Most people’s experience of the Norwegian fjords is from the deck of a cruise ship, but it’s more rewarding to set out on foot and explore. Of course, the geography dictates that the walks involve big ups and downs, starting and finishing at the fjord edge. It’s exhilarating and not for the fainthearted.
I fly into Stavanger and pick up my car. It’s a pretty port, tall-masted sailing boats moored in the harbor and rows of 18th century white wooden houses rising from the water’s edge. Normally it’s full of cruise ships, but it has put a stop to that.
This is Norway’s Oil City, the North Sea oilfields not far away, and the revenue supports several high-end restaurants. You can eat well here, as I find out during my three nights stay.
Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock) 4 hours return
Norway has some long road tunnels, and my first day leads me through two, the longest over 13km. I’m heading east to Lysefjord, 42km long and one of the most beautiful. The target here is Preikestolen or Pulpit rock, high above the fjord, and it’s a popular climb with people of all ages. Still, it starts off steeply, then crosses boggy sections before leveling out at around 600m.
From this point, it’s an easy walk across white granite slabs with stunning views of the fjord below. Soon the rock itself comes into sight as you negotiate a narrow path along the cliffs. It juts out into the air, high above the water, and there are no fences or guard rails. Brave souls go right to the edge performing vertigo-inducing acrobatics for the cameras. I’m content just to take their pictures before descending and returning to Stavanger.
Trollpikken 2 hours return
Today I drive south following the coast, mist still clinging to the shore, past tiny fishing villages and lighthouses. In the past, this was known as the most coastline in Norway, but today it’s a pleasant scenic drive.
After an hour, I reach the attractive port of Egersund and turn inland. A narrow road leads to a small parking area, and I set off on foot into rolling hills.
There are no fjords today, just patches of water populating the boggy landscape. It’s an easy uphill climb and, just after a small lake, I come face to face with Trollpikken, a huge upright rocky protrusion named after the intimate anatomy of a Troll. Vandals in planted explosives at its base with disastrous effect, but it’s since been re-elected. Two young girls scramble up its sides for a photocall, and I’m happy to oblige.
Langfoss Waterfall 4 hours
I leave my base in Stavanger and head north through tunnels and even a ferry before arriving at Åkrafjorden. Cruise passengers take day trips here to see the Langfoss Waterfall; it’s a 612m drop making it one of Norway’sfinest.
The summer has been dry, so there’s not a huge volume of water, but it’s still spectacular, dropping directly into the fjord. It regularly makes the list of the world’s ten best waterfalls.