Monday, 31 July 2017

Monday 31 July - Sand

Where's Bertie? He's in a motorhome parking area, with his nose about 5m from the edge of the fjord, in the small town of Sand (exact location: 59.485, 6.24716).

Jarred rudely from a deep slumber into wakefulness at 1.20 this morning, it felt like we were on a ship. A blustery wind had picked up and was hitting Bertie side on. Before putting serious thought into whether we should move to put his end to the wind, I groped for my phone and looked up the weather forecast. Apparently we were at the peak of the wind and in two hours time it was going to be calm again. Still being rocked, we went back to sleep.

It had calmed by the time the alarm went off, but it was also raining - and not just a gentle pitter patter. That rain continued off and on as we breakfasted and made our way through a considerable succession of tunnels*, to the town of Sand.

There are only six motorhome parking slots on the old quay here, but three of them were empty, so we slotted Bertie in, marvelled at what a nice spot it is, and had a little look around the immediate area before the next shower had us hastening back indoors for elevenses.

View from Bertie looking left, towards the town

View from Bertie looking slightly to the right.

A trip to the Tourist Office between showers proved to be an initiative test that was failed by everyone we saw there. The door handles (which did press downwards) worked by lifting them upwards. Obviously...

We managed to shelter from a torrential shower there, and to pick up quite a few useful leaflets, before heading back for lunch.

More rain, and some accompanying thunder, kept us indoors until at 3pm I had finished the crochet project on which I have been working and could stand sitting around no longer. Fully waterproofed we went off to look at the local fish ladder. Alas, even though we are right at the peak migration time, we saw no action. I wonder if that was because of how high and fast the river is running at the moment?

The higher flow rate applied to the location where we were standing. Just after I took the snap it increased to 98.8 cubic metres per second. That's a lot of water!

Just up the road from the falls... a bridge which is much touted as a point of interest by the Tourist Board. Indeed, it was voted Bridge of the Year in 2014 by some magazine. Personally, I thought it an ugly construction that didn't sit nicely in its surroundings at all:

Moreover, it's not even a functional bridge for anyone who won't walk across a mesh floor suspended high above fast moving water:

We did, of course, walk across. Then back again. We'll likely cross again tomorrow when we plan (weather permitting) to take a walk on t'other side of the river.

It hadn't stopped raining the whole time we were out, so Bertie's shower is currently hung with wet waterproofs and we are now in for the rest of the day ... although I do see that there is some sunshine heading our way. Wonder if it will last more than ten minutes?

(*I forgot to mention a couple of days ago that we went through a tunnel which lost so much height that, to keep the gradient to an acceptable degree, it put in a 360 degree loop whilst underground.)

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Sunday 30 July - Nesflaten

Where's Bertie? He's in a picnic area on the edge of a lake at the village of Nesflaten (exact location: 59.75157, 6.78482).

Having driven much further than intended to find somewhere to park last night, we only had 16km to go this morning. We could, of course, have covered that distance yesterday, but with the small capacity of picnic area for which we were aiming, and with it having free electric, it seemed highly unlikely there would be space. We thus went for our usual tactic of arriving between 9 and 10, when people usually start to move off for the day.

To our surprise, there were only 3 vans in residence when we arrived (all just having an alfresco breakfast), and there are four electric sockets, so we parked up and plugged in.

A while later the aged Land Rover conversion next to us left, so we moved to their spot. A while later a German van in a less obtrusive position left and we moved again. That is where we are still sitting.

View from Bertie

The day had started fine (a good job too - in last night's rain I was all ready to leave Norway at the earliest opportunity and search for somewhere drier and warmer) and it was showing no signs of deteriorating after we had finished an early elevenses, so a stroll around the perimeter of the village was in order.

I have no information as to the history of this futuristic power station building which sits on the edge of the village.

Weather calm enough to turn the water into mirrors

By the time we had completed our circuit the day had warmed up enough for us to sit around outside for a few hours, enjoying our lunch at one of the picnic tables. Then cloud came over, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped and I decided it was time for another walk, choosing a route that started on the opposite side of the village.

