A magnificent drive – this wonderful road is a dream for anyone who loves wild mountain landscapes.Tundra terrain, incredibly colourful in autumn and snow-capped peaks all around.Alpine in a way that other areas in Norway we had visited were not.We both loved the Jotunheimen – the mountain land of the Trolls; who couldn’t love a land with that brilliant name?
After picking up wine and supplies in Sogndal (described as unattractive in one of our guide books but we thought it was a pleasant town with good shops for stocking up/getting fuel etc.) One thing we had noticed was that overall, the driving in Norway in general had not been as scenic or interesting as we had expected.The fjords outwith the Naeroyfjord and Flam region, had proved less than inspiring and so that proved as our week in Western Norway continued.There were of course highlights but hours were spent in pleasant surroundings rather than stunning ones.Maybe we are too spoiled at home in Scotland where the sheer variety and colour of the ever-changing mountain or coastal landscape makes any long road trip ultra special and a pleasure in itself.
But we were in for a treat along the Sognefjellet.
Borgund Stave Kirk ‘near’ Laerdal had been a longer diversion that we’d thought (I’d identified the wrong church on the map and it was actually about 19 miles further on.Groan. ) but oh so worth it.We visited many of these unique churches in Norway, inspiring places that should be on the ‘must see’ list of anyone visiting the country.
The road initially from Sogndal was, as many roads are in Norway, very slow as you pass through so many little settlements and villages all the time.Speed must go down to 30mph or 50km.I was surprised constantly by how populated rural Norway was, with fewer tracts of wilderness than I’d expected.Different history to Scotland of course, where so many areas were cleared for sheep in the 18th and 19th centuries and the majority of the population now live in the Central Belt between Glasgow and Edinburgh and surrounds.
Then beyond Fortun, it started to climb, climb climb taking us high above the fjord into some lovely oak and birch-clad hillsides and then up onto the mountain plateau.This was where it all took off big style.
We stopped at many of the designated viewpoints, very nicely done, overlooking the grand landscape.
I loved it up here – it made my heart sing in a way that nowhere so far really had in Norway.
Big, empty, wild mountainous country with glorious tundra – a kaleidoscope of pastel greens and reds and gold.
There is certain terrain that I love – South African fynbos, Scotland’s heather moorland and ancient Caledonian pine forest and now – tundra.Stunningly beautiful.
We took a couple of hours at least to drive this section over to Boverdalen and the lovely Elveseter Hotel.It was an absolute joy.
The fjord landscape we saw was of course wonderful but this was, to me, really soul stirring.
Jotunheimen was the most colourful area of all the areas we explored in Norway and my favourite.All it lacked was the ocean! There were some really finely situated hotels/huts which looked brilliant as bases for hiking. If I ever come back to Norway, as well as seeing orcas off Lofoten, I will come back here.
There was even a section just before we dropped down into Boverdalen which looked very like Cairngorm in Scotland with its big whale back summits and often snow clad slopes. And Glencoe in the foreground! It’s no doubt annoying to hear comparisons but sometimes that helps you make sense of a new landscape, like an familiar anchor in new seas.
48 hours later and we drove that road again, the other way and like all truly great roads, it didn’t matter which way you drove it; it was still magnificent and of constant interest.
We were also thrilled to spot what we thought were Gyr Falcons, a pair of them, hunting in the high ground above Boverdalen.
Then down into beautiful Elveseter and the lovely historic hotel which was our base for the next 2 nights.We had our own detached , traditional wooden chalet, a few hundred metres walk from the main hotel. I was glad of this because on the Saturday we arrived, it was going like a fair, kids out enjoying themselves, running crazy around the place, families drinking and laughing and having a great old time.And good on them – but it was nice, boring old farts that we are, to retreat to the quiet of our chalet.Far from the madding crowd.
Beautiful place all round.Great choice and not too bad at £240 for 2 nights.
Other Norway adventures – NORWAY’S TOP SCENIC DRIVES – SOGNEFJELLET. and A CRUISE UP THE WESTERN FJORDS and HIKING NORWAY’S HIGHEST MOUNTAIN