Our Holiday in Norway, 1998.
- This is a short(?) account our five week holiday in Norway in 1998.
- The plan was to spend six weeks in Norway with four aims:-
- To walk for eight days in the Jotenheim area, taking in Glittertind, the
highest mountain in Norway (if you count the depth of glacial ice on the summit)
- To visit Nordkapp, the most northerly point in Europe at 71deg 10min N.
- To walk for seven days in the Troms area, east of Tromso, crossing into
Sweden and back again.
- To walk for eleven days in the Hardangervidda, which we had visited in
- Things didn't go as planned.
- Monday, 29.06.
- Leave Newcastle on the good ship "Color Viking" bound for Bergen.
All the Norwegian road atlases have sold out.
- Tuesday, 30.06.
- Arrive Bergen at 15:30. Lesley convinced I went the wrong way round the
first roundabout. I admit to looking right instead of left, which caused some
confusion, but I did navigate it correctly. Find a very nice camp site at
Granvin and decide to hire a
cabin as we've had a hard day. This creates a useful,
if expensive, precedent and our tent remains unpacked for the whole trip.
- Wednesday, 1.07.
- Visit Simadalen, near Eidfjord, and look up the 300 metre cliffs down which
we gazed in 1993. Another ambition realized. Arrive at the hostel at Gjendesheim
just in time for dinner and sort out where to park the car for the duration of
our walk in Jotenheim.
- Thursday, 2.07.
- Sort out packs. Walk to Memurubu via
Bessegan Ridge. The ridge is very like the north
ridge of Tryfan only we are descending which is a bit awkward. Lots of people in
trainers etc., ascending, make us feel overdressed, particularly as the weather
is quite hot and
sunny. Eight hours after leaving we are relaxing in
the luxury of a magnificently appointed room at the privately owned hostel, with
en-suite facilities with heated floor and our own balcony. All this and 15 km
from the nearest road! 1200 metres climbed over 15 kilometres in 8 hours.
- Friday, 3.07.
- The magnificently appointed facilities set us back NOK990, (about £80),
more than twice our budget. As they don't take plastic this presents an
immediate cash flow problem. Climb the 300 metres out of Memurubu to be faced
with a tricky descent into the next valley, bypassing a corniced snowfield which
looks a bit dodgy. Level going for the next two hours is enlivened by the need
to cross a swiftly flowing river without drowning or
being battered to death and avoiding being trampled underfoot by a huge herd of
reindeer who stampede when we appear. Drizzly. We use our ice axes to help us
over snowy boulder fields which are very hard going. Lesley takes a nasty fall
and chips one of her spectacle lenses and, we later decide, cracks a cheek bone.
Pleased to arrive at the hostel at Glitterheim after a tiring day. 1045 metres
climbed over 17 km in 7 hours.
- Saturday, 4.07.
- Weather slightly drizzly but OK. A steady climb for 1310 metres to the
summit of Glittertind, the highest mountain in Norway at 2468 metres.
Visibility at the
summit is about 10 metres and the GPS proves its worth
by convincing us that the false summit we passed 300 metres ago really wasn't
the real summit. You don't find cairns on glacial summits. Return the same way.
Ice axes again very useful. 6h 30m against a book time of 5 hours but we did
stop for lunch and the knee-deep soft snow near the summit was very trying.
- Sunday, 5.07.
- Our cash flow problem means a drastic change of plan and this, combined
with the general roughness of the paths, convinces us that the best thing to do
is to return to Gjendesheim direct. This we do in
weather that improves as the day goes on. 845 metres climbed over 25 km in 7h
30m. A very enjoyable day as it turns out.
- Monday, 6.07.
- Sort out the car. Head north, sidetracking to Lom where we visit the
Norwegian Mountain Museum and the Stone Museum. Find a camp site with cabin near
Oppdal. The washing machine doesn't work so Lesley gets the use of one in the
Hotel. This is some relief as we have some very dirty clothes even after only
four days walking. Lesley is being very brave about her injured face.
- Tuesday, 7.07.
- Head north, diverting to Trondheim to visit the cathedral, the Military
Museum and Dolly Dimple's where a misunderstanding means I'm served a 30cm pizza
all for myself. 80kph speed limits are doing wonders for our fuel consumption.
Stop for the night in a cabin north of Kvam. The toilet block is only yards
away, thank goodness.
- Wednesday, 8.07.
- Head north, stopping at Laksfoss for lunch by a massive
waterfall, Mosjoen for shopping and end up in a cabin
on a very nice site north of Mo I Rana. We are averaging about 200 miles a day
which is quite painless as the road, the E6, is very
good and we sometimes go for five to ten minutes without seeing another vehicle.
Although we're close to the Arctic Circle the weather is beautifully warm and
- Thursday, 9.07.