This one didn't go so well. I easily located the start of the path, but it was so overgrown that I gave up just after the first switchback. Given that I ran the last 100m or so back to Bertie, as a violent shower came through, I was glad not to have pushed on any further in the hope of the path improving.

The near view, of the power station, was a bit of an eyesore. The far view was greatly more pleasing.

By the time I got back, our only remaining neighbours (also German), had gone. Since then we have been on our own. It seems positively bizarre that no one else has arrived today (it is now 8pm). Yesterday the motorhome parking in Odda was pretty full, at 200NOK per day, with no services except electricity (even the service point is a municipal one, located in the next street). Most campsites seem to charge around 200-300NOK per night with electricity and showers often (usually?) extra. Yet here we are enjoying a stunning and incredibly quiet location, with impeccable toilet facilities (clean, modern, soap, hand towels and hot water) and electricity for free - and by ourselves.

Bonus snap: That's a lot of logs ready for next winter.

(Random extra note: as with most shops, the supermarket here is closed on a Sunday. Yet it still has stock, in the form of bags of compost and displays of pot plants, outside. This is not unique to this sleepy village - we've seen the same at plenty of other places, including in towns. One has to deduce from this that, even with the high prices in Norway, theft must be rare.)

Saturday 29 July - Odda

Where's Bertie? He's in a deep pull-in alongside route 13 just north of Lono (exact location: 59.75157, 6.78482).

An early alarm had us on the road before 7 this morning. There was a certain amount of grumbling, but we knew that we needed to be early to the parking area for today's walk, as it's a particularly popular one. Being a Saturday with some sunshine forecast would make it even more so.

For a chunk of the drive along the scenic fjord, with valley sides covered in orchards (it's a major fruit growing region) I was busy trying to download maps for our walk, so I didn't get to enjoy the scenery as much as I would have liked. I did pay attention as we started bumping our way through a set of road works which looked like a building site, as someone had nicked the road surface for a few kilometres:

The wheels fell off our plans (not off Bertie!) six kilometres from where we were going. There a sign prohibited motorhomes from proceeding any further. Back in the days of Colin we could have ignored that sign on the basis that he was a van, but we really can't deny Bertie's standing as a motorhome, so around we turned. Yes, we could have parked in the overflow/motorhome parking area, but that put us 6km from where we wanted to be and I wasn't feeling inclined to remove our flexibility as to start and finish times by catching a bus.

Thus we didn't get to walk 21km (probably with unbearable crowds) to stand on this:

With no fallback plan, we simply headed for the nearby town of Odda to have breakfast and consider what to do instead.

Taking solace in a huge bun for elevenses. The Norwegians do a fine range of such buns.

It must have been about 8am when we arrived in the town car park. It was gone 5pm when we left*. Much pottering was done in the meantime, as well as much perusal of the tourist brochures by me.

We also established that the town is in a pleasant position at the head of the fjord, with these views along the water:

Deciding that we could do better than the town car park for the night (although there is no prohibition on overnighting, even though there's an official motorhome park almost next door which costs 200NOK and only benefits by having a view and electricity), we eventually decided to move on.

Being picky, we didn't like the first spot we tried, and there are always so many options in Norway that we thought we'd just drive on a while. A parking area by a tremendous waterfall would have done the job nicely if it had been four hours later, but at tea time it was full to bursting.

Then came a series of ski car parks that we either rejected as not being scenic enough, or for having a 150NOK parking fee, or for having a prohibition on motorhomes. Then came the road along which I'd wanted us to go for a walk tomorrow, but there we were thwarted by a width restriction. It was another of those days!

Eventually, on this narrow road where we thought there would be no options, we found this pull-in and immediately saw it's potential as our home for the night. We are far enough off the road and the road is a quiet one anyway.

The scenery is superb. It's just a pity it is being marred by low cloud and rain. The rain started about 2pm and has hardly let up since, so at least we can grasp a silver lining from not being able to do the walk we wanted today: if the day had gone to plan, the return leg would have been in the rain.

(Post blog note: so often when out backpacking we have plonked ourselves down on the ground for lunch, only to find a bench just around the next corner, or have settled for a mediocre pitch, only to find the ideal spot within the first ten minutes of the next day. So it was this morning when we passed at least eight places better than the one in which we had spent last night. But, as I've said before: they all look the same once it is dark or the blinds are drawn at bedtime.)

