|Halkirk to Aberdeen
|Aberdeen to Lerwick
|Lerwick to Bergen
|Bergen to Evanger
|Evanger to Voss
|Voss to Eidfjord
||Gentle Incline, Steep Descent, Then Level
|Eidfjord to Dyranut
|Dyranut to Gol
|Gol to Noresund
|Noresund to Kongsberg
||Level Then Hilly
|Kongsberg to Bo
|Bo to Amot
|Amot to Haukeliseter
|Haukeliseter to Sand
|Sand to Liervik
|Liervik to Bergen
|Bergen to Lerwick
|Lerwick to Aberdeen
|Aberdeen to Halkirk
||Total Distance Cycled
Friday 18 July
I was unable to get away from work
before 2000 hours last night so I only started packing up the panniers at about
2200. I eventually got to bed at 0100.
I got up at 0530, had breakfast and
watched the Weather Channel which starts at 0600 and which stated that it was
sunny and dry in the north of Scotland. So I set off at 0615 in drizzle and low
cloud convinced that I had forgotten something.
I cycled to Georgemas Junction in about
20 minutes, in good time to catch the Inverness train which left at 0645. It was
a long time since I had travelled on this train service. It was good to see all
of the landmarks I had cycled past over the years from the comfort of a train
As we travelled south the clouds lifted
to reveal the vast, seemingly barren landscape of west Caithness. I bought two
coffees on the trip at 85 pence per cup. At Lairg the southbound train crew
swapped with the northbound crew.
I arrived in Inverness at 1005 in
plenty of time for the Aberdeen train, which left at 1043. A coffee on this
train costs 86 pence.
There were many signs of the recent
flooding around Elgin. Many of the trees had tide marks to a height of around
It is only about half a mile from the
railway station in Aberdeen to the ferry terminal. I had a few hours to wait until
boarding time at 1700 hours, but the terminal was quite comfortable. I boarded
the St Clair at 1700 in sunny and warm conditions (21 Celsius by the digital
display across the road).
I was assigned cabin number 335 and
found it contained a folding bed, a shower and a toilet. It was quite confined
but it was fairly comfortable. The cabin was located at the sharp end of the
boat but the view from the window was restricted somewhat by large items of
equipment. If I stood on the bed I could just make out the distant horizon.
At about 2000 I had a large stodgy
evening meal with wine at £2 for 25cl. Only three other cyclists boarded the
ferry, one from Salt Lake City, the other two from Germany. I went to bed at
around 2100 but woke up at 0300. At 0500 the sky was blue and the Shetland
Islands were clear as we approached. Our expected time of arrival was 0700 when
we had to disembark and go through customs before re-boarding. Breakfast was
served on the ferry at 0600.
Saturday 19 July
The ferry arrived in Lerwick on
time at 0700. I had to clear all my gear away and load it on the bike to
disembark. I cycled to Lerwick to get some cash from the TSB cash machine.
I spent some time on Shetland last year and enjoyed two cycling days. The
weather today was beautiful, blue sky, sunshine and no wind, quite a
contrast from the last time I was here when it was very windy.
On the way back to the ferry
terminal I stopped at the Coop where a good breakfast is served from 0800.
I met the cyclist from Salt Lake City and we chatted for an hour or so
about our cycling adventures.
At the ferry terminal we met a
few other cyclists, some Norwegians returning home and another American
called Bruce who seems to have spent most of his life travelling the
world. He told me he had never worked but did not say how he was financed.
The other American, Dave, left Utah on the 1 May and had no firm plans;
again he had no job but seemed well kitted out. Bruce had cycled along the
north coast of Scotland and commented on the stark difference between
Caithness and Sutherland.
We re-boarded at 1030. I was
assigned the same cabin as before and slept several hours. We had low
cloud for much of the way but about two and half-hours from our
destination the sky cleared and we could see the distant snow-capped
The approach to Bergen is
spectacular. As we neared the archipelago a pilot boarded the ferry to
guide it through the narrow channels to Bergen. The ferry arrived in
Bergen at exactly 2330 local time. Many houses are built along the rocky
shoreline around the city. They are large and apparently affluent. The
modern looking city, nestling on the shore beneath high mountains, posed a
spectacular picture on this beautiful, calm and clear night. I expected
some hard cycling over the next two weeks.
This being a non-EEC country, I
was rewarded with a stamped passport. There were a few people hanging
around the ferry terminal. An elderly gentleman approached me on a bicycle
and asked me, in a heavy French accent, where I had come from. He
congratulated me on coming to Norway, shook my hand and wished me good
luck, such a nice welcome.
I cycled through the town to my
pre-booked hotel. The town centre was packed with strollers posing and
when I stopped at a zebra crossing, I looked up to see a female bungee
jumper hurtling to the ground. The temperature was very warm and the night
was quite humid, not what I had expected.
I found the hotel quite easily
and I was welcomed with the bicycle. The room was very well equipped with
shower and WC, television with many of the familiar satellite stations,
and a mini-bar containing only soft drinks. The room was very comfortable
but for £71.38 it should be.
Sunday 20 July
Breakfast was served in a busy
room. Most of the guests wore outlandish clothes, all colours of the
rainbow, garish designs and bright jewellery; the women were even more
I left the hotel at 0900 on a
quiet Sunday morning. The streets were peaceful and the weather was sunny,
warm and calm. I couldnt believe that I was as far north as Lerwick. To
avoid some nasty tunnels I decided to take the train from Bergen to
Evanger. The train station was quite busy when I arrived but I had just
missed a train and the next wasnt due to depart until 1310. I decided to
familiarise myself with the streets of Bergen, as I would be spending time
here two weeks later. When I boarded the train, an official placed my bike
in the guards van at the rear and informed me that I should tell the
conductor which station I was heading for and that I had a bike in the
The train ticket cost £8 for
myself and £4 for the bike for a distance of around 40 miles. The train
went through numerous tunnels on the way to Evanger but I caught glimpses
of the mountains and fjords as we progressed. The station just before
Evanger had a sign advising cyclists not to attempt cycling to Bergen due
to the dangerous tunnels. At the time I didnt appreciate what the danger
was but later on in the trip I was to find out. When we arrived at Evanger
I was the only person to get off and the conductor met me on the platform,
handed me my bike and wished me good luck.
