survived.
Tucked away down the Hardangerfjord
there's a yard that's changed little since the days of the Viking boatmen.
Hi, are you Bjorn?
-Yeah, I'm Bjorn!
This is the most wonderful boatyard.
Yeah, you think so? It's a nice place, very nice place.
-There's that overpowering smell of the pine resin.
This is the small boat workshop.
And you will see two boats in here now, well, parts of a boat, this was just started a week ago.
And this is a boat we're just about to finish.
And you can see every stage of their construction.
Yeah, well, it's a very nice thing to build two boats at the same time.
So, here we are...
The most important thing in a Viking boat was its keel,
the backbone they built upon.
-The keel goes down quite some distance.
-Yes, it does.
-So the next stage is presumably then to build up the sides.
-Yeah. That's right.
Most wooden boats normally start with a frame,
then the planks are fixed on.
But these boats are different.
The planks are built up one at a time,
each overlapping the last, placed at precise angles.
This will be the lines plank that we use
for building this boat.
Oh! Not a wonderful architect's ship drawing!
-No! It's not something you get from a computer!
And the numbers would be the degrees the plank has,
and would be the width of the plank.
And how do you measure that angle?
We use this one,
that's just a...
simple use of the gravity.
-So there you've got the angle of the plank.
-Yep, that's right.
At, say, 27 degrees, that's there.
-And here it is, then, at 27, which is there.
So you just... There it is there.
That's it. That looks about right.
The Vikings built all their vessels this way.
Their longships, their fishing boats, everything.
This is the new one...
Once the planks are in place,
they must be secured by special nails which are a bit like rivets.
So, that goes like that, doesn't it?
This type of construction is called clinker.
Bjorn is trusting me to put the last nail in his new clinker boat.
-I hope I'm not breaking your boat!
It's as good as it gets!
So what you're doing now is clinking.
In Norwegian we would say clinking.
-So that's the origin of the word "clinker boat"?
-Yeah, I guess it is.
-There we go.
That's very good. With the sound, you'll hear that the hammer will answer.
And an experienced boat-builder will say that that's a good sound.
The construction of these boats shows why they were so successful for the Vikings.
Because the overlapping boards aren't tied to an internal frame,
the boats are flexible, able to bend enough to ride rough seas.
And their flattish bottoms can cope with shallow rivers.
Ultimately, though, they were replaced by a different style of vessel,
with the planks fixed separately onto the ship's skeleton.
That way, you could build bigger boats.
But for me, these hills will always be alive with the sound of clinking.
In open water, very big boats hold sway now.
As the age of the Viking faded into the sea mist, their renegade trade
was gradually replaced by more everyday commerce.
On our journey north, there's a city
which prospered as part of an exclusive trading club - Bergen.
700 years ago, this was the commercial capital of Norway,
with links to Britain and beyond.
Bergen was the northern outpost of the Hanseatic League,
a sort of early common market.
At its height, this league of gentlemen traders
operated out of ports around Europe,
including Hull, Norwich, Bristol and King's Lynn, as well as Bergen.
As long ago as the 14th century,
it was one of the key cities in Western Europe.
And that harbour over there would have been teeming with sailing ships,
ready to make their way back and forth across the North Sea.
Today, trade is still key to our relationship with Norway.
And in Britain, we benefit from one of their largest exports - fish.
Look at that! Now that's fresh cod!
-Is that whale?
-That's whale, yes.
Minke whale. How big is that when it's full grown?
-10 tonnes, maybe.
What a monster. It's the back legs of a king crab.
Now, that would give you a fright if you saw it in a rock pool.
I'd dread to think how you'd go about catching one of these.
These crabs have come from the very top of Norway, right on the Russian border, near the town of Kirkines.
The king crabs are newcomers to Kirkines.
They've made their way there from Russia,
and they're moving gradually southwards.
They've already been spotted halfway down Norway's coast.
Eventually, they might even reach British shores.
One man who grapples daily with king crabs is diver Lars Petter Oie.
The king crab were introduced to the Barings Sea by the Russians in 1961.
The first crab we found here was in 1976.
And ever since that, it has been increasing.
Maybe one day you'll have the crabs even in Britain.
