The Norwegian National 2000
Taylor's View of the Norwegian Landrover Clubs' 25th Anniversary Event (28/07/00-14/08/00)

The Journey to Trondheim

Last September we were at the Belgian National event where I talked to some English people who had been to a Norwegian event, they said it was well worth a visit and that in the year 2000 it was the Norwegians 25th Anniversary and therefore a bit special. We ummed and ahhed about going and started to find out about the sea crossing which seemed quite expensive, so we had sort of decided not to go. But then at the British nationals at Bordon (hosted by the Hants and Berks club) I spoke to some other English folk who said they were going to Norway, that it was a very good event and only £300 to get across the water. At this point I really got a hankering to go to Norway never having been there and hearing so much about the beautiful landscape.

After much research and hours of Jims time on the internet we finally managed to get a crossing to Bergen as all the other routes were fully booked (we were a bit close to the leaving date then and at peak time). We thought long and hard about what spares to take as we were going to be covering about 2500 miles over a 2-week period in our 30 year old series II. (Those of you who have read our previous exploits may be thinking we were crazy, having previously broken an alternator and gear box on the way to Llangollen, failed to get to Eastnor Castle on time due to an engine rebuild where the clutch plate was incorrect and breaking numerous differentials and half shafts at various times causing problems in Belgium last year.) We decided to take a couple of fan belts, oil, water and a spare alternator we already had. If anything major went wrong we would hope that either the Norwegian LR club could assist or the RAC could get it out to us. The rest we left to luck! Was this wise?

The route we had to take was from Wokingham to Newcastle (300 mile drive), onto a North Sea ferry to Bergen and from Bergen to Trondheim (500 mile drive). In order to allow enough time for stops (to rest the back and ears (series motors are not the most comfortable way to travel)) and possible problems with the LR we decided to set out on the Friday night (28th July 2000). So at 6.00pm we set out in rush hour traffic on to the M25 in a clockwise direction!! Could it get much worse from a traffic point of view? Well as it happened apart from the queue to get on to the M40 at High Wycombe we had no problems with traffic at all, as we can not go much faster than 60mph anyway, we just sat in the inside lane and kept moving. We even had to overtake a couple of vehicles moving slower than us! At about Grantham (about 9.00pm) we decided to stop for the night, so we found a Travelodge by the A1 and parked up. The room was comfortable enough but it was hot so the window was open and outside was a lorry park with a lorry in it that had a cooler running all night. Along with the other lorries arriving and leaving at all hours and the rock hard beds we did not get much sleep. We managed to leave as planned for Newcastle and got there 2 hours early.

Just up the road from the docks is a new factory outlet centre so we killed a couple of hours there before joining the queue to get our boarding passes for the ferry. Whilst in the queue to get on board we talked to a Norwegian lad who had been here on holiday with his mate in a 1930s ford van, painted mat green. They had been to a classic car show in Kent. They live in Molde, which is at the top end of the Fjords and about ½ way between our Norwegian start and stop points. He pointed out a couple of roads we should travel along on our route to Trondheim, as they are particularly pretty. Also in the queue to board were several other Landrovers. Two of them were painted white and were actually TA members going to the mountains of Norway on exercise. Two others were going to the Norwegian LR nationals as well. They had 5 occupants, Debbie and Martin (a LR parts dealer who knows the nut and bolt numbers off by heart!) in a series 3 and Rick and Amanda in a 90 with a BMW TDI engine (they had just been married 1 week earlier and this trip was their honeymoon!) They also had a passenger Tony who is a welder and turner and can make anything metal in his own workshops, so he spent most of his time examining welds and roll cages to see how well they were made!

We spent most of the time on the ferry with Rick, Amanda, Martin and Tony experiencing the delights of Norwegian beer!! It is nothing to write home about and still expensive even tax-free on the boat. The duty free on the boat was more expensive than it is in the shops at home!! So we did not buy anything, apart from some chocolate covered marshmallows to eat on the way to Trondheim, they turned out to be very tasty. The crossing was as flat as a mill pond, I do not travel well on boats and I was most unhappy at the thought of 23 hours on a boat, so I had dosed myself up with sea sick tablets and wrist straps and tried not to drink too much. I need not have bothered with any of this, I even managed to get some sleep in the cabin! Mind you not a lot of sleep, as the noise from the engine room and the people in the neighbouring cabin was intrusive. Apparently we still managed to get more sleep than the people in the reclining chairs (not a recommended way to travel).

We awoke to find the decks covered in water (we had had heavy rain over night) and the horizon completely obscured by mist and clouds, so the first sight of land was through a thin grey veil on to white looking rocks. As we got closer the rocks got bigger and turned grey. We finally entered the fjord that Bergen rests in and found ourselves surrounded by rock; it was very barren looking with only lichens and small grasses growing. After we had travelled for some time in the fjord we started to see shrubs on the rocks and the occasional house dotted about. The further up the fjord we travelled the taller the vegetation become and the more frequent the houses. All the houses were of 2 storey wooden construction, mostly painted white or red. There was the occasional small boat tied to a small jetty, but not as many as I would have expected for this area. As we moved into Bergen the only visible buildings were fairly modern multi-storey concrete buildings, I completely missed the row of beautiful wooden shops along the quayside (but more of Bergen later). It was difficult to see much due to the mist and it all felt very drab and dreary, not what I expected of Norway! Still we got off the boat fairly quickly and through customs in next to no time. The other Brits going to the LR event had said they were going to take the most direct route to Trondheim, inland as far a Lille Hammer and then north on the main road from Oslo to the north. We were undecided on our route as the chap we had spoken to had recommended a different route which looked impressive but very wriggly and therefore probably slow. We left the docks about 2.30pm local time with the other 2 motors and followed them for a couple of miles before they made a wrong turn. Should we follow them and travel with them? Or make the correct turning and be on our own? Decisions, decisions we took the correct turning and travelled the whole route to Trondheim on our own, a bit scary! What if something broke?!