(*There is a 2-hour time limit, applicable from 8-13 on a Saturday. We took our chances with flouting it.)

Friday, 28 July 2017

Friday 28 July - Kinsarvik

Where's Bertie? He's in a walkers' car park 2.3km SE of Kinsarvik (exact location: 60.36351, 6.74423).

From where we were in Norheimsund yesterday afternoon, we could have driven south a while, jumped on a ferry, then driven through a succession of long tunnels to pop out at Odda. That would have been a journey of 57km.

What I decided we should do instead was to drive Turistveg Hardanger, which runs along the edges of a couple of fjords, but instead of catching two ferries to cut across the end of the fjord (£30, 32 minutes plus waiting time), we would drive around the end (total driving distance: 127km). What I didn't know, in making this decision (and I only didn't know because I hadn't taken the trouble to check the info in the tourist brochure for this area) was that the road around the end of the water involved two long tunnels separated by a suspension bridge, incurring a toll of £15. Added to the £4.50 toll earlier in the journey, not to mention the cost of fuel of the longer route, and it was looking like an expensive tourist route, and all for scenery no better than we have seen in lots of other places.

The highlight of the route around the end of the fjord was that it involved roundabouts inside of the tunnels. As SatNav doesn't work in tunnels, it was a good job the navigator was paying attention.

I had set the SatNav for a walkers' car park, with the thought of using it for elevenses and with the hope there would be a suitable little route for us to walk. However, as I had no useful information about the routes available, as we approached the turn I gave Mick the option of continuing a while further before stopping. That he nearly did, but I'm glad that he decided, at the last moment, to make the turn after all.

The car park was already fairly busy when we arrived and the vast majority of the number plates were foreign (mainly German, Dutch and Belgian). So much for my belief that I was taking us to some off-the-tourist-trail walking location! It seems that we were the only people not to know anything of this place.

The walk we took came in at around 8 miles and visited four very impressive waterfalls - far more so than the two we saw yesterday. Of course, the photos don't convey the size of them, nor the magnitude of the flow, but here are a few snaps anyway:

The first fall

No 2

No 3

Heading to No 4

No 4

Looking back down to the fjord

We could have moved on after we got back, but this car park seems perfectly suitable for spending the night and I don't know that the same is true about the place we want to be in the morning (weather permitting), so here we will stay.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Thursday 27 July - To Hardangerfjorden

Where's Bertie? He's at a picnic area alongside route 7, between Øystese and Ålvik (exact location: 60.39633, 6.31174).

We didn't leap up and leave Bergen before our ticket expired at 0849 this morning. Instead, I flung some clothes over my PJs and went and bought another 3 hours of parking (10NOK per hour and, for reasons I didn't understand, half an hour free). The plan was that we would wait for the rain to ease and go for a run before leaving.

The morning wore on and it obviously hadn't seen the forecast, because the rain didn't ease. Declarations were made all around that "I'm not going out in that!". Away we packed and off we went.

An 'interesting' route was taken to get out of Bergen, but it did achieve avoiding all toll roads, and in clouds of spray we headed east.

Our first stop was for lunch at a picnic area by a waterfall (is there any location in Norway that isn't by a waterfall?!):

If it had been a nice sunny day I would have been tempted to take a dip in that pool

Our next stop was also at a waterfall. One of the most popular in Norway, so the signs told us, but I'm sure many claim that status. The particular attraction of this one is that you can walk behind the 50m drop, via an engineered walkway.

Looking at it from the bottom

Looking out from behind the water

Me, standing behind the water

Contrary to the forecast, which told me that it was now dry and that we were experiencing sunny intervals, it was still raining, so we weren't inclined to explore any of the rest of the area. Instead we tootled the 3km down the road to a supermarket where, amongst other things, I was able to buy a red pepper (admittedly a very small one) for the seemingly inconceivably small price of 53p. I think I'll be dancing in the aisles once back in the UK when I can buy three medium sized peppers for 89p!

