Day two it should have been, but because of the weather we’d encountered climbing to Preikestolen Rock, we decided to keeping moving and walk the nine kilometres to Bakken Fjellgard, an old farmhouse high above the Fjord now run by the Stavanger Turistforening. More of the hut later.
As you head up the trail to Preikestolen you’ll see the junction for the Bakken Fjellgard and Brattelli path. A sturdy signpost points to the left into the woodland. You’re two kilometres or so from Preikestolen itself here. A picnic bench sits nearby for final rucksack adjustments or lunch or just a brief rest. If you find the ascent from the car park hard, then gird your loins.
The map (see the bottom of the page) suggests this walk is a predominately downhill walk through woodland to Bratelli and then the final two kilometres onto the hut. Please bear in mind that the map, if you’re using the 1:50000 one, has contour intervals of 20m (they’re 10m on the UK equivalent). You can do a lot of ups and downs within a pair of 20m contours. (In fact over the course of our seven day of walking we did around 7500m of ascent.. Everest is only 8848m!)
Back to the route. Leaving the junction (and the crowds behind) you quickly begin to descend through the lush green woodland. You’ll quickly realise that care and attention is needed here. Sue fell twice within the first 200 metres. The path was wet and slippery and crossed by numerous tree roots and boulders. The rain had stopped but there were many streams crossing or flowing along the path too so extreme care was needed. You descend for around a kilometre pretty steadily before climbing slightly to a point overlooking a hanging valley that drops steeply to the fjord. You’ll get a glimpse of the fjord here and back up to the Preikestolen area above.
From here you climb steadily with the Troppeknuten above you before contouring round to a point that overlooks the Skogavatret lake. We’d walked around 3 kilometres at this stage and it was around 1630 so we decided to find a camping spot. Wild Camping is permitted in Norway so long as you aren’t within 150 metres of a building. As we descended to the lake there were two spots available for a tent, one was taken and the other was near to a hut, which as it happened was occupied. Space was at a premium. Had the weather been better we would have doubtless found somewhere to pitch the tent, but anywhere flat was underwater and everywhere else was sloping too much. We pressed on.
The map, just after the lake shows a split in the path, has a dashed route goes south and a solid route north to join together after around 750 metres. There are quite a few places where dashed routes are shown. We never found any! On the map they’re described as unmarked routes by which we assume they are way marked. Solid red routes have been way marked every few metres by red Ts. The Ts were the most remarkable thing about the whole walk. No matter how hard the trail, the Ts were there to guide you like some Alphabetical God. They let us down once which we’ll come to a few days down the line.
So we took the up and down way-marked path and then the lower path that climbed then contoured high above the Fjord past the point marked at Hoppet on the map. Magnificent views at this point and the best ones we’d had so far of the fjord. This was to soften us up! As we returned to the woods and began the gentle descent to Bratteli (a collection of summer houses), we encountered the fearsome Wall of Death.
It was at this point that we began to question our sanity and wonder if we’d missed some warnings in the emails we’d had with the Stavanger Turistforening. The Wall of Death as we christened it was a steeply sloping slab of rock some 10 metres across with a rusty steel wire pinned across. At our end, the bottom of the slab was possibly some 25 metres below us, we weren’t sure we couldn’t see because it was too far down in the woodland. At the far end the path was two metres below the wire. All we had to do was to use the cable to slide along the smooth slab of rock before dropping down to the path. Except we had large rucksacks on our backs, and no rope, carabiners or anything we could attach ourselves to the cable for safety.
Holding my breath I went first and slowly slid my way across the rock. As I lowered myself gingerly to the path at the far end, the cable caught my glasses and sent them sliding down the rock to a barrage of expletives. Sue did it without swearing and at last we were on safe ground again. Neither of us had seen this coming, no warnings anywhere, written, online or verbal. Had we known we’d have bought a few metres of rope and a carabiner or two. And no photo either… we were too gripped to do so.
The Norwegians have a “do-it-at-your-own-risk” attitude which is refreshing. No warning notices nor safety barriers marred the view during the entire walk at all. However this spot was so unexpected that we were very surprised not to have heard about it at all. You have been warned, go prepared. The walk on into Bratteli was a mixture of relief and exhaustion. As we came out of the woods our eyes were drawn to a large armchair being carried on someone’s head up the steep path from the quayside way below. The legs (and chair) belonged to an attractive Norwegian lady in her sixties who, when we mentioned the Wall of Death, recounted her only meeting with it with her sister the previous year. Her words; “We cried – I don’t know why they don’t make it easier.” If this tough lady cried our whimpering was entirely justified.
The walk from Bratteli to Bakkenfjellgard was relatively simple except for the flooded paths and that it was now approaching eight in the evening and we were exhausted and our feet were soaking. Again we couldn’t find the unmarked trail so took the longer marked trail that descended to Myra then crossed the river and down to the Hytte. We arrived at 21.15 as the darkness gathered around us.
This old Farmhouse, in comparison to some of the other huts on the Lysefjord Rundt, is a simple affair. There is gas for cooking and wood in the sheds for warmth. A small supply of candles are also provided for illumination. Sleeping accommodation is divided into three small two or three bedded rooms and a larger room with a pile of mattresses on the floor. Downstairs there is a large kitchen, a ‘dining room’ and two reception rooms (to speak in Estate Agent Terms). There is no running water (but there are water containers to fetch it from the stream nearby) and there is no toilet.
The Bakken Fjellgard hut costs for non members the standard 325 NOK a night (2014 prices approx. 10NOK to £1) and you pay by filling in the form and posting it into the slotted safe in the hallway. These forms will be collected periodically and your credit card will be charged for your stay.
For us, it was all we needed. Somewhere to try and dry the boots, sit down and stuff our faces with our dried camp food. We then crawled upstairs to a room and snored the night away.