We travelled for some time along the E16 before we had to make a decision about whether the take the pretty route or the straighter inland route via Lille Hammer (Winter Olympics fame), we went the pretty route. Just about 20 miles inland from Bergen the mist withdrew and the sun came out and not long after that we spotted our first big waterfall and stopped to do the tourist bit and took some photos.

 
 
 
Brenda in front of the first waterfall we saw
 
We started up a road that instead of following the fjord (as most roads do) goes up and over a mountain, we climbed up and up and round hairpin bends that were incredibly tight and we spotted our first patch of snow and then more and more snow. As we turned a corner we saw a sign for 'Lapp Camp 1Km'. Sure enough in 1Km we spotted some reindeer pelts hanging on a fence and loads of antlers attached to bits of skull outside a small souvenir shop. It was about time for a tea break so we decided to stop and have a snowball fight and a drink! The shop only sold souvenirs no drinks hot or cold! The stuff on sale was mostly wooden or made from furs or skins, as well as the usual type of cheap tat you get in souvenir shops, only it was not cheap! The snow was too far away to go and throw at each other so we left quite disappointed.
 
 

Lapp Camp

Was this what Norway was going to be like all over? I hoped not. We continued to climb up the pass and saw more snow, we finally came to a spot where the snow was right alongside the road and there was a parking area as well (most of the road was just wide enough for 2 cars to pass and no spare room). I threw snowballs at Jim (missed him by miles) and he took photos.

 
 
 
Brenda and LR after snowball fights
 

A Norwegian couple stopped in a car to take photos of the snow and us having a snowball fight, so we threw some snowballs at them as well, (they saw the funny side and laughed and waved as they left). On the way down there were lots of small wooden houses dotted along the way, most were more than 50 feet from the road, with a garage and small garden of either just lawn or a few flower beds. All along the road side were people stopped in lay bys and sat on camping chairs or the ubiquitous picnic tables and chairs, one or two of the women were sat in the bras and skirts up round their gussets! The Norwegians get as much sun as they can while they can!

We drove for some time (went through Voss) until we got to Vagsnes on the Sognfjorden (longest fjord in Norway) where we had to catch a ferry, we wanted to go to Tjugum. At the ferry terminal the view up the fjord was stunning, it was wall to wall rock covered in trees, with the water glistening below, to see the sky you had to look vertically up, the rocks were so big and beautiful. There were 2 places the ferry could go to and the next one to arrive went to Hella not Tjugum. Jim studied the maps we had and looked at the large scale map on the ferry terminal wall and noticed a tiny road going over the mountain which would take us to Skei and back on the road we wanted to be on. We decided to take this tiny (on the map) road and have a little adventure. We drove on to the ferry and got a cup of tea on board. It took about 20 minutes to get to the other side and disembark. The ferries are classed as part of the road system and so are open all year round and heavily subsidised

 
 
 
Our First Ferry Crossing (Vagsnes to Hella)
 

We landed and set off for our 'little road'. We found the turning OK and started to climb higher, it was wider then the roads we had been travelling on and had a 7Km long tunnel on it at the end of which was a toll 135K (about £10), it was quite a major route, what a disappointment we did not get to try our off-roading skills. By this time I was feeling like the motor was bouncing up and down like the wheels were not balanced. This proceeded to get worse as the week went on. We arrived at Skei and filled up with petrol. One of our worries had been how frequent the petrol stations would be, they are very frequent, almost every little hamlet has at least one pump, and most things are open quite long hours, even on a Sunday. We were in the heart of the tourist area of Norway and they are certainly geared up for tourists.

We drove on over another mountain with some stunning views down on to some valleys and finally made our destination, Loen a pretty little village on the edge of Innvikfjorden (the most inland part of Northfjord) not far from the largest glacier in Europe, Jostedalsbreen. The glacier is within a large protected national park which has strict usage rules. We found a campsite with vacancies on the sunny side of the fjord and set up tent. Not long after we had arrived a couple of Germans arrived on his and hers motorbikes. They were on their way home, having been in Norway for a couple of weeks. They had had no problems until at the top of a hill just before a small town the chaps bikes' engine stopped, he managed to pull in the clutch and coasted down to the village were he stopped outside the only motorcycle shop they had seen the whole time they had been in Norway. The guy was just about to close the shop, but stayed open to help the Germans. The shop owner just happened to have a bike of the same make as the chaps bike and it happened to have an engine in it that had done only 5000Km. The shop owner sold it to the German for about £500 (the equivalent in Krona) and then proceeded to help them change the engine over. At midnight the 2 Germans rode away to find a site for the night. Is that luck or what? (You might argue that the engine stopping was not lucky but at least where it did was!) Any way these 2 Germans went down to the river to catch their evening meal! Suitable comments from Jim about taking hours to catch a fish etc. 10 minutes later they were back with a sea trout in hand, he decapitated and gutted it and cooked it on a portable barbeque, you can't get much fresher than that! A few years earlier the chap had been Germanys' champion angler so he knew a thing or two about fishing. We went to bed about 10.00pm and I lay in the tent reading without a torch because the light was so bright that I did not need one even inside the tent. By about 11.00pm it was too dark to read in the tent.

