We packed up, and started on the day’s journey, leaving behind Trolltunga. The weather wasn’t suitable, and it didn’t look like it would be for some time.
It was only a short drive before we encountered traffic stalling progress on the road. I assumed it was construction, but it turned out to be people attempting to get a park to see a waterfall. We got lucky, and found a spot, so decided to see what the fuss was about.
The spray from the falls was violent, shrouding the road and the car park in a fine mist. It was a glorious thundering roar, and was incredible to see so much water. I took the drone up, curious to see just how large this waterfall was. I’m glad I did, as what we could see was only the foot of a much larger set of falls.
As we continued our drive, we passed by impossibly beautiful lakes, which only got more and more reflective, until it got to the point where the reflection was just as vivid as the real views.
I fell in love with this distant boat shed, and the view gave me feelings of a kaleidoscope.
It wasn’t an easy day’s drive, with several sections undergoing major road works, and the traffic was left to fend for themselves to negotiate their way along the single lane road. It was a long day of driving, and we only managed to cover 200km, with only minor stops along the way to service the van, lunch, and to photograph what we saw from the side of the road.
We stopped for the night just short of the start of the hike for the Pulpit Rock. It’s not possible to camp overnight in the official car park (not that we’d want to pay if we had a choice), so we made do with a small picnic area. We weren’t alone with this plan, and there was a large group of German’s already set up, plus a few other motorhomes filling this small rest area. We had to park on a bit of a slope, not too far from a busy motorway. It wasn’t a great night’s sleep, and in hindsight, I’d have preferred to have stopped a little further away, and just woken up 30-minutes earlier rather than have such a terrible night’s sleep.
Priekestolen – Pulpit Rock
With the help of an alarm, we were up at 7AM, and on our way to the official car park. Actually, we were up and ready to get on our way, but in the night, we’d had another two motorhomes arrive and park us in. Thankfully they didn’t take too long to wake up after I’d started our van and knocked on their windows…
Risa stayed in bed until we’d parked at the start of the trail. We had a quick breakfast, and were on our way by 9AM. Of course, I’d have preferred to have started earlier, but there is a lot of momentum getting started in the mornings. Plus, the weather wasn’t looking great, with thick low lying clouds potentially obstructing the views. I had one last check of the weather, and it looked good, with it forecast to clear up before lunch, and no rain on the radar, or in the forecast.
We made up for the slow start by keeping a solid pace. The trail started really easily, along a wide gravel path and steps, but it quickly became more freeform with rocks and roots to negotiate.
It was busy, but we had enough space to pass the slower walkers. About a third of the way into the hike, I was feeling really good, and decided to take off and leave Risa to complete it at her own pace. It felt great to stretch the legs and make my lungs and heart work again. We do lots of exercise, but it’s all low intensity walking. Of course, I made this decision while charging up a hill, and neglected to let Risa know my plans. I was in the ‘zone’ and I was confident she’d be OK on her own – it’s not like we’re able to have a conversation while we’re walking anyway.
There were all sorts on this climb; young children, dogs and the elderly. It’s marketed as a climb that anyone can do, and that’s probably true to an extent. The trail is mostly flat, but there are some slippery rocks/roots, and some really uneven parts of the trail that would be difficult in bad shoes or with bad balance.
It was only 4.5km, and it took a shade under an hour to reach the top. It was far from racing, but it was a moderate amount of effort to maintain the pace up some of the steeper sections of the trail.
The last 800m felt like the longest. I could tell that I was getting close, and kept anticipating the view, but it always continued to feel just around the corner. But, when that last corner was passed, and I had my first view, I was laughing with joy. It was incredible. I’ve seen plenty of pictures, so had a reasonable expectation of what I was going to see, but still I wasn’t prepared for how epic the view was.
I didn’t have to wait too long for Risa to make it to the top, who was not so impressed at being left behind. While waiting, I sat and admired (truthfully, I cringed at) the other tourists attempting their yoga poses for Instagram likes – maybe they were Tinder profile photos, who knows, they just looked terrible.
There was a rock just before the main pulpit rock which seemed like a great place to stand on for photos. It wasn’t until I was walking back to the main trail that I realised the giant crack I had to step over, and how perilous this position was.
The pulpit itself lulled you into a false sense of security. It was quite large, and quite flat, and it wasn’t until you came closer to the edge that the gut wrenching began. To be honest, we both felt more nervous seeing other people sitting/standing at the edge than doing the same ourselves. The rock concaved away from the top, so when we mustered the courage to peer over the edge, we couldn’t really see what was immediately beneath us, only the ground far, far below, really causing my stomach to rise up in my chest.
There was no wind, and the sun started to break through. We had a fair amount of space, so I took our little Mavic Pro out for a flight. As usual, it got a lot of mostly positive attention, with people asking questions and generally being amazed how far it can fly, and at the quality of the images it produces. Of course, the aerial perspective was incredible, and truly gave an honest sense of the scale.