- Head south a little way to visit a glacier via a boat trip and scrambly
walk. Very impressive. A torrential rain shower washes the car very nicely as we
are driving away. Head north again. We reach the Arctic Circle, 67deg 33min N.,
at about 15:00. The Arctic Circle Centre is very tacky and designed to extract
as much money as possible from gullible tourists. We contribute by buying a
cassette of Peer Gynt (Halle, Barbirolli). We could find no explanation as to
what the Arctic Circle is and its geographical significance. What a good job we
already knew! Leave at about 16:20 and find a cabin at Madby. Partying Germans
try to persuade us to join them by offering us fizzy water. Explain gently that
we too have fizzy water but it probably isn't as powerful as theirs. Rainy
- Friday, 10.07.
- Heavy drizzle. Head north. Bypass Narvik and turn off to a site at Elvelund
where we get a room with separate kitchen! The midnight sun is not seen because
a) it is cloudy and b) we are asleep. "b" applies for the whole trip.
- Saturday, 11.07.
- We are now close to the scene of our next walk so divert to recce a parking
place for the car. We find one at the end of a dirt road but the size and number
of mosquitos is a bit daunting. Give a lift to a walker. As the back of the car
is full she shares the front seat with Lesley as far as the tarmac where we kick
her out in case we are spotted by the law. Return to the E6 and head north.
Weather and scenery improving all the time and we find a cabin at Sandnes on a
site by the sea with magnificent views.
- Sunday, 12.07.
- Weather excellent. Head north. Visit the museum at Alta where the toilets
are obviously part of a nuclear bunker. This museum includes a walkway which
tours the 4000 year old rock carvings. Very impressive and we spend over two
hours pottering about in brilliant sunshine. Forsake the E6 for the E69 and
battle with coaches and camper vans all heading for Nordkapp. The Italians drive
on both sides of the road which makes overtaking a bit difficult. Arrive at the
most northerly camp site in Europe at about 18:00 and book a cabin for two
nights. After sorting ourselves out drive the 14km up to
Nordkapp where, briefly, we are the most northerly
people in Europe. The scenery is very impressive with 1000 foot cliffs dropping
shear into the Barents Sea. The Nordkapp Centre is a bit less commercial than
that at the Arctic Circle but not much. What is off-putting are the lines of
camper vans which have positioned themselves to see the midnight sun. This makes
it very tacky.
- Monday, 13.07.
- Brilliant sunshine so tee shirts and shorts. It may not be generally
realised but Nordkapp is not the most northerly point in Europe although, for
commercial reasons, it is described as such. That honour goes to
Knivskjelodden, a headland which is about 4 km to
the west and 47 seconds of latitude to the north of Nordkapp. There is a rough,
waymarked path from the road for about 9km. We park and follow the cairns over
rough moorland to a remote bay from where we see Nordkapp capped with cloud
which is pouring over the headland like a waterfall. The waymarks disappear as
we head out further across great slabs to the waters edge
at the very end of Europe. By this time the sky has clouded over and it looks as
though we might be engulfed in
polar mist. It's very cold and shorts aren't ideal
wear. We have our fleeces though so our upper bodies are well protected. Lesley,
whose hands have frozen up, seeks shelter among the crevices as my feet slip
sideways on the wet rocks and I come a terrific cropper on my left side. I can't
move without letting go of the video camera, which, of course, is unthinkable
and there is a real danger that if I do move I'll slide into the icy water which
is very rough. I shout for Lesley and after a bit of heaving about I am upright
again. The video camera has a bad scar on the lens mount, I have a five inch
friction burn on my left forearm which is very bloody, a half inch hole in my
left calf and a painful left thigh. The camera still works(!) and after some
experimenting so do I. This isn't the time to hang about so we take photographs
and retreat. I wonder whether the Guiness Book of Records will be interested as
I have undoubtedly had the most northerly accident in Europe. We then notice
blood oozing through my shorts and I discover a huge friction burn on my left
thigh, (photo available on receipt of a SAE). As we return to the bay the
weather improves dramatically and a well-earned rest
for lunch restores our shattered nerves. (This all sounds very dramatic but at
the time we just had to get on with it). We return to the car and the cabin.
Lovely sunny evening but windy.
- Tuesday, 14.07.
- Catch the ferry for the mainland and head south. A misunderstanding means I
lunch on mushy peas and a sausage all slapped on to a slice of brown bread. Find
a cabin at a beautiful site at Alteidal overlooking a fjord with "fairy-tale"
mountains in the background. A huge bruise envelopes my thigh wound which is
weeping very nicely.
- Wednesday, 15.07.