Monday morning saw the sun excluded by mist again. We packed our tent and headed for the road that the Norwegian chap at Newcastle had recommended from the E15 to Eidsdal via Geiranger. As we climbed the mist got thicker and we thought 'this is silly, we are here for the view and can't see anything'. We drove through a fairly long tunnel and popped out in a valley filled with sunshine, it was stunningly beautiful. This was the point at which we could go a more straight and shorter route than the one recommended to us or take the pretty wriggly route, as the sun was out here we decided on the pretty route, big mistake, the mist came down and we saw nothing! We passed another souvenir shop (nearly obscured by the murk) on a tight bend with a road that went up to the top of the mountain where there was a viewpoint indicated on the map. A coach load of Japanese tourists went up this road to see what?! It was like pea soup that high up! The sun did finally appear for a short time about lunchtime by which time we had done the pretty road and were on the blast to Trondheim. It was hardly a blast as we had to get a ferry from Eidsdal to Linge and then over the mountains to Andalsnes before getting on the E136 to Dombas and the E6 to Trondheim (for anyone that feels like getting a map out!).

Trying to find the campsite at Trondheim where the event was to be held was frustrating to say the least. The E6 runs from East to West through Trondheim and as usual the road signs indicated this road with a town for the direction, only the town for the East/North direction was Narvik which is right up at the tip of Norway and no where to be seen on my map! The usual discussion occurred in the motor! (We had a domestic!) Before we finally found out where we needed to go.

By this time in our journey we had decided the problem with the vehicle bouncing up and down was probably in the back wheels and not the front, as the steering was not wobbling all over the place. Last year we had problems with the wheels being out of balance and the steering was almost impossible to hang on to. The bouncing was definitely worse on some roads than others and worse at certain speeds.

The Norwegian Landrover Nationals

The event site was quite close to the road and went right down to the beach, with showers and toilets not as nice as the site at Loen. Registration with the club secretary was relatively painless and we were given stickers and instructions and signed up for the trial on Tuesday, castle run on Wednesday and fort run on Thursday, leaving Friday for the trial finals if we should do well enough to get into them. We pitched our tent and were met by Rick, Amanda, Tony and Martin who had gone in land for a ways and then decided to take the pretty route and had got to the site only 1 hour before us. They were staying in a 2-bed cabin on the site. As we were drinking our coffee a Swiss gentleman walked up to us and said hello, I recognised him from the Belgian trips over the last 3 years, we had a natter with him and then saw Cliff and Sabine heading towards us, other friends we had made on our Belgium trips!

After talking for sometime we went to the trade stands to see what was on offer. A few t-shirts etc. from the Norwegian LR club and a chap from leatherman servicing and selling the leatherman knifes and a 2nd hand spares chap. Jim gave his pearls of wisdom to a Norwegian regarding some 2nd hand wheels and tyres that were for sale. There was a large marquee that was filled with tables and chairs for people to sit and eat at after using the club barbeques to cook food on. There were several people making use of these facilities but we had not had time to shop for barbie food so we had burger and chips covered in chilli power cooked in the campsite shop. Most of the food places around Norway are burger bars or pizza places or both. There are very few restaurants, probably because food is so expensive.

Trial Day

Tuesday was a bit overcast and cloudy with sunny intervals. We awoke to find a newsletter under the wiper blade. It contained some news about traders and how to get to start points for the trial and the scenic drives and a weather forecast: about 4 lines of Norwegian was whittled down to 'Take the hard tops off' in English.

We had to travel 1Km along the road to a weighbridge to meet up with our leader who was to show us to the trial site. About 10.00pm we left the weighbridge and travelled some 15 miles or so to a quarry, which had a very sandy bottom and a couple of very nice little banks to climb. We were split into 4 classes, short and long wheelbases with and without leaf springs. There were 6 sections set up, each with 6 gates. The scoring method was as follows: 40 points for getting the whole vehicle through the gate and 10 points deducted for hitting a gate cane (hit both canes get 20 points knocked off) and 5 points deducted for stopping or reversing. You can reverse as many times as you like but you can end up with a negative score! There were about 20 vehicles taking part, we were 5th in the order and as we dropped one each section that meant we were going to have to be first at some point! Jim hates going first!

 
The Trial Site and Competitors
 
The first section was pretty straightforward with a 2ft incline, turn left and hard right to climb a 3ft high incline. No one cleared it, as everyone had to stop and have another go at the 2nd climb due to the tight turn.
 
