Category Archives: Uncategorized

UNESCO Magma Geopark

Thursday 31 October 2019

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.

An amazing rainbow that appeared to be just a few feet in front of me.

The little harbour and the lighthouse were like a place where time had stood still for quite a while as you can see.

Kvassheim harbour
Kvassheim lighthouse appears to be on the roof of someone’s house.

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”.

The “Moon Landscape” of Ytstebrød and the Eigerøya lighthouse.

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!

Eigerøya lighthouse and the approaching storm.

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.

A bit of a rough area this I think!

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.

Natural Bonsai ?

I wildcamped in a rest area that evening with this lovely sunset to finish the evening off. A good day!

Stapneshølen, Egersund, Norway

Preikestolen

Wednesday 30 October 2019

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.

These Norwegians know where to hit a Yorkshireman where it hurts – in his wallet!

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.

Lysefjorden. This was the weather I thought it best to avoid.
Preikestolen is just right of centre. Note the size of the fairly large boat on the water.
The closest I got to the Pulpit Rock!
As often happens, it was the intimate landscape that produced the best image of the day for me.

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.

When the weather plays ball this is paradise!

Monday 28 October 2019

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.

Røldal campsite

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.

See how the light captures the shapes and intricacies of these wintering birch trees, now devoid of all their leaves.
Mokleivåsen beside lake Røldalsvatnet
Lake Røldalsvatnet

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.

Røynevarden farm, note the grass rooves of the house and buildings.

I spent the day driving around the area and decided to return to the same campsite that evening.

Back in the mountains

Saturday 26 October 2019

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.

Åmotsdal church

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.

Hardranger National Park
Hardranger National Park

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.

Vinji

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

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.

Return To Norway!

Friday 25 October 2019

Yesterday was a domestic day. I washed all my clothes, washed the bedding and generally tidied and cleaned the van. I finished off yesterday with some catching up on this blog.

It was quite a bit cheaper to buy food in Sweden so made a visit to the supermarket first thing and got a few essentials in like chocolate and cake 😁. I filled up with fresh water and emptied the grey water and with all my clothes and bedding washed the day before I was ready to roll.

The plan (yes I had a plan) was to drive north west, avoiding Oslo, and head to the mountains of the Hardranger National Park. Once there I could explore the area properly for about a week and take advantage of the good weather that was forecast for the next few days.

So off I went straight up the E6 back into Norway, then turned left on to the E134 and through the Oslofjord Tunnel which is pretty impressive as it’s 7.5 km long and goes under the fjord. It has very steep inclines going into and out of the tunnel, a magnificent feat of engineering once again. 

I then reached Kongsberg, just passed Drammen, and I was going to stay the night there but it was just too noisy and urban so I made the decision to head up to the mountains this evening, or at least part of the way.

Kongsberg railway station

At 10.0pm I arrived at a rest area next to the Hjartsjå lake and bedded down for the night.

Border Crossing

Tuesday 22nd of October

After breakfast I began heading for Stockholm. It was going to be a long drive and I expected it to take two or three days.

I crossed the border into Sweden and after a few kilometres I had a change of mind. I looked at the map and saw that the journey to Stockholm and then to Malmo where I had to be eventually, was going to be more than a thousand miles further than heading down the Atlantic coast via Gothenburg then on to Malmo. I deliberated and decided it wasn’t worth it. The landscape in Sweden can be quite monotonous, consisting of trees, lakes and small rolling hills and is not the kind of landscape I enjoy.

I would also like to explore more of the Atlantic coast so I plotted a route and as I write this I’m having lunch in a rest area called Vassvikken.

Vassvikken rest area, a place to deliberate

I needed a campsite that evening so as usual I consulted ‘Campercontact’ and saw a place in a marina at Henån on the island of Orust. I thought the coastline might provide some interesting material from a photography point of view and I could spend the day tomorrow driving around the coast looking for good seascapes. 

