Jokkmokk Winter Market 2017 - The Return

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Airports are a kind of Limbo that Dante would have recognized. You are neither one place or another and generally out of control of your own movements.

We were stuck in Manchester Airport due to traffic delays that caused us to be late to the baggage drop. We were already checked in but the young lady on the desk said she could not let us through, in a way that reminded me of the Little Britain sketch where the girl just retorts that “The computer says No...”

We contacted Scandinavian Airlines, the carrier we used on this trip, expecting an administration charge to change our tickets. What we were not expecting was to be charged almost twice the price of our original ticket to be put on the next flight in the afternoon.

To add insult to injury, when we eventually boarded the flight we found there were a good number of vacant seats on the plane so they could hardly claim we were causing them any great inconvenience.

When I offered Scandinavian Airlines a chance to comment on this exploitative policy before publishing this trip report, their Customer Services department sent me an e-mail saying that it could be four weeks before they replied to my e-mail. Unbelievable, is that what they call customer service?

As things stand currently you can be very sure I will not be flying with Scandinavian Airlines or “SAS” as they call themselves any time in the future.

Back to Norwegian Air which has always offered me outstanding service, even under difficult conditions.


After such a tortuous start we were very glad to get to our hotel in Stockholm. A converted ship moored on Söder Mälarstrandskajen.

This quirky little hotel was found by Damian’s partner Mica and suited our needs very well.

Not the biggest or most luxurious hotel I have stayed in but certainly one of the most memorable.

Added to that, the view from our room was great.



Stockholm is one of those cities where you have to walk around a lot of water to get from one place to another.

We were aiming for the Skansen and Nordiska museums on our first day but saw these interesting fishing nets on our way.


The front of the biology museum caught our eyes as well.

Reminiscent of some of the old wooden stave churches, the carving on the entrance portal was a real masterpiece.


Skansen is an old museum that has collected many interesting buildings from the length and breadth of Sweden.

In the summer they also have living history exhibits here but when we visited it was quiet and peaceful, giving us the opportunity to wander about, sticking our noses into crooks and crannies and looking at details that would normally be easily overlooked.


The birds here are so tame that they will happily feed from your hand if you have a few crumbs to offer.



The sorts of detail that I like.

Birch bark used as a waterproof membrane under a turf roof or shingles cut to make a pattern on an otherwise simple roof.



Nordiska is perhaps a more traditional museum, containing the Swedish Ethnographic collection, including of course a few Saami artifacts.

I covered this fairly thoroughly of course in my 2013 report.


I apologise for the rather poor photograph of this but if you have ever wondered about the shape of a Saami coffee bag, this might make things a little clearer.

The coffee grinder fits into the mouth of the pouch and is secured by the binding.



I also spotted this, labelled as a Snuff Grinder in the case, it reminded me more of a fire piston including as it did the string seal at the base of the piston.

Could be wrong but I think perhaps that may be miss-identified.


One part of the collection that Debs found particularly fascinating was the Textile Gallery. Very well displayed, allowing close but protected access to potentially sensitive materials in a way that is a delight to craft workers such as Debs or myself.

So back to the boat and another museum in the morning. Trips to museums like this are a mainstay of the research my business requires. It is all very well looking at artefacts online or in books but it is often only when you see the real thing that you notice details that give you a greater understanding of how things were used or made.



These are the original finds that my own Hnefatafl set is based upon for example.



Details from runestones such as these are very useful for a long term project that Debs is working on for me too.



I need to make a new belt pouch soon and this imported ceramic cup from the Vikng Age goes some way to answering questions about the possible provenance of a type of wooden cup found plentifully in later Scandinavian contexts.


To someone like me this is all grist to the mill.


There is something romantic about catching a sleeper train, you go to bed in one place and wake up in another.

When they call it the Arctic Circle Train, I think you would have to have a heart of stone not to be excited by the prospect. This is where our journey truly begins.


(Ignore the clock by the way, it was spinning so fast it was only right about once every 5 minutes.)

The cabin was snug, Especially with three of us it it but well designed and comfortable enough. Damian had brought a few films with him on his tablet which passed some time befor getting our heads down.

We had left Stockholm in the sweltering low minuses with no snow and disembarked at Murjek at the only slightly colder temperature of -6°c Not quite the minus thirties we had experienced on our last trip.

At least there was snow. Lots of snow compared to England but still rather thin for northern Sweden.