At last I was able to do some
cycling. The sun was beating down and the temperature must have been at
least 30 Celsius. The road to Voss was quite narrow but the traffic was
light. It was strange to see all motor vehicles with their dipped
headlights on in such strong sunshine. Before my arrival in Norway I was
worried about cycling on the right hand side of the road but it was not a
I soon came across a parallel
road that was sign-posted for cyclists and walkers. However it was much
steeper than the main road and often detoured into the farming areas along
the route. Many of the mountains had large patches of snow on them even
down to seemingly low levels although I had no idea at what altitude I
Photo 1 Near
After only 14 miles I arrived in
Voss to find a very picturesque town which must be wonderful in winter. I
cycled through the town keeping an eye open for suitable accommodation and
just on the outskirts I saw a middle-of-the-range hotel which seemed
suitable. I checked in at the Jarl Hotel, which was of the same quality as
the hotel of last night but only half the price. I had a basic dinner
costing about £7 and had a few beers, which cost £3.30 for 0.5litre.
The hotel manager informed me
that the temperature today had been a local record at 30 Celsius. After my
meal I was reviewing my route for the next day when it began to rain very
heavily. I was pondering prospects for tomorrow when a middle aged
Norwegian man asked if he could join me. He was around 50 and was
obviously an alcoholic. I said it was OK and invited him to sit down. We
had a good conversation about Voss and Norway and about the relationship
between Norway and the UK. During the time it took me to drink two small
beers he drank two bottles of wine, he must be rich.
I asked him why motor vehicles
kept their dipped headlights on during the day. He responded that the
Norwegian government had followed the lead of the Swedish government, as
they always did, in imposing the ridiculous law. He did not understand the
logic behind the law.
After informing my Norwegian
friend that I did not wish to accompany him to his home I went to bed at
- Distance cycled = 21.88
- Insulin dose at 1900 = 24
- Blood sugar at 2340 = 8.
Monday 21 July
- Blood sugar at 0800 = 4.
- Insulin dose = 20 units.
Breakfast in the hotel was as I
expected for continental Europe. From my point of view as a diabetic on a
demanding cycle tour it was ideal.
The hotel bill was £42.46 for
I walked along the main street of
Voss and bought provisions for the day ahead. Returning to the hotel I met
Bruce who told me that he was heading to Flam today then on towards Oslo,
maybe I will bump into him again.
I left the hotel at 0945 in
beautiful weather. It was warm and dry and there was no wind. The road
climbed steadily for about 8 miles before dropping sharply through a
series of hairpin bends. I came across a high waterfall I remember seeing
in the tourist brochures and decided to have lunch at the bottom. I was
quietly eating my lunch admiring the wonderful surroundings when a coach
stopped and around 50 Japanese tourists eagerly photographing the falls
suddenly surrounded me. Every one of them had to pose for a photograph.
After a short time I decided to depart and continue downhill.
Photo 2 Near
The climb from Voss was gradual
but the drop to sea, or fjord level was very sudden. The country so far
seemed to cater for tourists. I saw many information boards posted in the
lay-bys giving information on accommodation and other facilities in the
I arrived at Granvin and headed
towards Kvanndal to catch the ferry across the Hardanger Fjord. For
motorists, there is a tunnel through the mountains which cuts off about 12
miles from the journey but it is several miles long and cyclists are
warned not to proceed.
Photo 3 Dropping
Down to Hardangerfjord
The road to the Kvanndal was very
quiet but had several short tunnels and a number of steep inclines. I
arrived at the ferry terminal and was charged 24Kr (just over £2) for a
ticket (the bike was free). The ferry arrived after a 30-minute wait. This
was my first opportunity to view the fantastic scenery from the comfort of
the ferry deck, standing of course to rest my backside, basking in the hot
sunshine. I took the opportunity to look at my fellow passengers. They
were mostly in small family groups on holiday but there were some
motorcyclists and a few lone Norwegian travellers.
The ferry stopped at Utne on its
way to Kinsarvik where we disembarked, cyclists, or cyclist in this case,
last. The temperature was around 28 Celsius but it was quite fresh and
very pleasant this close to the fjord. The road to Eidfjord followed the
fjord through good farmland dedicated mainly to crops. Up to then I had
seen no evidence of sheep or cattle.
About five miles from Eidfjord I
came across a tunnel with a sign advising cyclists and pedestrians to take
a parallel road closer to the shore of the fjord. The road was littered
with rocks but was passable
with care. After a short time I
came across a tunnel which looked quite old and neglected. There were
sections of over 100m in length
which were devoid of artificial or natural light. It was like entering a
large cavern in complete darkness; the air was cool and there was utter
silence. I had to travel slowly, relying on the narrow beam from my front
cycle light to reveal stones and rocks in the road. I was grateful that
the tunnel was quite short and that at the end I could see the town of
Eidfjord a few miles in the distance.
I arrived in Eidfjord at 1530
after cycling just over 42 miles and covering around eight miles by ferry.
I checked in at the Voringsfoss Hotel where I was charged £48.52 for
dinner bed and breakfast. The hotel area was good but the rooms were very
The mountains here are very steep
and rocky with dramatic waterfalls cascading into the fjord. Eidfjord is
in a beautiful setting. The scenery reminds me of Fort William but the
town is much smaller. It has a raging river which carries melt water from
the high mountains to the fjord.
far my route had not involved much uphill cycling. According to the map,
however, on Tuesday I would be cycling to a height of 1250m (4100 feet) up
to the northern edge of the Hardangervidda, a large plateau known as the
"Roof of Norway" which forms the largest National Park in the country and
the largest plateau in Europe.
Photo 4 Lunchtime
Distance cycled = 42.36 miles
Blood sugar at 2000 = 4
Insulin dose = 22
Blood sugar at 2200 = 6
Tuesday 22 July
- Blood sugar at 0800 = 4
- Insulin dose = 18 units due to
hard cycling day ahead.
I set off at 0930 after stocking
up with provisions from the local supermarket. The sky was clear and the
sun was hot with very little wind, not ideal for hard cycling. The road
passed through many tunnels for the first few miles but there is a
parallel track (the old road) for cyclists and walkers. The track was
quite rough in places and it passed though a few of its own tunnels, one
of which was very long and dark. It is quite unnerving when you cannot see
anything in front of you and you know there are obstacles in the road.
