28th June – 4th July
We woke to blue skies so after breakfast it was a short drive to the carpark of Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) and on with the trekking shoes. The climb was not as difficult as Mt Gausta however there were a couple of steep sections that slowed everyone down. It is a very popular tourist attraction and there were several hundred people of all ages doing the hike. There were a couple of stops along the way with stunning views, but nothing like the view from the rock. Pulpit rock is a freak of nature with astonishingly uniform cliffs on three sides. Beautiful aquamarine water over 600 metres below shimmered in the sunlight and the view up the Lysefjord with a waterfall on one side was magical. It did look like rain a couple of times but we were very lucky that our 4 hour hike up and back was a dry one. We decided not to move on today, so we are back at the marina for a third night.
Another ferry trip on our journey today, this one crossing from Hjelmelandsvägen to Nesvik. The road trip took us on the Rv13 which is one of the 10 tourist drives highlighted in all of the travel brochures and we could see why. Even though the scenery is fjords rugged mountains and waterfalls everywhere, it’s a scene you never tire of and it is a continual delight as we venture around each corner. We stopped at the Fosserfall (waterfall) for lunch. A large volume of water coming down from about 100 metres above gave us a lovely view with our lunch. Continuing along the Rv13 and we entered the alpine region with quite a lot of snow on the mountain tops. Where there is snow, there are waterfalls and we were hard pushed to find a stretch of mountain without one! A couple were even higher than the waterfall at our lunch spot. We travelled through many kilometres of tunnels with the longest one being 4.8km with the view changing at almost every exit. On our way to Odda, we stopped at the Låtefossen (waterfall) which is fed by 5 lakes 165 metres high. To date this was the most impressive, thundering over the cliffs with two huge channels of water coming down right at the roadside creating a large spray of water over the road and running into the glacial river that hugs the road. Our wildcamp spot tonight is right on the Hardangerfjord with snow streaked mountains to our left the fjord in front of us and the town and a waterfall to our right.
Another day driving on the Rv7 not knowing where to look first with many more waterfalls and the lovely aquamarine colour of the fjord. About 33kms from Eidfjord we were delayed by 45 minutes with the closure of the road due to road works where they have to blast the rocks to widen the road. We have come across road closures previously although we only had delays of a few minutes. We took the opportunity to have a cuppa and look in awe at our beautiful surroundings. Continuing on along the length of the Hardangerfjord we arrived in Eidfjord after travelling through three large tunnels. The Hardangerbrua (Hardanger bridge) tunnel was the first tunnel we have driven through where there was a roundabout lit in blue where the Rv13 and the Rv7 meet, Eidfjord in one direction and Voss in the other direction over the bridge which has a toll of 600 NKR ($95!) as well as a very long tunnel that goes deep inside the mountain. Our stop at Eidfjord was brief, we had a walk around the water passing a large cruise ship from Germany that was moored. We had lunch before continuing on to the Voringsfossen waterfall through what can only be described as corkscrew tunnels. The Måbotunnel twisted and turned for a few kilometres before opening up near the carpark for the waterfall where the Hardangervidda plateau begins. There were several view points that we walked to which gave us great views of the 182m-high Voringfoss. There are actually numerous waterfalls here, which together are called Vøringsfossen. They plunge over the plateau’s rim and down into the canyon, some with a free fall drop of 145m, it was just beautiful. We drove a further 75 kms to Geilo through the plateau with vastly different scenery of rocky outcrops, snow drifts and glimpses of the Hardanger glacier. Since arriving in Norway we have had water views each evening however tonight we have our first ski run view, albeit snowless apart from the odd patch. Still, a nice view just the same.
Snow fell on the surrounding mountains last night and we did receive a flake or two in the wind. We had another day of spectacular scenery on our drive leaving the Rv7 and travelling on the Rv50 through at least 30kms of tunnels, with another corkscrew tunnel not too dissimilar to yesterday’s which had a steep descent. Tilly performed well even though her brake pads got a bit hot! While there was not much difference in the weather from the entrance to the exit of the tunnels, the scenery changed from wild rugged mountains with a lot more snow to the lowlands of the fjords and sheep grazing in the paddocks. We lost count of the number of waterfalls which varied in height width and volume of water arriving at the town of Flåm at lunchtime. There was a small cruise ship docked and there were lots of people, from both the ship and the tour buses that had come to Flåm for the railway trip and fjord cruise. We had a walk around the tourist shops before continuing on to our wildcamp spot in Undredal right next to the Aurlandsfjorden.
Sorry to keep repeating myself, but the scenery again today was stunning. We travelled on the snow road, which is 45kms long and climbs from sea level, twisting precipitously to the desolate boulder-strewn high plateau that separates Aurland from Laerdal. 8kms along the road is the Stegastein observation point which projects out over the fjord below. It was a lovely turquoise colour in a enormous mountainous gulley with water pouring of the mountainside from the snowmelt. The road climbed to 1300 metres through more rugged scenery and we were surprised at just how much snow was still on the ground. The drive is only open during the summer months and along the way huge snow cliffs hug the road. Fortunately there were many places to stop to admire the view and we ended that length of the road on another steep and narrow descent into the town of Laerdal where we had lunch. Through the longest tunnel to date 6.8 kms and a ferry trip across the Sogndalfjord where we continued on to Kaupanger our camping spot for the night next to the fjord, again!!!! We had a nice walk around the fjord for a couple of kilometres in the sunshine before heading back to admire the view from our windows.