 
 
Competitor on First Section
 

The next section was the same one but in reverse, which was a bit easier especially now that 20 vehicles had rubbed off the edges. The 3rd section was up the 3ft incline along quite a way to a mound which was taken on the side over another mound immediately in front of the first and on quite a way to climb the 2ft incline again. The 4th section involved straddling the gap between 2 mounds, one of which was made of small pebbles and the other was hardened sand, a sharp left turn off the left hand mound and straight up a 12ft climb. Due to the soft conditions very few vehicles made the last climb, the first to clear it was Rick in his 90. A couple more did it after that but Martin (who had Tony as a passenger) and ourselves did not clear it. The 5th section we were first up for. It dropped down onto an axle twister and back up for a sharp left turn to then drive round a large mound of pebbles. Jim was so concerned about not hitting the set of gates in the middle of the axle twister that he did not give the right foot enough lead weight (makes a change it usually has far to much weight) and we got stuck well and truly. We had to be pulled off, which meant we scored 80 for the 2 gates we had passed through but could not continue the section and so missed out on 160 points, better to have not worried about the gates and just wellied it! We were not the only ones to get stuck there. The last section involved a 3ft climb with a long sweeping drive round to the right with a sharp left turn to a very long steep climb. Only one person made it over the top and he had everything on his motor (diff lockers, huge tyres etc.). The day was fun, and definitely non-damaging. Talking to one of the Norwegian club members later in the week, it seems that on the 5th year anniversary of the club they have an extra special meet and make the trial very safe so that those that come from many miles are assured that they can drive their vehicles home at the end of the week. So if you are thinking of going one year it may be sensible to wait until the 30th anniversary event in 5 years time that will be held at the southern end of the country so easier to get to as well.

Whilst at the trial a couple of Brits (Sandra and David) who had come over in a mint series I started talking to us. They watched and seeing how non-damaging it was decided to have a go at the trial. They left the site and went back to the campsite to book in. They did the same course as us (with minor adjustments to allow for wear and tear) and had a very successful day except they did not quite make it to the final.

We stopped off for some food to barbeque that night and made use of the facilities when we got back to the campsite.

Wednesday saw a beautiful bright sunny day; the newsletter was delivered again with pictures from the trial (one of us climbing a small incline) and the weather forecast said 'Keep the hard tops off'. We met up at the weighbridge at 9.00pm and set off in convoy to Austraitt Castle and fort. We were given a very small-scale map of the route we were to take which was just about useable in order to keep tabs on where we were. We drove round the outskirts of Trondheim on to a ferry on the west side of Trondheim to get across Trondheims fjorden. Whilst on the ferry I spoke with the Swiss gentleman we had met in Belgium; we talked about his apple brandy, which he said someone had written about in an article in the ARC news. It was the article I had written about our 2nd trip to Belgium, was that my 15 minutes of fame! Upon landing we drove in convoy up and round a mountaintop to what they called a castle. It was an old manor house really with a chapel. It was quite small and painted entirely in white with some prettily painted statues in the forecourt. The guide for the trip spoke almost perfect English with no hint of an accent. Only a few of us toured the castle, the rest went to a fort just down the road. I think we should have done the fort as well from what the others said about it, but we had a very nice picnic sat by the fjord in perfect peace and quite, no jets overhead, no engines, I have never heard such silence! Not even insects, we saw very few insects or flowers in any part of Norway.

 
 
 
Austraitt Castle
 

Once the others had returned from the fort we travelled round the top of the mountain to arrive at a small fishing village called Ralivag, with a very picturesque harbour full of boats. We had the Norwegian speciality here, waffles with strawberry jam and soured cream, very nice. From there we headed back to the ferry terminal and back to Trondheim. The leader took us (20 vehicles in convoy) through the centre of Trondheim which was a bit scary, especially when someone decided to stop for the bank so all the vehicles behind them also stopped. We finally made it back to the campsite about 8.30pm where the barbeques were still burning so we had dinner and discussed the days events. It had been a very long tiring, interesting day.

Thursday was another bright and sunny day, we had booked to go on the fort scenic drive. There was a newsletter again with pictures of the scenic drive we had been on, but no weather forecast. We met at the weighbridge again and this time set off to the east of Trondheim. We stopped at a disused railway station called Hell (means lucky in Norwegian), we all had our photos taken under the Hell sign and browsed around the gift shop. Now if someone tells me to 'go to hell' I can say 'I have already been thank you!'

 
 
 
Jim Outside Hell Station
Landrovers at Hell
 

After about 30 mins we set off again still going east. We started to climb another mountain road and ended up to Hegra fort. It had been one of the few places in Norway to hold off the German attack during WWII. They lasted 25 days surrounded by Germans inflicting their guns on the German army some 9Km away. The Norwegians finally surrendered when they ran out of food and water, 4 of them had died during the battle, the guide described this as a terrible battle!). The whole of the fort was under ground, with a ditch around the whole thing used to access the guns and check up on what the Germans were doing. From the fort we travelled back down the wriggly road and back up another until we got to the top of a lowish (as in not terribly high) mountain with a large car park and the ubiquitous picnic tables, but this place also had some barbeque areas and a supply of wood for making your own barbeques. These were duly lit and lunch was had in this very idealic setting with a babbling brook running past our feet. The water was very cold, not that this stopped the dogs or kids paddling in it! We were abandoned to our own devises at this point, with instructions on how to get back to civilisation, so about 2.00pm we headed back to the campsite via a small town where I bought some stamps and we bought more food for the barbie that night.