The one destination I looked for on this sign but could not find was Jokkmokk. Our final destination and about 30 miles WNW of Murjek


We had a coach to catch that would drop us at the Arctic Camp Jokkmokk where we had booked a cabin for the week of the Winter Market.


Last time we came we booked a smaller cabin and used it as a back up for camping in the woods. We were joined by another group that were camping full time.

While that was enjoyable, we found that the inevitable camp admin like cutting wood and making snowball soup took up much of the time and left us hard pressed to see everything at the Market which was the main reason for our visit.

This time we had decided to concentrate on the Market and as it was Debs first trip to the Arctic in Winter we went for the best cabin we could get.


Cabin 53 certainly didn’t disappoint.

In theory it could sleep up to ten with all the beds and sofa beds in use. That might have been a bit cosy but for three of us it gave room to spare and even space to entertain if we needed.

Temperatures were still fairly high outside so with the added difficulties that would have created we were happy with our decision.

We even had a veranda that we could sit and enjoy the view on.

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I had another of my mad ideas. Last time we were here I saw lots of ice lanterns made by part freezing water in a bucket.

I loved the idea but there was no way I was going to pack a bucket in my luggage.

I started thinking about more portable alternatives when the idea struck me of using a balloon.

So the first night we were in the cabin I filled a few balloons with water and left them on the veranda to freeze.


The trick was to let them get solid enough to hold their shape but not so solid that I couldn’t put a tealight inside them.

Overnight at about -8°c seemed to be about right.

I had a Swiss Army Knife with a saw blade on it which made light work of sawing a hole in the top.


I was pleased with the end result. The saucer was used to make sure the tealight did not melt through the ice and scorch the paint on the balustrade.

They lasted the full week.

This also gives you a good idea of the view from our cabin, straight down the Lilla Lule River.

A tempting place for a walk perhaps but having followed the weather reports for some time I knew the warm spell we were having had been in place for quite some time.


All over the ice there were pressure fractures where the rise and fall of the river surface had driven ice up over the boulders lying just below the surface.

Although there were snowmobile tracks in places on the ice it does well to remember that even a heavy skidoo has a lower weight footprint than a man on foot.


In places there were clear leads of open water where the scouring action of the current had prevented the ice from forming.

As beautiful as it looked, it was a very dangerous treacherous and environment.


Having said that, providing you took great care, stayed close to the edge and carried ice claws with you, it did offer one of the more open path for snowshoes so I would be lying if I said I didn’t take advantage of it in a couple of places.



Where small erratics were sticking up through the ice I could be fairly certain there was shallow water below.


The light that you get in the Arctic can be a photographers dream.

On clear days the sun rarely rises far above the horizon at this time of year.

I’ll just leave a few pictures here to show you what I mean.






Again, I covered the Ajtte Museum fairly well in my 2013 report so although we visited numerous times I will skip over most of that, just mentioning a couple of things I had missed last time.


This was rather interesting.

It is a bone used as a straw allowing the porous core to act as a simple filter.

It would not of course remove very small pathogens but it was fine enough to remove a common parasitic worm which could be caught in the Arctic.


I have mentioned before the Saami use of shoe bands to prevent snow entering the boots.

This picture shows their application very well.

I did manage to pick up an old pair at the local Red Cross shop along with a couple of birch bark boxes.

Thanks to Kev Warrington for the suggestion to visit there before the market kicked off.


There is a certain atmosphere that builds up in the town before the market.

Someone told me that the locals measure the year as either before or after it which is perhaps not surprising when the population increases something like tenfold over the week.

For all that, the days before seem calm and collected. Perhaps it has been done so often everybody just knows what to do.

I suspect though that it is more like the image of a swan on the water with it’s legs furiously paddling below the surface.

One of the first things to go up are the huge Laavus which are used as bars and venues over the market.


The Scandinavian love of candles manifests itself with ice lanterns and other contraptions to hold outdoor lights.

Sadly the Historic Market, organised by some of the locals before the main market opens was not being held this year. There were still various exhibitions and open days to hold our interest in the mean time.


It is the Saami Craft Work that draws me to this market. I know of nowhere else that you can see the variety of craftspeople and their wares as Jokkmokk in the Winter Market week.

This fine hunting spear, although far beyond my budget, was a joy to see. Some other fine pieces would be accompanying me home along with materials that, even in the days of online shopping, are difficult to get elsewhere.

I have to admit, my anticipation was growing.


