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Thread: Reflections on Scratching the itch - Nordkapp 2013

  1. #33
    Son of Ah Knah Yee Click here to find out how to Subscribe
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    Ye see I had written this trip off as too expensive and impractical...

    Damn you!

    PUI since 2004


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  2. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr K View Post
    Ye see I had written this trip off as too expensive and impractical...

    Damn you!

    Well you're right about the expensive bit and I lived on pot noodles! Think of everything being two and half times what it costs here.

  3. #35
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    Really enjoyed reading that. Looks like another one to put on the bucket list

  4. #36
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    Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the posts and seeing the photos. A lovely country, but so so expensive. But, that said, I think it is worth the expense based on what you did/saw.

    Thanks for posting

  5. #37
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    15th June - Day of ups and downs

    I had to be up early because they were going to close the road mid morning for the annual race up the the mountain.



    19 kms and 4,000 ft or so upwards. Bugger that! Since I was going the same way I needed to get on the road and ahead of the race.
    The road climbs quite quickly and I was soon way above the town and above the road down into the fjord.



    Good farm buildings



    as the road wound higher into the mountains.



    This was the view looking back



    It topped out at around 4,200 ft in a bleak but lovely lake which was stil half frozen



    I didn't take the private toll road to the very top of Dalsnibba; I'm not sure it was open because of the race. Instead I dropped down into the next valley,



    past this octagonal church, (1864)



    with a splendid key,



    and down into the next valley. This took me to the start of the first road which is recommended by Liv as a favourite. I didn't know what to expect. For a while it was all green and fertile





    although the high ground was visible in the distance



    Before long I was climbing back over 4,000 ft again and into the mountain landscape



    Once again it was suddenly a different world. The prominent peak here is, I think, Nufsonne at 5,682 ft



    It is a good one



    At this height, they were still skiing. Not downhill skiing of course but judging from the race team trailers in the car park of the lodge it was an important race.



    The highest point of this road was 4,762 ft. It was very cold after the sun in the valley, 5c and windy.



    Once again the road dropped down into the next valley and back to the pretty. These descents were quite difficult. In places they were 1:8. There were two German cars towing big caravans down this one and I could smell their brakes burning all the way down.





    It was indeed a good road.

    I made my way along the fjord to a short boat trip and the second recommendation of the day. At just over 15.2 miles the Laerdal road tunnel is the longest in the world. Aberdeen Angus of this parish tipped me off that the old road which it replaced was good and since I didn't fancy 15 miles of a hole in the ground I set off up the way less travelled. I was a bit apprehensive because I wasn't sure what condition the road would be in and the route setting in the sat nav had been a bit complex. One of the irritations of the Zumo is the way it resists routing down back roads. It started very bosky.



    But again the high ground began to appear



    And soon I was back over 4,000 ft and in the bleakest landscape yet. It's worth stressing that this is mid June and only a bit over 4,000 ft up which is a good indication of how challenging the climate must be.





    The road was clear but the snow by the road was well over twice my height in places



    In winter it must be a hard place.



    The road ended in one of the last sights which had been on my list before I left home, the Stegastein viewpoint.



    which provides a stunning view over Aurlandfjord.



    and the town of Aurland 450m below



    where, after a very steep and twisty descent, I ended the day, in a nice hut, with this view from my balcony. And, indeed, my pillow if i leave the door open.



    I've just had a good conversation with a Norwegian biker about the next part of my route and he has solved my problem of how to join up the next bits of the route to keep the riding interesting and fit in the what I want to visit. I want to see the landscapes and the power station which was the the target of the commando raids shown in the film The Heroes of Telemark. So now I have to plan that.

  6. #38
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    June 16th - There and back again

    It was a spectacular sunset last night





    Despite the red sky at night, today did not start well. It was raining and staying in bed didn't stop it so I had to get up and pack in the rain. I think I am being followed



    That one was definitely in Geiranger when I was.

    It was raining quite steadily when I set off so the camera stayed in my pocket. The route was a bit messy because the two ways I wanted to go didn't really join up. I started once again up the side of the valley. This was an interesting mix of tunnels and hairpins. On one memorable occasion it was both together which was, shall we say, interesting. Some of the tunnels must have been spirals because they were one long bend. All together there were seven tunnels on the climb. This included the one where the overhead lighting had failed. That meant riding for just over a mile in a mine. So I was glad to finally reach the top and the familiar plateau landscape. This was a bit lower, just over 3,000ft.