Thursday evening we had some entertainment by Mr Chapman. Mr Chapman has been working for Landrover for the past 15 years organising the Camel trophy exercises, he did a presentation on how the route the competitors will take is determined and some of the problems incurred by his reconnaissance team. He had a couple of short films showing the reconnaissance trips and talked about the people who do these trips. They take an expert in all sorts of fields including a doctor, to determine the problems that may occur during the trophy run. Several routes they have started investigating have had to be abandoned for several reasons. We spent most of the evening before the speaker talking to a Norwegian called Gaute; his English was excellent so it was easy to ask questions about all sorts of things. He is a service manager for a large reputable garage in Oslo he earns about 300,000K per annum (approx £23,000) cars have a 200% import duty (Norway does not make its own cars) and food is about 10-30% more expensive than it is here, houses cost about 20% more!! An expensive country to live in without the extra income to cope with it, how do they live.

Trials Final Day

Friday dawned cloudy and damp, it had rained hard in the night, but we were still dry in the tent. The newsletter was late today (due to the rain I expect) the weather forecast was 'put your hard tops back on'. We had some how managed to make it to the finals, I think this was because they took the top 3 drivers from all 3 days in each class. There were only 3 drivers in our class on the day we drove. We made our own way to the trial site. There were only 2 sections today; scores went back to 0, with the same rules as before. Both sections were driven by all the vehicles in each class before the next class drove them, so that they could work out the scores to see if a run off was required, whilst the other classes were driving. We drove sections 4 and 6 from the previous days with slight modifications. The atmosphere was amazing, most of the people who were at the meet came to watch and everyone helped everyone else no matter what nationality they were or the class of vehicle. We did not drive badly, but the person who won our class definitely out shone everyone else, the winner was Gaute, the chap we had spent several hours with the previous night. We tied our score with Martin, but we came well down the batting order. On the steep climb a couple of vehicles got the angle wrong when they went back down the slope and so had to have winches attached to ensure they did not roll and instead of pulling them to safety and letting them drive off, they pulled them right to the top of the climb, just to make life difficult! David (with the series I) took some photos of us trailing and the winch activities.

 
 
 
Competitor nearly fell in the hole
 
 
 
 
Us Trying the Climb
 
 
 
 
Winching Practice
 

That night presentations were held for the trials and also the vehicle voted the best at the meet. The best vehicle prize went to a Swiss series I which was in mint condition. The owner was very pleased to have won, as the next night at the farewell banquet he parked the vehicle outside the marquee with the trophy he won stood on its bonnet for all to see!! We finally managed to have a few beers that night as we did not have to get up for anything the next day. Mind we still did not have lots, as the supply we had taken was getting low and beer is very expensive in Norway.

Saturday dawned very grey and misty, the newsletter arrived with the results of the competition and more photos and the weather forecast was 'test your wipers'! The mud tyres we have on the vehicle are diamond pattern remoulds and very soft, by the time we had done 1200 miles the front tyres were starting to look very worn, so Jim decided to swap the front with the rear wheels. We only had one jack with us (a hi-lift) which Jim reckoned he could use by placing it in the middle of the side of the motor and swap one side at a time!! I thought this was wishful thinking and it was! Once the motor was a few millimetres off the ground it needed to balance on the jack it wasn't and so fell over nearly squashing Jim in the process. Fortunately we were surrounded by fellow LR owners and the chaps in the tent next door with the series I station wagon had a trolley jack with them. So with the trolley jack and the hi-lift we managed to change the wheels over. The neighbour assisted running round in bear feet and a chap from across the road helped as well. (Aren't LR people friendly and helpful!). Now we would find out if the wheels were out of balance and set the steering wobbling again, at least by doing it in the morning it meant that if the steering was badly affected we could swap the wheels back again with the help of our friendly LR people.

We drove in to Trondheim, no problem with the steering at all, so not sure what is causing the bouncing, it could possibly be the roads, which in places you could see the ripples in them so may be we were in time with them and that was causing the bouncing!! We spent the day wondering around Trondheim, not a particularly interesting town, the fish market consisted of 2 mobile stalls, the harbour was hardly used now, most of the harbour buildings had been turned into living accommodation and a restaurant. There was a beautiful cathedral with the most amazing number of statues on the front and gargoyles etc. round the sides, the whole thing was in excellent condition. Whilst we were there a couple who had just been married walked up to the cathedral and posed for photos, she looked stunning in a beautiful long white dress with long white veil. He was in morning suit, the same as the traditional English wedding.

Part of the agenda for the week involved a cruise of Trondheim, I thought this meant getting on a boat and going along the fjord! No this was every LR meeting up at the harbour and then in a long line driving through Trondheim! We had finished our tour of Trondheim just as everyone else was leaving the pier, so we joined in with the series 3 motors (we were all supposed to be in type order) and brought Trondheim to a standstill. We did get lots of stares from the locals.

