to Hardanger plateau
The wildest and most remote regions of Europe
After a few hour drive from Odda, I can see Eidjord in front
of me, a village at the deepest,darkest reach of Hardanger fjord.
This is Norway of your picture postcard dreams. There's the ink black
sheer face of mountains, and the scale is other-worldly. This fjord could
QE2 seem like a tugboat.
The temperature is about 10 degrees warmer down here than up on the mountain.
It's almost like travelling to another country.
Eidfjord is a small thoroughly idyllic place.
There's the village proper with around 650
souls and then another 400 scattered around the Eidfjord kommune -the
Norwegian equivalent of a community council.
While most communities along the Hardanger fiord are lucky
to have one small, all-purpose village shop Eidfjord has three large ones,
selling everything from cat food to hunting rifles.
"None of these shops would survive without tourism.
They make more in the summer season than they do in the rest of the year
combined,"says Mr. Sandvik twirling on his chair.
The Hardangervidda Natursenter at uper
part of Eidfjord and the Norsk Fjordsenter at Geiranger will soon find
their way into all the holiday package tours so visit now
before the coaches arrive.
A 225 panoramic cinema screens a breathtaking film montage
of scenes from the area
they call 'the ceiling of Europe', allowing you to soar like an eagle
over the snow-capped
During the 20-minute movie, set to music by both classical
and New Age
Norwegian composers, you visit remote places that would otherwise be
inaccessible, completely immersed in the experience.
Hands-on exhibits in the centre develop the film themes,
allowing you to feel the
textures of the ice, the wildlife and the age-old rock through which the
fjords were carved.
Our first stop at hardanger vidda, you can see the glacier near
Finse in the background.
Once we has climbed up out of the fjords my car speeds up across the
relatively flat expanse of the Hardangervidda, or Hardanger highlands.
This is one of the wildest, most remote regions of Europe, an area half
of Northern Ireland with only the railway and one road running through
The rest of it is only accessible on foot or on surefooted
pony. The vidda, as
Norwegians call it, is the largest high mountain plateau in Europe.
It resembles the Cairngorms, only it is higher, more windswept and studded
and there with massive glaciers - the luminous jewels of the last ice
I spent a few days with my wife hiking across the vidda and in those days
nature, as ever,
proved a source of great revelations.
The biggest revelation is the freedom of the vidda. This
is a wilderness without
estates, castles, and gamekeepers, an expanse without fences across which
can roam freely, camp freely and where anyone can try their hand at fishing
There are over 1,000 miles of hiking trails winding
back and forth across the vidda.
Mountain huts punctuate the wilderness at useful distances so you can
put up in the
hut at night. Some of the huts are staffed and offer sumptuous candlelit
others are simple bothies stocked with supplies for which - this being
visitors simply leave money on trust.
5355 Knarrevik Norway
phone 47 56311207
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