On Wednesday night there is an official opening ceremony which passes like such ceremonies do the World over.

This one included a bit of Joiking and a bit of Saami Rap which made an interesting change.

The next day the traps were opened and the market buyers were off.


Inevitably when you are talking about craft items, the stock is not infinite.

There are many machine made items that will still be available at the end of the market but if you want that special piece that just fits your hand like it was made for it you had better buy it quickly.

My first purchase was made just a few stalls up the main track. a large needlework bag of Reindeer skin and Wadmal. It was just what I needed and I could see he only had one of them.

It seemed that more of the top crafts people had moved to indoor locations on this market. I can’t blame them, typical temperatures are around -30°c to -40°c at this time in February.

Everyone was talking about how warm it was this year. Really quite worrying.

There is always a traditional reindeer caravan through the market about mid day but the chances of getting any useful photographs are limited by the crowds.


This fine gentleman is Anders Sunna, one of the best craftsmen we found outdoors this year.

True, it looked like his wife was running an indoor stall as well but it was nice to shake the hand that had made two of the very fine pieces we bought.

It is clear that there is a good crop of younger crafts people rising up through the market.

Supported by the Saami Craft School in the town and also the Sámi Duodji the Sámi handicraft foundation but it is good to see some of the more experienced hands holding their own in the market.


There is a lot of fur on the market more that some people might be comfortable with I suppose.

There is a very good reason that fake fur has not replaced the real thing in Arctic conditions and it has to do with the shape of the hair.

Synthetic fur is one thickness from it’s root to its tip, real fur tends to taper to a point.

This means that when ice builds up on the hair from condensed breath and the like, it sticks to synthetic fur but slips of the real stuff.

Nature has been designing it for millions of years, that’s even longer ago than some imaginary guy said “Let there be life.”

(Might as well offend everyone at the same time.)


On the whole I prefer to recycle fur when I can but I do use fur in my living history work and also on my Arctic kit where needed.

Knife makers were on every corner and street, some fairly standard some extraordinary.

I wasn’t in that market but I could have picked up some really nice work if I had wanted.


Less textiles that we had hoped to see.



Needle Case




At Ajtte there was a new exhibition of Duodji.

Apparently a major collector had bequeathed his treasure trove to the Museum and it contained some beautiful works by some of the best crafts people around.



It certainly raised the bar for the kind of work you can find if you are patient enough.

You will have to wait for Part Four to see what we came home with.


One of the indoor markets was held in a local school hall. They didn’t close the school down or anything it was just business as usual with kids running all over the playground at break times.

The kids appear to be a bit better than me at this ice sculpture thing.


The playground was a bit different though. Tons of snow piled up from clearing the roads, with ropes for climbing and the best slides you could imagine.

The same had been done in other places as well.


Can you imagine that in the UK? There would be barriers and signs all over the place.

The would probably close the school and they certainly wouldn’t let the kids out at break time.



Down by the lake things were winding up for the Reindeer Racing.


Crowds were gathering, Reindeer were groomed and money was exchanging hands.


While not taken a seriously as it might be elsewhere, family pride was at stake here as well.


The sledges, the course and the reindeer are all real enough but their burdens this time would be members of the public.


Mostly a matter of hanging on for dear life it looked like fun to me.



At the other end of the lake was a chance to try a short trip with a Dog Sled Team.

I do like the idea of that for another trip perhaps.





As the afternoon progressed into an early evening, the lights levels dropped and the market lit up





It’s not all craft work of course.

There was some more serious outdoor gear on show as you might expect for a semi-mobile population in conditions like these.


Damian was wondering how to get an ATV like this into his luggage and had to settle for a brochure instead.


The conditions had turned a little mistier which led to a haw frost lining everything it touched.

Still not particularly cold, -13°c was the coldest we got all week and that was overnight.

I had a tracking thermometer set up on the veranda all the time we were there.


It did lead to a change of style for the photos though.

I'll just leave a couple here for your enjoyment.

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You know how it is, you are all dressed up to go and visit the neighbours when life throws you a curve-ball and your plans go right out of the window.

In this case the neighbours were a group from Bushcraft UK that had made separate plans to visit the market and were camped out in the woods.

We had met them on the first day in town which was a surprise because their original plans were to arrive later.

Turned out they had had some trouble on the way and changed their plans to arrive here early.

We had shown them a spot near where we had camped last time and they had settled in nicely. Time for a visit.