- Divert to see the only glacier in Europe which "calves" into the
sea. Bitten by a mosquito or two in the interests of perfect video. The
microphone on the camera catches my gasp of pain to perfection. Head south. Two
ferries and we are into Tromso. I lose my nerve at the amount of traffic and
lack of road markings and we are out again after about an hour! After some
searching find a very good cabin north of Setermoen. Unfortunately the mosquitos
like it as well and at 00:30 I retire to the car with my sleeping bag. This
provides some entertainment to the owners of the site who are partying on their
balcony just across the way.
- Thursday 16.07.
- This is the day when we are supposed to start our seven-day Troms Border
walk. My thigh injury rules out sustained walking and we decide to make for the
Lofoten Islands instead. Head-south west in leisurely fashion through
spectacular scenery in perfect weather. Unfortunately we are so leisurely that
when we arrive on Lofoten we have difficulty finding a cabin and at 19:00 are
ignoring speed limits to get to the next site before everybody else. At 20:30 we
find a cabin which is half a converted barn with the bedroom bunks suspended in
the roof space. The field leads down to the sea in a very quiet inlet and the
whole place oozes tranquillity. We stay here for
- Friday 17.07.
- Shopping in Leknes and a visit to the Viking Museum at Borg. We are not far
from the second highest mountain in Lofoten, Himmeltinden, so go to have a look.
Decide that it's feasible (unlike every other mountain we can see!).
- Saturday, 18.07.
- Blazing blue sky but, mindful of our latitude, we overdress. Set off up
Himmeltinden nursing my thigh as best I can. It is extremely steep and I am
terrified of slipping again and causing more damage. Discover that Lesley is
also very worried about the gradient and our ability to return but we grit our
teeth and carry on. The views are indescribably
beautiful and we eventually reach the Norwegian equivalent of a trig point at
930 metres. The summit (964 metres) is closed as it is occupied by a radar
station. We doze in the sun for an hour and a half and eventually tear ourselves
away. The descent, although very steep, is easier
than we had hoped as we find an alternative route down. Unfortunately something
grim happens to my right knee on the descent and I'm hobbling a bit by the time
we return to the car. We find a beach nearby and enjoy a well-earned ice cream
surrounded by sun bathers who are wearing a great deal less than we are. 1080
metres climbed over 4km in 5h 45m.
- Sunday, 19.07.
- To the fishing village of Henningvaer, the largest on Lofoten, where we
visit a museum and gallery. After lunch, at the cabin,
doze in the sun.
- Monday, 20.07.
- Visit the Lofoten Aquarium at Kabelvaeg and go for a trip on the "Kaptein
Nemo" whose windowed keel holds twenty-four passengers who have excellent
views of the undersea. My seat collapses depositing me on the floor. Am I too
old for all this excitement? We then visit the Lofoten Museum and I decide that
a photograph of the village taken in 190-something could only have been achieved
from a helicopter. Then to Leknes for shopping and money. The lady behind Lesley
at the supermarket puts the "Next Customer" marker in the middle of
Lesley's shopping. This means that Lesley has only half what she expects and the
lady behind has more. It is decided that Lesley, who has paid by Access, should
give the lady cash for the goods which have to be transferred. Unfortunately,
Alan is away at the Post Office cashing Travellers Cheques and, until he
returns, Lesley has no cash to pay for aforesaid goods. It all turns out alright
in the end.
- Tuesday, 21.07.
- A "touristy" day. To the glassblowers cabin at Viklen, the
Fisheries Museum and blacksmiths at Sund and the Fisheries Museum at A (that's
letter A with a circle above it) which includes the
old cod liver oil factory with samples if you've never tasted it. The scenery
just gets better and better and the weather obliges. A is the most southerly
town in Lofoten and the road stops there. We return via the Telecomm Museum at
Sorvagen. Lesley is very frustrated at seeing so many unattainable ridges.
- Wednesday, 22.07.
- To Svolvaer to climb Floya, 590 metres. Very
difficult to find the very steep and bouldery start and, hampered by knee and
still worried about slipping, I only go two-thirds of the way up. Lesley reaches
the summit bar the last 2 metres which are very exposed but does find a very
nice little ridge.
- Thursday, 23.07.
- Weather awful. To Leknes for shopping.
- Friday, 24.07.
- Weather back to normal, i.e. blazing blue sky. Take the ferry from Svolvaer
to Scutvik and very sad to leave Lofoten. If we ever return to Norway it will be
to here. Cross the Arctic Circle heading south and find a very nice cabin near a
pretty river at Krokstrand. Resist the temptation to buy a car sticker depicting
- Saturday, 25.07.
- Head south. Divert to visit the
Gronligrotta, a cave which we'd missed heading north.
A German complains at ten seconds past ten that the guide with the tickets
hasn't yet arrived for the ten o'clock session. I suggest that he might still be
having breakfast thus cementing Anglo-German relations for the foreseeable
future (in this case about an hour). Mo I Rana for shopping and then a foray
into Sweden for 100 km. The border is marked by a stone and a road sign. Because
the operation of petrol pumps in Sweden is subtly different to that in Norway I
manage to paralyze a petrol station by monopolising three pumps simultaneously.