It's always a challenge to be 100% sure where to find the crabs.
But we have so much experience, so we know approximately where to find crabs.
The biggest we caught here was one metre and 70,
it's exactly my own height, actually!
And it was about eight kilos.
But commercially, it has been caught crabs up to 15 or 16 kilos.
A crab like this, this is like four, four-and-a-half kilo.
You wouldn't afford to eat it in London!
This is, er, this is a lot of money, actually!
So, here's meat all the way from here and all the way here.
As you see, it's very tender.
And it's even sweeter than normal lobster.
This is the way you should eat it, it's straight from the sea.
On my own journey up to the north of Norway, I'm coming to a spot
that's a real emotional draw for me - a little town called Televag.
It's a picture-perfect postcard type of place now.
But in the Second World War,
Televag was transformed to become a terrible example of Nazi oppression.
I've got this photograph that was taken in 1945.
And I'm trying to position myself so that I'm right
where the photographer stood when he took the snap.
And it's important to remind yourself what this place looked like
at the end of the war, because the town was completely erased.
The story of Televag's destruction
begins with the German occupation of Norway in 1940.
Before long, the country's resistance fighters
looked across the sea to their British neighbours for help.
Fishing boats started to ferry refugees and resistance agents
to and fro between Norway and Shetland.
This secret boat service became known as the Shetland bus.
I've seen one side of the story already on Coast,
when I visited Scalloway on Shetland.
23, 28, 21, 21... Just wee boys.
Many brave young men died running the Shetland bus,
and here in Norway, an entire town
paid a terrible price for their part in resisting the Nazis.
Barbara, can you show me a photograph of Arna,
-show me what he looked like?
Shetland lass Barbara Melkevik married a Norwegian member of the Shetland bus.
He was called Arna, and was from Televag.
I met him when he first came to Scalloway,
he was going to work on the fishing boats,
which they were to use on these secret missions to Norway.
And I was not to ask any questions.
-If I did, I couldn't get any answers.
On one fateful night, Barbara's husband, Arna,
set sail on his last ever mission from Shetland
with a secret cargo on board.
These were dangerous waters - as well as rough seas and strong winds,
the fishermen had to avoid the constant threat of patrolling German aircraft and U-boats.
But eventually, Arna's boat managed to reach a small creek just outside Televag.
It was right here, in the dead of night on April 21st 1942,
that Barbara's husband, Arna, arrived to deliver two agents of the Norwegian resistance.
Their names were Emil Gustaf Hvaal and Arne Vaerum.
The two agents were taken to a house in the village of Televag.
They managed to hide for a week,
until their cover was blown, and the secret was out.
The Nazis stormed the house, and in the ensuing shoot-out,
two SS officers and one of the Norwegian agents were killed.
In a furious display of vengeance,
the Nazis systematically destroyed Televag.
Families were split up.
Some were sent to concentration camps.
It was the worst act of reprisal in Norway.
Long after the war, Barbara's husband, Arna,
struggled to come to terms
with the devastation he'd unwittingly brought upon his home town.
Just came bit by bit, now and again.
He was so pleased that it was all over,
and could get back to a normal life.
But he just didn't like talking about it.
Televag wasn't wiped out by the Nazis,
because those who survived returned to rebuild it.
Their new town now stands as a testament
to the resilience of Norwegian and British resistance
to the tyranny that stalked these shores.
Our links across the sea aren't just woven into stories of war.
They're also etched in the landscape itself.
Further north along the coastline, we're in the heart of fjord country.
Wide openings reveal the start of giant inlets, some of which snake over 100 miles inland.
Nick Crane has come to one of Norway's most famous fjords
to explore a distant connection to our shore.
Would you look at this?
What a view!
And what a scale!
This spectacular fjord is nearly nine miles long and over 700 feet deep.
It looks extraordinary, very different to our terrain at home.
But there are more similarities than you might think.
It's almost impossible to imagine that the mighty forces of nature
that gouged out this landscape are the ones that also shaped Scotland.
Our connection to these rocks goes back millions of years.
Here in Norway, we can still see how Britain was built.
But to do that, I need to go high above the landscape.
It's an epic story, with action that really is ground-breaking.