The real climb up to the
Hardangervidda plateau starts about 6 miles from Eidfjord. The first
section is up to the Voringsfoss waterfall through spectacular canyons and
vertical, rocky mountains. The old road is well maintained for cyclists
and walkers and a train (driven by a tractor) is used to carry tourists up
along the river to the waterfall.
Photo 5 Climbing up to the Hardangervidda Plateau
There were many tourists walking
up from a car park to the falls. When they saw me cycling with all my
luggage attached to the bike they seemed astonished, shouted encouragement
and even applauded. The going was very difficult in the hot sunshine but I
felt good. The road was quite narrow and often passed under or over the
new road which took a much straighter path via tunnels through the rock
At the top of this section, about
a third of the way up to the plateau, at Voringsfoss, I stopped for a
well-earned prawn sandwich and cold drink before walking to the viewing
area for the falls. There were many coach-loads of tourists taking
photographs of the spectacular scenery.
Photo 6 Part of the Vorringsfoss Waterfall
After a break of about an hour, I
continued on the next section of the climb. The road was less steep and it
passed through a broad valley containing many holiday cottages. There were
quite a few patches of snow at the side of the road and, though it was
sunny, it was much cooler at that higher altitude.
The third section was again very
steep. In some areas the road was very rough with large stones embedded in
the surface. I assumed this was to provide better grip for motor vehicles
in icy conditions but it was uncomfortable for cycling.
Photo 7 Dyranut
I eventually reached the highest
point at Dyranut (1250m or 4100ft above sea level) at 1530 hours. I went
into a café for soup and a roll and decided I was not going to make it to
Geilo about 35 miles away, so I checked in at the adjoining hostel. The
accommodation was very basic but cost only £43 for dinner, bed and
breakfast, a few beers and a cold shower. In the late evening I strolled
around the collection of buildings and admired the surroundings. Although
the sun had set, it was far from dark. It was cool, clear and calm. I
could see for many tens of miles in all directions and there was no sign
of human existence, apart from the odd juggernaut heading towards Oslo. I
remembered flying over the Grampian Mountains in February some years
previously. There were many patches of snow on the tops of the mountains
and the views looked similar to those before me now here in Norway in
- Distance cycled = 23.13
- Blood sugar at 1800 = 2
- Insulin dose = 20 units
- Blood sugar at 2140 = 5
Wednesday 23 July
- Blood sugar at 0830 = 9
- Insulin dose = 18 units
I left Dyranut in warm sunshine
and no wind. The top of the plateau is very much like Caithness with
fairly low hills and moorland.
Photo 8 The Hardangervidda Plateau
Every now and then there were
very big patches of snow; at a lake there was a large patch in a cove to a
depth of at least four feet. I saw a few flocks of sheep grazing on the
moors. Every time I stopped for a drink I was soon surrounded by sheep,
each of them wearing a bell around its neck.
Photo 9 Snow in July
After about 15 miles of level
riding the road began a gradual descent. After about 2 hours I arrived at
Haugestol where I stopped for a coffee and a sandwich. I met two Norwegian
cyclists who were on a day trip from Geilo to Finse, a famous Norwegian
I reached the busy town of Geilo
where I stopped for lunch. There were quite a few ski slopes around but
the mountains did not seem to be very high. I recently read that Geilo is
much more famous for its cross-country skiing than for its downhill
skiing. The sky was clouding over a little with a few showers dotted
around but it was still quite hot.
I arrived in Hol with plenty of
time to spare to reach the next town of Gol but the weather
turned nasty with a very heavy
hail shower. I checked in at a decent looking hotel in Gol at around 1530
hours after cycling almost 70 miles. The temperature down here was well
into the eighties and it was very humid. It was hard to believe that I saw
so much snow only a few hours earlier. The traffic was much heavier but it
was still relatively quiet.
At 1600 hours I noticed that the
hotel restaurant was full but when I was ready to eat at 1800 I was told
that the restaurant was closed. Apparently, most Norwegians prefer to eat
their evening meal before 1700. I went to an adjoining café and had what
seems to be a popular Norwegian meal consisting of meatballs, potatoes,
mixed vegetables and sauerkraut, all with thick gravy. I spent the evening
at a nearby restaurant sitting in the open air reading a book and drinking
a few beers. I saw some very tempting meals being eaten by other tourists
and I succumbed and ordered a large sandwich to compensate for the meal I
had eaten earlier.
- Distance cycled = 69.50 miles
- Blood sugar at 1600 = 4
- Insulin dose = 20 units
Thursday 24 July
- Blood sugar = 16 (due to the
large sandwich last night)
- Insulin dose = 20 units
I was quite impressed with the
town of Gol, it was the most northerly point I had ever been. The main
street had many interesting shops set back from the main road.
I left Gol at 0945 heading south
in the direction of Oslo. The road was mostly downhill for the first hour
but it then levelled off with a slight
headwind limiting my speed. Around noon I encountered a heavy thunderstorm
and took shelter in a small café where I had the best cheeseburger I have
ever eaten. The scenery is very similar to Pitlochry but there are more
trees. The traffic was quite heavy in parts but nothing like Central
After the rain the weather became
very hot and I knew I was being burned but I thought what the hell and
continued cycling south.
The valley I was cycling through
was very picturesque, with a river, railway line, road, towns, villages
and high mountains. It was very reminiscent of Scotland.
I reached the northern shores of
a lake extending 24 miles south to Noresund. The thunderstorm was crashing
noisily to the north as I paused for a break in a lay-by and looked south.
The view was beautiful.
When I reached Noresund I was
almost passed it before I realised. When I turned around on a very steep
section of the cycle path my chain snapped. I had to freewheel back to the
last hotel I had seen and checked in. I decided I would get a taxi or bus
to the nearest town the next day to buy a new chain. Noresund was more a
collection of well-spaced homesteads than a town and there was little
evidence of a centre with shops.
When I entered my room I drew
back the curtains and I was pleased to see a great view of the lake
through tall trees. There was a jetty belonging
to the hotel from which a small pleasure boat frequently took passengers
to a village across the lake. After a quite hard days cycling it was a
pleasure to just sit on the balcony and relax in the hot sunshine.
In the evening I had dinner in
the hotel with a half bottle of red wine followed by coffee in a large
elegant lounge where I spent the long twilight reading a book. The few
other guests in this large, fairly high quality hotel were Norwegian, who
kept themselves to themselves and did not court conversation.
