Trip to the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia during the Covid-19 Pandemic – Part 2 – Arrival into Norway.

Day 15: 21 July 2020 – Just after midday the ferry from Hirtshals landed at Langesund in Norway. Travelling with dogs necessitated the use of the red customs lane. There was no need to get out of the vehicle since a scanner is handed through the open window, thus allowing for the owner to self-scan each of the dog’s microchip. Subsequently the customs officer verified the scanned code against each dog’s passport as well as confirming that tapeworm treatment has been administered.

Arrival in Norway had been quite an adventure after the border closures due to the Covid19 pandemic. With the Norwegian border with both Sweden and Finland closed, it had been a significant detour back from Sweden, through Germany and Denmark to finally arrive in Norway.

Langesund is an attractive seaside town with multi-coloured houses.

Headed from Langesund in a north-northwest direction on county road 3282 (also known as FV44), stopping at a carpark adjacent Dyrkoll for a late lunch and a dog walk up the mountain towards Geitbuvarden (525m altitude). The area was beautiful, forested with mountains and was such a dramatic change to the areas visited in Sweden, Germany and Denmark.

Found parking for the evening by a small lake near to Dalsvatn where the railway line was at the other side of the water. Here some photographs were taken including a train reflecting its image in the water.

Day 16: 22 July 2020 – Used the Klevarsida road to travel along the west side of Heddalsvatnet lake.  The road is not fully surfaced and offers fantastic views of the lake, forest and numerous attractive wooden Norwegian houses. This route has been used in the Telemark car rally which is shown in this YouTube video here; however, the rally car is travelling in the opposite direction to this tour.

Heddalsvatnet, Notodden Municipality, Vestfold og Telemark, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Heddalsvatnet, Notodden Municipality, Vestfold og Telemark, Norway – …behind every picture, there is a story…

Called for groceries at a Kiwi store at Tuven near Notodden. The store was somewhat smaller than those in the UK with the total price circa 2.5 times more expensive for a similar shop in the UK.

Headed northwest on the E134, stopping at the stave church at Heddal. It is a triple nave wooden church built around 1250 (based on tree ring data analysis) and is Norway’s largest Stave Church. The building is 29m long, 17m wide with 3 turrets with the tallest being 29m high. It has crossed on the turrets and wooden dogs on the ridges which were alleged to protect the sacred building. It is made of ore-pine which is regularly tarred using the fatty substance obtained from pine. Further details about the church can be found here.

Heddal Stave church, Vestfold og Telemark, Norway. - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Heddal Stave church, Vestfold og Telemark, Norway.
Heddal Stave church, Vestfold og Telemark, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...

The map below shows the route taken from Langesund to Heddal:

From Heddal headed in the general direction of Bergen; however, on this trip Bergen would be by-passed having visited this beautiful city before on a cruise. Instead of taking the fastest and most direct route using the E134, a large loop to the north was introduced into the trip involving routes 361, 37 and the 362.  This route was very attractive climbing from 150m above sea level via a twisting mountain road, through tunnels and past many log huts used for vacations and breaks, many with grassed roofs. This route ascends up to 700m altitude onto a massive moorland plain where there are numerous huts and large lakes. Indeed, Norway’s 10th largest lake, Mosvatn has large boats on it, making one wonder how they were transported to such a location.

Route 37 between Rjukan and Totak, Vestfold og Telemark County, Norway. - ...behind every picture, there is a story...

Overnight parking was found alongside lake Totak where there was a noticeable  chill to the evening, due to the altitude.

Lake Totak

Facilities for motorhome waste water disposal, chemical toilet emptying and replenishing fresh drinking water are excellent with numerous throughout Norway. These are indicated with the following road sign:

The map below shows the route taken from Heddal to the overnight stop at Lake Totak:

Day 17: 23 July 2020 – A long days driving using the county road 362 and then onto the E134, before dropping down the “Valley of the waterfalls” between Skate and Odda on national road 13. The route involved winding mountain passes and several long tunnels. There was a tunnel closure between Lakes Stavatn and Votna on the E134 resulting in the old mountain pass road being used, which added to the adventure.