We're heading inland to the uplands, to find out how fjords were made,
see how the forces that shaped Norway and Scotland are still at work.
As an amateur geographer, this is one of the most exciting days of my life.
'Ice - the irresistible force that can cut through rock.'
What an amazing sight, like a frozen waterfall.
This would have been a common sight in Scotland back in the Ice Age.
What we're looking at is an almost vertical glacier.
It's carving a U-shaped rocky trench out of the sides of the valley
and carrying with it lots of rock debris,
which it will dump further down the valley.
It's an incredible sight, this is glaciation
right in front of your eyes. It's happening right now.
The Norwegian and British coasts are connected by water now.
But go back 20,000 years, and the link was ice - a giant sheet of ice
that stretched from Norway to Britain as far south as Norfolk.
Our landscape still bears the scars of that moving crust of ice.
It's eroded all but our toughest rock,
sculpting the peaks of Scotland,
and gouging the deeply carved valleys of the Lake District.
And what's so great about coming to Norway is you can see
what glaciers in Britain might have looked like 20,000 years ago,
before our ice melted completely.
Today, this monumental landscape seems to be at complete peace.
There's a timeless stillness about it.
But bits of it are far from still.
As the glaciers retreat inland, the steep cliffs either side
of the fjords no longer have anything to prop them up,
and every so often, great humps of land just fall away,
down into the fjords.
The rich vegetation covering the cliff sides masks long, potentially lethal fractures in the rock.
Just look at this.
This chasm has been formed because the mountainside is splitting -
parts of it are moving at 20cm a year.
At some point in the next 300 years,
all this is going to thunder down into the fjord.
Up here on the mountainside, I'm meeting Kjell Jogerud,
whose job it is to monitor the impending landslide.
-Very good to meet you.
Yeah. Nice to meet you too.
Can you tell me what is happening to this mountain.
Yes. Er, as you see beneath us here,
more or less everything you see is moving.
And when these masses hit the fjord,
they will transport down to the bottom,
across the fjord, and move up on the shoreline up on the other side.
This mountain will reach the far side of the fjord?
Yes, yes. And they will set off deposits across all the fjord, and create quite a large tsunami.
-A tidal wave.
As the land slides into the fjord,
the tsunami will funnel down the narrow channels.
4,000 people live in its devastating path.
It's not a question of if the tsunami will happen, but when.
So the Norwegians have rigged this hillside with 300 sensors.
When the land starts to move,
they hope to have up to 48 hours' notice to warn everyone in the area -
by text message, automatic phone calls and sirens.
The tidal wave will come careering down this fjord, straight ahead here,
it will go over the top of this ferry and hit Hellesylt behind us.
The wave is always going to search for open water,
so some of it will shoot up this side fjord, Geirangerfjord.
And at the end there, there's nowhere else for it to go.
At the very end of this fjord, there's a little town called Geiranger - home to over 300 people.
I want to find out why they stay
when they know that a tsunami is inevitable.
This is Geiranger, and the head of the fjord.
When the tidal wave reaches here, it has nowhere else to go.
A catastrophic wall of water 40 metres high will smash into Geiranger
and reach the spot where I'm standing now.
All of these buildings will disappear in an instant.
One family has lived here for 500 years - almost 20 generations.
Thomas Grande has his home and camping business right at the water's edge.
He knows that one day in his lifetime, or his children's,
or their descendants', the tsunami will come.
Why do you not move to higher ground where it will be safer?
Er, because we have our roots here.
We like it very much here.
It's a good place to grow up, for Noah.
But when the wave comes, it will destroy your house, it will destroy
-this beautiful bit of foreshore with the grass, and the ancient barns, the boatsheds, everything will go.
Everything will go, because, er, just materials.
The most important is that we can get away safely, and that we trust.
I think we will settle down again and move back and build it up again.
What does this piece of land mean to you personally?
I've been walking here since my first steps, so it's very important for me.
I'm really moved by this place, by the immense forces of ice and water
which shape the fjords and which tell us so much about Scotland's early days.
But I also wonder whether we Britons who are facing rising sea levels and a change in coastline
can't pick up a tip or two from the people down there,
who've learnt to adapt to nature's more ferocious moods.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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