- Distance cycled = 57.50 miles
After eating such a rich meal I
did not check my blood sugar level in the evening to avoid the feeling of
guilt. The physical exertions of the day made me feel justified in
forgetting that I had diabetes for one night (it is much safer to eat
excessively in the short term than it is to eat too little).
Friday 25 July
- Blood sugar at 0800 = 14
- Insulin dose = 24 units
Today will be my first day off
from cycling. I had intended to cycle to Oslo by this evening and have a
day in the capital on Saturday before heading back to Bergen. This was not
now possible so, following a good breakfast and good advice from the hotel
receptionist, I caught the 1005 bus to Honefoss, about 25 miles distant
and costing £4.50 for a single ticket.
The receptionist gave me a lesson
in the pronunciation of Norwegian place names. I innocently pronounced
Noresund as Nor-sund in my Yorkshire accent but I was reprimanded and
instructed to pronounce it as Noorra-soond
The town of Honefoss, or
Hoona-foos, was quite small but had plenty of shops including a
well-stocked bike shop where I was able to buy a new chain and spare
links. The town square was quite busy but pleasant. After making my
purchases I had lunch and a beer in the town square, spending a quiet hour
watching the people come and go.
I caught the 1430 bus back to
Noresund from the towns bus station just off the town square. My fellow
passengers were a mixed bunch, just like a typical group from the UK but
they all talked funny just like a typical group from the UK.
I returned to the hotel at around
1600 and used their workshop to fit my new bike chain. I re-entered the
hotel with blackened hands but felt secure now that I had a means of
transport to continue my journey.
In the early evening I took the
opportunity to swim in the lake. The water temperature was around 23
Celsius, a little higher than the air temperature, and it felt like
submerging into a warm bath.
I had another dinner in the hotel
restaurant and again spent the evening reading in the lounge. It was a
Saturday 26 July
- Blood sugar at 0800 = 13
- Insulin dose = 24 units
I received quite a hefty bill
from the hotel at £161 for dinner, bed and breakfast and a few beers for
two nights. I left at 0945 heading for Kongsberg. This town has a strong
connection with Caithness through the acquisition of the Wick based
company Simrad, now known as Kongsberg Simrad.
The weather was quite hot at
times then wet with the odd clap of thunder. I estimate the temperature to
have been about 25 Celsius.
Photo 11 Near Vikersund
The land I passed through today
was much more arable. I saw a few deer darting across the main road but
apart from these I saw no wildlife. I have not seen one rabbit or
hedgehog, alive or dead, since arriving in Norway. One feature of cycling
in Scotland is the amount of carnage that you find at the roadside; cats,
dogs, rabbits, snakes, birds, frogs and even deer. Maybe it is due to the
lighter traffic here in Norway, or maybe they have killed them all.
As I approached the town of
Vikersund, a sign advised cyclists and pedestrians not to proceed along
the main road around the town but to detour through the town. I required
cash so I entered Vikersund intent on finding a bank at which I could
exchange some travellers cheques. It was just before lunchtime and quite
busy with people but all banks were closed and most of the shops were
closing. I then remembered that I had read that nearly everywhere in
Norway closes at lunchtime on a Saturday.
I decided to proceed to the next
town of Hokksund. Up to now I had encountered very few alternative roads
to get lost on, but in this region I found the many choices of roads,
complex junctions, detours and poor signs difficult to contend with. I
took what appeared to be the cycle track but it soon diminished to a
forest trail that came to a dead end against a railway line. I retraced my
tracks back to the main road and decided I would ignore cycle paths from
I reached Hokksund and found an
open café serving delicious sandwiches and ice-cold coke. When I left the
café I made my panniers secure, mounted my bike and turned right in search
of a way out of the town, under the watchful gaze of the other diners. I
couldnt find a route out so I was forced to return past the café. I could
tell that the other diners were not impressed with my navigational skills
by their broad smiles and disguised laughter.
The afternoon was very warm and
humid and I found the going quite difficult to Kongsberg. The last ten
miles seemed to be all up-hill with increasing traffic and uncomfortable
conditions but at least I was cycling through some beautiful farming
countryside. Quite often at the roadside I saw fruit for sale.
Photo 12 Approaching Kongsberg
The first building I encountered
on entering Kongsberg was the hospital, with the very apt name of
After cycling through and around
the town several times I found only one hotel, The Grand. By this time it
was 1730 and I was low in blood sugar so I had a few Dextrosol and checked
in at The Grand which is a very high quality hotel. After I had dinner at
the hotel I toured the town centre. In the pedestrian area I found
numerous hotels and guesthouses, all much cheaper and more suitable for my
needs than The Grand.
I visited an Irish Pub in the
town-centre just before 2100 hours and ordered half a litre of beer for
only £1.75. Although I was the only customer (dont forget this was a
Saturday night) I found out it was happy hour which ended at 2100 hours
and their normal price was £3.50. A group of locals arrived later, one of
who ordered a Baileys and was charged £5.70. No wonder the place was
empty. The town had the feel of a very quiet Tuesday night in winter in
Thurso, only quieter.
Back at The Grand I exchanged
£200 worth of Travellers Cheques for 2500Kr (the receptionist consulted
the newspaper for the exchange rate which was 12.50Kr to the £). She then
had difficulty calculating how many Kr to give me. Initially she said
1650Kr, then said that she had been trained to do it a certain way but
agreed with me that it should be 2500Kr (I of course neglected to mention
commission and bank charges but what the hell). Whilst counting out the
cash she gave me too much but I had got a good deal so I told her.
- Blood sugar at 1800 = 4
- Insulin dose = 20 units
- Distance cycled = 62.99 miles
Sunday 27 July
- Blood sugar at 0800 = 15
- Insulin dose = 22 units
The hotel bill was £49.20 for the
room and £35.90 for the meal.
I left the hotel at 1000 and,
after eventually finding my way out of the town centre, I soon got into
the swing of cycling again after a hard day yesterday.
Kongsberg is quite an industrial
town with many factory units on the outskirts.
Photo 13 Kongsberg
The weather today was much cooler
and quite breezy. The road soon started to climb quite steeply to well
over 1000 feet and I was quickly away from the suburbs around Kongsberg.
Norway has a large number of
Kommunes, equivalent to our boroughs. As you enter each one, there is an
information board giving general and detailed maps and pointing out the
sights and places of interest. According to my map I was soon to leave the
region of Buskerud and enter the more famous region of Telemark.