We flee back to Norway. We have problems finding a cabin but eventually settle
- Sunday, 26.07.
- Rain. A visit to the Musical Instrument Museum at Ringve, near Trondheim,
proves worthwhile. Our efforts to find the lady in Eggkleiva who paints post
boxes is unsuccessful. A lot of miles on dirt roads discolours the car but we
return to the E6 and our cabin turns out to be a full blown house with an
upstairs and price to match! We have to drive back to the camp site, however,
for our shower which is a bit of a nuisance (irony).
- Monday, 27.07.
- A quiet day is planned. We decide that because of my right knee sustained
walking in the Hardangervidda is out. Head south. We finally leave the E6 for
good and revisit Lom, heading towards the Sognefjord. At our lunch stop I
discover that we are very close to the highest motorable road in Northern Europe
(1841 metres) so we give it a go. It's a single track, very steep dirt
road with no crash barriers which hairpins up hill
for about 15km. Near the top we can see Glittertind, 5km away, on whose summit
we stood some weeks ago in 10m visibility. On the way down do a five-point turn
to go back to a viewpoint. This causes some concern in the passenger side of the
car and to the bus which is descending towards us. A brilliant afternoon and we
terrific camp site with cabins at the head of the
- Tuesday, 28.07.
- Visit the Glacier Centre at Brekatedralen, which is excellent, and then the
nose of the Nigardsbream which is part of the largest
glacier in Europe. Extremely impressive. In the car
park are five GB cars which is more than we've seen in total up to now. Manage
to avoid contact. The Sognefjord doesn't come up to expectations and we are
obviously sated with scenery. Find a lovely site at Esebotn up a spectacular
side fjord, Esefjord.
- Wednesday, 29.07.
- Take the ferry to Vangsnes. This goes via Hella where we have to drive off
and then immediately back on again so that we end up facing in the right
direction for when we eventually disembark. Very confusing. Stop in Voss to test
a cash machine with our Access card. It works so we're solvent again. Detour to
Eidfjord to visit the Hardangervidda Nature Centre. The highlight is a
spectacular five-screen, panoramic, half-hour projected video. Shots from a
helicopter were quite unnerving and I wasn't the only one to feel queasy. Ringoy
Gard camp site has cabins immediately above the
shoreline and we amuse ourselves by watching showers
drifting across the water and a man trying to raise his sunken boat.
- Thursday, 30.07.
- Head south. Odda not very inspiring. Join the E134 for quite a distance
passing through Haukelisater which is where we finished our 1993 walk. Turn off
towards Lysfjorden and find an almost brand new cabin at Suleskara. Two rooms
with a proper kitchen with oven and fridge.
- Friday, 31.07.
- Divert to Lysbotn. This is the road that drops 880 metres down a cliff face
via 29 hairpins to the sea. It's quite interesting as
an exercise in arm twirling and it has a short tunnel with a bend in the middle
but Hardknott and Wrynose are more of a challenge. Drift south on dirt roads
looking for a site and after a spell on the E39, which is like a race track, end
up at Hogelveits Nature Camp. We are now very close to the southernmost tip of
Norway with lots of time to kill before our scheduled return. End up staying for
four nights as it's so restful and has very good facilities.
- Saturday, 1.08.
- A frustrating day. Into Kristiansand for shopping and then try following
the Nordsjovegen, the North Sea Road. Unfortunately the visible bits of North
Sea are not accessible and the inland bits remind me of the countryside round
Guildford. Return to the cabin where I doze and Lesley tries to find the
- Sunday, 2.08.
- Into Mandal, which is very pleasant, and we spend a lot of time looking at
exotic boats. We then drive on to Lindesnes which is the most southerly point in
Norway, 2518 km from Nordkapp. An emotional moment as
we take photographs but then realise that we've been looking in the wrong
direction. Oh well, nobody will know. Doze in the sun for a bit then find a
beach and doze some more. Feel homesick.
- Monday, 3.08.
- Drift about. Lesley sees a funny looking horse grazing by the road, which
we decide is a female moose, but I miss it. Feel even more homesick.
- Tuesday, 4.08.
- Head to Stavanger to bring forward by two days our return ferry booking
from Bergen, i.e to 9.08. Discover that a ferry leaves Stavanger at midnight.
We're on it!
- Wednesday, 5.08
- Home at 20:30 having covered 5185 miles in five weeks, with scars, two
hours of digital video and about 350 photographs. We didn't count the ferries,
the number of tunnels or the number of hairpins and we couldn't count the
expense until all the Access slips found a home, thank goodness, but we'd do it
- Photographs © Alan White and Lesley Williams, 1998