Votna, Røldal, Vestland County, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Lake Votna on the E134, Røldal, Vestland County, Norway
National Road 13 descending from Skare to Odda
Storelva River by National road 13, between Skare and Odda
Waterfalls viewed from national road 13, between Skare and Odda

Just north of Odda is the famous Trolls Tongue (Trolltunga), which is one of the most awe-inspiring cliffs in Norway. It involves a 28km round trip hike from Skjeggedal with 800m ascent and an estimated hike time of between 10-12 hours. There is limited car parking space in the area at Tyssedal and Skjeggedal and motorhomes are explicitly forbidden from parking. Bus shuttle services connect the town of Odda with Tyssedal and Skjeggedal. Due to the motorhome parking limitations Trolltunga had to be missed from this trip, since it was not sensible to travel on public transport with an ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, plus transporting large dogs would also need to be a consideration. Hiking from Odda was impractical since it extends the round trip to 52km.

At Odda, started to look for a suitable quiet overnight parking. Odda Bobilcamping is situated by the waterfront in the centre of the town; however, this appeared full and not appealing for people that like solitude. Similarly, further north alongside Sorfjorden was a couple of other sites, but they were full and appeared to have motorhomes crammed in, with little space around them.

From Odda travelled up the east side of Sorfjorden (an arm of the Hardangerfjord) on national road 13, before entering a 2.4km long tunnel which goes under the village of Ytre Bu and has roundabout within it. The exit of the tunnel leads directly onto the Hardanger toll suspension bridge, which is 1380m long (40m longer than the golden gate bridge in San Francisco).

Hardanger suspension bridge. Photograph taken through the moving vehicles front windscreen

The bridge crosses Hardanger Fjord and immediately enters the Vallavik Tunnel which is 7.5km long and also has a roundabout within it.

Roundabout in the Vallavik Tunnel. Photograph taken through the moving vehicles front windscreen

A little distance further along national road 13 there is the 4km long Tunsberg Tunnel (Tunsbergtunnelen). Overnight parking was found 1.5km further along from the tunnel exit some 78km north of Odda. Others using this large overnight parking place were one lorry and a couple who elected to sleep in the boot of an estate car.

Such feats of engineering of both the Norwegian tunnels and bridges certainly does leave a lasting impression and realisation as to the wealth of the Kingdom of Norway.

The map below illustrates the route taken on day 17 of the trip:

Day 17 Route

Day 18: 24 July 2020 – Headed westwards 10km on national road 13 to Vossavangen, where groceries and fuel was replenished. The price of diesel was 13.26 Nor Kr per litre (£1.13 GBP using exchange rate on 23/07/2020) whereas the price of diesel in the UK (using the UK governments published pump price for the same week) was £1.17 GBP. The price of groceries was circa 2.5 times more expensive than that of a similar UK shop.

Vossavangen, Vestland county, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Vossavangen, Vestland county, Norway

There is a motorhome service point at Skulestadmo, just north of Vossavangen shortly after national road 13 joins the E16 (circa 1km north of Vossavangen town centre). This is illustrated on the Caramaps App

Location of motorhome service point near Vossavangen, as shown in Caramaps App

Circa 10km north of the E16 / national road 13 junction is Tvinnevossfjels waterfall, which can be seen westward from the E16.

Tvinnevossfjels waterfall, Voss, Vestland County, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Tvinnevossfjels waterfall, Voss, Vestland County, Norway

Continued on the E16 for 35km from Tvinnevossfjels in a northeast direction to discover the beautiful Næroyfjord, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a narrow waterway with steep sides. At its narrowest the fjord is just 250m wide and is one of the many branches off the Sognefjord. At the head of Næroyfjord, is the old viking village of Gudvangen which has a regular population of circa 120 inhabitants and had ample short stay parking for the motorhome. 