At the top of a steep section I
stopped at a roadside café and had a coffee and a sandwich before setting
off on my merry way. After a short time I noticed a camper van approaching
on the same side of the road as I was. I soon realised that I had set off
on the wrong side of the road but luckily I had time to get on the correct
side and wave an apology to the driver.
The road was fairly level for a
few miles before I entered the Telemark region and there was a very steep
descent to the town of Notodden with its steep cobbled streets. Just
before entering the town, I stopped at a small shop and bought bread and
vacuum-packed meat to make sandwiches for lunch.
Photo 14 Notodden
Between Notodden and Selfjord
there is an almost circular range of mountains. I had a choice of taking
either the north or south route around the mountain range to Selfjord,
each around 40 miles in length. I plumped for the south route and left
Notodden looking for a suitable spot to stop for lunch.
The road was quite steep but
about two miles from the town I came upon a beautiful spot high above a
freshwater fjord with terrific views to the north and south. I used my
Swiss army knife to cut the bread I had bought (mutilate more like) and
made some sandwiches. When I departed from the small car park I left a
pile of breadcrumbs much greater in volume than the bread I had started
The road south to Gvarv (I
noticed that some place names are similar to Scottish names i.e. Garve)
was very hilly with steep climbs and sharp descents. I had intended to
stop overnight in Gvarv but the town was lacking in hotels or guesthouses
so I continued on to the larger town of Bo. Initially there was little
evidence of accommodation so I followed the signposts to Bo Hotel,
expecting another 5 star establishment, but I was surprised to find that
it was a college halls-of-residence hired out very cheaply to
The room was very cheap by
Norwegian standards at £18.40 per night, but by British standards it was
expensive, especially when breakfast was not included.
After a good shower I ventured
into the rainy evening in search of a convenient eating establishment. I
did not have to walk far. I ordered a large pizza expecting a plate-sized
delicacy that would replace the energy I had expended. I was surprised to
find that the pizza I received would have fed a large family for a week.
The waitress however, provided enough serviettes for me to take away what
I could not eat.
As I was eating the pizza, it
started to rain extremely heavily. After I had eaten my fill I wrapped the
pizza segments that I could not eat in the serviettes, for tonights
supper and tomorrows lunch, and walked back to the college. I wasnt
really dressed for the conditions and I found that I left a trail of pizza
segments all the way back.
- Blood sugar at 1700 = 4
- Insulin dose = 20 units
- Distance cycled = 45.65 miles
Monday 28 July
- Blood sugar at 0830 = 17
- Insulin dose = 22 units
With such a high blood sugar
level I decided not to eat breakfast, it wasnt included in the price
anyway so it was just as well. After a good sleep (10 hours), I left Bo at
0900. The weather was much cooler and fresher with a moderate headwind.
The road was mostly uphill to
Sanda and the traffic was quite heavy so I took a parallel minor road to
the town of Selfjord. During the twelve miles along the shores of the
fjord I saw only 12 vehicles. The road was incredibly steep in places and
I arrived at Selfjord (20 miles from Bo) needing a breakfast.
I arrived at a service station
cum supermarket where I bought drink and food. I had a very large hotdog
and bought apples for the journey. I normally eat four or five apples when
I am cycling, they provide liquid, carbohydrate, and satisfy the pangs of
The next 25 miles were uphill
along some very tiring and difficult stretches with heavy traffic. One
feature of the traffic was the number of motorcyclists travelling at great
speed, a bit like the Isle of Man TT at times.
Since Selfjord I had seen only
one hotel and no signs of other accommodation. I intended to cycle as far
as the town of Amot but the information boards at the side of the road
indicated that there were no facilities available in the town. This could
mean either a detour south of 20 miles steeply downhill (all of which I
would have to climb again the next day) or carrying on cycling through the
night. After stopping at a remote shop to buy food I was even
contemplating sleeping in the forest under the stars.
I was now at quite a high
altitude and the traffic had diminished to only the odd vehicle. There
were deep ravines at the sides of the road and the odd patch of snow. The
silence was beautiful. I stopped at a picnic spot for a drink and an apple
and felt a great sense of achievement. After planning this trip for nearly
a year (buying maps, making train and ferry bookings, planning the route
on the computer using Autoroute and Excel spreadsheets), here I was now in
the middle of Norway enjoying a small portion of what it had to offer.
As I approached Amot another
information board revealed that there was at least one hotel in the town.
From a height of 2600 feet the
drop to the town was very steep. From a clearing high above I could see
evidence of the large scale logging operations on which the town depends.
I arrived at the Turristhotel,
Amot at 1630 very tired after cycling 56 very hilly miles.
The hotel had an exhibition
advertising the offerings of the Telemark region. There was one item
depicting the Heroes of Telemark. These were a group of British and
Norwegian people who, during the Second World War, destroyed the heavy
water production plant at Rjukan, 40 miles to the north of Amot. The heavy
water was required by the Germans for their efforts to make an atom bomb.
I remembered a lady in Leeds I knew whose husband was killed during the
war. Only about twelve years ago she was informed that he had been killed
in the Telemark operation.
A very large buffet meal was
prepared for guests at the hotel starting at 1900 hours. By 2000, when I
had finished, only five other guests had dined and there seemed to be a
great deal of food left for the waste bin.
I spent the evening viewing the
exhibition and reading my book. A lone Norwegian man asked to join me and
told me that he was on his way to see the Norwegian Industrial Workers
Museum at Rjukan. He was about my age and worked in the oil industry based
in Leirvik (pronounced Lerwick). When he found out I was British, and not
German as he had expected, I detected unease in his demeanour. He told me
that he had direct contact with oil-workers from many countries. He feared
the Finnish workers for their unpredictable nature and their willingness
to fight at the drop of a hat, but he found the British workers to be the
most unpredictable and difficult to deal with. I kept my extremely short
temper in check, punched the bastard and told him that we are not all
tarred with the same brush.
After drinking two-and-a-half
pints of beer at £5.85 per pint I went to bed at 2300 hours.
- Blood sugar at 1630 = 4
- Insulin dose = 20 units
- Distance cycled = 51.06 miles
- Blood sugar at 2300 = 2 (so I
ate the two sandwiches I had bought earlier)
Tuesday 29 July
- Blood sugar at 0830 = 4
- Insulin dose = 20 units
I got a pleasant surprise with
the hotel bill; dinner bed and breakfast was only £53.60.
