The decision to once again head south was a good one. I woke this morning to a light covering of snow and noticed that the butane cooking gas I use was beginning to freeze. Time to move to slightly warmer climes!
I drove south east and headed for Sweden and the marina site that I’d stayed in before.
I do seem to have developed a real interest in lighthouses on this trip. I think it’s becasue of the remote landscape that many of them are built on. Today I visited the lighthouse at Lindesnes at the most southerly point on the Norwegian mainland.
There is an extremely good visitor centre there and the whole history of the place is fascinating and is described in the centre with a museum and a cinema showing a couple of very well produced short films. If you get the chance I thoroughly recommend you pay a visit. I did and signed the visitors book inside the lighthouse.
This lighthouse is still operational and is staffed by two keepers who work two weeks and two weeks off. I have created a video of my visit to the lighthouse and I will post that when I get home and have more bandwith to do so.
I continued my journey and made my way to the E18 to slowly make my way back to Sweden as I could see that the weather was really beginning to turn wintry and I didn’t want to stuck up in the mountains of this National Park.
I found a rest area in the Gjerstad kommune called, Østerholtheia and decided this would be a good place to wild camp for the night.
November already, means I have just 22 days left of this epic road trip and it seems to have gone by so fast, as I always knew it would. I have really tried to observe, appreciate and retain all the amazing places and landscapes I have seen. So here we go with the rest of the Scandinavian AdVANture.
Whilst driving along route 44 today I came across what seemed like an out of place war memorial. It commemorated four New Zealand airmen who died whilst on a raid on Jossingfjord just three days before the end of the war in 1945. You can read about the story in more detail here. This memorial is on an extremely steep cliff face where the road passes between two tunnels.
We must never forget how much sacrifice our freedom cost.
I was going to drive into Stavanger today to have a look around the town, but the closer I got and the busier the traffic became, I just went off the idea. I’m becoming very averse to large conurbations, busy traffic and crowds of people. I just prefer to be in areas of space and peace and, above all, silence, where I can enjoy the feeling of being at one with the landscape and just make images.
I turned around and joined the E39 south. I then turned off onto the 504 to head for the coast. My idea was to follow the coast road towards Kristiansand, rather than just drive on the E39 across country. I’m so glad I did.
My first stop was a tiny fishing harbour called Kvassheim that had an old lighthouse (I like lighthouses!). Whilst photographing this quaint and pretty harbour, I had the most amazing experience. A rainbow began to form in the distance, so I set up to photograph it. As the rainbow developed I could see where it began and ended, quite unusual I find. Then the rainbow began moving closer to me and continued developing until it formed almost a full circle and appeared to be just a few feet in front of me. It was amazing. The photograph doesn’t show the full extent of it but it was truly breathtaking. I was stood on the harbour wall and I could see one end on the left of the wall and the other on the other side of the wall to my right.
The little harbour and the lighthouse were like a place where time had stood still for quite a while as you can see.
From there I continued southward along the coast road. By lunchtime I had reached the UNESCO Magma Geopark (thanks to Google maps) and parked up to make what I thought would be a casual stroll around the area. However, I discovered that this Geopark is huge! It’s also quite unique in geological terms, though to be honest my knowledge of geology is not great, so I had difficulty in understanding the true significance of the area.
I did read though that the surface of the moon is made up of two types of rock anorthosite and plagioclase. Here at the Magma Geopark at Ytstebrød, Apollo 17 astronaut, Harrison Schmitt, studied anorthosite before landing on the moon in December 1972. The area is almost unique in being made up of anorthosite and is said to have a “moon landscape”.
I had a walk around the area for a couple of hours and made a number of images. But I noticed a storm approaching from the sea and after making the image below I quickly made my way back to the van about a mile away!
A little further down the coast I passed this rather bazarre piece of “art” at the side of the road, next to a replica wild west saloon.
I also came across this lovely piece of natural sculpture in the form of a tree clinging to the rock. I’m not sure if there was any life left in the tree but it reminede me of a bonsai. the textures of the tree and the rock were lovely.
I wildcamped in a rest area that evening with this lovely sunset to finish the evening off. A good day!
I continued along the E13 heading in the general direction of the coast and thought I would try to make the long hike to the famous piece of rock known as Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock). This rock stands 604 metres (1982 feet) above Lysefjorden and the return hike takes around four hours climbing 350 metres and is a 7.6kms round trip. It was well within my capabilities. So I checked the weather forecast and it was abysmal. Not only was it bad but it was due to get worse over the next few days. So with a heavy heart I decided to abandon the hike to Preikestolen.
Just out of curiosity I did call into the car park where you start the hike, well, nearly into the car park. The charge for parking there is a whopping 250NOK, around £25.
So what now? Well Lysefjorden is a really beautiful fjord with high canyon like walls of rock on either side, so I thought I’d try to get into a location where I could photograph the fjord showing its character.
And so I made my way to Tau on the coast, across the water from Stavanger, and found a a quiet little rest area on the water’s edge to spend the night.
Yesterday I found myself on a high road in the mountains with the snow beginning to settle on the road and the driving conditions becoming steadily worse. I certainly didn’t want to wild camp in those conditions with the risk that I wouldn’t be able to move in the morning, so I made my way to lower ground. Today the weather was completely different, with clear blue skies and the promise of it continuing throughout the day.
I’d found a campsite in a very small village called Røldal situated right on the edge of Røldalsvatnet lake and surrounded by high mountains. The facilities were excellent and it was run by a very friendly and welcoming farmer’s wife who turned out to be from Sweden and had moved to Norway many years before and brought up five children on this farm.
I set off early to explore the surrounding area and I was stunned by it’s beauty. It was the kind of landscape I love, with high mountains, huge lakes and enormous forests. I travelled around the area, known as Røgaland and made many, many photographs. I must say that when confronted by magnificent landscape like this, I do feel somewhat overwhelmed and find it difficult to capture anything resembling a true representation of it with the camera, but I’m here to try and do that, so I’ll keep trying.
I discovered a preserved farmhouse and outbuildings that was apparently typical of the ‘cotter’ or crofter farms of the 18th and 19th century in this area. Built in 1834, the farm had been occupied by the Røynevarden family until 1948 and was now in the care of a Norwegian organisation that strives to preserve the heritage of the area.
I spent the day driving around the area and decided to return to the same campsite that evening.
I drove straight to the Hardranger National Park after breakfast and came a village called Åmotsdal that had a very pretty little church, now with a gentle covering of snow surrounding it.
As I got to higher ground the snow became deeper and I was beginning to think this may not have been such a good idea. But it did make for a couple of winter pictures.
The roads didn’t seem too bad and the weather looked good. The forecast was for clear skies for the next couple of days, so I continued into the Park, which is huge.
Many of the trees retained their autumn foliage despite the freezing temperatures and sometimes gusty winds. I passed many beautiful scenes and took photographs with the ‘big’ camera, in addition to the ones I took with the iPhone like the one below at a place called Rauland
Eventually I came to a valley called Brattlandsdalen with enormous mountains surrounding perfectly calm reflecting lakes. There were waterfalls and canyons but by now it was too dark to make any photographs, so I pulled into a rest area for the night. I knew I was next to a waterfall but I couldn’t see it. It would have to waiting until morning.