Gudvanga, Naeroyfjord, Vestland county, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Naeroyfjord from Gudvangen, Vestland county, Norway
Naeroyfjord from Gudvangen, Vestland county, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Gudvangen, Vestland county, Norway
Gudvangen, Vestland county, Norway

Leaving Gudvangen on the E16, we immediately entered the Gudvanga Tunnel. The tunnel is 11.4km long and exits into the Undredalen valley whereby after 800m the E16 yet again leaves daylight entering the 5km long Flenja Tunnel. The tunnel exit is directly above the village of Flam, which is one of the most popular fjord cruise harbours in Norway and is on the Aurlandsfjord, which is a 29km long branch off the Sognefjord.

From Flam moved up the Aurlandsfjord to the attractive village of Aurland, stopping to have a wander around with the dogs.

Aurland, Aurlandsfjord, Vestland County, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Aurlandsfjord from Aurland, Vestland County, Norway
Aurland, Ayrlandsfjord, Vestland County, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
.

Left Aurland on the E16 and entered the Lærdal tunnel, which at 24.5 kilometres (15.2 mile) and is the world’s longest road tunnel. On exiting the tunnel, we arrived at Laerdal, whereby we found an excellent overnight parking place alongside Laerdalsfjord (another branch off the Sognefjorden).

Laerdalsfjorden, near Laerdal, Vestland County, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Laerdalsfjorden, near Laerdal, Vestland County, Norway – …behind every picture, there is a story…

Sognefjord is Norway’s longest and deepest fjord, stretches 205 kilometres (127 mi) inland from the ocean to the small village of Skjolden and is often named the King of the Fjords. The map below shows Sognefjord and how this relates to other fjords branching off it. Also illustrated is part of the route taken on day 18 of the trip:

The map below illustrates the route taken on day 18

Day 18

Day 19: 25 July 2020 – Enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in gorgeous sunshine beside Laerdalsfjord, after which travelled the 2km back to Lærdalsøyri and then through the 6.6km long Fodnes Tunnel to the ferry terminal on national road 5.

This was the first ferry experience in Norway and it was very simple. You queue at the dockside and once boarding commences you will be directed by the ferry operator’s staff as to where to place your vehicle on the ferry. The staff will then pass by each vehicle in turn, photographing its number plate. Once the ferry docks at the other side, the ferry operator’s staff will disembark you. No payment is made; however, you will receive through the post an invoice for ferries and toll roads several months later. Having the autopass tag does provide a discount of circa 20% (refer to the blog for more details).

The ferry journey across Sognefjord is 2.5 km long, and on disembarking you immediately enter the Amla tunnel which is almost 3km long.

Amla tunnel entrance from the Laerdal to Sogndal ferry on Sognefjord - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Amla tunnel entrance from the Laerdal to Sogndal ferry on Sognefjord

Travelled northwards on national road 5 to Sogndal where there was an excellent view of Sogndalsfjord (another arm of the great Sognefjord).

Sogndalsfjord, Vestland County, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Sogndalsfjord, Vestland County, Norway

Still heading north, we came to a carpark where cross country skiing is undertaken in the winter just north of Dalavatnet. This was an ideal location for lunch followed by a 5km walk with the dogs along the ski track. It was a little warm without any breeze; however, the views were really attractive.

Moving further north leads to the 6.7km Frudal tunnel whereby on its exit you will be presented with a view of Fjaerlansfjorden (another spur from the great Sognefjord).

Fjaerlansfjorden, Vestland County, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Fjaerlansfjorden, Vestland County, Norway

A further 8km north from the Frudal tunnel entrance on the right-hand side of the road is the Boyabreen glacier. Parking is available, with a short walk to the small glacial meltwater lake of Breavatnet, where there is also a café.

The 6.4km Fjærland tunnel is immediately after Breavatnet, which goes under the Marabreen glacier, after which you are were greeted with the green water of freshwater Kjosnesfjord (although it is not a true fjord since it is not part of the sea).

Kjøsnesfjorden, Vestland county, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Kjøsnesfjord, Vestland county, Norway

Travelled 10km west northwest on national route 5 alongside Kjosnesfjord to Skei, where we turned off northwards onto E39 which after 5.5km meets the Votedalselva river. Here we took the opportunity for an invigorating icy swim in the river, which is fed from the meltwater from the glacier.