I left Amot at 0930 expecting a
very hard day. The weather was cool and fresh with a light to moderate
headwind. At least it was dry all day.
The climb out of the town was
very steep but for the first ten miles or so the trend was downhill. I saw
a lot of evidence of logging with many sawmills along the route.
At one stopping place there was a
number of wooden buildings, each depicting some aspect of life in the
region. One building had woollen clothing and the next had national dress
costumes. There were wooden carvings for sale and one building showed
bread being baked. I bought two large current-filled cakes for about
£1.50, ideal for my lunch. Another hut was devoted to those other
Norwegian delicacies, Coca-Cola and beef-burgers.
I left the stopping place and
continued north towards a group of mountains, each of which was higher
than Ben Nevis. I was sure that I was going to have to climb high over the
mountain range but I was pleasantly surprised to find that a gap appeared
and the road remained level. The road followed the shores of a lake for
about twelve miles before descending to the town of Haukeligrend at which
I arrived around 1300 hours.
The terrain in this area was
mainly mountainous with deep ravines and beautiful lakes. Haukeligrend is
a small township with two hotels located at the junction of two main
roads. At the junction, there were a few stalls assembled selling local
arts and crafts. All of the stallholders appeared weather beaten and had
the look of North American Indians. There were many coach-loads of
tourists buying everything they could carry.
The road for the next ten miles
had a few steep hills but none as steep as the subsequent five miles.
Gradually the patches of snow in the hills became more numerous and soon
there were a few patches at the roadside. I came to a long uphill stretch
and stopped at the roadside to eat the bread I had bought earlier. It was
just as well, the next ten miles were spectacular.
The road approached a tunnel but
there was an alternative route over the mountain. From the top, the views
were incredible. I could see the main road in the distance maintaining the
same height for about four miles or so before being obscured by hills. I
cycled along the shores of a few lakes above which hills climbed to a
height of about 1000 feet. Everywhere there were numerous patches of snow.
Needless to say the breeze was quite cold although I was warm with all the
pedalling. I decided that if I found accommodation within one hour I would
take it rather than risk not finding any further on.
After I had cycled 43 miles from
Amot, I came upon a small collection of buildings, called Haukeliseter,
high up in the mountains. There was a café, shops and a hotel in a
beautiful setting so I decided to stay the night.
Photo 16 The
Photo 17 The Hardangervidda Plateau
I was assigned a room with a view
of a lake which was ringed by mountains, each over six thousand feet above
sea level and with snow patches along the lakeshore. A seaplane took off
from the lake every hour, until about 2100 hours, taking tourists on
flights over the Hardangervidda plateau.
I had moose steaks for dinner in
the restaurant and spent the evening writing postcards, reading, and
planning my route for the next day.
Wednesday 30 July
- Blood sugar at 0800 = 4
- Insulin dose = 20 units
What a beautiful start to the
day, clear blue sky, strong sunshine, no wind and mountains reflected in
the crystal clear lake in front of my bedroom window. The bill for dinner,
bed and breakfast was only £39.76. After a good breakfast I set off at
0930 heading eastwards and joined the quiet main road. Just after I set
off, a Volvo left the hotel and, as they passed me, the occupants waved
enthusiastically. It was either admiration or pity. I waved back and gave
them a smile.
As I proceeded, the lay-bys were
dotted with empty cars. The owners were either camping in the hills or out
for an early walk. I continued east for about six miles on a level road
until I came to a tunnel. I took the alternative road over the mountains.
An information board informed me that I was at a height of 3832 feet above
sea level (622 feet higher than the highest point in England).
As I climbed the steep road I
came upon a large concrete tube which initially looked like a water
conduit for a hydro station but turned out to be a section of the road
tunnel through the mountains. Climbing above the tunnel, my road cut
through a huge snowdrift, which at one side was at least ten feet deep.
At the other side of the
mountain, after re-joining the main road, I passed through the first of
many tunnels that did not have an alternative route for cyclists, but this
one was nothing compared to what was to come.
I was expecting a sharp descent
soon after leaving the hotel but it did not come until after about twelve
miles. When it did come it was worth waiting for. As I descended, the
temperature and humidity increased significantly. When I reached Roldal,
after about 20 miles, I was faced with a choice of three routes. The first
route was up a steep hill eventually going through two long tunnels with
no evidence of alternative roads. The second route was a minor road which
seemed to go vertically over a very high mountain, The third route was
initially downhill and was the most attractive from my point of view, so I
After dropping down to a lake I
cycled along its shores for about seven miles. I noticed that I had
descended below the tree line and that forests were becoming more of a
feature. The lake was crystal-clear with high mountains all around.
When the road left the lake it
started to go nicely downhill but then came to the first of a long series
of tunnels not shown on the map. The first two had alternative paths for
cyclists and pedestrians but I had to cycle through the third. It was
unlit and about 400 metres long. My rear light was very effective but my
front light hardly seemed to penetrate the darkness. After a while, as my
eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, I could just make out the white
lines but by then I was suddenly at the tunnels exit.
After passing through a few
similar tunnels I came to two that were sign-posted as being 1100 metres
and 1200 metres long but they were both well lit and posed no problems.
The traffic was light but one or two heavy wagons hurtled past me
reminding me just how fragile I was.
The next tunnel I came to was
indicated as being 2300 metres (about one and a half miles) long and when
I approached its mouth I found that it was unlit. There I was sitting in
bright sunshine in front of a black hole wondering what to do. There was
only one thing I could do.
After entering the tunnel, the
light from the entrance quickly faded. It is not possible to cycle fast in
these tunnels because you cannot see anything in front of you. Several
times I hit potholes in the road which, if I had been cycling faster,
would have caused damage to the bike.
Inside the tunnel it was very
quiet until, that was, a vehicle approached. At first, I didnt know if
the sound was coming from in front or from behind me but eventually I saw
the lights of the vehicle and hoped that the driver could see me. The
heavy goods vehicles slowed down for nothing; a lone cyclist making his
way nervously through a tunnel, beneath a mountain of rock meant nothing
In the distance I could see a
light approaching which could not have belonged to a motorised vehicle
otherwise I would have heard it. After a time I could hear voices which at
first I thought belonged to workmen but turned out to belong to a group of
cyclists heading north. As they passed we exchanged a hearty "hello".
