We pitched up for a couple of days at a campsite overlooking the fjord at Trondheim and got the washing done. A nice site with an elevated pitch looking out over the mountains with more fabulous sunsets. The morning we moved on we went into the city for a wander around the city centre shops, a mixture of old buildings, rough wooden build with smart wooden fronts, modern concrete and glass and traditional houses and of course coffee and a cinnamon bun at a pavement cafe. One interesting sight was the collection of traditional wooden fishing boats of the type that would have been the mainstay of the Shetland Bus all moored up by the central station.
Leaving Trondheim we decided to head inland to Roros, a small town in the east close to the Swedish border that was the heart of the old copper mining industry and is now a World Heritage site. The town centre is made up of very traditional timber buildings including two main streets of shops similar to those we saw earlier in the day in Trondheim. There are many buildings, houses and shops, built with rough wood structures some with and some without smart wood fronts. At the mine workings themselves you can see the conditions people worked in and how they extracted the ore and alongside are ranges of old buildings of rough timber construction with grass roofs that housed workers and tradesmen. The camp site we found here was ridiculously expensive with poor facilities, a dreadful example of ripping off visitors.
We decided to follow a lesser road through through wooded hills that were either wild or mainly sheep farming. Along the way we found our first of several traditional wooden churches. The road eventually took us alongside Storsjoen lake and on to Hammer on Mjosa lake where we stopped for the night. The only thing of interest here was the construction of a new tower block hotel that will be the world tallest timber building.
The next morning came with the promise of some fine weather and we decided to go a short way further up the lake and back to the lakeside campsite at Lillehammer that we liked so much a couple of weeks earlier. We booked in for the 3 nights and eventually staying 4. We were rewarded with warm sunny days and beautiful vistas and sunsets across the lake. The centre of the town is an attractive shopping street with traditional shops and cafes so of course more coffee and cinnamon buns. There is a large park area by the lake great for Fred who made the most of the opportunity to swim and chase the ducks.
Eventually we had to tear ourselves away and hope for decent weather further west. We decided to chance it and head towards Bergen. Our route took us over the spectacular Hardanger Plateau. A spectacular wilderness of lakes and today people and a main road with 4 meter snow poles at 4200 feet above sea level. The height being significant as the van trip counter passed 4000 miles at the same time. We descend from the plateau through steep gorges with massive water falls at Voringfosen and down a spiral road tunnel. That night we found a camp site surrounded by huge cliffs at the end of the Eidfjord.
Next morning was bright and sunny as we headed along Hardangerfjord toward Bergen. To cross the fjord the road loops through a tunnel onto a long suspension bridge the other end of which disappears straight into a tunnel and a blue disco lit roundabout. As we neared Bergen we decided to avoid the city and head south for the ferry on to Stord Island where we found a neat little camp site on the waters edge at Lervik. It was a damp evening but we had views across the sea to the mountains beyond that were lit by the setting sun. In the morning we were woken by the fast catamaran passenger ferries full of commuters of kids coming to school.
The following day we decided a route back inland. We headed south across the islands and the east along the side of fjords and lakes. The weather turned filthy wet as we headed into the mountains again. A car stopped in front of us and the the driver jumped out in the pouring rain – turned out he is a number plate spotter and wanted to photo my personal plate. As we pulled away around the next corner was massive cascade of water falling off the mountain, a sign of things to come. The road started to climb and narrow as it wound its way through steep gorges, along the side of cliffs and over high passes. All the time there was a torrent of water falling off the mountains all around us, the weather may not have been nice but it was spectacular. High up in the mountains the road ran along the top of a dam and can’t have been wider than 3 metres, it was single track for miles and just wound in and out of rocky outcrops and lakes, it was a wonder how they built it. Finally it descended down an amazing zig zag but not before we passed through a cascade off the mountain onto the road. That night we pitched up on a camp site in Roldal a huge green space with just a few camper vans dotted around on the only bits of hardstanding we could find.
With the weather improving and after a quick look at the local timber church we set off to see Eidsborg stave church. It was a cool but bright morning as the road climbed through the mountains and past lakes and reservoirs and eventually through wooded gorges and valleys. The stave church at Eidsborg is part of the Telemark museum of old buildings and industries including a canal. The church is in a beautiful setting as is a well preserved example. After lunch we carried on south alongside the same lake for most of the afternoon until we found a campsite for the night at Treungen. Nice though it was the ducks couldn’t keep away, obviously used to scrounging crumbs. It was too much for Fred and in the end we just let him off his lead and he was after them up to is neck in the lake but at least they stayed away after that.
By now we were a long way south and with just a few days left in Norway we had to chose between driving around aimlessly or finding somewhere to put our feet up for a few nights. We went to Lillesand on the south east coast and were getting a little frustrated before we took a side turning on the off chance. After several kilometres and a long dirt track we came to an un-inspiring camp site we turned back and saw signs fo another and thought that we might as well have a look as we were there and what a gem it turned out to be. The small camp site at Bufjord is mostly static vans with a few touring pitches by the water. The facilities block has been newly constructed with large shower rooms and very disabled friendly and there was a decent mini market a short walk back up the lane. The weather was fine if a bit chilly at night but with fabulous start nights. Being the end of the season we were the only campers so we Fred had space to run, chase Oystercatchers and have a dip in the sea. Altogether a lovely lite to remember and only a short drive from the ferry.
Finally the day came to head for the ferry. A really dreary wet day with little to do other than work out where to stop for the night in order to be at the ferry at the crack of dawn. We ate out for the first time, at McDonalds in Kristiansand, two chicken sandwich meal deals for £16!! We had thought about wild camping at the ferry terminal but decided against it an found a small campsite nearby where several others had pitched up waiting for the morning ferry.
Our ferry crossing to Hirtshals was comfortable and uneventful and by midday we were on the road south towards Zwolle in Holland for an evening with friends and for Fred to visit the vet to get his passport stamped. On the way we needed to find a couple of camp sites, the first one in Flensburg came easily but we struggled the following night eventually finding somewhere just into Netherlands. After a pleasant afternoon and evening with friends we headed for the Tunnel and after a night at a large site in the Belgian seaside town of Nieuwpoort we were on our way home.
And here we are, happy campers after 5 weeks and 5442 miles away.
Would we do it again? In the blink of an eye yes.
But we have come home with a new plan – Van Blanc is sold and a VW Crafter LWB conversion is on its way.
<<<4 : Journey to the Top of the World