    The notice in the shelter is a warning that the ice is unstable on the lake. The other one is the bus timetable. So this must be a regular bus route.



    For once it wasn't getting any better ahead



    I stopped to fill up with petrol and get some coffee and struck lucky with a bag of cheap buns. They must be yesterday's. Six for less than two quid; they must be the cheapest food in Norway. I have booked a room in a hostel in Geilo so the rain isn't that much of a bother; I know I can get warm and dry at the end of the day. The route takes me past Geilo because I want to ride over the Hardangervidda which is the largest mountain plateau in Europe. I've just discovered vidda is Norwegian for plateau. It has a year round alpine climate. It was also the place where the Norwegian and British SOE team were dropped in as part of the attempts to sabotage the heavy water plant at Vermork which is where I am going tomorrow. Remember Kirk Douglas in "The Heroes of Telemark"? The film is historically very inaccurate though. I am here in midsummer and it is very cold. The four men were parachuted in in October 1942 which was a particularly harsh winter. They had a long slog across the plateau to prepare a glider drop zone. It is a harsh enough environment in June. They were tough men.







    I rode across the northern edge. There are no roads into the centre because it is a protected national park of 2,500 sq miles. It stretches off to the south for 40 odd miles.

    Even the Norwegians think this waterfall on the western edge of the plateau is worthy of notice. It has a name, Vorringfossen, and a tourist shop. It is impressive. The main drop is over 500ft



    and it runs off through a spectacular deep gorge.



    Then I rode all the way back


    The plateau was basically flattened by glaciation in the last ice age so it has the usual scattering of stranded boulders dropped by the ice. This one is quite good. It is, I guess, 20ft high and cracked clean in half



    The plateau is also home to a massive reindeer herd, thousands strong, but I didn't see any. I haven't seen one in the south at all.

    So, I thought it was just a gentle ride back to the hostel, make some tea and have a bun. I got back to Geilo and stopped at the coop for a tin of fruit salad to go with my dinner. Then I put the address in the sat nav and followed instructions. I thought it odd but not impossible when the sat nav pointed me down a track into the forest, hostels are often in out of the way places, so I stiffened the sinews and followed the track. It was rough and steep and not at all easy on a fully loaded bike. About a half a mile, all down hill. Eventually, I arrived in somebody's front yard with a very big and loud dog on a chain. They were very nice about it and told me to go back to Geilo and ask for directions. They were not a youth hostel. This was the road end of the track.



    I know it looks innocuous but I assure you it gets steeper and narrower. It pushed me outside my comfort zone riding back up on a fully loaded bike. I must get somebody to take me off road and show me how it's done. It occurred to me that if I fell off and into the trees I might never be found.

    However, I'm still alive. The hostel is fine. The sun is shining and I have buns for afternoon tea.

  7. #39
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    June 17th - The history bit

    Good breakfast this morning and the best stolen lunch sandwich yet: ham, salami, cheese, beetroot and coleslaw. The view of the ski slopes was not pretty as I left town but look at the sky. And that is how it stayed all day.



    I was soon into the familiar ascent then out on to the fells, or fjells as we say here. You can just see the western edge of the Hardangervidda in the distance.



    There really is very little traffic on the roads. I saw three cars a lorry and three bikes in the first 60 miles this morning. I am avoiding main roads but it is such a beautifully empty country. It makes you realise how crowded our little island is.
    There was a lovely, twisty, long descent down a wooded valley following the river



    until I got to the shores of the lake I was looking for



    In particular, this bit



    because beneath this bit lies the wreck of the Hydro



    And that is important because it was vital piece of sabotage which helped incapacitate the German push to build an atom bomb before the Americans.



    It took some finding because it is not sign posted, but there is a memorial plaque on a lump of granite by the side of the road



    Then I had to backtrack to to find this



    Rjukan is the town from which the ferry left



    They are not in good condition but it looks like they are working on restoration of the two remaining railway ferries





    The wagons are a reminder that the saltpetre was a major product of the area



    Then I followed the line up the valley to the Vermork power plant which was the target of the SOE raids in 1942 and '43 because it was being used to produce heavy water, a vital component in the development of the atomic bomb. You can see from this photo taken further up the valley why it was so hard to attack



    the bridge crosses a steep gorge and is the only way in.