Left the E39 at Byrkjeko picking up national road 60 and steadily climbed from an altitude of 140m up to 630m, parking overnight circa 200m from the Breimsbygda Ski Centre. There were numerous motorhomes using the Ski Centres car park; however, we elected to use a small car park at the start of the walk up to Stoyvastoylen which is a summer pasture at 850m altitude containing numerous huts. In the evening took the dogs on a walk up 4.8km round trip up to the pastures of Stoyvastoylen, which provided fantastic views.

Byrkjelo, Vestland County, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Byrkjelo, Vestland County, Norway
Støyvastøylen Farm, Breimsbygda Ski Centre, Vestland County, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...

The map below illustrates the route taken on day 19. The camera symbol on the map illustrates where photographs were taken.

Day 19 Route

Day 20: 26 July 2020 – A cloudy but dry day, the first day in Norway without glorious sunshine. From Breimsbygda Ski Centre, steeply descended down a series of hairpins to Utvik on the shore of Innvikfjord.

Innvikfjord, Vestland County, Norway fom above Utvik - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Innvikfjord, Vestland County, Norway fom above Utvik

Travelled eastwards along Innvikfjord on national road 6 to Olden which is on Faleidfjord. Both Innvikfjord and Faleidfjord are both part of the Nordfjord, with Olden being a major cruise ship stop.

There are two churches in Olden, the Old Olden Church (built in 1759) and Olden Church (built in 1934).

River Oldeelva, Olden with the new red church in the distance, Vestland County, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
River Oldeelva, Olden with the new red church in the distance, Vestland County, Norway

From Olden we backtracked westward along the other side of the fjord to Stryn, where national road 15 was picked up in an eastward direction. The road runs along the southern side of Strynevatnet with the attractive village of Hjelle on its south eastern shore well worth a visit.

Lake Strynevatnet from Hjelle, Vestland County, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Lake Strynevatnet from Hjelle, Vestland County, Norway

The road out of Hjelle moves up the valley following the river Videdola with numerous hairpin bends running alongside the rivers cascading Ovstefossen waterfalls. After the first set of hairpin bends you are presented with the option of using the continuing along national road 15 or using county road 258. National road 15 goes through the Ospeli (2.5km), Grasdal (3.7km) and Oppljos (4.5km) tunnels which ascend 470m to an altitude of 930m (Hjelle is at 20m altitude). Note that when driving in these tunnels you are required you to drive down the roadside edge rumble-strip to avoid oncoming vehicles

Ovstebrufossen on river Videdola just north of Hjelle on national road 15, Vestland County, Norway
Ovstebrufossen on river Videdola just north of Hjelle on national road 15, Vestland County, Norway

County road 258 was opened in the year 1894 and is a 27km lo

ng and runs through the Videdalen valley between the village of Grotli and the village of Ospeli, but was replaced by National Road 15 in 1977 as the main route. It should be noted that there is a vehicle length restriction of 8m, climbs to an altitude of 1140m with the road is closed from October to June and is designated one of eighteen National Tourist Routes in Norway.

Proceeded westward on county road 63 (which again is another one of the eighteen National Tourist Routes in Norway) and was surprised to find that the small lake Djupvatnet (altitude 1030m) was still frozen over even at the backend of July.

From Djupvatnet, descended the Geiranger road (Geirangervegen) down the numerous hairpin bends, stopping to take a picture of Gieranger and the UNESCO World Heritage site   of Geirangerfjord. Gieranger is another one of the most popular fjord cruise harbours in Norway; however, with the Covid19 pandemic, there was not a cruise ship in sight. Included are pictures taken on this trip and also some taken the previous year.

Geiranger and Geirangerfjorden, Møre og Romsdal, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Geiranger and Geirangerfjorden, Møre og Romsdal, Norway
Geiranger and Geirangerfjord, Møre og Romsdal, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...

Geirangerfjord is a 15-kilometre long branch off the Sunnylvsfjorden, which in turn is a branch off the Storfjorden (Great Fjord).