Another day of gobsmacking scenery and at one of our many stops along the way we met an Australian couple from Melbourne who spend Australian winters travelling in Europe in a Motorhome that they store in the UK for the remainder of the year. Jostedalsbreen is mainland Europe’s largest glacier and one tongue of that glacier is the Boyabreen glacier. We stopped and had our lunch before walking a short distance to the lookout where this massive blue coloured ice wall hugged the mountain peak with a melt water lagoon at the base. Cows were roaming freely in the carpark and on the walk trail which made it a bit hazardous with cow pats all over the path! Continuing on we drove to Olden, our stop for the night and we have another water view of the Nordfjord. We had a walk around the little market that was on before settling in for the night.
Another day driving through the beautiful rugged Norwegian scenery and a short drive of 23km to our first stop, the Briksdal glacier. It was about a 5km-return walk to the glacier face up a steepish well maintained path. In years gone by, you were able to walk right up to the glacier but due to a landslide in 2005 that was no longer an option. The view up the glacier was breathtaking and there were a lot of people there at 9.30 so I would hate to think how crowded it would have been later in the day with all of the tour buses. On the way out we stopped at the glacier view carpark where a busload of Chinese Americans pulled up. One gentleman was very interested in Matilda and before we knew if, we had half of the bus coming inside to have a peak. One lady even gave me a hug for letting her look inside! Should have charged a fee. All of the water in the fjords and rivers we saw today were a lovely aquamarine colour and at the Djupvatnet lake there were several icebergs. After stopping for a chunk of snow for our drinks tonight we arrived in Geirangerfjord to find 3 cruise ships, the biggest one being the Costa Favalosa. To get to the marina area we had to climb down a lot of stairs that ran parallel with a waterfall that was immense in size and noise. We had a nice walk around the tourist area while watching the Costa Favorosa leave after blowing its whistle which resonated around the fjord for quite some time. We have again found a lovely wildcamp spot opposite the tourist area right alongside the fjord looking at the peaks in the distance with their drifts of snow and a massive waterfall.
5th July – Happy birthday Francesca 🎂🎂🎂🎂
The weather was very wet and miserable when we left Geirangerfjord which put paid to our planned hike. On the way out we stopped at Ørnesvingen after a wild drive up the hill which afforded us an amazing view down onto Geirangerfjord and the surrounding mountains. Even in the rain it looked amazing with the coloured water and another small cruise ship moored in the bay. The scenery changed again today with smaller mountains, less snow and fewer waterfalls although we still had water views for some of the journey. A ferry trip across to Linge from Eisdale and 7 tunnels had us arriving in Ålesund. We parked Tilly at the Rema 1000 supermarket and headed into town. Moored at the marina was an Australian boat that was massive. We googled the details and it houses 28 staff, 16 guests, it has a swimming pool and a helicopter bay and landing pad. It is owned by the man who owns Westfield shopping Centres, Frank Lowe and was worth $100M! Nice for some. We continued on our walk around admiring the Art Nouveau buildings before returning to the Motorhome and driving a short distance of 3km to our wildcamp spot for the night, along with 10 other Motorhomes. We weren’t parked far from the water so we went for a walk along one of the many paths and found a number of old bunkers left from the war. We finished up at the end of the land mass with a view out to the North Sea where two big ships were heading in to the fjord.
6th July – 8th July
Another wet day saw us leaving Ålesund passing one of the big ships that we saw yesterday, the Costa Pacifica which was even bigger than the Costa ship we saw in Geirangerfjord. Our destination today is the top of the Trollstigen road (Troll’s ladder) and the scenery was back to the high peaks and waterfalls. We stopped at Gudbrandsjuvet where the river sluices and thrashes through a 5m-wide, 20m-deep canyon. A small boardwalk designed to the shape of the Trollstigen road wound its way over the canyon giving us an amazing view of the turquoise coloured water raging below us. The road up to Trollstigen heading north was windy in parts and not altogether steep, however tomorrow will be a different story. We were surprised at the number of people on push bikes who were pedalling up! Even though the clouds were covering the view, we did venture out for a short walk to stretch our legs. Couldn’t see a thing, felt sorry for the people on the tour buses who don’t have the luxury of staying overnight like we are and hoping for fine weather in the morning. Fingers crossed. Later in the afternoon visibility was really poor due to cloud cover however there were still cars, buses and motorcycles travelling up and down, very dangerous.
Was the weather on our side? The Boaden travel luck strikes again. While a bit cold it was dry and clear when we woke. We decided to get down the mountain early so delayed breakfast and headed out to the lookout first. The view was well worth waiting for, straight down the valley with the waterfall below us as well as the road we needed to take. The Troll’s Ladder is a thriller of a climb or descent. Recently declared a National Tourist Route, it was completed in 1936 after eight years of labour. Only a short 6kms in length it has 11 hairpin bends and a 1:12 gradient and much of it is effectively single lane and is best to drive either first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon when the tour buses have left. Several dramatic waterfalls, including the 180m high Stigfossen thunders down its side and the view over the valley below as we slowly made our way down was just awesome. We made it down safely with only a little bit of traffic coming the other way. A brief stop for breakfast and we were on our way again to Åndalsnes where our planned hike to Nesaksla starts. Steel walkways formed the start of the hike which quickly got steeper and a little more tricky but included handrails in the steeper section. The most spectacular section was Romsdalstrappa, a series of natural stone stairs (built by a team of Nepalese sherpas) leading to a 6.5m-long metal platform that juts into thin air. We were rewarded with the most astonishing views of the Romsdal Alps, the Rauma river and the Romsdal fjord. A large cruise ship was moored below us and was one that we had seen previously in Olden. As always, the climb down was much easier although there were a lot of people on the path heading up. We drove a few kilometres to our lunch spot before heading to our wildcamp spot 70kms away at Eidsvåg where we are again parked with views over the fjord.