Stavanger, Lauvik, Oanes, Lysefjord, Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen), Hjelmeland, Nesvik, Lofthus, Brimnes, Bruravik, Voss, Gudvangen, Kaupanger, Naeroyfjord, Sognefjorden
38 days away
316 miles / 509 km since last post
2,370 miles / 3,814 km total
Sunday morning we drove to the oil rich town of Stavangen. This was a fairly attractive stop, set around a pretty harbour and with some winding cobbled streets in the old town. We enjoyed a cycle around it, but an hour was easily long enough for us to see what we wanted to.
We took the coastal route to Lauvik, and from here we could get the brief ferry over to Oanes on the other side of the fjord. This was another stunning drive along Lysefjord, views of the magnificent granite rock. This then lead us on towards Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen).
We parked in the designated parking area for Pulpit Rock and readied ourselves for the ascent. We made sure we took plenty of water with us and put some sensible footwear on. To be honest, we had read a bit about it in our travel guide but I don't think anything could have prepared us for what laid ahead. The information sign at the bottom said to allow two hours each way for the 3.8km walk - which goes to show how tricky it was.
The walk was extremely steep in places - sometimes sloping, sometimes giant, wonky stones. They appeared to have been setup in some sort of staircase arrangement, but I think whomever built the staircase must have developed a drinking problem halfway in as it started to go all over the place. Thankfully we had set out around 4:30pm, so the harsh midday heat was behind us, but it was still pretty hot and a very tough hike. We took it fairly easy though, having regularly water breaks and rest stops.
I was wondering how long into the walk it would be before we spotted someone wearing ridiculously unsuitable footwear - and just as we expected, about half an hour into it, we spotted a woman struggling her way along in flip flops! Moments later, barefoot. Hilarious.
We finally made it to Pulpit Rock in just under the two hours, and we can honestly say it was well worth the effort. The 604m high view down over Lysefjord is incredible, but I think the photos will give a better idea of it then I can write about - a thousand words each. What was even more amazing was watching people go right to the edge and dangle their feet off the side - insane.
Thankfully, the walk back was mainly, but not always, descending - so it was far less strenuous and took a lot less time. However, about halfway back I could feel my left knee beginning to stiffen up. By the time were three quarters of the way back my knee was becoming painful, and I think the last ten minutes of the walk I was close to tears. Descending was actually more difficult for me than ascending, so the last section which was just a gravel slope down to the car park was not pleasant at all. On getting back to the motorhome though, we both felt a real sense of achievement and were extremely glad we had done it.
After gulping down a few glasses of water we had to hit the road again and find somewhere to stay the night. We wanted to find somewhere free ideally, but it was around 9pm by the time we had left and there didn't seem to be a huge number of free options. Both feeling very tired, hungry and in real need of a nice shower, we instead opted to stay at a camp site. This ended up being a good idea, and we made ourselves a quick dinner and both got a nice hot shower in before bed.
Monday morning was Stuarts birthday, and he started the day in proper birthday style with a nice lay-in. After opening his one and only birthday card from Tim & Lyn, we spent the rest of the morning planning our drive around the fjordlands. Then headed to get the brief ferry at Hjelmeland over to Nesvik. It was a good day for a scenic drive as we were both aching quite badly from our hike the previous day.
We drove the whole afternoon, mainly along route 13, and it was fantastic. The scenery - as you can see from the pictures - was just stunning. We drove through tunnels cut through the mountain, past beautiful fjords, dramatic mountains and along sometimes winding, narrow roads. It was thoroughly brilliant. We could even see some snow-capped mountains, and some beautiful waterfalls along the way. Apart from one annoyed Norwegian being a complete w**r, and coming over to us when we stopped for fuel complaining about not letting him past - even though I frequently let cars pass me - the day had been superb.
We found a great car park to stop at in Lofthus, right next to the water. It had a lovely view across the fjord, and Stu was happy to stop here for the rest of his birthday evening. I cooked up a great Thai red curry, and we cracked open the bottle of champagne we had been keeping for a special occasion - I think he enjoyed his birthday in Norway's fjordland. Stu note: I did!
Tuesday morning started bright and sunny again, as we have now got quite used to. Stu managed to get the wifi password from the tourist office nearby, so after a bit of an internet binge we headed onto Brimnes to get our short ferry over to Bruravik, and then continue on our scenic drive.
We stopped briefly in Voss, mainly to get fuel as it was the cheapest we had seen for a while, and to put air in the tyres and fill up with water. It was a nice waterfront setting so we decided to have a cycle around the town on the bikes. We quickly leaned there was little to see here other than the water - apparently Voss was heavily bombed during WWII and the architecture is new and undistinguished.
The scenery after Voss continued to be amazing - there were some extremely high mountains along our drive and we found a great place to stop off for some pictures. We soon made another stop at Gudvangen, where we arrived just in time to see a couple of base jumpers landing on the grass right in front of us. As time was getting on we decided this would make a good place to stay the night. Yet another amazing view across a beautiful fjord. We could park right on the edge of the waterfront and wacthed the sun set with waterfalls coming down both sides of the mountains. Stu attempted a swim in the fjord, however he returned almost immediately to report that the water was freezing cold. Oh well, at least he had a go!
Guvangen runs a much longer ferry twice a day through the fjord and over to Kaupanger, which would be a much more scenic route than the road (otherwise it was mainly via tunnels).
Wednesday morning we moved the motor home straight over to the queue for the ferry nice and early. The ferry to Kaupanger didn't leave until 12:15pm, but we wanted to make sure that we got on it as there was only one other ferry going later in the day. We got quite near the front of the queue, but it wasn't quite clear at first how we were supposed to buy a ticket. Stu called the number on the information sign and after about ten minutes on the phone to someone extremely unhelpful, it turned out that someone would come round and sell the tickets in due course.
We had breakfast while we waited in the queue and eventually the ticket man came around - it worked out about £100 for us to get the 2.5 hour long ferry along the narrow Naerfjord and then into the wider Sognefjorden, but it was well worth the money. The Naerfjord was simply stunning, and understandably a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was relatively narrow - at its narrowist only 250m across - so you got a real feel for the height of the cliffs on either side. It was a peaceful and gentle route to Kaupangen - made a bit more entertaining by the French family sitting in front of us with their two young girls. They were like French versions of my nieces Lily and Isabel as they were around the same age - very cute and amusing.
Once we disembarked the ferry we stopped briefly at a scenic picnic stop for lunch, and then continued along route 55 heading towards Lom. Yet another stunning drive, winding roads, mountains, waterfalls. I think you get the picture by now! After passing through Sogndal we started a zig-zag ascent - eventually reaching an altitude of 3800 feet. We found a great place to stop near the top, about halfway between Sogndal and Lom, which we thought would make a good place for the night. We have 360 degree views of snow-capped mountains and hills, and the sun is still shining - superb!