Saturday, 5 August 2017

Saturday 5 August - Helleren and Flekkefjord

Where's Bertie? He's in a layby alongside road 43 to the north of Lyngdal (exact location: 58.18473, 7.10083).

I take back what I said about the Magma Geopark bearing a resemblance to the Rhinogs. I learnt today that the immediate vicinity of the park's information centre we passed yesterday was in no way representative of this UNESCO Global Geopark as a whole. I also had no notion yesterday as to how big an area it covers (2329 square kilometres).

Today we drove road 44 through this truly spectacular landscape, comprising lots and lots hills of rounded, smooth-looking rock with some impressive erratic boulders perched atop them and interspersed with lakes. Once again, the real shame was that the weather wasn't playing nicely and thus, as you'll see below, my photos did even less justice to the place than normal:

I'm glad I wasn't driving. The roads wiggled around a lot and were often narrow. I particularly wouldn't have liked negotiating the stretches with a rock face on the nearside and a crash barrier on the offside. Fortunately there wasn't much oncoming traffic.

There was a walk I would have liked to have done to a choke stone (actually two boulders in this case, wedged in a gap between two rock faces), but as the first snap above was taken from the start point for the walk you'll understand why we jibbed on it.

Instead we went a kilometre or two further down the road to Helleren. There, behind an enormous patch of waste ground/car parking, sit two houses sheltered from the elements by a rock face with a 10m overhang:

They look like toy houses in this snap, but they did have two storeys tall enough for me to stand up.

This snap shows the overhang better

The current houses in this location date back a couple of hundred years, and were abandoned in the 1920s. Incredibly, despite their position next to a road, despite still having some furniture inside, and despite access being permanently available to every Tom, Dick or Harry, the worst vandalism evident is the carving of a few names into the wood, but even that wasn't overly noticeable. I'm amazed that over the course of nearly 100 years of such open access that they haven't been badly vandalised or burnt down (by accident or design).

Moving on, I thought we would stop by the town of Flekkefjord, not expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised! Arriving just half an hour before parking charges ceased for the day (at 1300, being a Saturday), we filled a little time and offloaded a bit of cash* at the supermarket before moving to the car park next door on the dot of 1pm, and after lunch we ambled up the road for a quick look around.

The first shower that passed was dodged by nipping into the Tourist Office for some wifi. Although I talked to the lady on the desk there, there was no mention of the cultural trail around the town and it was by accident that we stumbled upon it a short while later.

As towns full of white wooden buildings go, this one stood out, particularly with the narrow streets of the Dutch quarter:

Nobody told the owner of the first house on the left the decoration code.

Not only were there comprehensive information boards telling the history of the Dutch in the town, there is also ongoing 'cultural development' in the form of the introduction of street art. You'd not think that historic buildings and street art would go together, but none of it looked jarring or out of place:

A nice bit of warm sunshine was enjoyed for the last couple of streets, but that was our quota. As we started making our way back to Bertie, the temperature plummeted and we knew more rain was imminent. We didn't quite beat it.

Not feeling inclined to pay £25 for a patch of car park with electric hook up at the motorhome parking in Flekkefjord and feeling equally disinclined to spend the night in one of the town car parks (which would have been free and legal), we moved on without a concrete idea as to where we were going to stay. After a minor adventure taking Bertie down a little road to check out one possibility, and rejecting a couple of others just on the basis of the look of the access road, we ended up in this layby, next to a river (although not one of the white water sections we passed earlier). Hopefully the road next to us will quieten down overnight.

(*You can pay for almost everything, even really low value things, in Norway with a card. Indeed, some things you can't buy with cash. That means that even though we didn't withdraw much cash when we arrived in the country, we have still been left with £30-worth of NOK needing to be spent in our last 2 days in the country.)

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