We togged up for an evening sitting out in the snow. We set out of the door only to behold a KP5 Solar Storm in full flux.

I’m sorry guys but you were trumped by nature.


There is a section on my website about photographing the Aurora but the important thing to realise is that it will need relatively long exposures to get results like you see here.


I’d packed the smallest of my tripods which was a major pain in my luggage but it was here for just such occasions as this.


Fortunately I was also warmly dressed and already rigged out for snowshoeing.



We did eventually get to see the lads in their camp. A few days later when they had moved back onto the campsite.


Dave and Ash were bivied down in a fishing shelter while Chris and Al pitched tents for the last few days.


Over the next days conditions changed back to freezing fog which rimed everything in frost again.

The woods on and near the camp site were relatively open.


In other places they became a little more thicket like.

We saw reindeer and even a White Tailed Eagle scavenging on the coach journey in. Around our cabin there were hare tracks and red squirrels bickering in the trees.


I might be wrong but I think this is a shooting blind for wildfowl on the river.


As trips go this was certainly not our boldest adventure though plans we made here may lead to more exciting things in the future.

For me it was a cultural thing, Museums and Exhibitions are very much my thing along with books and craft work.


We met interesting people from the area and folk from further afield.

Luke from Belgium, a very knowledgeable collector that we met last time and got on well with.

Robert from Bremen in Germany that had met the BcUK lads and mentioned he was a fan of my site without realising we were there.

Matt from Northampton who had come to the market after reading about it on my site and recognised me from my parka.

It is a small World indeed.

When I set out to put a few thoughts online with my Ravenlore site and Ice-Raven later on I never expected to generate the huge readership they have.

I am rather humbled by the interest people have shown in it.


I once said that I wanted to see the Arctic while it was still there. The temperatures we witnessed this week have added a sense of urgency to that wish.

They say that the effects of global warming are being concentrated at the poles and if that is so then perhaps the unprecedented warm winter we have just witnessed may become a more regular event.


You might not think that matters but it matters to the people who live and try to make their livelihoods here.

To give just one example, if the snow is constantly thawing and freezing it creates a crust that the reindeer find hard to break through to get to the food underneath.

This is the time of year the females are carrying young, if they don’t get the food they may well lose their calves.

Ultimately if things carry on like this, it will eventually effect us all.


We didn’t bring as much gear this time as we were not camping.

We had too much clothing as we had packed in expectation of much lower temperatures.

The snowshoes were useful for walking in the woods, particularly while taking pictures.

I had intended to make some snow constructions with the shovel but in the end the snow was just powder.


Debs had a fantastic wool lined Snow-Dogs Parka made for her by Cliff.

I added a coyote ruff to it from one of my other coats but apart from the night of the Aurora it was just too warm to be worn most of the time.

It will certainly see more use if we go out in colder conditions though. Cracking bit of kit.



All too quickly, our journey was coming to it’s end. We tried to book a taxi to the bus station but the two available firms could not provide a taxi at the time we needed.

The staff at the camp site came to our rescue and organised a lift for us and all our gear down to the town.

Fantastic service and I would highly recommend the Arctic Camp Jokkmokk to anyone visiting the area. Superb.

The return journey was much like the outbound one with one extra change of train.

Back to the Loginn Hotel for a couple of days onboard and take in a couple more museums.

This time the Vasa and the Ethnographic Museum which again were covered in my 2013 report.

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By now you may be wondering what we bought at the market.

Some of it might seem quite mundane I suppose, Some stabilised wood for knife handles, naturally tanned reindeer leather, artificial sinew in gauges I cannot get in the UK, brass rings, belt studs and tin thread.


The important thing is that all of these things will become other things in the future. I also came away from the market with a head full of ideas.

Having good materials to work with is a great inspiration to any crafts person and I am no different there.


The Red Cross charity shop in Jokkmokk was a great find.

These four boxes and the shoebands cost me less than fifteen pounds for the lot by my reckoning.


One of the first things that caught my eye and my first actual purchase were both leather work.

The Salmon, Eel and Reindeer skin bag was made by Isse Israelsson and I found it in one of the local craft shops before the market opened.

The needlework bag is less remarkable but suited my needs perfectly and was my first spend on the market itself.


One of the traders had a cardboard rummage box by his side, full I suspect, of things he may have found in charity shops and thrift sales but in amongst it all I found this delicate little Kuksa and a lonely shoeband that Debs liked the pattern on.