After a while my front light
seemed to be getting dimmer. It was, because a few seconds later it died.
I had to stop. By this time my eyes were quite accustomed to the dark, I
wasnt but my eyes were. I could walk forwards if I looked back using my
rear light to check my position in the road. I tentatively plodded along
and when I heard a vehicle approach I pressed myself close to the tunnel
wall until it passed. Luckily I was only about 200 metres from the end of
the tunnel. As I came out into the warm sunlight I quickly forgot the
feeling of stark terror that I had in the cold tunnel when my light
As I continued south, the weather
deteriorated to heavy rain. As I approached Sande, I cycled along a raging
river and a steep decline down to the town at sea level. I arrived at
about 1715 and checked in, soaked to the skin, at the Fjord Hotel.
- Blood sugar at 1800 = 4
- Insulin dose = 22 units
- Distance cycled = 66.78 miles.
Thursday 31 July
- Blood sugar at 0800 = 8
- Insulin dose = 22 units
I departed the hotel at 0945 and
caught the 1000 ferry across the Sandsfjord to Ropeid. From there it was a
good steady cycle to Sandeid. At this level there was much more to see.
There were high wooded mountains, blue inlets, offshore islands, and steep
rocky climbs. This is a different kind of cycling to the last week or so.
The road sticks to the coast and the hills are short but steep.
After the rain from yesterday,
the morning was sunny with plenty of blue sky and wispy clouds sticking to
the high mountains like steam rising from the valleys.
My destination for today was the
town of Leirvik located on the island of Stord. I cycled 41 miles to the
small ferry port at Utbjoa. During the journey I was rewarded with a
fantastic view across the Olensfjord. There were gaps in the mountains
across the water revealing views along more fjords to distant towns. The
waterway was quite busy with numerous pleasure craft travelling between
the small towns and settlements along the coastline. There were a few oil
platforms undergoing repair in Olensvao.
The ferry left Utbjoa at 1415 and
arrived several miles south of Liervik at 1520. There were quite a few oil
platforms berthed in inlets along the route to Leirvik. During the
crossing I felt slightly hungry and wandered into the café located at the
bottom of the boat looking forward to a coffee and a sandwich. I was given
a plastic cup of tasteless, tepid liquid and a curly prawn sandwich
consisting of one thin slice of bread and three small prawns. I was
charged £5.50. I didnt have enough Norwegian currency but the lady
eagerly accepted the equivalent of about £4.
Although Leirvik is quite a large
town, I could only find one hotel, The Grand.
The hotel receptionist told me
that she could not cash my TSB travellers cheques and it would be better
if I asked the day staff. I was suspicious; the day staff would include
the manager who would be after my money.
- Blood sugar at 2000 = 4
- Insulin dose = 22 units
- Distance cycled = 47.22 miles.
Friday 1 August
When I asked to cash £100 worth
of travellers cheques I was offered an exchange rate of 10.4Kr to the
pound. I of course queried this and after the female manager had phoned
the bank I was told that it was 12.23Kr. After they deducted their
commission it came to 11.33Kr and they then told me that the bank deducted
25Kr for each cheque (more than £2). Instead of the 1250Kr I was
expecting, I received only 1083Kr.
I was not impressed with the
Leirvik Grand Hotel. The receptionist was surly, the prices were high,
there was no bar, and I felt cheated.
I left the hotel at about 0930
and went to the quayside to purchase a ferry ticket to Bergen. I was
charged 260Kr (£24) for a place aboard one of the express catamarans. The
quayside was packed with people. I had seen one of the catamarans in
Bergen and I knew it could not accommodate this number. Suddenly four
catamarans arrived and the people formed themselves into four groups. I
had no idea which to join so I just stood back and waited. As the four
craft berthed they each displayed their destinations.
According to the map, the
distance to Bergen is about 50 miles. The catamaran completed this in
about two hours with two ten-minute stops. The engine noise and seating
arrangements were very much like an aircraft. During the journey, I saw a
few of the tall ships that had sailed from Aberdeen to Trondheim a few
As the ferry approached Bergen I
saw many rocky islands and two high suspension bridges carrying busy roads
from the city to the west and north. The ferry docked at 1345. The
quayside was very busy with large crowds around the famous open-air fish
market. Tomorrow I will have the whole day to explore the city and spend
the fifty pence I have left.
I knew there were a few hotels
near where I had stayed two weeks previously, so I cycled in that general
direction. I checked in at a large hotel with a good restaurant. I was
charged £62 for dinner, bed and breakfast. This was about twice as much as
I was charged in Ullapool back in May, but I was in a much higher quality
hotel near the centre of a Scandinavian city. The room was large with high
quality fittings, shower, television, and a very tempting but very
expensive mini bar.
When I went for dinner in the
restaurant I was pleased to see an empty dining area. The waitress told me
however that I was lucky to get a table, as in five minutes she was
expecting three coach loads of diners to descend upon them. Just as I had
made myself comfortable, they all entered. It was like watching boxing,
wrestling, karate, and the Iran-Iraq war all at once. The food was of a
good quality and was available from a buffet.
In the evening I went for a
pleasant walk through the centre of Bergen before returning to my room to
- Blood sugar at 1825 = 5
- Insulin dose = 24 units
Saturday 2 August
- Blood sugar at 0830 = 8
- Insulin dose = 24 units
I had a full day and evening in
Bergen before the ferry departed at 0200 the next morning. It was a good
chance to relax, do some shopping and explore the city.
The fish market was very busy.
There were more kinds of fish on sale than I thought existed. I left my
bike chained to some railings and then toured the city centre on foot. It
was hard to believe that Bergen is as far north as Lerwick; the weather
was fantastic, it was as hot as a Mediterranean country. There were
pavement cafes and bars and thousands of holidaymakers milling around.
Photo 18 Bergen
Just to the south of the fish
market there is a wide pedestrian area surrounded by shops. In the centre
of the area there are a few buildings selling newspapers and magazines and
just outside there were a few people setting up music equipment. When I
passed later, I could hear rock and roll music and could see two dancers
showing passers-by how to dance. To me the music was enticing. I know I
can dance well to this music but I didnt pluck up the courage to show
them what I can do.