Saturday night was the banquet night, we were summoned by a horn being blown at 7.00pm and we congregated around the marquee entrance. We were given a taste of the local brew, it looked like wine but tasted more like the apple brandy we had had at Belgium, but was not very drinkable! They came round with bottles and filled everyone's glasses again, after 2 of these Jim was minging! I refused the 2nd glass (I know unlike me you say), it was not very drinkable! When we were finally allowed into the marquee we found places laid with plastic knifes and forks and a china plate with the 25th anniversary logo on it. We were told that we could keep these as a memento of our stay, what a memento! (It also saved them washing up!!) The meal was beef stroganoff (not very Norwegian) but very tasty, we served ourselves and there was enough to go back for 2nds. After the meal there were lots of speeches, too many, but we had a super time. The series I club presented the Norwegian LR club with a bottle of whiskey and crate of beer, as a thank you for having the event. Once the speeches were over we got down to some serious drinking.

The Touristy Bit

It rained heavily during Saturday night, just at the point that we were to pack the tent up for good, but at least it had stopped raining in the morning! With the worst of the rain shaken off we packed up, said our farewells and headed off to Sogndal on the Sognfjord. We headed straight down the E6 to Oslo and turned right at Otta to head back out towards Sogndalfjorden. As we left Trondheim we started to slowly climb up from sea level (campsite). The road to Oslo is the main road through Norway and was fairly wide and busy (comparatively speaking) but only single carriageway (apparently the only place to find dual carriageway is around the outskirts of Oslo). As we climbed higher the scenery changed from fir trees everywhere and the occasional house to even fewer houses and bleak moorland type landscape with only lichens and grasses able to cope with the climate. We had opened all the LR windows at Trondheim, as it was quite humid and warm at sea level. Up in the mountains it was jolly cold and we closed all the windows and vents and when we stopped for a break put our coats on. It rained on and off during the morning and when we reached a point saying 1300m it was snowing on us and few miles later hailstones fell on the motor. Before we started heading back down the mountain we stopped by a waterfall to take a short rest and photos of the waterfall. Whilst stopped a German lady pulled up on a motorbike to admire the murky view and rest her cold hands. She was on holiday and travelling round Norway on her own, a brave lady especially in the conditions at that time. Once we reached Fossbergom it started to perk up a bit and by the time we got to Gaupne (back down at sea level) the clouds were clearing and it was drying out.

We found Vesterland Park with no problems and were given the key to our hut. Vesterlands is a site with about 50 wooden huts surrounded by trees. Facilities include washing machines, café, tennis courts, crazy golf and kids play area. Our hut was very comfortable, cooker, fridge, Sky TV, lounge area, bedroom and shower room/toilet with heated floor tiles and a log burner with some logs to start us off. We had dinner in the park café and then collapsed in a heap in front of the TV. It had been another long drive from Trondheim to Sogndal, about 300 miles which although most of it had been on main roads, their main roads are still quite wriggly and our motor is hard work to steer. We slept very well Sunday night, due to too much partying with the LR people the previous few days and the long drive.

Monday was overcast and chilly but remained dry all day. We did not want to do much travelling as we had spent the entire previous week driving round so we did some very local attractions. 300m down the road was the Sogn folk museum, which consisted of several houses dating back over several hundred years and furnished as they would have been furnished when they were built. It also had an indoor museum with 3 floors of items ranging from a few decades ago to several hundred years ago. It was very interesting seeing the differences in lifestyle between now and then and between the British and Norwegian. Most of the exhibits had English translation next to it so it was easy to understand. We had a picnic lunch in the grounds of the museum even though it was cold and we shivered.

In the afternoon we went back past Vesterlands to Kaupanger to visit the boat museum which was actually part of the folk museum and hence was free to get in. It had 4 large wooden sailing boats in it with sails up and smelt of burnt wood. The smell was due to the pitch they put on the boats to waterproof them, they use burnt birch bark and tar to cover the boats. There were lots of fishing type things which interested Jim and he particularly likes boats as well, but I found it a bit boring. We headed back to the hut and went for a walk after dinner in the woods. We found lots of small bits of wood which could be used in the burner. Some where too big to break by hand, at which point Jim said 'I know what I've got in the motor' and disappeared to reappear with a machete!! He proceeded to hack up several branches, we picked up enough wood to last ages, so we thought. Of course Jim now had to light the burner! It started easily with newspaper and kindling, and burnt furiously. It became so hot inside the hut we had to open all the windows and we burnt nearly all the wood! When it was too late we found the levers to close off the air and slow down the burning process!

Tuesday it dawned very bright and sunny and we decided to visit the glacier at Nigardsbreen. Close to Nigardsbreen is the Breheimenteret museum on glaciers. I did not fancy the museum so we headed off to the glacier. In the distance we could see a wall of white, which as we got closer grew in stature but still did not look that impressive.

 
 
 
Jostedalsbreen Glacier form a distance
 
We got to the end of the road and parked in the car park to discover the only way to get to the glacier (according to notices) was on the boat which was heading towards us. It was a small launch and dropped us off at a point about 300m from the glacier base. By now the glacier was looking a bit more formidable and BIGGER!
 