    It is a handsome building and now houses a museum including an exhibit on the raids





    And some fine windows



    the problem for me was that the parking was down by the bridge



    which was over a very steep gorge





    The one successful sabotage raid, which destroyed the stocks and stopped production for six months, got round the problem of the heavily guarded bridge by climbing down into the gorge and back up the other side in the dark in winter after hiking/skiing across the Hardangervidda. Then they escaped the same way. I just walked up the path from the bridge and I couldn't have fought anybody by the time I got to the top!

    Inside there is an exhibit on the various sabotage attempts. This is one of the only two barrels which have been recovered from the wreck of the Hydro.



    The exhibit was quite confusing because it tries to tell the story of the raids and the development of atomic weapons side by side. If you don't know the story I think you would be confused. There were some good artifacts





    and reproductions of documents though. Like this one reporting the outcome of the failed glider attack to Churchill



    And this one confirming the order to sink the Hydro even if there would be civilian repercussions.



    The turbines in the main hall are massive





    I was interested to learn that the commercial success of the plant, and why it was built, was achieved through using the electricity to extract nitrogen from air to make fertiliser. There was no real demand for electricity for in homes and factories. Tucked in a corner with no information was this little gem.





    No doubt somebody who knows about these things will tell us about it.

    There is a good memorial to the saboteurs outside the museum



    Then I pointed the bike west and headed for the coast until I found a campsite and that's where I am now. I am going to have to buy some food; I am down to my last Bombay Bad Boy and a tube of Tomato soup. It's lasted well though. Apart from included breakfasts and some supermarket supplies, I've not bought a meal in Norway. I am heading for Stavanger tomorrow. I've booked a hotel for two nights to give me a day in the city. That will be different. I want to see the cathedral and the old town. It's costing a fortune so it had better be worth it.

  8. #40
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    That has been a fantastic write up ... thanks for making the effort so that we can all enjoy your trip ... never thought of heading "North" .. always into France where its hot and sunny .... silly me !

  9. #41
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    June 17th - The best road?

    I really have been lucky with the weather. Blue skies again this morning:



    and that is how it stayed all day. This really is a beautiful part of the world. Every turn in the road produces another picture postcard.



    I was soon back up on the fjells



    This is supposed to be prime reindeer country but I didn't spot any



    Then down again



    and up into a very different high landscape. This is at around 3,000 feet and is a stark granite plateau




    The road is a narrow single carriage way and winds its way between the rocks.





    It was a great ride and was just a part of massive range of granite hills and mountains



    Eventually the road dropped down towards the reason I changed my route and came back west. I discovered in my nightly map poring that their was a small ferry which ran the 26 mile length of lysefjord for considerably less money than I paid for the tourist boat at Geraingerfjord. Lysefjord is a narrow steep sided fjord and only has a small settlement at either end hence the ferry. It's name means light fjord because of the light coloured granite walls. The road down was still single track and very steep.There were, I think, 26 hairpins including one in a tunnel.



    This photo isn't mine and is linked to a google image but it shows what a great road it is. It puts the Trollstigen to shame!



    Lysebotn at the head of the fjord



    is really only a couple of campsites and a quayside. I was at the front of the queue and had a 2.5 hour wait so I did what any Englishman would do and made tea.



    much to the amusement of some German bikers.

    Then I photographed the little lambs



    Just as boredom set in this turned up. It was was with a film crew working, I think, for the tourist board. They were filming the tour boat coming in anyway. It was a fantastic gadget and the pilot was really skillful. It went up well over 150ft and hovered really steadily.







    Then the boat arrived and we were off. It was small and very fast. My gps recorded us as travelling at 25mph.

    Here I am courtesy of a young Polish biker. (That's my camera under my jumper, not my belly!)



    He was like a little puppy bouncing around all over the boat taking photographs, mostly of his little girlfriend who just smiled patiently. There were a couple of young Russian lads too who had ridden from Moscow. The scenery was stupendous







    This is one of two hydroelectric stations in the fjord. They are actually built back into the rock face.



    The small sharp-edged ledge in the centre of the top of this picture



    is famous preikestolen, or pulpit rock. It is the major tourist attraction in the region. It drops sheer for 640 metres.



    You can see the crowds in this close up.



