Sunday, 16 July 2017

Sunday 16 July - The Atlantic Highway

Where's Bertie? He's in the Trollkyrkja walkers' car park a few kilometres from the town of Elnesvågen (exact location: 62.86710, 7.27540)

The view behind us at last night's kipping spot. Note the fine start to today. It didn't last.

The Atlantic Highway tourist route is a 36km stretch of road between Kristiansund and Bud. The Atlantic Highway itself (which is the grand name for a section of road that uses a series of bridges to connect two bits of land via a number of tiny rocky islets) is rather shorter, filling just 8km of the route. This is the route named by the Guardian as being the best road trip in the world.

Whilst I'm happy to come this way (rather than taking an alternative route further inland), that's mainly because yesterday's scenery was so special, and so that we won't wonder what we missed. The Atlantic Highway itself was not, in my opinion, worth the £15 ferry fee plus the £15 toll tunnel* we incurred to get there. The surroundings were pretty, but not more so than yesterday, and the engineering of the road was mildly interesting, but then there's a huge amount of impressive road engineering in this country (and a couple of yesterday's bridges were better than today's).

For such a short journey, we managed to make it last a full day. First we stopped for elevenses...

View from above the elevenses spot, in between heavy showers

...then 600m later we stopped at the main viewpoint, to walk the circuit around the man-made walking gantry...

The biggest bridge on the route doesn't look at all impressive from this angle

Viewed from here it looks like it dead-ends in the middle of the channel

...we would have had lunch at that parking area, but it was so ridiculously busy (toilets, cafe and information point, as well as the walking gantry), that we moved on a whole half a kilometre further, and enjoyed this view over lunch:

What we didn't enjoy was the continuing rain. Some clear sky would have made the surroundings so much better! However, the rain didn't stop me from researching whether there was a walking route up the hill we could see at the end of the chain of islets, as it seemed to me that the best way to see what we had just driven across would be from above.

There was indeed a route, and a car park, so up a dirt road we went and, fully waterproofed, we set out to get wet.

We went just a bit further than the lake shown above. The ridge above looked like it would be a fine outing, but not in this weather and not having set out mid-afternoon. The view down on the road was poor due to the rain, so I'll not share those photos. Instead, here are some of a little hut we visited (which you should be able to see on the far left of the snap above):

Then came the debacle of finding somewhere to stay the night. The first spot we tried had a good sea view...

Taken from the passenger seat

...but was not set back from the road at all.

The second spot, in the town of Bud, was rejected for being in view of houses, although we did enjoy a cup of tea there with this view:

The third spot we investigated had a nice view too, as long as we only looked forwards. In all other directions the area looked like a scrap yard. We felt we could do better.

The fourth spot was a disaster. We ended up having to reverse back along a pot-holed dirt road when a low tree barred forward progress. The woman whose drive we used to turn around popped out to tell us we were on private land - I'm not sure whether she thought we were about to park in front of her kitchen window.

The fifth spot was a nice big flat car park at a marina, again accessed via a dirt road, but I wasn't entirely comfortable that it was really a public car park. Out of obvious options in the immediate area I resorted to looking at walking routes on the App (on the basis that most walks start at a car park), combined with a sprinkling of checking out StreetView, which is how we came to be here. Finally a car park with which we were both happy - and a new overall record (across all countries and trips) as to how many places we visited before finding somewhere to stay.

(*The tunnel was only 5.6km long too, so not a notably big one by Norwegian standards, although it did go under the sea rather than just through a lump of rock. All of the tolls we have incurred to date have been via automated toll gantries that read number plates (or your tag, if you have one). This was the first we've encountered in Norway with a manned toll plaza and the reason became apparent when we were charged not just for the vehicle, but also for the extra passenger - i.e. the same fee structure as for a ferry, except the length of the vehicle isn't relevant here. A bizarre way of charging for a tunnel, I thought.)

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