We didn't go very much further. Since lunchtime we had been on another Turistveg and, soon after the supermarket, we got onto a section that looked like it should be very attractive. The problem was that, in the rain and murk, we had barely any view. Better to stop at the first opportunity, we thought, and hope for better in the morning. So that is what we did. As picnic areas go, this isn't the best for overnight, being right next to the road, but I'd rather have some traffic noise and get to enjoy the route tomorrow than push on for a quiet spot tonight.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Wednesday 26 July - Bergen

Where’s Bertie? He’s at the motorhome parking at the (disused?) Bergenhalle, a few kilometres outside of the centre of Bergen. (Exact location: 60.35392, 5.35918)

Reckoning that the most likely time to find a slot vacant at the motorhome parking in Bergen was sometime between 9 and 10 am, we arrived at quarter past eight, thinking that we could sit outside and have breakfast, waiting for someone to leave.

It was a promising sign to see a motorhome heading along the road towards us as we approached and our luck was incredible. There was just one slot vacant, and it was one with electricity (the price of 150NOK to park here for 24 hours includes electric, but there are fewer electric points than there are spaces). After 35 days without mains power, that was exciting. Aside from charging all of the things that we can’t charge off 12v (vacuum cleaner, window vac, beard trimmer), it meant that we could finally get the clippers out and have haircuts. People passing by on the pavement outside the parking area, did stare at our alfresco barbers.

The tram into Bergen stops a minute’s walk down the road from the parking, so once we had drunk tea (Footnote 1), had breakfast, drunk coffee, eaten buns, had haircuts, made a packed lunch, faffed etc, off we headed into town.

Bergen is, surely, most well known for its old town (Bryggen), dating from the eleventh century, but actually rebuilt any number of times since, albeit in the same style and using the same construction techniques as the original buildings. I took some particularly badly composed shots of it:

Note that the two middle buildings are currently represented by printed fabric wrappings, as they are currently undergoing a £4m renovation project.

The guide books and the tourist brochures told us we had to wander the alleys through the old town, and we did as we were told…

…although not before we had taken a wander around the fort, where some dress-rehearsals were in progress on an open-air stage. I didn’t take a snap of the performers, but here is part of the fort, with Mick pondering whether to spend £7 on a Cornish pasty from the Pasty Company:

Our trip to the cathedral didn’t come to anything as it is currently closed for major renovations…

More printed wrapping fabric pretending to be the building behind

…but we were able to go to St John’s Church instead, which is (apparently) often mistaken for the cathedral due to its grandness and elevated position:

With hindsight, I wish that we had come here for two days and bought a Bergen Card for the same period. It wouldn’t offer us good value for the 1-day card (240NOK), but with the 2-day version (310NOK) the combination of hitting the museums (Footnote 2) and having inclusive public transport would have made it worthwhile. As I didn’t reach that conclusion until far too late in the day, we made do with just our wandering around, until our enthusiasm for wandering waned and we made our way back to the tram, thence Bertie.

bonus snap

Doing a tiny bit of hand washing on our return (with the benefit of electricity to heat some water and a water tap close to hand), I thought that it would be easier to rinse it by taking the bowl over to a mains-pressure tap. I was surprised indeed to fill the bowl at the outside sink and find the water too hot for my hands. A sink in the car park of an exhibition hall, supplying piping hot water – who would have thought? If the weather was better for drying, and the hour of day earlier, I would have washed much more.


1. I’m so unused to having mains power that I put the kettle on the gas, before remembering that we had electric and switching it over to the electric ring. It had been on there a while before I remembered that we have an electric kettle!

2. I was particularly intrigued by the Leprosy Museum; Mick suspected that visiting it would cost and arm and a leg…

Tuesday 25 July - Turistveg Gaularfjell and Much Indecision

Where's Bertie? He's in a little pull-in that sits perpendicular to a very minor road, about 250m away from the E39, not far from a tiny place called Hjelmås. (Exact location: 60.59978, 5.37507)

To go to Bergen or not to go to Bergen, that was the question. We pondered it over breakfast, made no decision and set off on the basis that we didn't really need to decide for another 40km. We were going to take a drive along Turistveg Gaularfjell - one of many tourist routes dotted over the country, so designated as they offer the best scenery - but if we were going to go to Bergen then it made sense for us only to do the first bit of the route along Route 13, before cutting back along another arm of the Turistveg on the more minor road 610.