    As you can see in this shot, nicked from google, there is no fence or barrier. You can also see that there is a crack running across which geologists have pronounced safe.



    Then we passed under the bridge at the narrow mouth of the fjord and we were done.



    It was a good boat trip and good value. Then it was a quick 25 mile blast up the dual carriageway in all that traffic and into Stavanger. I am now in the most expensive hotel room per sq ft I have ever paid for. It's very clean and comfortable though and has very fast broadband. I got some shopping in from the supermarket and bought a beer (500ml can - £3.00!)

  10. #42
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    None of the photos in your last posting are visible here. Might be a prob at my end, but I see all your other photos

  11. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul08 View Post
    None of the photos in your last posting are visible here. Might be a prob at my end, but I see all your other photos
    Paul, I might have still been editing them. They are done now so can you see them?

    Anybody else having a problem?

    John

  12. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    Paul, I might have still been editing them. They are done now so can you see them?

    Anybody else having a problem?

    John
    They're there now for me.

  13. #45
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    Thank you Getalife.

  14. #46
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    Yes, been out for a drink in the local beer garden, but yes they are visible to me now.

    You really have given me a hankering to go for an extended trip to Norway. The 'itch' could prove expensive!!

  15. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul08 View Post
    Yes, been out for a drink in the local beer garden, but yes they are visible to me now.

    You really have given me a hankering to go for an extended trip to Norway. The 'itch' could prove expensive!!
    Thanks Paul. Beer garden is good. I think I was very lucky with the weather too. I don't think it is usually quite that dry and clear day after day. It is expensive. there's no point denying it.

    Nearly there. Just a few more days to write up.

  16. #48
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    19th June (I think, I have got confused about the days) - Sleepy old town

    I quite liked Stavanger it is a calm, peaceful place. This notice, which is part of Stavanger museum's history of Stavanger exhibition, rather sums it up



    I'm not sure it's quite woken up yet.

    Out of the hotel, turn left and there's this looking in to the shrubbery



    I wasn't expecting that. It's part of 2003 Antony Gormley work comissioned by the city. It's called broken column. There are 23 altogether spread randomly through the town but each on it's own 1.95 metre contour so in theory they add up to a continous column. They all face the same way. I am a big fan of his work. I find the simple figures look really eloquent and it's good to come on them unexpectedly. I walked down to the harbour where one of the big boats which brings the wandering about people was in



    It is huge against the old town



    She carries 2,055 passengers. That's a lot of wandering about. Here's another one



    I found my first objective



    It was closed for refurbishment. The harbour was full of jellyfish, about the size of a dinner plate, they were quite graceful as they moved



    The old town is now a conservation area. It's not very big but it is quite quaint





    I thought this was a good name for a hairdresser's



    This is the head of a drilling bit outside the petroleum museum.



    I gave that a miss as I did the canning museum. For nearly a hundred years the town's money was made canning and exporting smoked sprats, brisling. There were a number of what I assume were nursery set ups out with the kids. They don't start school until they are six. Some of ours go before they are five and now we want to give them a test as soon they arrive. Utter madness. I'd much rather see them out and about and having fun. Each group seems to have a different Hi Vis colour.



    And another one



    It's hard to look impressive with a seagull, or fiskesmake as we say here, on your head



    The cathedral was good in an understated, homely way





    I liked the strong squat columns



    The town museum was rubbish. Apart from the notice above the only good bit was a collection of skulls and skeletons in the basement including this demonstration of the size of a fin hval's skull.



    There was another one just outside the musem



    and that's all i found. There are 23 altogether. See here if you are interested: http://gardkarlsen.com/broken_column.htm. I did see a lot of these



    which are hooded crows. They are much more handsome than our carrion variety. And this is what £27 worth of burger chips and beer looks like



    It was ok but not exciting. I walked back through the streets to the hotel. They are very wide and elegant. The houses are quite big. I don't think this is a particularly prosperous part of town judging by the cars in the street. Although the tax on new cars does mean that there are more older cars on the road than in other parts of Europe.



    Good street name for the Shakespearian scholars amongst you



    And I got back to my room in time for the end of the cricket and watched England beat South Africa to get to Sunday's final.

    And that's Norway almost done . I've booked a ferry out of Kritiansand at 15.00 tomorrow to Hirtshals. I want to go to Silkeborg on the way back through Denmark then I will push on. I will probably be back a couple of days early.

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