A Hiking Gem in Aurland - Prest

When you visit Aurland Photography, the first image you see is one which we took in August 2015 on a hike high above Aurland which, we think, has one of the best views of Aurlandsfjord, and perhaps in all of Norway. We are proud of the view and decided it was a great way to showcase both our work and the place where we live.

Aurland Prest View

In last week or so, many of you have also agreed with us about the view - shared across Instagram, this image has now over 20,000 likes across the various feeds it has been featured on. On various Facebook pages too, the image has been liked over a 1000 times and shared by 100s of you. Thanks to all of you for that!

So we thought it would be a good idea to give you some more of the story behind the picture, and tell you more about the hike we did to get it, and give you some more images of this extraordinary landscape in this part of west Norway.

The Hike to Prest, Aurland

The hike to Prest (which means priest) is a relatively straightforward, if slightly demanding, walk on mostly well marked tracks. At this point, it's worth noting that many people who enjoy this hike, don't actually make it all the way to the summit of Prest (1478m), itself, but content themselves with stopping at the large cairn (varde) at 1363m which commands the best view of Aurland and fjord below. We have done both versions of the hike, on the first occasion making it the extra 2 km round trip to the actual top of Prest itself.

The hike starts at a recently constructed car park which is little further up the road from Aurland's famous Stegastein viewpoint.

 

From here, a well trodden path leads gently north east away from the car park to the broad shoulder of the mountain above Stegastein and Aurlandsvangen. This a very popular location for paragliding and speedflying enthusiasts, who take advantage of the mountain and fjord terrain to fly down to edge of the water, some 900 or so metres below. On our last visit here in June, we managed to capture some of them on take off.

The track then leads up the north edge of the mountain over fairly easy, but steeper ground. Although the track is well worn, and well marked in many places, we would always advise carrying a map and compass for navigation. The weather can change rapidly anywhere in the mountains, and as you get higher on this hike, there are considerably steep drops on the fjord side (west) side of the track. While sticking to the track will easily avoid the steeper slopes, in bad weather it is more easy to lose the track and wander into difficulty. At around 1000m height, there is a steeper section where the track narrows to a path with loose stones. After negotiating this, you begin to be rewarded with even better views down to the fjord, over Aurland town and along to the end of the fjord at Flåm. Also, the cairn at 1363m comes into view above you. Here are some of the views from this section of the hike that we captured both in August 2015 and June of this year.

The path is wider and easier on the final stretch to the cairn. This part of the mountain is called Røyrgrind, and, as mentioned previously, this is where many choose to complete the hike. The cairn is an impressive size, and there is a little box with a notebook where you can leave a record of your visit.

 

Views to Aurland, Flåm, Undredal and Aurlandsfjord

From here, the view is pretty spectacular. To the south west, you can see over Aurland town and Aurlandsfjord stretching along to Flåm. To the north east the fjord narrows and you can make out the village of Undredal, and where the Nærøyfjord begins.

UNESCO World Heritage here in Aurland

Looking around, it is easy to see why the landscape was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005. For more information on Aurland's World Heritage status please visit the website. We wouldn't be Aurland Photography without this view, and maybe we are a little biased, but we think the view is easily a rival for the perhaps more famous images of Norway at the moment form Preikestolen and Trolltunga. But don't take our word for it, just look here...

We think that the hike will take most people around 5 hours to complete, about 3 hours up and 2 hours down, following the same path out and back. The hike to the cairn at Røyrgrind is a round trip of about 4.5 km with a vertical ascent of just over 500m. If you decide to take in the proper summit of Prest at 1478m you can add another hour or so. Please note that there is no marked path from Røyrgrind to the actual summit of Prest, so a map and compass are essential. We are sure you'll think it's worth it! If you would like any further information about this hike, or the Aurland area, we'd love to hear from you in the comments section below!