Good reflections

With a couple of stops to marvel at the mirror-like surface of a lake and to contemplate a walk, we had still made no decision, so we continued on past the turn for the 610 and went to look at a waterfall (the main feature of this particular Turistveg being waterfalls; there are 27 notable ones in the area).

Looking downstream from the bridge over the waterfall

The fall wasn't as impressive as others we've seen, but over elevenses in the car park there, we did finally make a decision. We would backtrack to the 610 and go to Bergen.

Lunch was had at the picnic area above another waterfall, down to which we walked after eating. That one wasn't particularly impressive either. Perhaps this Turistveg is good if you do all of it, but the bits we did were just pleasant rather than anything special.

Postprandial strollette to another of the falls

Another efficient ferry journey was required to get us to our night stop. The ferries effectively form part of the road network (sometimes there are bridges, sometimes tunnels, and sometimes ferries). This was a 20 minute crossing being serviced by three ferries constantly trundling back and forth, as this crossing is a link in the E39 trunk road. As boats that look like floating roads go (there's not much to these boats other than an open car deck), this one was quite good, in that we had a view. Most have sides so high that you can't see out.

A ferry with a view - it helped that we were right at the front

The night stop for which we were aiming was a one-vehicle sized and we were in luck, finding it vacant. A few more vehicles came along during the afternoon with obvious hopes of staying here, but it was a couple of Austrian lads in a small VW who were lucky. They tried to pull in just as I got back from a run and as there was clearly space behind us for them, I offered to move to give them access, as long as they were happy to be blocked in overnight. The downside of having close neighbours, however, is that we can hear them talking and we can't play an audiobook or podcast through Bertie's speakers to avoid disturbing them.

More reflections on today's running route

Tomorrow it is Bergen. The place we want to stay there has space for 28 vans. Pure luck will determine whether we get a space. Fingers crossed!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Monday 24 July - Stryn and NE of Vassenden

Where's Bertie? He's at a picnic area just off the E39 to the NE of Vassenden (exact location: 61.51098, 6.15764)

If we'd had a crystal ball at our disposal last night, we would not have gone for the easy option of spending another night in Oldendale. In the absence of such a device, however, and with all weather forecasts telling us we had 24 more hours of sunshine to enjoy, we had no idea that we were about to experience an extreme weather event.

The rain started around 7pm and it was so unexpected that we assumed it was just a passing shower. About an hour later it started to thunder and the rain picked up to torrential levels. Little did we know that the thunder storm was going to continue for 16 hours.

It didn't make for good sleeping conditions (aside from rain battering a tin roof just above our heads, those claps of thunder didn't half echo around the valley and some were big enough to rattle the crockery). There was thus some tiredness this morning as we set off down the valley at around 8am, with the SatNav set for a spot 61km away. We intended to stop there for breakfast.

A couple of minor land slips were passed on our way out of the valley, but a passage through each had already been cleared and the remaining debris coned off, so we didn't think much of it (other than the promptness with which it had been cleared).

Down on the main road, we were only about 18km from our destination when a flashing police car came past us - a remarkable event as it is the first time we have seen any police presence since Oslo, five weeks ago.

Unfortunately, we soon caught up with that car again - at the point where it had just shut the road. Or, the absence of a road. Gushing out onto the fjord was a very long trail of trees and debris, including, apparently, bits of road and house. A major landslide had taken out a chunk of hill and everything in its path.

We wasted no time with photos, as not far back along the road we had gone through two streams which had spilled onto the tarmac which were also carrying rocks and debris. It suddenly seemed important to get back past those ASAP.

A 40km backtrack to Stryn was made (that's where we were 2 days ago) and we settled into the Strynhalle car park for a day of doing not much, accepting that we were going to have to take a detour.

Much sitting around was done until finally, just before noon the thunder stopped. With the rain easing to just light showers, we ventured out, first to the supermarket across the road, then, after lunch, to the tourist office for a bit of wifi. The latter excursion was of particular benefit as there we learnt that the alternative route we were planning to take was also closed. We were now looking at a really long detour.