So that was that and I changed course and got myself down to the island of Orust. The campsite I was heading for was not what I was expecting. There was a huge area avaialable to park in with electric hook up and good wifi. What made it really special was that clothes washing and drying and the showers were included in the price of 150kr (about £12). Brilliant!

First thing was a good shower, oh how I needed a shower!!

OYS Camper Parking, Orust, Sweden
OYS Marina Camper Parking, Orust, Sweden

Oslo and the Vigeland Sculpture Park

Monday 21 October2019

Oslo’s Vigeland Park, is the largest sculpture park in the world by a single artist, boasting over 200 pieces by Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland

This sculpture park in the Frogner Park, Oslo with more than 200 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland (1869–1943) in bronze, granite and cast iron, including The Angry Boy (Sinnataggen in Norwegian), The Monolith (Monolitten) and The Wheel of Life (Livshjulet) really is a must visit place if you’re in the Norwaegian capital.

Vigeland was also responsible for the design and architectural outline of the park, which is one of Norway’s top tourist attractions, with more than one million annual visitors.

I spent a good half day there and became completely immersed in viewing the sculptures, all of which are life like and of people varying in age from newly born to near death. It is exquisite and my camera was constantly clicking, trying to capture the beauty and the expressions on the faces of the subjects in various materials.

Just to add to the overall gorgeousness (is that actually a word??) of the place, the trees were in full autumn colour and looked fabulous.

As the light began to fade it was time to leave and make my way out of the city. Oslo is a vibrant and busy city and I promised myself I would return when the opportunity arose, there is so much more to see.

One thing I must mention here, is the fact that Oslo is full of Tesla, and other electric vehicles. Having rarely seen a Tesla before, I was struck by how many there were. One can understand why when you see that all the bus/taxi only lanes are full of them, whilst we drivers of the great polluters queue to move a few yards. This is also something I’ve noticed in the rest of Norway, electric vehicles are everywhere and the recharge network is in evidence from the far north to the capital city. I feel it is something we should seriously try to address in the UK.

Just one Tesla amongst 15 I counted in this small car park at Frogner Park

There is also a scheme too borrow these scooters to get you around the city.

A great day in Norway’s capital!

A Sunday Drive on the E7

Sunday 20 October 2019

I left the excellent campsite at Geilo and took to the E7 route heading south. The trees were just stunning in their autumn colours that seem to get more saturated as each day passes. Near a place called Nes in Buskerund Kommune I came to Lake Hallingdalselva where the reflection of the wooded area opposite was just exquisite. Once again I saw a house that seemed to have been built in just an ideal location. The whole scene just had to be photographed.

The silver birch trees above made a really good tryptic I thought (I may swap them around when I get round to printing them!)

What a location this house is in and the perfectly still water reflected it beautifully.
The mist floating over the top of the mountain here just made it for me.

Wash Day

Saturday 19 October 2019

A grey drizzling morning this morning and I’ve decided to stay on the site I’m on for another day and catch up on things I need to. The WiFi is good and I’m just about the only one on the site so I have access to all the facilities to myself. The facilities are excellent and I’ve washed a bag full of dirty clothes already!

Sometimes the domestic chores have to be done!

A Bridge In Mist and a Huge Waterfall

Friday 18 October 2019

The weather this morning is looking really good. The rest area where I spent the night was adjacent to a magnificent bridge, marking yet another piece of superb engineering by the Norwegians. Hardangerbrua spans Hardangerfjord and this morning it looked superb as the morning cloud began to lift around. To me the cloud looked almost unreal and I took an hour or so to find the best view of the structure.

So I moved on and made my way along route 7 towards Oslo and I passed through the beautiful village of Eidfjord.

Eidfjord and the wonderful colours of autumn
Eidfjord quayside

A little further on I came to a spectacular natural phenomena that is Vøringsfossen. The Vøringsfossen Waterfall has a free fall of 145 metres and a total fall of 182 metres, and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Norway.