 
 
Closer view of the Glacier
 

We scrambled over the rocks to arrive at the base of the glacier. It looked blue! There were huge lumps of ice which had broken off the face of the glacier; these blocks were taller than Jim and 10 times longer. At the base I looked up and up to see nothing but a wall of white. It is massive and all over the top are massive crevices, which can only be seen from a distance. We took more photos and then threw ice at each other! Walking back to get the boat we noticed hundreds of little pieces of ice round the edge of the lake, so we threw a few of these too. There were people walking along the edge of the lake from the car park as well so you did not have to take the boat, but it was a long walk (much further than it looked from the car park) and a hard scrabble over rocks, I was glad we took the boat, I must be getting old!

We had lunch in the car park and then studied the map to determine what to do next. Jim spotted a road that ran from about where we were up a valley to a lake. There was nothing else on the road. Jim suggested we went to look at what was there, after all we were in a 4x4 and should be able to go anywhere. We set off still in glorious sunshine and headed up the road to nowhere. After a couple of miles we saw a sign stating that the road was not kept in good condition and you travelled at your peril! We have a 4x4 we thought lets go. Expecting to enter the wilderness we passed loads of parked cars, several passed us coming from up the valley and a couple tried to overtake us, Piccadilly Circus or what?! We passed more spots of snow and had to close the windows again as it got colder the higher we climbed. At the top was a car park with a camper van parked in it! From the car park a single-track wound its way up the edge of a man made wall! At the top of the wall was a wooden hut and in the mountainside was an entrance and alongside this a parked car! We walked up the track between banks of snow 15 feet high (Jim wrote HBRO in the snow and drew a house) and on reaching the top the view took our breath away. In the bright sunshine was a lake surrounded by mountain tops covered in snow, in the distance was another arm of the glacier and bobbing about in the water was large chunks of ice. It was quite possibly the most beautiful scene I had ever seen!

 
 
 
Lake at the top of the Valley
 

The wall was made of lumps of granite about 2.5ft by 1ft by some depth and it was over 100ft high and 250m long (sorry for mixing my measurements but 1ft is easier to write than the equivalent cm). We just stood and took in the peace and beauty of the place. Whilst there a Dutch couple arrived, the lady said in excellent English (doesn't it embarrass you the way these foreigners can speak so many languages?!) that it was a reservoir for the power station which was at the bottom of the valley. There are several lakes joined up which give their water to the power station. We wended our way back down the valley and headed back to the hut for dinner and another log fire after another log gathering walk!

Wednesday also dawned bright and sunny, so we decided to do the scenery bit and headed for the Flam railway. It is a proper rail link from Flam to Myrdal where it meets the line from Bergen to Oslo. However, most of the passengers from Flam are tourists just going for the view and to say they have been on the steepest railroad in Europe. The train was just about to leave as we got there so we paid our fare and leapt on board. The views were quite beautiful, with many waterfalls on route. There is one point at which the track divides into 2 to allow the 2 trains that run on it to pass each other. The upwards train has to wait here for a few minutes before the downwards train arrives. After the midway point the train stops again by a huge waterfall, Kjosfossen, with water roaring down the mountain side, at this point some music is played both outside the train (you are invited to alight to view the waterfall) and inside the train and a lady dressed in red comes onto a rock by the waterfall and moves gracefully around. After a couple of minutes she disappears and everyone gets back on the train to continue the journey to Myrdal.

 
 
 
Kjosfossen Waterfall
 

We decided to get off and wait the hour for the next train to take us back down and we had lunch on the platform in bitterly cold winds that whistled around the station. We thought they would not appreciate us sitting in the café and eating our own food. Once we had finished we went in the café to warm up and get a cup of tea/coffee, there were loads of people eating their own food inside!!! There was a souvenir shop selling the usual tat (did not buy anything). We got on the train which was nearly empty (the previous one going back was packed to standing room only). We stopped by the waterfall again and retuned to Flam. At one point the train is inside a tunnel that does 180 degree about turn. The Flam line is 20Km long and climbs 862M with a 1:18 gradient

From Flam we drove a few miles to Gudvangen where we had to wait 2 hours for a ferry to take us back to Kaupanger, this was a 2-hour ferry journey and was our bit of cruising the fjords. It was beautiful, sailing along the fjord with almost vertical walls covered in trees and shrubs and all sorts of greenery. It was quite peaceful except for the throb of the engine and the 10-knot wind whistling past. It was fascinating watching the rock structure and colours change as we went from the smaller Naerofjorden to the main Sognfjorden. The rocks ranged from all shades of grey to pure white! It was a short drive back to Vesterlands and another roasting log fire.

 
 
 
Gudvangen
 

Thursday was cloudy with sunny intervals but quite chilly, so we decided to go to Norsk Bremuseum to the glacier museum. This involved going back over the 'little road' we had taken from Hella when we first set out for Trondheim and hence another toll. The museum was quite fascinating, learning about the ice and how it grinds out the fjords and all sorts of other useless information. Ice under the kinds of pressure that it is under at the bottom of the glacier behaves like a fluid. The Norwegians dug some tunnels under the glacier and where there were holes in the roof the glacier broke through and dropped large stalactite (or it could be stalagmite) type growths down through the roof. There were experiments in the museum to prove that water drains through the gaps in the ice and that under pressure the ice turns to water. There were demonstrations of how the power stations work, as they cannot take the water straight from the rivers as it is so full of bits of rock that it would wreck the turbine blades in no time, so they have little reservoirs where the water is able to drop the stones and these are flushed out at regular intervals.