Leaving the tourist office what should we find outside but sunshine! That was unexpected! It continued whilst we visited the service point and made our way out of town.

The new route required a ferry and the queue seemed long, filling the waiting-lanes and spilling right back up the road. We turned out to be the last vehicle to fit on the second ferry and thus once the ticket chap had taken our money, he was at liberty to chat, starting by telling us he was half English. He confirmed that, with the road closures, the ferry was ridiculously busy today, but said he thought it was worse for those heading north. He wasn't wrong. That queue went back a looooong way down the road on the other side.

Checking (roadworks and road closure info) whilst on the ferry it seemed that whilst our original route was closed until further notice with only a statement of 'will not reopen today', the closure on the E39 had disappeared from the listing. I took that as news that it had reopened. So it had, but the extent of the damage was evident as we went along. The carriageway itself was undamaged, but every dirt track or driveway which met the road (and there are lots of those) had deep water grooves torn into it, and a pile of gravel and grit piled next to the road where it had been scraped out of the way. In one area a coned off lane contained boulders and tree trunks. Elsewhere I saw a scattering of big, round, plastic-wrapped bales of hay against trees at the bottom of a field. Looking around they had clearly come from a pile outside of a farm on the other side of the road. Crops and meadows had flattened areas where fast flowing water must have been just a few hours before.

Over ninety kilometres of driving (plus a ferry) took us to the place where we had intended to have breakfast this morning (a total diversion of 130km to get to somewhere we were only 15km from when we had to turn back this morning). We got there to find it unsuitable for a night stop in the current conditions (it was raining again by this time and a dirt track next to a river seemed ill advised).

The picnic area/swimming beach where we've ended up should do the job nicely for us (even though all the best spots were already taken) and hopefully the weather will be fully calm again by tomorrow. The forecast says it will be, but then it also told me last night and twice this morning, whilst rain was battering us and thunder shaking us, that we were sitting under blue skies with no chance of rain...

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Sunday 23 July - Birksdalsbreen

Where's Bertie? He's back at the picnic area in Oldendale where he spent last night.

I used the fact that it is Sunday as justification for a lie-in and thus it was gone 7.45 by the time we hauled ourselves out of bed. By then a few tour buses had already passed and one had disgorged its chattering passengers right outside our door, so they could each take a few snaps of the view before chattily re-embarking three minutes later.

Ten minutes later we were following them to where the road ends at the head of the valley. The parking fee there was more reasonable than expected: 50NOK (about £5) allowed us to stay until 2300. If we'd wanted to stay overnight it would have been 160NOK.

The need for breakfast delayed us from getting straight out the door, so it was gone half nine by the time we started heading up towards the Birksdalsbreen arm of the Jostendalsbreen glacier, the latter being the largest glacier in Europe.

On setting out I knew nothing about the Birksdalsbreen. I now know that it is an immensely popular destination, with the occupants of the tour buses (not to mention those using the huge car park) not even needing to walk the 3km up the easy track to the foot of the ice. There is the option of spending 220NOK on being transported up the first 2.5km in an 8-seater golf-cart-esque vehicle ('Troll Cars' as the PR peeps have christened them, the Norwegian tourist boards do like the troll theme).

Of course, we walked up, thinking that rather than visiting the foot of the glacier we would take a route uo a nearby summit which stands at around 1300m. As it went, once we got to the turn and reviewed the route map and information there we decided it would be more effort than we wanted to expend (not to mention that, unlike on the info board in the car park, it was now labelled a black 'expert' trail, instead of a red 'difficult', which suggested more exposure than I would be happy to accept). So we went with the crowds to look at this:

We tarried a while, but being in the shade up there, sought out some sun lower down for elevenses. It wasn't a bad spot we found for coffee and pastries:

The glacier was behind me as I took this snap

Back down at the visitor centre, information panels transformed the outing into an educational one. The photos showing the position of the arm of the glacier over the years were particularly interesting (it grew through the 1980s and peaked in the mid nineties, before retreating again). This, for example, is how it looked in 2006...

...and here is a similar shot I took today:

Back at Bertie we could then have left the valley and continued on our southbound trajectory, but we were parked in a nice location with a massive-drop waterfall on one side of us and the Birksdalsbreen on the other, and I quite fancied nipping back up to the glacier later in the day to see it with the sun on it.

