Our plan today, was to walk from Bakken Fjellgard to Songedal Fjellgard, a seemingly modest walk of some 14 kilometres or so. The route as outlined on the back of the Lysefjord map broke this walk down into two days but as most of this was along a road from the Songesand quay, we guessed that we could make good headway on this walk.
The opening two and a half kilometres took us on a sharpish descent to the fjord side then undulating along the edge of the fjord to the quay. After the exploits of yesterday we were wary though. The day had dawned grey and there was a slight bit of rain in the air but nothing like the previous day’s storm. Our boots were still soaked but we were refreshed and up for a good day’s walk.
We crossed the pasture surrounding the hut to the edge of the woodland and then the descent started. It was fine to start with, a few rather dubious ‘handrails’ to steady our descent (bits of electricity cable – disconnected) but overall not too bad – for a while. However we soon got back into a route where it was impossible to get a decent stride going. I commented at one stage that we could barely walk five or six continuous strides before having to step over or down something. Even by the fjord side, where we could almost touch the water we had to take care – extreme care as it turned out.
We wondered why even just above the water level, there were occasional chains to give us a handhold. Handholds to me, spell a warning, so we used them. It was only later (much later when we took the cruise from Stavanger back into the fjord to see Preikestolen from the water level) that we discovered why caution was necessary. If we’d stopped the think about it we’d have been even more cautious. Fjords, dear reader, are carved as we all know by ancient glaciers and then flooded by the sea. Glaciers carve deep valleys and Lysefjord is a steady 450 metres deep along most of its length. What’s more if you think about the side of a glacially cut valley, they tend to be pretty vertical. In short this means that Lysefjord doesn’t have a beach. Fall into the water and you sink a long way before hitting the bottom!
The underfoot conditions were causing us similar problems to yesterday. Again we couldn’t get ourselves into a decent stride. At one stage we crossed a scree slope of boulders, between which you could get a small car in places. The red Ts were still evident, someone had walked this route before, but the going wasn’t easy. We could see the quayside but the progress towards it was painfully slow. After two and a half hours of ‘walking’ we eventually popped out of the woodland and onto a small pasture that led across to the tarmaced quayside.
Looking back we did actually enjoy the walk. It is just that is was so painfully slow and we had built ourselves up for a decent walk that day to put the woes of the previous day behind us. We arrived at Songesand Quay exhausted and mentally defeated. Here were we on day two, beaten by a walk in the woods. At the quayside we met a couple of Belgian backpackers (Matt and Mags) who’d done the same walk arriving at the quayside equally defeated and deflated. They’d camped the night nearby and had called the ferry company to stop and pick them up and take them to the top of the Fjord at Lysebotn. (Songesand Quay is a ‘request’ stop – there’s a phone number on the timetable posted on the wall of the little shelter there. Call it and they’ll come and pick you up.) Sue and I looked at each other and gave up. We broke out the cooking stove, made our fellow survivors and ourselves tea and waited for the boat.
Whilst awaiting rescue, two more backpackers arrived: a German/Moroccan couple. We all swapped tales of daring do, the wall of death (our Belgian friends cried), the brutal footpath conditions, the sheer hard work and effort. We compared scars and bruises. At long last the boat hove into view and we laced up our boots and threw our sacks on our backs like we’d planned to finish here and leapt on to the boat with aplomb. Looking back as the boat slipped away from the edge we saw our German/Moroccans still on shore. They were continuing the walk – they were made of sterner stuff than us!
The shelter was a godsend by the way. Two sofas, a toilet and, if you are there on the right day, a small café (we weren’t).
So I’m afraid we can’t tell you what the rest of that day’s walk was like. Nor indeed the next one that would have taken us from Songedal to Lysebötn. On the map this is down as a 26 km walk which we assume from the map, as most of it is along a dirt road, is relatively straightforward. However we did meet our brave companions again later on during the walk and they found the next section to be hard again.
The road from Songedal climbs gently by the side of the Dalaåna river for four plus kilometres. The footpath resumes for the next three kilometres and climbs above the stream before dropping down again to follow a track up to the Songedal Fjellgard hut, although from the map it appears you could follow this track all the way too.
The next stage is described on the next page with observations we picked up from the German/Moroccan couple.