From Norsk Bremuseum we drove a few miles to Fjaerland which mostly consisted of second hand bookshops and the first real bit of lace I had come across. There was bobbin lace and tatting and mostly crochet and a fair bit of hardanger (a type of embroidery where threads are pulled to make holes in the cloth, thus giving a lace like effect). The lady in the shop had made some of the hardanger and some she had bought in to sell. The only craft books I could find were all to do with dressmaking and crochet in Norwegian. There were hundreds of books written in English but they were all fiction (no wonder the Norwegians speak such good English). We met a couple of Americans (well in their 60s) who were over trying to track down some relatives. They had managed to find his fathers grave and some cousins and they were hoping to find the local vicar so that they could examine the parish records for Fjaerland as that was where his father was buried. About 4.00pm we headed back to Vesterlands, at the toll booth we saw a series I in front of us, it had a 25th anniversary LR club sticker on the back (though neither of us remembered seeing the vehicle before), we followed it almost all the way back to Vesterlands. We had dinner in the café of reindeer steak covered in red wine sauce, it was very tasty and the nicest meal of the whole holiday (and the most expensive!). Jim lit another log fire!

Friday was rainy and miserable. When the clouds come in, Norway is as bad as any where, may be even more so because of the grey rocks everywhere. We had left one indoor event in case of bad weather and today was the day we had to do it. We went to Norsk Villakssenter the Wild Salmon Centre. They had a film in various languages at different times of the day about the life cycle of the salmon and then lots of screens explaining it in detail. There was a salmon shute along side the centre which had captured some returning salmon and you could see them about 2ft away, ugly looking fish! There was a display of fishing rods and reels over the years, the best of which came from Alnwick a town about 10 miles from where Jim was born and brought up in the Northeast of England. After the museum we wandered round Laerdal and saw some very pretty shops. The town is still very much as it was several hundred years ago (except that there are now car parks for the ubiquitous car). We bought some hand made candy and nearly bought a Viking sword (£250 full size broad sword), but we kept our senses and did not buy it. I found some more lace but it was very uninspiring like the last lot and very expensive. We had an early night back to the hut and started to pack up ready for our get away on Saturday.

Saturday was another lovely day. We cleaned the hut and packed up ready to leave for Bergen. We could have stayed in Vesterlands for another day but there was very little left for us to do and to get up on Sunday and make it to the ferry on time would have been difficult, especially as we did not have an alarm clock with us. We drove back the way we had come to Hella, up and over the passes and stopped again at Lapp Camp. There was a reindeer tied to a stake next to the stalls, so we took more photos and Jim bought a revolting tie with an elongated reindeer head on it. We had lunch at a beautiful spot with purpose build picnic tables by a roaring stream and sat sunning ourselves for a few minutes before continuing on to Bergen. When we got to Bergen, which was quite late, we found it very hard to find the centre and then find somewhere to park. By the time we did park the fish market was closing so we never did see what there was to eat. Bergen is a very pretty town, with a couple of small parks, one with a large pond in it and a fountain squirting water 30ft up, lots of interesting statues and some quite striking stone architecture. The main tourist attractions are the old wooden buildings along the quayside, the train and cable car that take you up the mountains side for some wonderful views and the harbour area with some very nice yachts in it. We found a nice coffee shop in the quayside buildings which served the best cakes we had had all holiday, probably because they were cooked on the premises and were very fresh. We took quite a while to find a campsite as all the ones mentioned in the literature we had, we could not find. We ended up camped on the grass behind some huts the owner rented, at roof height! The huts back walls were the earth we were sleeping on!

The Journey Home

We had a dreadful nights sleep, and so got up very early and packed up to go back to Bergen to get the ferry home. We spent more time wandering round Bergen which had some amazing shops with souvenirs in and a designer clothes shop where the designer specialised in felt clothes, the stuff you see on catwalks that no one can really wear because they are too impracticable! Whilst we were waiting for the ship to arrive we sat in the harbour watching the world go by and saw a school of fish start jumping out of the water! Whilst queuing for the ferry we noticed some people in very strange clothes, one chap had a head of very curly ginger hair, it did not look real! Turns out it wasn't, the next day on the ferry I saw him with longish straight black hair! He and his friends had a party on the boat and several of them were dressed in strange clothes for the party. From Bergen the ship followed the coast down to Stavanger where we unloaded some existing passengers and loaded new passengers, whilst in the port the water was full of jellyfish, brown blobs just drifting in the water with the occasional flap of their flappy bits! We spent most of the night in the bar with the band; the girl singer was OK but the chap when he sang made the right noises but did not seem to be forming words! It sounded very odd. The sea was nearly flat; there was a very slight swell which made me feel queasy but not enough to make me sick. We had the best nights sleep for ages in the cabin. Monday morning was overcast and miserable especially as it was the end of our holiday. The boat landed at 2.00pm British time and by quarter past 2 we were on our way, (I guess customs have no need to check for contraband booze). We drove the 300 miles to Winnersh in 6.25 hours with a 1/2-hour stop for food on route. We made it home with no problems from the rover at all. England seemed very flat and boring, smelly, noisy and dirty compared to Norway and I wished we could go back there and then. We will more than likely go back quite possibly in 5 years time. We had a super time and the photos have come out quite well.

Brenda Taylor

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