I left the area to look inside a
bookshop, one of my favourite pastimes. There were numerous
English-language books on display and I selected the novel "esau" by
Philip Kerr about an expedition to the Himalayas, to read on the journey
I spent some time in the large
department stores surrounding the central area but then returned to my
bicycle to check that my belongings were still there. I wasnt too worried
because most of the luggage consisted of dirty washing.
After a lunch of smoked salmon
from the fish market, I visited the old part of Bergen called The Bryggen.
This is a group of wooden buildings depicting life in the city in the last
few centuries. There were many opportunities to part with your money but
apart from buying a few T-shirts I resisted.
Later in the day I needed to cash
some travellers cheques. At the hotel in the morning I was advised to cash
my cheques at the tourist information office. They didnt try to fleece me
and gave an exchange rate close to that quoted in the daily papers. It is
strange that they dont have to pay charges for each cheque like The Grand
Hotel in Leirvik.
Adjacent to the fish-market there
is a large wooden structure that I found contained a few bars and
restaurants. Around 1600 I ordered a beer and sat at the quayside to view
the busy waterways. Most of the boats were Norwegian but I saw one or two
British registered boats.
Photo 19 Bergen
In the evening the area soon
livened up. The restaurants gradually filled and live music was played in
the main bar. Just outside, there were many boats moored at the quayside
and many of the occupants were out enjoying themselves. I had a meal at an
Italian restaurant and then walked along the quayside towards the sound of
familiar music. It was a band playing Neil Young songs. I was in my
element. I spent an enjoyable two hours sitting in warm sunshine listening
to good music until around 10-o clock.
I returned to my bicycle and did
a final tour of the city centre before joining the queue for the ferry to
Lerwick. There was a group of British vintage car enthusiasts returning to
the UK. They were driving an old Jaguar MK6, a Ford Popular and an old car
I could not identify.
When I entered the check in area
it was deserted. I approached the counter and asked the receptionist to
exchange my ticket for a boarding card. She refused. She told me, in
broken English, that I must be in possession of a queue ticket before she
could serve me. I looked around. There was one other person in the
building being served at an adjacent counter. I returned my gaze to the
receptionist and she told me that I must take a ticket from the machine at
the entrance, join the relevant colour coded queue and present it to her
before she could serve me. I refused. The Norwegian man at the next
counter went to the entrance, got a ticket and gave it to my receptionist.
She then smiled broadly, gave me a boarding card and wished me a pleasant
Sunday 3 August
The St Clair left
Bergen on time at 0200 local time. I was assigned the same cabin as before
and had a good sleep.
Photo 20 Lerwick
As the ferry
approached the harbour in Lerwick, a jet skier, darting across the path of
the boat, welcomed us. We arrived on time at 1400 hours. The weather was
incredible for Shetland, it was warm and sunny and there was no wind. I
spent a few pleasant hours in Lerwick before I re-joined the ferry at 1800
We sailed at 1900 hours. The
normal route south takes the ferry well to the east of the islands.
Photo 21 Sumburgh Head Shetland
Tonight the captain took us on a
detour through a narrow channel between the uninhabited island of Mousa
and the Mainland. We were rewarded with the sight of many seals and we saw
a group of swimmers who were swimming from the town of Sandwick on the
mainland across to the island of Mousa, a distance of about two miles.
Monday 4 August
- Blood sugar at 0640 = 4
- Insulin dose = 24 units
The ferry arrived in Aberdeen on
schedule at 0800. I had over three hours to wait for the train to
Inverness. It was a beautiful day with unbroken sunshine and warm light
winds. I bought food for the journey at the station and was pleasantly
surprised by the quality of the goods for sale.
The train departed at 1135 and
arrived in Inverness at 1348 after passing through some beautiful
countryside. I had three and a half-hours to spend in Inverness before
the train to Thurso departed at 1715. I left my bicycle in the railway
station and spent most of the time in bookshops.
I like Inverness. It is large
enough to have a good selection of shops and is located in an area that
attracts many tourists. My favourite part of the world however, lies to
The train left on time and for
the early part of the journey it was packed with people. As we approached
Beauly there was a strong farmyard smell. A young American passenger
complained to his mother and she told him, in a loud voice of course, that
the smell was common in the Scottish countryside. He wasnt impressed.
I woke up at Helmsdale determined
to enjoy the wonderful scenery to Georgemas. The sky was clear and the
terrain was very dry. Many of the tourists indicated their amazement at
The train arrived at Georgemas
Junction on time at 2040. I packed my panniers on the bike for the last
time and cycled the four miles to Halkirk. The evening was wonderful. The
air was warm and full of the scent of summer. I arrived home at 2100 with
a blood sugar level of only 2. I had cycled 565 miles in a mountainous
country for two weeks without any problems and the moment I arrived home I
needed food. I was fine after I had eaten a sandwich but I felt that if I
dont make demands on my body I am less aware of its needs.
My tour of Norway was very
successful. I can clearly remember the events of each day and recall the
sense of achievement I felt as I lowered my head to the pillow each night.
Most beach-holidays I have had in the Mediterranean countries have
provided me with relatively few memorable events. As long as I am capable
I intend to continue cycling for pleasure. On my journeys I have met many
people, some much older and in much poorer health than me, who were
undertaking very arduous activities. One 68 year old I met in a café in
Dornoch was cycling to John o Groats from Lands End not long after a
triple heart bypass operation. Another gentleman of pensionable age I met
in Lairg was on his way from the northernmost tip of mainland Britain at
Dunnet Head to the southernmost tip at The Lizard in Cornwall. He was
doing it on foot. He had spent a day of heavy rain walking from an estate
workers cottage at Loch Choire Lodge to Lairg. He told me that he had
spent most of his life in the British army and that, after his wife had
died, he needed to set demanding objectives to maintain an interest in
life. Walking the length of mainland Britain certainly provided him with
that. I spent an enjoyable evening in his company at the Sutherland Arms
Hotel in Lairg. I wonder what he is doing now.
Norway was everything I could
have wished for. The weather was fantastic, the facilities were of a high
quality and the scenery was breathtaking. Throughout the two and a half
weeks from leaving and returning to Halkirk, I felt a great sense of
adventure. Using the foreign currency, negotiating the Norwegian road
system, eating the food, speaking with the people, and seeing the
countryside provided me with experiences that I will remember for many
I am currently planning my next
trip. I intend to cycle along the Pyrenees from Bilbao to Portbou and then
return to Bilbao by train to catch the ferry back to Portsmouth.