Storfjorden braching to Norddalsfjorden, Møre og Romsdal, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Storfjorden braching to Norddalsfjorden, Møre og Romsdal, Norway

From Gieranger travelled a little way along the fjord on the ‘Eagle Road’ (Ornevegen) ascending the numerous hairpin bends whereby there is an excellent viewpoint offering breath-taking views of both Geiranger and Geirangerfjord.

Geiranger and Geirangerfjorden, Møre og Romsdal, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Geiranger and Geirangerfjorden, Møre og Romsdal, Norway

We continued on county road 63 to Eidsal, where a small overnight parking place was found alongside Norddalsfjord just before the village of Norddal. At Nordall there is an Octagonal church built in 1782.

A little more concentration was needed when driving compared to previous days, both due to the roads combined with the amount of other motorhome traffic. By enlarge these were Norwegian nationals doing a ‘covid-19 staycation’, with the remainder being German vehicles. Yet again the views were outstanding, hence the popularity of this area.

The map below illustrates the route taken on day 20:

Day 21: 27 July 2020 – Overnight we had the first rain since travelling in Scandinavia, but it was dry with sunshine by morning. Made our way back to Eidsal and crossed Norddalsfjord on the ferry. On county road 63 leaving the village of Valldal is a motorhome service point where waste can be emptied and water replenished.  

Continued northeast on county road 63 alongside the river Valldola, until we came to the Gudbrandsjuvet ravine. It is a 5m wide, 23m high gorge through which the river Valldola flows. The photographs of the river were taken during a dry period. One can only imagine the power of the river when the snow is thawing. At Gudbrandsjuvet there is some parking, toilets (WC) and steel constructed accessible viewing points.

River Valldola, Gudbrandsjuvet, Møre og Romsdal, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
River Valldola just north of Gudbrandsjuvet, Møre og Romsdal, Norway

County route 63 rises from Gudbrandsjuvet ravine up to an altitude of 865m where there is parking just before Alnesvatnet. From here you are surrounded by numerous mountains over 1600m.

There is further parking and toilets 2.5km further along county route 63 at the Trollstigen visitor centre which has viewpoints looking down at the Trolls Road. Several footpaths can also be picked up from here.

The Trolls Road (Trollstigen  11 hairpin bends), Møre og Romsdal, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
The Trolls Road (Trollstigen 11 hairpin bends), Møre og Romsdal, Norway

Trollstigen is also known as the Trolls Road and consists of 11 hairpin bends with 9% gradient and is one of the most visited places in Norway. It opened in 1936 and is connects the town of Andalsnes and the village of Valldal.

Trollstigen with 11 hairpin bends, Møre og Romsdal County, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Trollstigen with 11 hairpin bends, Møre og Romsdal County, Norway – …behind every picture, there is a story…

Approximately 4km from the bottom of Trollstigen is a souvenir shop, ‘Trollstigtrollet’ along with a campsite.

Drove around Isfjorden on county road 64 to the village of Afarnes where we caught a ferry across Langfjorden before proceeding to Molde, crossing both over and under Fannefjord using the Bolsøy Bridge and the 2.7km Fannefjorden tunnel which has a maximum gradient of 8.4%.

Continued on county road 64 through Eide and onward to Vevang, which is where the Atlantic Roadway starts.

Eide, Møre og Romsdal, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Eide, Møre og Romsdal, Norway

The Atlantic Road is an 8.4km stretch of Road 64, which runs through an archipelago linking Vevang to Karvag, connecting the island of Averoy with the mainland and Romsdalhalvoya peninsula. Construction started on 1 August 1983 and was completed on 7 July 1989.

Atlantic Roadway, Vervang, Møre og Romsdal, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Atlantic Roadway, Vervang, Møre og Romsdal, Norway

The Atlantic Road is very impressive and certainly worth travelling back in the reverse direction. It must be very different using this roadway during a winter storm!

