After another late evening driving, it took us until after 11am to get back on the move. We continued up the road we were on, which I hadn’t realised was actually in our itinerary and which led to the Nigardsbeen glacier. We soon reached the turnoff, passed the information centre and paid the 40kr road toll to get to the much closer carpark. There was quite a few motorhomes lined up in the carpark which we assume had stayed overnight and had we known last night we might have pushed on and spent the evening with a glacier for a view.
There was a footpath from the carpark to the base of the glacier along the edge of the lake or you could take the boat and bypass the climbing. We decided to walk there and get the boat back. The path wended its way over boulders and up rickety wooden steps just faintly marked out by an occasional red trail mark splashed on the rocks. It ended up being a little over two and a half kilometers, taking us about an hour, and the bright sun soon had us out of our coats. I had my coat back on once we reached the base of the glacier as the wind coming down the valley was quite crisp.
It was possible to get right up to the edge of the ice which was the most incredible turquoise blue colour. Looking up at the face of the glacier where it had cracked and melted, we could see fantastic, almost organic shapes in the ice, reminiscent of many a science fiction movie. Surrounding us was rock and gravel where the glacier had ground down the surrounding mountains over many uncountable years and the meltwater running out and into the lake below was a milky white from fine ground particles.
Glacier sliding down the valley
We were here
We fell into conversation with a couple, John and Hana (sp), from Denmark after offering to take their photos for them. John has lived in Norway for nearly twenty years, he told us, and offered to give us some ideas on where to go next. We agreed gratefully and arranged to meet them in the carpark when we had finished our photography. We eventually ran out of angles from which to take shots and reluctantly walked back to the dock to meet the boat. Here we met John and his friends again, and he gave us the boat ticket his wife wasn’t going to use as she had decided to walk back to the carpark, a generous offer which saved us 30kr since we then only needed one ticket.
Hana had set out their lunch by the time everyone on the boat reached the cars and we quickly retrieved our chairs and joined them with map and notebook in hand to receive our guidance. John should be a tour guide, we think. He gave us good clear explanations, including the road numbers, and a description of the areas. He showed us on his map where they have travelled in the past and I am not surprised he was so knowledgeable since they seem to have covered a vast amount of this part of Norway.
Back on the road again by 5pm, this endless daylight allows for a lot of touring around, and back down the valley past last nights’ parking spot. We paused briefly to photograph Kvinnafossen, a waterfall enthusiastically wetting the road we were driving but found the angle too close to get a photo we liked. Just around the corner was the ferry terminal from Hella to both Vangsnes and Dragsvik. It was a quick ten minutes or so to Dragsvik costing 85kr and although I jumped out to take a photo, there was no need to get out of your vehicle.
As we were climbing back up into the hills a sign lured us toward the Urnes Stave Church, the oldest in Norway built in about 1130. The road wound steeply back to the fjord below to a closely built village and when we arrived back at the waters edge it was to find we would need to take another ferry to reach the site of the stave church. We decided against it and continued on our way.
Heading onward up yet another steep and winding mountain road (dash cam remembered too late to record) on the Gaularfjellet National Tourist Route, we found ourselves back above the snow line briefly and then into an area which seemed more scattered holiday homes than permanent residences or farms. The lupins were gone from the roadside, just occurring sporadically in gardens.
Above the snowline again...I love this photo
Unlike earlier tourist routes, we were unable to find a place to park which suited us for quite a distance. One spot was considered briefly but as Mark was still going strong, it was rejected and we continued on. Autoroute was consulted and showed nothing in our vicinity which is not really a surprise since Norway has a ‘Right to Roam’ law allowing people to camp almost anywhere unless there is a sign specifically stating not to. Why bother to record camp spots when you can stop wherever you like?
We drove through the towns of Sande then Førde and found ourselves in the vicinity of a wild camp on Autoroute recommended by the people from the Europe by Camper blog beside Jølstravatnet Lake. Dinner was microwave-reheated leftovers at 11pm looking out over the lake at a fisherman in his boat in the clear light of day.
Lakeside free camping