Vøringsfossen

To witness the huge volumes of water from the Hardangervidda plateau drop to the valley of Måbødalen below is an impressive sight in natural and idyllic surroundings.

Vøringsfossen

I spent almost two hours at this location and took stills, video and drone footage.

As I got back on to route 7 it began to sleet that added to the already snow covered mountains and I consulted “CamperContact” for nearby campsites. Geilo Camping looked good so I headed for it.

Sleet and snow on a mountain road is not good, time to get down to the valley!

When I got there, it was just what I was looking for and I booked in for the night. With good Wifi and excellent facilities, it was a good choice and doing housekeeping in the van was a good idea.

Bergen

Thursday 17 October 2019

It was a drizzly, miserable day when I woke up in the staff car park of the IKEA store near Bergen. I’d been awake since 6.0am when staff began arriving for work. I was going to take the opportunity of using the IKEA free bus into town which started the day 10.0am so I had plenty of time to have breakfast and get the van sorted out and park it in the main car park, where I felt it would be safe to leave for the day.

The bus journey into Bergen was excellent. The coach they used was very comfortable and each seat had individual seat belts, which the driver insisted everyone put on before starting the journey.

I got off the bus in the centre of town and began looking round. Bergen has a very old street on the waterfront, that’s apparently recognised by UNESCO as being of special significance due to the age of the shop fronts there and is a protected World Heritage Site.

Things were looking very damp this particular day and it was apparent that some of the buildings were definitely wonky due to their age.

I found Bergen to be a really interesting town with lots of quirky and old buildings like this one with a huge mural painted on the side.

I took a walk along the harbour side and came across the Green peace ship Rainbow Warrior tied up in one of the inlets. I have to say she was looking a bit worse for wear and exhibiting some obvious battle scars, but it was good to see she was still around. 

Further along the quayside I saw some huge deep sea trawlers. I couldn’t get very close because that part of the port was fenced off, but they were very impressive.

I made my way back to the centre and on the harbour side there I saw a fish stall and restaurant  and thought I’d see if there was anything I could afford. I chose to have a bowl of their fish soup and it was absolutely delicious and contained a dozen scallops, prawns, pieces of lobster and crab, all in a delicious soup. It was served with bread and butter and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

So at 3.0pm I caught the bus back to IKEA and got back in the van ready to begin the journey to Oslo. I really enjoyed Bergen and would definitely consider going for a long weekend sometime. There’s plenty to do and see there. Thanks to IKEA!

On the road again I came to a large rest area with good facilities and decided to bed down for the night.

The King’s Road, Stalheimsfossen and Flat Pack Furniture!

Wednesday 16 October 2019

I woke up this morning surrounded by huge mountains. I’d parked up in the rest area a near the village of Stalheim on the E16 when it was dark and didn’t really see my surroundings. They looked very foreboding in the cold grey light of a rainy morning.  So I had some breakfast and got ready to move on. 

I’d only travelled a couple of kilometres up the road when I spotted a large waterfall on my left that definitely looked worth exploring. So I parked up and and looked at the information board nearby. 

Turns out I was on the remains of the “Royal Road Between Oslo and Bergen” and the waterfall was Stalheimsfossen. 

These information boards can be really informative.

So I walked the 0.9 kilometre with the Sony camera and kit to see what I could see. 

On reaching the waterfall it was quite impressive, being about 400 feet high and roaring, as the water plunged vertically over the cliff edge. 

Stalheimsfossen

I took some stills and then went back to get the drone. 

Stalheimsfossen

I filmed a couple of minutes of drone footage and then returned to the van to continue on the E16 towards Bergen. I passed through Voss and Vaksdal and arrived in Bergen around 4.30pm. 

I found from “Campercontact” that IKEA, near Bergen , allowed campervans to stay overnight in their car park so I parked up there and discretely sorted the van out for a night stay.