I suspect she might weave me a pair if I ask nicely.


A simple bent wood box for Debs to use as a textile work box.

You can never have too many boxes...


Showing both sides here by the magic of PhotoShop.

A very nice Matchcase made by Anders Sunna


Another piece by the same artist/craftman Anders Sunna, This time a Needlecase.

Debs uses the one I bought in 2013 all the time but any textile worker needs more than one needlecase, especially when they are so beautiful.


A lovely belt buckle by Per-Stefan Idivuoma, A fine young man with a bright future ahead of him if the work he is producing now is anything to go by.


And my personal favourite, this Skop, by Johan Borgstróm, caught the corner of my eye as I was buying something else. Tucked in a corner I almost missed it.

As soon as I picked it up I knew it was right.


When I turned it over and looked at the work on the back as well I was blown away.


This makes a good pair with the Kuksa I bought here last time (Made by Roger Grūnlund.)

The Kuksa gets used often for drinking when I’m out and the Skop will now be my eating bowl.

These are things made to be used, not just looked at on a shelf.


So, our little collection of Saami treasures now looks something like this. Every piece has a memory attached and every piece is a joy to use.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever get back to Jokkmokk, I’d like to but the wilder Arctic is calling and time appears to be growing short.


My greatest treasure is and always will be Debs. The fact that she could be with me on this trip meant more to me than I can possibly say. People that know us well will understand exactly what I mean.

She has been an inspiration to me for many years making me a far better person than I would be on my own.

She supported me in the early years of my business, always having faith that things would work out in the end.

She has stood by my side in very difficult times, put up with my wildest schemes and always kept my feet firmly on the ground when they needed to be.

I consider my self to be a very fortunate man.

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Hill Dweller
Sep 17, 2003
Your cabin was wonderful, and thanks for making it available to us all. It was the only place I could really get a decent cup of tea!

[One little story was, Ash and I found a german bushcrafter chap, called Robert, staying in this really well modded tent he had made from a a US army tent. He told us he was a big fan of this website from the UK, he knew called Ravenlore.
I think he was a bit overwhelmed when we said it was Waylands, and that Gary, Damien and Debs, were staying in a cabin on the campsite. So Ash and I took him up unanounced to meet you. He was beaming all over his face the next time I saw him, 'what wonderful people' he said. :)]

Those photos are great, I look forward to seeing the rest.


Feb 10, 2016
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
The airline ticket must have killed the joy of the start.

I have used SAS for most of my life. Never had any major problems. On time, clean aircraft, decent food, nice staff.
Unfortunately, if you miss a flight your tickets are void. Unless the previous air carrier made a misstake or was late.
If this is the case, and the carriers belong to the same organization, you will be rebooked at no extra charge, meals and hotel paid, for the next flight.
If it is not their fault, you have to pay for the next ticket for the listed price.

I fly several times longhaul a year where I have to catch 4 or 5 connecting fligts to get to destination. I try to book flights with the same company or within the same system.
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I'm working as fast as I can.

I have to admit the flight foul up did spoil my mood for a while but in the end you just have to get on with things and don't let it get in the way.

I am still a bit angry about Scandinavian Airline's attitude though. They know damned well you need to get on the next flight to keep your plans on track so they deliberately charge the maximum fee they can get away with.

That is extortion by any other name and I'll give them whatever bad publicity I can for it.

You don't p!$$ off a Viking without feeling some pain.


Full Member
Jun 14, 2016
Awesome write up and photos , can't wait for parts 2,3 and 4!👍

Also that biology museum entrance ! !! WOW!
That is amazing , beautiful work...


Feb 10, 2016
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Wayland, check how much the flight you feel you were charged extra for costs online. Same day of week, same time.
I think you will see that you did indeed pay the SAS list price.

All companies have a habit to charge crazy amounts for the most popular flights ( days, time of day, time of year).


Full Member
Mar 11, 2011
I'm working as fast as I can.

I have to admit the flight foul up did spoil my mood for a while but in the end you just have to get on with things and don't let it get in the way.

I am still a bit angry about Scandinavian Airline's attitude though. They know damned well you need to get on the next flight to keep your plans on track so they deliberately charge the maximum fee they can get away with.

That is extortion by any other name and I'll give them whatever bad publicity I can for it.

You don't p!$$ off a Viking without feeling some pain.

Doesnt your travel insurance cover it,what about those responsible for the problem?

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