Aurland Photography goes to Breheimen

Here at Aurland Photography we are always thinking towards our next trip into the outdoors. We are a bit restless, you could say! So welcome to our blog, where you can follow our travels and get a taste of the places that we visit and photograph. We enjoy travelling and sharing our experiences with you seems an obvious thing to do.

Our first blog entry takes us to the mountain regions of Jotunheimen and Breheimen and then back to the fjords here in Norway. We hope you enjoy reading and please feel free to comment or ask us any questions - we would love to hear from you.

Day 1 - Aurland to Turtagrø

Anyone visiting west Norway in recent weeks could not have helped notice that the weather here has been, one could say, somewhat erratic. And somewhat wet. We thought we'd take the chance anyway during the first week of August and so threw the tent in the car and headed off in the direction of mountains north and east of us here in Aurland. Our first stop was at Turtagrø Hotel where we pitched our tent around dinner time in the expectation that the weather forecast of drying conditions would give us a pleasant evening of outdoor cooking, a nice beer and maybe, if we were lucky, a view of the Hurrungane mountains.

 

We were really looking forward to doing one of those trendy 'photos-from-your-tent-door-with-feet-in-view'. But no. No outdoor cooking. No beer at sunset. No view at all. And rain. Lots of rain.

We did at least grab a beer inside the Turtagrø Hotel itself. Its pleasant lounge and library is a must stop for anyone with even a passing interest in climbing and mountaineering, with books from all over the world. 

Back in the tent, it was a basic and quick soup for dinner with the clouds, fog and rain for company as if they would all like to join us in the tent too.

So much as we'd love to start this blog with an exciting visual fanfare, it was not to be. No photos. For the view we should have had, please visit the Hotel website.

The morning was just as gloomy, so it was time to move on.

Day 2 - Turtagrø to Sota Sæter

Our vague plan involved heading to the Breheimen National Park. Breheimen is a relatively new national park in Norway, only having been designated in 2009. Breheimen means 'Home of the glaciers' and is home to much of Norway's most important glacial areas. It is also relatively little visited compared to its neighbouring mountain area to the south and east, Jotunheimen. You can visit the national park website here, and download an information brochure here.

We headed to Sota Sæter, passing on the way Sognefjellet and Lom (with an absolutely must stop at the bakery there).

The weather did begin to improve a little and here are some of the views on the road from Turtagrø to Lom.

We mostly stayed dry on the way to Sota Sæter, but at least the rain that was around gave us some great views on the drive up Mysubyttdalen.

Sota Sæter used to be a summer dairy farm, but now offers accommodation and food for over 80 people and is a great base for exploring the eastern side of the Breheimen national park. Sota Sæter is managed by Den Norske Turistforening (DNT), Norway's excellent membership organisation for hikers and trekkers. After our wet night at Turtagrø we decided to take a cabin room and have a cooked evening meal just after our arrival. The food was very good and, despite the larger number of guests, the ambiance is very homely and welcoming.

 

After dinner we took an evening walk further up the gravel road and were rewarded with some great late evening skies over the surrounding mountains, including Tverrådalskyrkja (2089m).

Day 3 - Sota Sæter to Slæom and return

We planned a proper hike for the Wednesday into the inner parts of Breheimen national park taking the track from Sota Sæter the 15 km to the DNT hut Slæom. For details and mapping of our route, please click here. It was a memorable day in a long and spectacular glacial valley. And although we spent more time up there that we had originally planned we were rewarded with some spectacular sunset views on the way back to Sota Sæter. Having planned to use the tent at the end of the day because of the better weather was a good idea, but perhaps not when arriving back at 23.00, and then deciding to have a quiet beer first before pitching the tent in the dark. Here are some of the views from an extraordinary day.

Day 4 - Sota Sæter to Skjolden

Our fourth day was largely determined by the changing weather. The forecast for the day after seemed as if it would be better back down at the fjords so we decided to head back the way we had come and end up in Skjolden at the head of Lustrafjorden. After the obligatory stop at the bakery in Lom again, we had a bit better luck with the weather over Sognefjellet compared to Day 2.

After Sognefjellet we passed Turtagrø Hotel once more and headed down the steep road that very quickly brings you down to fjord level at Skjolden. However, as we descended a queue of traffic at a standstill suggested something was up. A lorry had ended up stuck on one of the hairpin bends in the road. This was the scene. The result was a 4 hour wait for the lorry to be rescued and rather than wait in the queue we returned up the road to a very busy Turtagrø Hotel. At least this time there was some kind of view with Store Skagastølstind, 2405m, Norway's 3rd highest mountain.

  Store Skagastølstind, 2405m

Store Skagastølstind, 2405m

It was quite a late arrival at 21.00 for us in the end at Skjolden. It was great then that we decided to book into the newly re-opened Skjolden Hotel for the night. The hotel is just getting back on its feet with a laid back, retro feel. We were impressed by our late night pizza, having missed the sitting for dinner. The location of hotel right at the head of Lustrafjorden is wonderful and we reckon we got the best room in the place with outstanding views.

 
  A Room with a View, Skjolden Hotel

A Room with a View, Skjolden Hotel

Day 5 - Skjolden to Urnes to Aurland

After breakfast we decided that a leisurely drive down the east side of Lustrafjorden would give us a great final day before returning to Aurland. As the view above from our hotel window shows, the day started very promisingly and indeed, we were not to be disappointed with the best light and weather conditions of the week and an amazingly beautiful contrast by the fjords to the wild mountain landscapes of Breheimen. Here are some of the views on offer on our way down to Urnes.

The journey down Lustrafjorden was fantastic and waiting at the end of the road at Urnes is one of highlights of any trip to this area, Urnes Stave Church. The stave church here is believed to be the oldest anywhere, dating back to 1130. Richly decorated with carvings influenced by Viking age art, the church was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. It was certainly worth the wait to come and visit on a day with such lovely light and colours. 

 

After a wonderful 5 days it was now time to head back to Aurland. The forecast was for heavy rain towards the end of the day and we could see it following us back up the fjord as we retraced the road back to Skjolden with the result of more dramatic light and rainbows.

As the rain chased us home to Aurland, we rewarded with the best of Norway's mountain and fjord scenery. The changing weather and light made for some of the most dramatic images of the week. We hope you agree, and we hope you have enjoyed reading about our week to Breheimen. Please feel free to share, comment and ask any questions about any of the locations or pictures you have seen here.

Amazing cloud landscape envelopes the Hurrungane mountains just above Turtagrø

Storm and Light over Lustrafjorden