After lunch, that's what we did.

The track leading up the river crosses, at one point, below a short, but very forceful, waterfall (up to 10,000 litres per second, apparently). It was quite a sight this morning, spraying all over the track, complete with a full-circle rainbow; with the increased flow in the heat of the afternoon the force was noticeably higher, as was the spray. It amused us to see people donning waterproofs to walk through that very short section. We did get a bit damp, but in the heat it only took minutes to dry.

Was it worth the second visit? Yep, I'd say so. Compare this snap with the first one above:

Back in the car park, and after my daily session of consulting resources to decide where we might go next (a particularly long session today; there are so many options), back down the valley we came. Again, we could have left the valley and continued on our way, but the easy option was to return to somewhere we knew to be good and quiet - i.e. last night's kipping spot.

Saturday 22 July - Breidablikk, Stryn and Oldendale

Where's Bertie? He's in a picnic area in Oldendale overlooking a turquoise lake and a couple of arms of the Jostedalsbreen glacier (exact location: 61.75501, 6.80088)

Our original plan for two short walks from the same car park up above Geiranger were scuppered this morning when we couldn't access the car park. Legally we were within the width restriction, but it was a narrow road so we abided by the informal (laminated A4 printed sheet) prohibition on motorhomes.

Breakfasting instead at the first car park we came to, a new plan was hatched and as soon as cereal and tea had been despatched (and I'd had a stroll down to the nearby viewpoint) we were off again.

Another road that looked like a random doodle on the SatNav screen took us up to a pass and we were again in an incredible landscape. It kept me, as passenger, wide eyed all the way to our next stopping point.

View from the picnic area where we parked for our walk.

Parking in a huge picnic area on the main road, rather than venturing down a dirt road, added a couple of kilometres to our walk, bringing it to 8.5km, but with a modest 120m or so of ascent.

View from where we abandoned Bertie for a few hours

Whilst not spectacular in the same way as our walks of the last three days, it was still a fine outing. Being off most tourists' radars (not featured in any brochure this one), it was also very quiet. So much so that at one of the many lakes scattered across the high valley, I couldn't resist a quick swim .... even though I hadn't got my costume or a towel with me.

First ever skinny dip. First time in a mountain lake. It was at 930m and was fed by snow melt. Bracing!

Put a water feature like that next to a road and it'll be rammed with tour buses. Put it a half hour walk from a road and you get it to yourself

Having been back at Bertie for a while, it was feeling like time to move on. Stuff was stowed and I was just sitting on the toilet before the off when it felt just like Mick had tried to start the engine with it in gear. He hadn't. He thought I'd fallen off the toilet (although even if I'd shot off it like a rocket, I couldn't have made Bertie jump backwards that much).

"Has someone hit us?" I asked, the answer to which was "Yes".

The owner of the car, picnicking nearby (who had failed to engage her handbrake or put the car in gear), got all indignant when she noticed our bumpers touching, until Mick pointed out that it wasn't our vehicle that had moved. Fortunately there wasn't much of a slope, so although it felt like a big jolt on impact it must have happened at slow speed and no damage was done. And do you know, she didn't even apologise.

Onwards! Three long tunnels as we went under some hills led us to more stunning scenery, some of which I've failed to capture effectively here:

Taken during a pause at the National Park Centre but they didn't have any useful information leaflets

The town of Stryn provided us with a service point and a whole choice of supermarkets (we probably wouldn't have come so far today if our need for certain groceries hadn't been so desperate. We've been out of bread for days and today we finished the standby oatcakes too). The town also provided us with a shady spot in a large empty car park to sit and contemplate the best time to arrive in Oldendale so as miss the daytime visitors yet be early enough to secure a place to kip. We timed it just fine and arrived to find the picnic area empty save for a German Hymer (c.1980-1985) who had also just arrived. We've since been joined by another van three vans.

As outlined at the top, our view here is superb. The lake is a startling shade of green and two separate arms of the Jostedalsbreen Glacier can be seen, one out of the windscreen, the other out of the door.

View from the door, which fails to capture the colour of the water and allows the glacier to blend into the sky.