The final day dawned wet and blustery. We lay there contemplating carrying for the first time a wet tent and kit and slowly piled on the layers, took down the tent and loaded the rucksacks for the last time. Suddenly our phone sprang to life and a message came through from our friends in Stavanger. They’d been on holiday whilst we were away and had got back to discover that they didn’t have a key for the house. We texted back that we would be back in Stavanger as soon as we could as we had their spare. We set off and followed the road down hill all the way to Nedreidane, a small collection of farmhouses near a lake. Here had we not been trying to get back to Stanvanger quickly we might have taken the path back into the hills and over to the edge of Forsand.
Instead we carried on along the road. Walking on tarmac was strange, and on reaching the edge of the fjord stopped briefly and cooked a late breakfast. We then got out our thumbs out and started to hitch. Soon a German camper van stopped and took us to the edge of Forsand. We walked the rest of the way to the ferry point only to discover that as it was Sunday there wasn’t a ferry! We made our way back to the point where the camper had dropped us which was the start of the approach road to the bridge and northwards to Tau. After ten minutes of fruitless hitching, a van stopped and we jumped abroad. Our host was going to Jorpeland but decided to run us the extra 7 kilometres to Tau. If the kind gentleman should ever read this we apologise for the smell we doubtless left in the cab!
He dropped us right at the ferry terminal and as he drove away with a wave, a ferry arrived and we were aboard, eating hot dogs and cakes on our way back to Stavanger. As the boat docked and we walked off back into civilisation, the noise and smell of the traffic hit us.
We got back to our hosts (meanwhile their landlord had come with a key and let them in), so we could have stayed out to play for longer but the long hot shower and clean clothes were most welcome as was the opportunity to reflect on the experience.
What had gone so wrong on the first two days? Had we taken on too much? Did we have the wrong kit, weren’t fit enough, too old?
The weather hadn’t helped and walking that route in the dry would have made a big difference. We were carrying what we needed and it was as light as we could have possibly made it. Where we had gone wrong was making assumptions about the quality and standard of the path on the north side would have been as we get in the UK. We assumed that some maintenance would have been done on the path and where necessary a path would actually have been built. This isn’t the Norwegian way! The lack of decent information about the path and what to expect (which we hope these pages go some way to solving) was also an issue. Even when we spoke to Stavanger Turistforening we weren’t warned or told; again a Norwegian trait. Out third error was partly caused by setting ourselves quite a tight schedule. When day one’s plan unravelled because of the storm and we decided to do day two as well, we then burdened ourselves with a much longer day when we weren’t still match fit. We should have sat the storm out and stuck to our guns, taken the planned day two steadily and built our confidence and fitness that way. Instead we tried to do too much too soon.
So a mixture of ignorance and naivety had scuppered us but we’re glad we stuck it out. With the exception of the small section on the way to Fossmark, the southern side had been a glorious walking experience with well defined and decent paths. We’d met some lovely people (with the Fossmark exception) although most of the time we had had the place to ourselves. We had discovered some beautiful spots, the memory of which would stay with us for a long long time.
With the correct preparation I would certainly recommend this walk. Norway isn’t cheap but once you’re in the hills and camping, life is free again. Go as lightweight as you can and be prepared for flexibility and changes of plans. You won’t be disappointed.