We spent close to two-hours at the summit, walking around and looking at it from different perspectives, as well as snacking on lunch. By the time we’d started on our descent, it was midday. I hadn’t noticed at first, as it had been a slow and steady increase in tourists, but now when I looked back at the pulpit, it was starting to look mighty crowded.
And then we finally joined the return trail, after free-styling from a distant view point, shocked at just how busy the paths had become. It is wide enough for two people to pass side-by-side, but no more. There were giant queues of people making their ascent, stuck in slow moving traffic. I felt sorry for them, as I couldn’t imagine anything less enjoyable. I couldn’t help but think of all the unpleasantness from riding on the London Underground, which took me to dark places and dark thoughts. It seemed that a cruise ship worth of Spaniards had just arrived, and they were all eager to push and shove their way past everyone else to get to the pulpit. Truly unpleasant ending to what was a beautiful morning.
We left at around 1:30-2PM, and the tour buses were still dumping more people here. As we drove back down the access road, we saw that there was a large queue of cars waiting to enter the car park, too. If it hasn’t already been stressed enough by me – get here early, you’ll enjoy it more.
We headed south, catching yet another ferry. As we headed further south, the mountains and the valleys flattened out, and we started seeing farms and flat agricultural lands. The sun was also shining, blessing our skin with a warmth we’d long forgotten about.
Trollpikken – Troll’s Dick
Yes, this is actually the name of something we were going to visit. Since it was kind-of on our way to Sweden, we went to visit a recently popularised attraction that our Norwegian friends had told us about. It was certainly much less known than Pulpit Rock, with no signage until we arrived in the small car park. Unsurprisingly, we were the only non-Norwegian vehicles in the car park, which is the first time on this trip. There was a small map showing directions (all in Norwegian), which involved roughly 2.3km along bitumen, gravel, and eventually mud.
The bitumen took us past some neighbouring farms. Risa spotted a black and white cat enjoying the sunshine, only to see another cat pop up out of the shadows. Then another two, and another three, and eventually I lost count of all the black cats.
The gravel path rose at a constant gradient, and it was now that I realised my legs weren’t quite so fresh after our hike this morning. It felt longer than 900m. Eventually we came to the crossroad that took us from the gravel towards Trollpikken, and immediately the trail became a whole lot messier. Judging by the level of mud, this is reasonably popular hike. We did our best to pick a clean trail, avoiding the giant sinkholes of thick mud. It was fun though, and it was nice scenery to be hiking up.
The weather had deteriorated during our climb, changing from beautiful sunshine to cool and grey skies by the time we finally reached our goal. It can’t be compared to the epic views of Pulpit Rock. It’s surprisingly small (that’s what she said), and to me it resembles more of a nose – like a Japanese Tengu. That said, climbing out onto the phallus required a bit of scrambling. I eventually found a small crack at the base that was much easier to climb out onto the dick – words I don’t think I’ve ever written before.
We’d arrived at a good time, and had 15-ish minutes up there to ourselves, allowing us plenty of time to take photos. The next group arrived, and were growing impatient, so we climbed down to let them have their fun, too.
It seems that not everyone loves this attraction. Earlier in the year some vandals attacked it with a hammer drill, breaking the rock off at the base. But, thankfully some crowdsourcing chipped in, and it was reattached, good as new.
It was a bit of a laugh, and a small and enjoyable hike. I wouldn’t have gone drastically out of our way to do it, but glad that we’d been in the area. We probably could have spent the night in the car park, but decided to keep on driving towards Oslo, shortening our day tomorrow just a little bit.
As alluded to in the last paragraph, today was a day of driving. It was around 400km to Oslo, which in our van, is a full days driving. Thankfully for the sake of progress, the epic landscapes had chilled out a little, and we were more-or-less driving along flat roads/rolling hills – and in the sunshine.
It took a while to notice, but we eventually saw that there were very few vehicles from other countries. A few days ago, every other car seemed like a German motorhome! I’d heard that they invaded during July/August, but didn’t quite realise how true it was going to be.
To break the monotony, we made a quick stop in a seaside town of Arendal. It was described as one of the most beautiful wooden seaside towns in Norway, so how could we not. The sun was shining, which wasn’t a co-incidence, as it is also known for being the sunniest region of Norway.
It was a quick visit, walking around the marinas, and wandering through the smaller streets of the area. There were plenty of colourful wooden buildings, but we weren’t sure if we’d missed something, or had just unrealistic expectations.
It was good to break up the long day of driving, but I don’t think it needed to be seen or explored – and I’d probably have preferred a little more time in Oslo.
Back on the motorway, it was a succession of tolls. They were quite small, some as low as 6NOK (€0.60), but they seemed to be every few kilometres. I’m still unsure about the automatic tolling system, so I guess I’ll wait for that letter to arrive at my old flat to learn how much it cost us for the day – and hopefully they have correctly identified us as being sub 3.5t.
We were back in Oslo, which is the first time we’ve revisited a city on this trip, making the blog post rather confusing for continuity.