There were numerous parking places along the Atlantic Roadway, but since it was late in the day most suitable for motorhomes had already been taken; however, we found a quite carpark just before the start of the Atlantic Roadway next to coastal walk through a small nature reserve with historical burial mound.

The sun dropped by midnight; however, it never got truly dark. This is illustrated in the photograph below which was taken at 23:45 hours.

Atlantic roadway from the nature reserve – photograph taken at 23:45 hours.

The map below illustrates the route taken on day 21:

Day 22: 28 July 2020 – Up at 04:00 hours to photograph an amazing sunrise from the nature reserve at the southern side of the Atlantic Roadway.

Vervang, Atlatic Roadway, Møre og Romsdal, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...

Later in the morning took a morning walk along the coast and watched an otter, a seal and some young waterfowl.

Did some island hoping travelling across the islands of Averoya, Frei, Aspoya & Bergsoya, before getting back to the mainland. The Atlantic Roadway was used to travel to Averoya where the dogs were walked up Bremsneshatten which rises to 130m above sea level, thus giving nice views of the island.

View from Bremsneshatten, Averoya, , Møre og Romsdal, Norway

Stopped overnight on the island of Mokjavassoya at Mokjavatnet which was pond full of lilies, which with a red sunset gave a fantastic photographic opportunity.

Lilly Pond, Møkjavatnet, Møre og Romsdal, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Lilly Pond, Møkjavatnet, Møre og Romsdal, Norway

The map below illustrates the route taken on day 21. It should be noted that after Kristiansund the road became busier with fewer places to stop.

Day 23: 29 July 2020 – Caught a morning ferry across Halssafjorden.

Early afternoon, found a nice wood in the wilderness to walk the dogs in. Found some cloud berries (rubus chamaemorus) which are unique to Arctic climates and after some research we found that they are not only edible, but rich in vitamin C and have a distinctive tart taste. They are not grown commercially and highly sought after with many restaurants around the world paying a premium for them. There were also some wild orchids. These were identified using the Flora Incognita App.

Northern Inuit, Vinjeora, Trøndelag County, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...

Elected to drive through the city of Tr

Drove through Trondheim, the former Viking capital and by far the largest city in central Norway. It is vibrant city steeped with history sites and is surrounded by nature. We elected not to stop due to the Covid19 Pandemic, but believe from what we have read and seen that the city is well worthy of further exploration.

Parked for the night at Skatval Ski Lag which is a ski centre catering for cross country-skiing, with ski jumps and also a gun range. Went for an early evening walk with the dogs around the cross-country ski course.

The ski course had floodlights around the entire course which would allow events to be held during the winter months. There was an abundance of different types of fauna, flora and fungi which we used the Flora Incognita App to identify.

Royal Fly Agaric (Amanita regalis), Skatval Ski Lag, Trøndelag, Norway - ...behind every picture, there is a story...
Royal Fly Agaric (Amanita regalis), Skatval Ski Lag, Trøndelag, Norway

There were some sizeable slopes on the cross-country ski course, and as a former competitive club athlete would loved to have used it as a cross-country running course. One can only admire the fitness of the cross-country skiers!

The map below illustrates the route taken on day 21:

The next blog will describe county road 17 (Fv17) from Steinkjer in Trondelag county to Bodø in Norland county and is a total length of 390 mile (630 km), includes 6 ferries and crosses the Arctic circle. There are 443km of this route that is on one of the eighteen National Tourist Routes in Norway. This route is claimed by many to be the best route in Norway!

Further blogs will follow covering the arctic regions of Lofoten Archipelago, the most northerly mainland lighthouse in the world on the Nordkinn peninsula, journey down the border with Finland, Hammerfest and the Island of Senja, before travelling back south down Norway using as many central / easterly roads as possible.

Note: Photographs included in this blog are available for download without the watermark from the IMAGE CATALOGUE. These are high resolution suitable for wall prints and magazines. If any used in the blog are not in the catalogue, it is because they have not met the quality criteria; however, on request they can be made available. If you have enjoyed this blog and wish to contribute, please feel free to purchase pictures.

The map below is a summary of the approximate route taken in this blog: