Scandinavia by Land Rover….Part 1

1a Packed!

I’m sat on the veranda looking my very own version of The Mekong Delta, it used to be my nice garden pond and waterfall, it’s practically the same after every trip away, this adventure ended two days ago days I’m relaxed  knowing no more driving for a while…no more 3 minute showers…no more daily de-camping…no more waiting in lane fekkin 1 at the ferry and no more stupendous scenery. I’m also worn out, in fact we both are! I loved every minute of our adventures, so being dog-tired at the end is no surprise and something I will always put up with.

I wont begin this tale with the usual “I waved bye to the cat as truck and I trundled down the lane” ..suffice to say she was her usual disgruntled self upon our return! Lets pick up the story on the outskirts of Ipswich shall we?

We rounded the town and entered the roundabout joining the A120 into Harwich.  it’s a small town dominated by a huge freight terminal and the base for the Stenna line ferry to the Hook of Holland just 7 slow sailing hours away. We were due to join for the 22.30hrs night sailing to start our adventure to Scandinavia with a few other Land Rovers as part of Atlas Overland 4×4 Aventure Tours… http://atlasoverland.com/ led by Pete and assisted by wifey Jo. We had joined them last year on an adventure to Corsica and enjoyed it and their company very much, and was impressed by his knowledge and style of leadership so much so that we were joining them again for another adventure, Pete is very much my kind of guy and I take him and his sense of humour easily…..velco spiders… I have since the 70’s done my own thing in England Europe on the motorbike, and did later with Julie in fact for several years we both used to help run “APPY WANDERERS” touring group taking folk on adventures in the UK and Europe to the Alps in particular. Now I am in a new world of Land Rovers but doing similar things both on my own or with Julie and sometimes with a tour. It’s the same experience except I’m now on four wheels and have a huge amount of space but I now have the ability to travel on non tarmac roads which is a brilliant new world. Last year I went with a groups of folk to Morocco driving on rocks and sand, it was a wonderful and new experience for me and something I wanted more of.

Julie and I went with a group from Atlas Overland to Corsica and really enjoyed it even if it was a bit slower but it was great and we got to pick up many hints and tips from Peter especially also I picked up on other folks ideas too. So here we were sat in a pub waiting for the gathering.

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Welsh Cerys (pronounced Keris) and smiling Richard walked into the pub  just before our leaders Jo and Peter, and a big heartfelt “hello” was passed around

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Welsh Cerys..                                                                                                               Pete… Head scout

We meet the other Corsican gang, the Jackson 4 on the dock side later. The rest of the guys on this tour we would also meet on the dockside. Some had been together on previous trips so its wasn’t really a bunch of strangers. Before the barriers lifted we found ourselves in a semi-circle as Pete introducing everyone we had had our check-list a couple of weeks and he trusted that we had everything in place. which we did including some tools some spares and plenty of eager hands and an eagerness to help. Pete as leader and organizer was kitted out with a multitude of tools and spares to get everyone moving, in turn we all had breakdown cover in case the minor drama turned into a finality and had to be taken home. We had an extra ace up our sleeve with Richard who was a truck mechanic by trade and had an assortment of “toolery” and good Land Rover knowledge to re-enforce Pete’s apt arsenal.

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Lee from Narrrwich!

I carried the usual stuff on these adventure a strong towing strap and shackles..crowbar..large hacksaw…lump hammer…etc. Not forgetting a “just in case box”, put together by my friend Rob at RD Landrovers containing  fan belts etc. Nobody would be left in the lurch on this trip. As we stood listening to Pete I glanced around at the Jackson 4 and their sleek silver Defender110, 184next to theirs  was another silver 110 which had a more rugged look and beefier tyres AND a higher profile, this was Moira and Pete from Liverpool and Newcastle rrespectively.  Another red Defender 90 sat there, owned by an old boy named Hugh who was in his 70’s but still had the adventure spirit of a 21-year-old he had been around a few places and had done many tours with Pete, Hugh was an engineer in his day.

                                                                      Clair from Northants..

He slid his old 5 foot 6 inch frame down from his cab to greet us with his quiet eccentric but pleasant manner. He reminded me of Golum of the Hobbit trilogy to begin with, only this guy had many more stories and funny tales from distant shores, I’m sure Hugh could have ” black cat” everyone with ease if he chose, but he didn’t.

163Quiet Hugh…

Also with us was a gleaming Discovery 3 which was the vehicle of102 choice for Dean from the Midlands and had done half a dozen trips with Pete he was also a member of the Disco 3 club so I presumed quite learned and experienced and possibly another asset. A blue older Disco pulled up crewed by Karen and Scott, these geezers came from the south. So we had Geordies…a yorkie …a Scouser..a couple of Taffs…my lady from the Boro…a Norfolk boy….

                                                                                                                          Pete Our Geordie  Docki from Northants…a Plymouth eccentric…and a teacher from Gibraltar..This should be an interesting tour and will be fun on the radios!

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“Right then let’s get on board” the barrier is up Pete declares, everyone had been on one or more tours so a spoken list of do’s and dont’s wasn’t necessary neither was the splurge of spoken term and conditions, just to say “Please make sure you enjoy yourselves it and tell us if your not, we are here to help”

                                                                 

                                                                                                           Jo the coin shower lady

We convened later in the bar for a couple of hours before retiring to bed much later than we ought to have done  but hey it was the first day of the adventure and our tails were up! Morning came oh so quickly to the faint melody of some long forgotten 70’s pop tune which I might add stayed in my head for the rest of the day! We struck out for the dock area towards the motorways and head towards Amsterdam. This was the first time I had landed in Holland via the Hook of Holland. It’s always been The Europort for me in the past.
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Within the hour we had paused for coffee and met up by chance  with another 4×4 couple who offered to take us a different way around the city, it was a bit chaotic apparently due to the start of the French bike race, offer accepted we followed them in their Disco he even offered some running commentary, one fact he imparted was that Amsterdam airport is several feet below sea level!

                                                                                                                         Le Scouse Moira                                       The day was warm already,soon the Dutchman bid us farewell his slim blonde mature wife waved as we gathered speed and passed him waving back our thanks as he took the slip road. On we pushed north, north in fact to take onto the massive dyke and its superb smooth road over the IJsseimeer. The big sea was to our left and a huge lake was to our right. So pretty it was that I plotted to pull over here for a while on the return journey.

IMG_7351Karen from the posh parts

Pete led us through Holland to the German border in his borrowed military coloured 4×4. He assures us his own vehicle will be ready around August from Ze German truck builder in Bavaria, I found his truck a little bit difficult to pick out easily in its dark green tree livery, It was going to be a long haul today, about 350 miles in total to the camp site on the German-Danish border. At least from there we only had a fifteen-minute drive in the morning to the ferry across to one of Denmark’s islands between itself and Sweden, we would be leapfrogging the islands via bridge.. ferry.. and tunnels, all fascinating and newstuff!                                                  

                                                     Scott… our very own “Tin Man” IMG_7349

I had been chatting the night before with an Ex RAF Air Traffic Control chap who was now putting his expertise to good use in the civilian market. Naturally his clean voice was easy to pick up on the radio and felt clear for “take orf” on many occasions! My own voice on the radio was rather more earthy and made worse by the fact I drove with the window down AND my blasted front tooth fell out too, this  made me talk like a fekking Troll! So bloody annoying but there was little I could do until I returned home….NB The day after I returned Herr Dentist saw me straight away, he refit the thing using a stronger bonding agent free of charge and I should think so too.  So why didn’t he fit it with the strong stuff in the first place I hear you ask?

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Me..IMG_7231   and………..Julie my trust navigator 

 

 

 

We followed Pete and Jo along some really tiny lanes on the outskirts of the German town of Puttgarden and our ferry port in the morning. The Mr in the the camp had saved us a whole bay to set up camp, some of us had “real” tents some had fancy roof tents.. some had an expanding roof with mattress and some had a nice white shoe box thingy that cranked up and down and had a hoover bolted to it to blow hot air in and keep Cerys quite..er I mean warm!

IMG_7342Dog lover Richard. He is such an inventive boy is our Richard, his Disco had gone from a dirty blue to Camel trophy sand and been decked out in lookalike decals, he had re-jigged the back door with a few home comforts, it looked really different from last year, he had done a fine job. The trouble with these things is that it’s always a job in progress, you go out with folk and you look at their rig to discover another neat idea, and the process starts again…..IMG_7348

                                    Disco 3 owner Dean from the West Midlands 

 

 

We just erected the Oz tent in seconds just as they advertise, they don’t include the time it takes to get it off the roof and our of its bag. We decided to leave kitchen in the bag as we had decided to dine together on camp, we were in Germany so I had Schnitzler, it was a tight squeeze, they were very good at slotting us all in. I was offered a liquid sweet or three but I was so bushed from the previous night coupled with today’s long drive that I just wanted to fall into my pit, 57 and feeling it tonight!

Dawn came and I was up and cooking the bacon at 06.30 hrs. This would be me practically every morning for the whole adventure, I would rise about 06.30 closely followed by Lee and his two young lads Keiron and Piers followed by the lovely Clair, it was an almost autonomous daily start as folk grabbed towel and trudged towards a sink not caring a fig how we looked. A nod and a smile to all as they returned to camp..no point saying owt to some before hand!  Karen in particular crawled out of their little two-man tent totally dishevelled shuffling off to the block clutching her little bag to transform herself back into a lovely woman, I only ever spoke to her when she returned. Scott the ex military man sorted their tent squared things away and got on with the breakfast, Dean our Disco 3 man quietly stirred without much to say and sorted his odd-looking one man tent which had been adapted to fit on the roof. The old red 90 began to rock and the back door swung open, a little white leg protruded dabbing the air for the step followed by another little white leg, this was Hugh coming back to life, he too waddled off to the block to complete his three s’s. Hugh wore the longest khaki shorts and looked every inch an old Land Rover man! atop his head Hugh often wore a battered Crocodile Dundee style hat with fangs, I dare not ask him!  Little Hugh slept inside his adapted 90 he had spent an entirety adapting it to his taste, every item in his truck had a story! It was amazing to listen to the stories, he would often start “Dave, see that little shelf there?….”

Pete and Jo popped out from the extended roof of their truck tadpole like and slipped into their six monthly routine like clockwork Last up as always was Richard and Cerys. This would be pretty much everyone’s routine for the next two weeks. Watching people and their habits an quirky ways and interactions is always interesting,  sometimes I would be packed first and would sit on the roof of the truck and see how everyone was doing, I always came down with a smile on my face.

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                                                                Just observing….

 

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                                            Just packing up…

We were ready to roll by 09.30hrs to the shout of “LIGHT ON!” over the radio from the boys, Pete had given the boys this job to remind everyone to switch on our lights. Scandinavian cops were hot on daylight running lights one could receive a hefty kick to the wallet by the police if caught with them off, someone forgot momentarily almost every day so it was a good task the boys had. Today was another long run up into Sweden to a place called Trollhattan and our next campsite. The ferry from Puttgarden to Denmark was just a short run and the boats  ran every forty minutes of so. Once in the boarding lane we sat and waited for the next one, which wasn’t too soon in arriving.

The crossing was about ten miles across and time enough for a cooked breakfast on board to set us up for the long day north. Once across onto Danish soil (LIGHTS ON!!) we set off again crossing the first of many sea bridges we were Danish island hopping to Sweden , at Copenhagen we dove under the sea a short while before rising to the surface coming up onto a long thin low spit of land before climbing onto the magnificent Oresund Bridge that curved up and over the sea before descended into the outskirts of Malmo in Sweden. We stayed on the motorways because of the large distance we had to travel today…we had another 300+ miles to go. I remembered that every place we passed ended in Berg or Borg! The weather had been very good so far with hot sunny days in spite of the cloud here and there.

15                                             Island hopping across the seas of Denmark 

 

19                           Across the border into Sweden, Pete still ahead

 

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                                                                    Hugh and myself!

We stopped about every 2 hrs today for a stretch, a coffee and a fuel top up. Hugh’s old 90 had the shortest legs so we fuel up accordingly. Some of you are  gonna ask me the price of fuel so here is a snapshot of July 2015 from the Daily Telegraph. Sweden was in between Norway and Denmark in price. The prices where quite a surprise and is because the price of crude oil in 2015 has dropped upto 25% in Europe and 15%  in the UK. Pound sterling is also very strong against the Euro at then moment too.

Norway=  1.25 per litre

Holland=   1.03 per litre

Germany= 0.92 per litre

Denmark= 1.20 euro per litre

Great Britain= 1.16 per litre!!

 

To begin with I thought Sweden looked a bit like Thetford with quite a few trees. In retrospect that is the daftest thing to say when you look at the size of Sweden …its bloody huge..and the billions and billions and billions of fir trees that grow here! This was a long run today of about 350 miles, we drove up the east coast passing Helsingborg ..Halmstad..Falkenberg..Varberg..Gothenberg and finally coming to a rest at our camp site at Trollhatten. It was our second long day of motorways with not much to look at except fir fir fir fir fir trees covering the rolling landscape Oh and some lakes! They had lots of lakes.  We’d stopped for fuel and lunch at a motorway service’s earlier and standing around by the trucks I noticed a large patch of blue and pink lupins, in England these would probably be daffodils. Some thoughtful chap from their highways department must be a bit of a gardener and planted them….or something like that. A few photos were taken and some positive and nice comments made. Most of the big trucks looked a bit different too with huge bull bars fitted, it must have been six foot square and protected the whole front of the Scania. “Moose bars” Pete said. Lots of trucks had these enormous bars fitted as protection, I guess when you think about size then a moose is a big sturdy guy, perhaps a horse on steroids even?

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 Norwegian Moose bars

 

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  Pete’s 110 bars look a tad inadequate

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Perhaps driving two abreast would increase our chances against the raging steroid filled mad moose?? Pete looks to have his jaw firmly set anyway!

 

 

 

45                   Lupins! Planted by thoughtful highways agency guys?

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 Pete and Jo AKA….Atlas Overland

 

 

 

 

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A Police vehicle pulled in for fuel before we left that made me smile, It was a police motohome. The chaps explained that this was actually a mobile office to help them police in the vast rural areas

Back on the road I looked at the fence. The Highways department had erected a large continuous fence that rang along both edges of the motorway the forest had in lots of places been cut back a distance too. The moose was supposed to be a shy guy and the open ground should keep them away from the roads, its been noted however that they can leap over the fences.

Still more miles we crunched, eventually we left the motorway passing around the city of Goteborg we turned towards Trollhatten which sat at the neck of a massive lake called the Vanern. The campsite had plenty of room for our seven truck convoy, we shuffled around on our spot as space was claimed then shuffled a bit more as tents and roof toppers got settled, it had been wet for a couple of hours now with light drizzle and a grey sky, it was still warm though and not a drop of wind could be felt….we were about to meet the midges and mossies, one by bloody one! But first everyone sorted out cookers and dinners

For this trip we had brought mainly tinned food and dried stuff in packets. My trusty Coleman double petrol fired stove was feeling its age I think and began to mis-behave. The wavy yellow flame would not give way to the neat low controlled blue flame, I saw the needle housing had caught alight so turned off the supply and shook my head over it quickly blowing the yellow flame out. I tried a couple of times to light it but the same thing kept happening, I took it outside for a better look from the open fronted kitchen area to inspect and saw fuel weeping along the needle housing, it was out along the thread of the barrel Pete tried tightening it but it still caught fire, we had no PDF tape between us ( I have now) Sods Law had stepped up to the plate and screwed me. Best I could do was find a plumber’s shop in town in the morning. Then I could fix it. Richard came to the rescue with some cotton thread, I held it tight with pliers as he wound the cotton along the thread then screwed it back together and “HEY PRESTO!” it was fixed. I would never have thought of that! I got my little book out and wrote down under the heading THINGS TO GET and wrote down 1) PDF tape…2) Strong cotton thread 3) Look at new fire!

Having eaten everyone congregated at the Jackson camp dragging chairs and boxes of wine. Lee had beer in the fridge, I would climb atop my truck shortly to retrieve a re-supply of Fosters. Piers and his brother helped stoke the little fire with sticks and twigs the various sprays and wipes were applied as the annoying mozzies appeared and began to annoy and feast on us. We wrapped up more and more as little red lumps appeared on faces and arms. Julie’s forehead was peppered with bites Pete’s leg was targeted and many ankles got bitten. long sleeves and long trousers were the key tonight! I have to say I wasn’t bitten at all. Which is perhaps as well because in my mood after the fekking flaming fire incident I would have bitten the bstards back only harder!!  Soon marshmallows made an entry, Keiron and Pies began to cook them on sticks over the fire and handed them out, a few of the girls tried to eat them on the stick but they were just too sticky and so shoving them into ones gob in one go seemed to be the best way to go. Claire had managed to get it in her hair and comparisons to the film “Something about Mary” were made which was quite funny to everyone except the puzzled boys! Folk began to retire as did the fat blood filled bugs, looking at what bits of kit folk had got was interesting and often useful, it got a bit long-winded though as the drinking hindered coherent speech. Moira and Jo were the first ladies tonight to wilt and retire to bed, it’s not a drinking match I might add, it’s just folk sat around talking getting to know each other and the telling of stories and experiences  sometimes in the big team group and sometimes with someone by their own truck or in their tent.

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Something about Claire…..Our marshmallow queen

 

Morning greeted me at 06.30 ish with wet grass and a crisp air, the grey sky was still there but the mossies were thankfully not, they were still in their pits. bloated and fat on our blood. The plan today was have breakfast strike camp and have half a day in town then drive to Oslo and our next camp, it was only a couple of hours away. Tea and bacon were on my now behaving cooker and sizzling away nicely. The cooker was fine for the rest of the trip though I kept a keen eye on it! Folk stirred as others moved around, generally Lee and the two boys rose at the same time as me then the others stirred. Our procedure for dropping the tent down was coming back to Julie, she hadn’t done it in over a year though Id used the tent on Orkney in the early spring. Now there were two of us putting it up and taking it down a routine was soon achieved. Anyone helping would only get in our way!  Unless in really bad conditions of course then help would be thankfully accepted, but generally I do like to do things myself.

We drove into Trollhatten and found the SAAB Heritage Car Museum, the site was formally railway workshops where they built steam engines, in fact at one point they had a contract to build steam engines for Russia. SAAB went into liquidation in 2012 and sadly the whole 120 car collection was put up for public auction thankfully the museum was saved by the town itself at a cost of $4.5 million, it is an absolute gem for car nuts especially SAAB enthusiasts the world over.

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SAAB motor cars lined the whole length of the old railway factory

 

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The SAAB 92 rally car. I remember watching on TV from my childhood days

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Some I had no idea of,  many exhibits were the only ones left of their kind

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                   Some where donated on long-term loan by their owners

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 This SAAB concept car had one continuous wrap around  windscreen

29     The info board states this is an original SAAB 02 prototype designed and built-in 1949. 

Im not really interested in cars but I was aware I had just seen some very rare and original vehicles. It was definitely worth the visit and to think I nearly declined going in! we had a cuppa before driving down to the huge canal locks complex for a look. Canal locks  were first built here in 1800, these were replaced in 1844 (they must have been crap) and were replaced again  in 1916. These are the ones in current use.

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                                Im guessing that these are the old ones from 1844?

 

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Land Rover folk!

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The team walk on as the last of three boats go into the modern 1916 lock gates.

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                                           Lunch under the trees before the drive to Oslo

It was time for lunch we had parked under (or in) the trees so had shelter from the drizzle, which had stopped now, we had tea coffee and meat sandwich’s on the grass banking, Pete called us for the off half an hour later, we got a garage first then found the road out of Trollhatten to Oslo just a hundred plus miles away to the north.

 

21      Anti moose fence on the road to Oslo. Im sure it was anti deer fence too?

The drive to Oslo was remembered by mefor my staring at the moose fence and the endless tree line that went on and on. Oslo was reached when the afternoon blue sky stopped and a rain squall arrived! Eckerberg camp was up on the top of the hill that overlooked Oslo, it was a massive site which looked to have some long-term residents and some pretty undesirable types who didn’t have the Norse look of fair skin blue eyes and blond hair, no these oiks  had swarthy skin, black darting eyes, unkempt black hair and a grubby faces scruffy twats to say the least and was worth remembering to keep the truck locked up and things close by tonight. Camp was erected in one corner by the woods with the city of Oslo laid out below us to our front. Pete’s first task was to take a hammer to the rear of Hughs old 90, no idea why but whatever it was it was soon fixed! I wondered about the bugs but needn’t have worried tonight, they kept a low profile.

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                     English people camping in familiar weather…..in Oslo

 

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Defiant head on.. Tent up beer in hand and bollix to the rain!

 

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Having beer in hand is quite comforting in the rain..as you can probably tell…

The rain squall came and went within half an hour and the evening stayed mild, in fact the evening was actually night-time! After dinner.. shower.. then drinks in the growing circle around the sandy coloured Disco. Quiet Dean was the first tonight to join Richard an Cerys.. then someone dragging a chair joined and on it went until we were all there the subject was those swarthy fukkers with all those kids, it’s the same in every country I guess.  Folk began to drift away to bed after a couple of hours, I thought it must still be early judging by the light but it was actually well after 22.00 hrs! I sat on the truck roof watching the other folk on the site, looking in amazement at some of the caravans which were so long and so full of people.  For an overnight stop with great facilities it was just the job for us and served a purpose. It was 23.00hrs now and the sun was only just dipping. I had to convince myself it really was bedtime so climbed down from the roof to retire, Pete nodded goodnight from his spot by his truck.

Morning came and I was up and feeling as bright as a lark. It was 06.30 getting the tea on and had a quick shufti around our tent and truck to see if anything had been tampered with or stolen, everything was in its place. By 09.45 we had eaten washed and struck camp. I let got the hand brake and we rolled forward, the engine wasn’t missing a beat and was fairly quiet by old Land Rover standards, however multiply this by six or seven vehicles though and it became quite a noise especially of you were still asleep. Our convoy was on the move again and heading north-west. I may well have thought a little harshly of some of the grubby looking caravan dwellers over there but that’s just me, and hey what the hell kind of nomadic bandits must we have looked or sounded like to them? Like I’ve said Oslo was just an overnight stop, however we had a run into the outskirts to look for a chemist for Pete who had a bite that was looking in need of some Norse remedy. The sat nav took us to one but it was closed! The bite wasn’t going to kill him so Pete and Moira agreed we hit the road, between us we had enough creams to hopefully sort it. before we found a chemist at lunchtime hopefully. Next stop Lilly’s Hammer for a supermarket sweep and a chemist for Pete. after lunch we were bound for the next camp at Skabu and were still heading in a NNW direction.

 

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                          Our only photo of Oslo….in search of a chemist!

 

59                                                   Richard my cotton thread expert.

We had a short burst on the motorway around the city after the abortive chemist detour. The day was nice and warm, blue skies would be with us by lunchtime, already the light rain and the greyness of the past day and a half had blown over gone too was the wall to wall line of fir trees, don’t get me wrong I like trees and nature and stuff but this constant view of fir-trees for mile after mile was a little monotonous. Finally Julie captured a funny looking warning sign on the camera. Beware moose!  Here in Norway the image was quite distinctive with jagged antlers whereas in Sweden it was a bit different in that the moose image looked a bit more Micky Mouse and looked to be wearing a little bush on its head!

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Moose warning sign in Norway

Julie took quite a few photos from all three cameras through the windscreen of the truck, with practice technique and guidance she did well capturing much of what I wanted, sometime I slowed right down or drifted close to the barrier so she could see over. Sometimes too as she squinted through the viewfinder I would call “NOW!” as we went past the lamp post..vehicle.. house or tree that would otherwise have gotten in the shot! The faint vertical lines in some shots are in fact the heated windscreen, and sometimes a fly splat would be in the way. Every morning and sometimes at lunchtime I would wash the windscreen.

59a

Wooden bridge with lupins!

We saw many bridges, these few we came across looked like this one! Built from big planks that had been nailed together? Im sure they were not just planks of wood though! We also saw more and more clumps of Lupins during the day along the roadside, surely the guys didn’t plant ALL of these? Over hundreds of miles we saw lots and lots of them, even on small B roads in the mountains, we came to the conclusion that the lupins were actually wild flowers.

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                                     Modern bridge with anti moose fencing…and sunshine.

The military type truck in front of us on some of the photos is in fact Gruppen Leader Pete and Jo with their rented truck, his own vehicle ( Toyota Land Cruiser built to Nato spec) is in deepest Bavaria at the moment being kitted out to a new spec it will have a brand spanking new living cab/bedroom/kitchen on their original 4×4 truck WITH a toilet I might add! Its going to be ready by the end of this summer

img_1041                             ATLAS OVERLAND 4X4 Adventure tours

This is how Pete and Jo’s troopi used to look last year its a photo of mine from last year in Corsica

Now we found ourselves driving along a very narrow two lane carriage way we had been on it for the last hour before Lilli’s Hammer, in my opinion it would have been difficult trying to recover anyone if there was an accident here, the road dropped away to the right into a huge lake, and just steep hill to the left,  so narrow this lip was that no pull off or path had been built, you couldn’t pull off the road at all, metal barriers blocked any exit from the narrow tarmac and chunky bollards dotted the centre reservation like palace guards for mile after mile it seemed a crazy to me vehicles had so little breathing space as the passed each other. Big trucks with those massoove moose bars thundered past seemingly just inched away, it wasn’t a good idea look at the scenery take photo’s. It would have been deadly to have drifted off to sleep or to glaze over as weariness clawed at the inside of ones eyeballs. I was feeling tired was glad Pete called time for lunch at Lilli’s Hammer.

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My “Don’t crash..don’t deviate…don’t even fooking blink” look!

 

LilleHammer to give it its proper name is a town of 27 thousand people, famous to me and you as host to the Winter Olympic Games of 1994. well it does boast 5 ski resorts here! In 2016 it will host the Youth Winter Olympics. Also it was used by those Top Gear clowns to film their Winter Olympic Special in 2005. We pulled into the car park of the shopping complex to get supplies and have lunch on the grass banks and more importantly rest up a while. A guy was selling long sausages, this was Moose..he says. Im a fan of the various German and Austrian cold meats so I tried a couple of free slices and bought 3 to take home, Pete also bought some and shared it at camp later. I have to say its very tasty one is bit sweet because its got strawberry in it, maybe my moose was shot whilst eating wild strawberries?

IMG_1646 - Copy

  Genuine Moose Meat

We also took on board bread and a few “nick nacks” and yes it was eye watering expensive, bread was around £4 a loaf for example. Id hate to think I was on a B&B holiday or doing hotels!! My friend “Fatha” would really be “chuntering” at that and rightly so!

An hour later we were feeling refreshed, a couple of hot drinks cheese and meat sarni’s and a walk around had done the trick, some locals had come across to talk to some of us about the trucks and what we were doing. “LIGHTS ON!” bawled over the radio from the boys to signal our departure and to remind us to put our damn lights in.

We pulled onto the main road which had by now changed to an “ordinary” sized road thankfully, I imagine the lake and sheer hillside had determined the size and width of that damn road.

Pete was looking for the track which is the Peer Gynt route. The book says…The marvellous surroundings and rich culture of Gudbrandsdalen has inspired many artists. tales and storytelling traditions contain anything from gnomes and trolls to historic characters, like local chap Per Gynt, the same person that inspired Henrik Ibsen to write his work, Peer Gynt. Please enjoy your drive along Peer Gynt Road, it said on the sign which covers 60 km, and passes through some of the most beautiful open spaces in Norway. This high mountain road through Gudbrandsdalen takes you straight into the empire of Peer Gynt. It was accessed by an electronic toll booth which took a few minutes to work out by Pete, his card did the trick it was stressed not to deviate from the tracks at all. The land was kinda like our own National Trust and has similar rules and guidelines, the shale tracks were bumpy dusty twisty and fun to drive, the scenery turned wild the further north we travelled, it was about 60 kilomentres. So we were now in the lands of Norwegian folklore!

67

A real house…and not something from The Hobbit

 

61                                                 Waiting for Pete after the pay barrier

 

62          Julie with the camera Julie had started this trick of photographing the group behind quite a few years ago on the motorbike when we used to explore the mountain passes on Austria, I wasnt always at the back looking after the back door!

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                                                      The sign says it all….I think!

 

70                                         After a while we pulled in to have a long look

It was so open and empty in places, the only think that moved were the fekkin mozzies that came to join us at some of the damper places such as above, the snow was around in places and the mossy ground helped to form some small black pools that over time stagnated. The boys meanwhile came alive and began a snowball fight on a large bank of snow it was easily four-foot deep, a few missiles came in our direction, lobbed high to splatter on trucks and bonnets. Ha ha the little bstards!! “Right then you little Jacksons” I shouted at them, retribution had to be had and I joined in the fun, dragging one little terror across the snow on his belly. We haven’t had much snow back home this winter so I guess this would have to suffice!

We drove an after the bit of fun and ended up in the hills surrounded by some pretty firs with blobs of lichen all around the floor mixing  with the moss and fauna.

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No no. Not lost just checking summat else..

 

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                                                    Another chance to stop and explore

We had mile after mile through the forests sometimes it was thick mostly though it was quite light with a couple of houses here and there, I think maybe they were holiday homes for the locals. They were not modern builds though, paint peeled of the wooden slats, fencing had more gaps than fence! sometimes an old car sat there on the dirt track. The grass on the roof? Well that’s all about insulation and has to be a particular kind of grass, that doesn’t grow very much at all. A turf roof is a traditional Scandinavian type of covered with “sod”on top of several layers of birch bark on gently sloping wooden roof boards. Until the late 19th century, it was the most common roof on rural log houses in large parts of Scandinavia. The weight of a sod roof is an advantage also because it helps to compress the logs and make the walls more draught-proof. Sod is also a reasonably efficient insulator in a cold climate. The birch bark underneath ensures that the roof will be waterproof. Google it guys I did and its all very interesting!

The shale roads cut quite easy so a slow speed was advised to A) Stay on the track B) Take in the scenery C) Don’t start “drifting” the corners!It was very easy to start sliding about the trucks began to drift with hardly any persuasion. it was probably best to ease of on the shale, I don’t really want to slide off and disappear into the trees so soon into the adventure like they do on those old rally clips. We had some other traffic to be mindful off too, though I recall only passing a post van and maybe a dozen or more cars all afternoon some of those were motor-homes, after all  it was a tourist route and cost about £10 to drive on by truck

 

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 Norse horses!

 

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Here ended our first experience of The Peer Gynt Vegan (route)

We had another hours drive through the forest and valleys until me reached our next campsite at Skabu. This was an empty but extremely tidy site on the side of a hill with ample flat areas, it  didnt have many mosquito’s either which was a bonus. It was a small and quiet place with just a shower/ kitchen building and a couple of small red chalets. The old guy welcomed us and showed us where we might camp. Also there was a strange low circular hut with a big chimney sticking up through the middle of the roof looking a bit like a sauna, it turned out to be used for BBQ’s! It had a continuous bench around the edge enough for about a dozen people and a big fire pit in the middle which fed into the chimney going up through the middle. The camp may have been sparse but the toilet/kitchen building was fantastic and would have put many a home back home to shame. Though small the quality of the camp facilities was far superior to anything Id seen before.

86                                   Skabu camp...Having a team beer before dinner 

We made camp, some of us erected tents some of us unfolded roof tents and pods, Scott was erecting both their two-man tents, one to use tonight and the other to dry out after being packed in the wet a day or so earlier. Karen was watching from the wine glass.

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                                The view on the way to the shower block at 06.30

 

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 Skabu camp. I can see maybe one advantage about sleeping in a roof tent is that you don’t need grass to pitch on! As you can see the three roofers are parked on the dirt and the three traditional tenter’s are on the nice grass to the right.

After a smoky evening and knowing how a Kipper feels like I went for a shower. The food was Ok don’t get me wrong its just that I’ve never been a big fan of BBQ the smoke or the smell, so sitting in the thick smoke in the dark and eat burnt food isn’t one of Julie or mines favourite past times.  Id sat with Pete into the late hours talking about his navy days, he recalled his time in The Falklands conflict over a few drinks, leading to his life in civvi street and the hard work of running a successful business. Next time you come across those piggin red cones in the North of England think of Pete and Moira…it probably belongs to them!

The morning was a fab start with the bluest of blue sky surrounding snow topped mountains in the distance, now feeling smokeless and clean I started breakfast of bacon and beans. Julie had probably felt the same as me coz she had gone for a shower much earlier than me, Lee emerged followed the the boys, tent flaps flapped and velcro ripped and our day started again!

 

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Skabu Camp. The small red houses behind are chalets just one was occupied by three Dutch bikers with whom I was chatting with briefly the previous evening and gave a beer to. Sometimes current information about the roads can be passed on like this.

We had packed and were ready easily by 09.30 I think everyone had got into the swing of things now, Julie certainly had and was I/C of erecting the kitchen part with the poles and panels. We set off along the high road to take in some more or yesterdays trail which was a few miles away yet.

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                              You could just reach out and touch it  couldn’t you?

We wound along the high road and took in the magnificent views of green lush pine filled valleys, down there was probably a moose or two and a couple of Trolls. It was just so vast and devoid of human activity Oh yes this was great, a hearty breakfast of bacon and beans a superb blue sky a warming naked sun bathing all around in a nice glow, excellent scenery and nobody around to spoil it. I should be put through this every day of my retirement to make up for all the crap that has gone before me!

Before too long we entered a small town to fill up with fuel some guys filled with coffee and a bun too before heading off again, we round the track just up the road and climbed up into the hills and away from civilisation again. Once over the rise we drove along for miles seeing just one of two small one story houses, some looked derelict other run down but lived in, Im still not sure if they are holiday homes of winter refuges. Not many trees could be seen at the moment it was quite flat and mainly gorse with some shrubbery.

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                                                   Following the shale trail

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                                                                     Julie Drives

Further and further up we steadily climb dust blows over us from the truck in front, Julie slows down to let me get some clearer shots, in some places the dust is quite thick. I wanted to be at the back today so we could stop and take photos which I like to do quite a lot.

100                                               Our version of “The Lonely Planet”

 

101The group gathered around the corner for a shot with a backdrop to die for

People stopped here and there to stand and stare at the magnificent vista’s Its was both dramatic wild and beautiful, it was to my eyes anyway.All of us agreed that to make this long sometimes boring drive across three or four countries on mile after mile of motorway for this one view was really worth it. Its not at all like the Yorkshire Dales!

 

103                                                  Cerys behind the wheel

Julie Cerys and Claire all  got behind the wheel to experience the driving and are able to claim “bragging rights” that they have driven off-road in Norway, well done girls! Karen  didn’t give it a go though, I wonder if she was allowed or maybe Scott just treasured his Disco just too much to give her the keys, I’m sure last nights wine would have passed through by now?..Ah well no doesn’t matter. Julie did it and did it for days as I hung out of the side window with the camera.

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                      Hanging out of my window taking shots whist Julie drives

 

 

 

109Looking like a modern-day wagon train of Pilgrims forging ahead to the new world. 

We began to descend down to the tree line and into the folds between the land finding a picnic spot by one of the many rivers. It was time for dinner, wed been driving…sorry Julie had been driving for hours and it was time for lunch

 

111                                 My driver takes a well-earned cuppa by the river.

 

115

   Its Norway not New England!

 

117                                     Richard and Cerys with Julie at another tea stop!

The names of the places were driving through are difficult to spell never mind pronounce! Today however we spent most of the day in the Jotunheimen Nasjonalpark and beautiful it is too. We’d found ourselves in civilisation again now and making progress on tarmac roads when Peter slowed down and turned left onto more shale track. We could see the snow peaks in the not too far off distance, we were making our way around lakes and springs and lots of more modern looking wooden huts, I say modern because they had a tiled roof instead of grass. Mind you some of the tiles looked wooden….I didn’t notice any electric though, no aerials and no satellite dishes, this was proper seat of yer pants living. We passed a couple of dozen dwellings like this. Many looked quite tidy but I still saw no signs of life, no cars or vans no people and no smoke coming from the chimneys.  I did see plenty of upturned small rowing boats by each house, maybe they were summer fishing huts?

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                                                                    Modernish…..

 

126                                                                        Even more modern….

 

131                                                         and back to good old grass!…..

Id liked to have stopped and spoke to a local, perhaps asked what the huts actually were but honestly we didn’t see a living soul! We started the ascent around the corner of the last lake eventually coming to a large shale parking area, we pulled over to look back at where we had come. We had driven quite a while in this odd landscape the small roads twisted up and over and round huge boulders hillocks and hugged the water’s edge, we couldn’t go any other way it was very jagged and quite steep and in places it was just sheer rock, we drove around occasional rocky outcrops the scrub and heather was quite waterlogged and came above the ankle, criss crossed by many small streams all feeding into the lakes both big and small.

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                       Happy to have come through The Valley of the Lakes.

 

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                       And …1 2 3 BLINK! The Jackson’s family photo. I  took one of all of them seconds after this one by mum.

Julie was plotting the route we took everyday on our map so we knew in our minds eye where the hell we were, when we left the highways and ventured onto the dirt tracks we meandered in all directions, Id stuck a compass on the dash-board, it helped sometimes.  For half of the adventure we drove South…East…North…North/West then on our return leg we drove East…South…South/West…West…North, which didn’t really help unless we were a couple of homing pigeons. So I’ve done a little map..

 

ScandinaviaTour (2)

                                                           Rough guide..At this point of the adventure we are on the first of the 3 squiggly circles that are way above OSLO….From home to the furthest north in Norway is about 1500 miles.

I don’t think it dawned on us how high we were and how far above the UK we actually were until we looked at the bigger picture in the map-book, in fact you could stick another Scotland on to of Scotland then if you then stood at the tip you might be abreast of our highest point in the adventure, another clue is that we haven’t used a torch for the past couple of nights either.

We now turned towards our next camp-site at the village of Lom. But first we had a bit off a climb to do up a steep road. This was the Jotunheim gravel road. I kept spotting patches of snow but now it got thicker and more widespread until all of a sudden we were in Iceland! The tarmac road itself was as dry as a bone but a few feet to either side of us was a 15 foot wall of snow, it was a filthy brown and grey in colour. This was a main road and quite busy with trucks, cars and those damned  cumbersome motor-homes! The crap from the roads had stuck to the sides of the snow walls and had been there since…Now there’s a thought, its July now, does it ever melt completely up here at all? We had seen gallons and gallons melt water gushing from the mountain tops all day and everyday so the snow must be melting? The weird thing was how warm it was, we got out for a look touch and leg stretch and yes it was warm no cold breaths or chilliness in the air it really was warm, well it was to us at any rate.

 

137                                                    Lee climbs up to take a photo

 

137a                       Richard take one of Welsh Cerys up against the snow wall

 

137b

On the Jotunheim gravel road The very summit and the road returned to shale, Dry and clear it was too. On the long descent it became tarmac mostly but was very narrow.

If its like this in July then what must it be like in winter then? Was something I kept asking myself, it must have been twice the depth and probably abandoned to Nature for a few months at least.

It was a hairy descent I have to say, I was beginning to feel tired as one does eventually after days and days of driving and repeated late nights socializing but this drive down was like a shot of Red- Bull straight to the brain as it got narrower and busy! Suddenly trucks were passing very very close indeed, I tried not to but I did an involuntary turn of the steering wheel and always at the last second, I thought I was as close to the edge as was possible but still twitched and turned a bit more. Those guys just didn’t slow down, it certainly woke me up I can tell you, I don’t think Julie had her elbow out either. “SLOW DOWN YOU TWATS” I shouted. Hugh had his wing mirror clipped by one such vehicle.

Lom was a busy little place as too was the campsite, Pete said grab a spot and we will meet up later. with that I swung under a tree on the corner and claimed my patch of grass, Opposite us were Pete Moira and old Hugh Scott and Karen were next but one from them, the rest were at the end of the row but nearer the excellent shower block.

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Lom Campsite

Behind us were a couple for Denmark in their caravan, to one side was a small family from Croatia, the guy was in a wheelchair but didn’t stop him camping next to Moira were a couple of English girls in their little tent they were quiet and kept themselves to themselves. In fact this site had a large mix of Europeans and a large coach with forty of more school kids all camping in large wigwams. Behind us were several log cabins, just about every camp-site in Scandinavia had lots of these for hire too. Today seven or eight Norwegian lads with motorbikes were sharing one.

147We cooked a meal then had a shower before settling back to write-up some notes about the trip so far but folk from the group kept turning up for a” natter” and a drink so the pen was put away for now. A church just to the side of the camp site looked worthy of a photo or two as it seemed to be made completely out of wood, A late start in the morning was suggested so’s folk could go for a wonder around the shops and have a look at the church.

I wondered up the hill around 23.00hrs to get nearer the office and try for a WiFi signal. it wasn’t urgent and I wasn’t tired anymore. I thought perhaps Id post a photo every couple of days on FB as my friends liked to hear about the adventures this I managed to do half a dozen times during the adventure unlike Scotland, where the signal just wasn’t available especially on the islands off the west coast. Id bumped into Karen and Scott they too were searching for a signal, they searched for it every time they got near civilization! Scott was in the middle of sorting out his impending  two-year secondment to Asia and was trying to sort the last few things out. Karen on the other-hand appears to be just a slave to FB! She wasnt the only one, Cerys was extremely happy when she found a signal too! I hate to think what Karens FB posts are going to be like when she follows Scott abroad…photos of coffee..photo of dinner…photo of big melon…photos from balcony blah blah bloody blah!!!

143                                                    Stave church of Lom

I do like to have a look at old churches and this one looked to be a popular stop with coaches, we saw a couple of coaches pull up and seemingly hundreds of little Japanese women descended with little cameras clicking away, like a plague of bloody locusts! I joined in with them and got some shots in over their little heads.

145                  Stunning browns and golds in the early morning sunshine

 

146               Julie and “Crocodile Hugh” by the tourist information board

We had de-camped earlier and stowed everything away before a stroll to the church walking back to the trucks I saw the kids had been organised by the teachers and were busy putting on stout boots long-sleeved shirts and thin walking trousers or leggings most had hats on too of some kind. It looked a very organised group and the kids were very well-behaved. I had a chat with the bikers before our departure time came up. One of the guys spoke great English and we talked about bikes for a while, They were on a boys own camping trip in the mountains and had stayed here overnight as their first night meeting point.

The wheels began to turn and we pulled out from under the tree, I waited for Pete to appear and fell into line with the others as we left both the site and busy but nice little Lom and another night of relative quiet from the dreaded mosquito. The morning sky was a smashing blue and the high mountians stayed in the shadows to the east whilst the west ones were bathed in bright morning sunshine. Q music…“The hiiiiills are aliiiiiiiive with the sound of…..Y’can just imagine it couldn’t you? Onwards and further to the North we pushed.

We were looking for a particular trail about an hour up the road We detoured onto it making our way up into the mountains, Pete soon figured it wasn’t going to turn into a track and not the one we wanted so found a place to turn around, quite a difficult thing to do on this narrow twisting road.  We now had a logging truck to negotiate coming our way, he wasn’t able to back up easily so we all found a piece of hedge to dive into in order that he could pass. Pete found a spot for lunch (and a check of the map) parking tightly on a flat piece of ground behind a bus stopwe got the jetboil’s out and had coffee ready in a minute we munched on fruit and biscuits and a cheese roll. It was so quiet and peaceful here but it wasn’t the road we were looking for! We carried back the way we came when Pete stopped suddenly and called a “moose alert” over the radio, it was just about opposite our truck I stopped and looked but saw nothing, Julie saw branches moving and a dark shadow, Lee was behind us said he saw it  and a second one as they melted back into the trees, we got out for a look but still saw nothing. Apparently the moose is a shy beast and one might  spot them several yards beyond the tree line if one was lucky. We carried on back to the main road and turn north again. Our road and a franticly flowing river ran close to each other now.The water was noisy and in quite a rage as it tumbled down the mountains crashing up over and round the boulders white water frothing at every turn tumbling from the packed snow hundreds of feet above us, the river had been carefully channelled by the Norwegians and crossed under the main road several times, when it did, a cold chilly blast of wind hit me through the open window hinting to me of its raw power. Suddenly Julie shouted “Moose Moose!..Ive just seen a moose down there in the trees” She had been contemplating where the best place was to see one, either above us in the scattering of trees, boulders and many swift flowing streams all aiming to the same place or better to look down the way after the river turned and went down the valley alongside the roads, the trees became thicker as did the vegetation it was also much quieter and calmer then my side of the road. I had no chance to look as the road was the width of tow and a bit cars and twisted up over and round boulders, folds, crevasses and that loud raging river which ran down the rocks from my right before passing under the road in several places to drop into a wider boulder strewn river a hundred feet below on the left, I couldn’t get over how wild it was. We has seen a huge two inch long flying bug back at the coffee stop now suddenly on the wiper arm sat another one! ( Not the same bloke surely?) He was facing the wind his long eyebrows were blown back over his body as he just sat there enjoying the ride, riding along as 45MPH! Eventually after a few miles he let go and was gone. Ladies and gentlemen Elvis has just left the building! God only knows what he told the family when he finally got back to them but I bet they didn’t believe him!!

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Elvis enjoying the ride

Pete turned off the road about 5 miles ahead and was happy that this was the one we ought to take. The loose grey shale made us slip and slide reminding us to slow down a bit. We were still climbing even though we had left the main highway only now we were heading toward the mountains and not slicing through the gaps…Land Rover…slicing?? Well you know what I mean!

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                                                             On the gravel again

The Jackson’s found themselves in front of us now, we didn’t stick to any kind of order of battle on the trails as folk stopped often to look admire and take photo’s, so trucks passed each other constantly on the wider parts of this road

151                                                             Hugh and his Defender 90

160

                                              Thick dirty snow and loose gravel

I pondered how a crash into that high snow wall might end or what it would be like to drive off the road into the deeeeep snow on the left, suddenly a car came around the corner reminding me that traffic ran in both directions! Needless to say I concentrated more on staying on the old shale. We passed half a dozen or more vehicles on this road the constant twisting and turning meant we saw them well ahead and hopefully they saw us too. Warnings came via the radio we slowed at the frequent passing places and we all passed each other with the minimum of drama.

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                                                                             Boulders!

Stopping opportunities  to gasp and gawp take photos and say “Wow!”became less frequent as the road got even narrower and ran in ever-increasing left and right turns. I never saw more than 50 yards of road. I think we we near the top,far ahead I saw a big V where the road would eventually wiggle between two of the tallest mountains. A place was found where most of our trucks could pull off the track for lunch, it was a gravel patch so we dint actually park on the snow. We squeezed onto the flat space that seemed the size of a toilet block, any closer and we would have parked in the boot space of the truck in front! It was time foe a cuppa, photos and a jolly good look around, it wasn’t cold at all though our eyes told us different!

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 A damn fine place to drink some damn fine British tea, what? Cheers chaps!

 

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                                          Tomfoolery on the snow with Moira and Pete

 

182

                                           Scott all relaxed and taking in some rays

 

181                                              Julie and I pose on the July snow

183                                                      Daring biker on the gravel!

It was a bit surreal we stood around standing on the snow in shorts and flip-flops, some engaged in “mularkyness” and reverted back to childhood! The boys got out and laughed and giggled on the snow again chucking snow at each other. Pete and Moira posed on the snow I took their photo then saw Pete grin even more and turned towards Moira and pushed her over onto the snow, naturally I clicked away! It had to be done. The otherPete had wondered off to take photos Some of the girls quietly sidled off for a pee. The rest of us just stood around when from around the corner came a huge truck I for one was glad we didn’t meet that bad boy on one of the ealier bends. Minutes later a motorbike came from around the bend too. I gave him a thumbs up and a wave. We probably spent about an hour here before moving off again, up ahead around the next bend we came across this big yellow earth scraper! I’ve only seen them in action as a lad watching them scraping the soil away when constructing the M62. This was a four-wheeled giant of a machine with a huge scraping blade set at an angle. We all stopped as the driver looked down at us from his raised cab. We pulled over as far as we could and he retracted his blade to pass us. It was tight but he got by everyone without ripping us open or gouging our tyres! This scraper lived on the pass and drove up and down levelling the road as trucks and vehicles cut up the gravel, it was loose stuff after all.Up around here is a fantastic place to be but can quite dangerous if one didn’t take care as we had just found out.

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                      The giant yellow road scraper scrapes past Hugh and us.

Julie had been behind the wheel for most of this track and was really enjoying herself, I was clicking away with the camera and asking her to stop here and there to take some shots of our group as they came around the corners behind us. The snow was banked up pretty high again for quite a while on our descent.

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                                                   Loose gravel and thick snow walls again!

I knew the snow was melting by the number of waterfalls cascading down the rocks from high above us the wall of snow to our right was leaking melt-water and it tricked onto the trail, I’m glad it was coming too quickly as to turn the gravel track into sludge, finally we began to head downhill as we drove through the gap in the mountains the thick snow gave way to stubby bush and some grassy patches.

We came out of the snowy region into the greener lower reaches, it took us ages to bottom out or so I thought we had but we still came around another mountain to confront Narnia again! We were on the spectacular Trollstigen Route. It was a moment in time that whispered “memory”to me.  It was one of those special moments in life that speaks like this. We had pulled over at the car park, looked at the info boards and strolled along the walkway past the tourist shops and the modern restaurant to have a look, only to be greeted with such a stunning panoramic view, it stopped me in my tracks. It was so unexpected. The buildings had actually masked the view ahead. The hand of god had scraped a perfect valley through the mountains in front of us with the help millions of years ago from a multi billion tons of glacier, the road skipped along the tops of snow dotted mountains with sported green grass layers on the lower reaches far below us.   It was jaw dropping it was beautiful. This was a Norwegian jewel, and a modern tourist route. The Geiranger to Trollstigen road has been named one of the top routes in the whole of Europe. This zig zag road was first conceived in 1916 whilst the rest of Europe was embroiled in the wholesale killing on the slaughter-fields of France during the first world war. The building started between the wars in 1928 and completed in 1936, the “bumf” says up to 130.000 vehicles drive along its 11 hairpin bends every year. There are several points to stand and admire, these spots jut out from the rock face, a grill floor means you can look straight down to the rocks over 200 metres below. Sometimes Its at times like this that I wish my memories of other fantastic views I’ve seen over the years could be erased just for the day and I could enjoy it like the others. I felt a little jealous of the folk who had seen such breath-taking beauty and were treated to sense tingling experiences and had just enjoyed a “memory” I wish I could have enjoyed it like them. In fact I hadn’t taken the camera on the walk initially because I didn’t expect to see what opened up before us.

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Our road dipped away and round the corner. We had parked up at the centre and walked through the pedstrian tunnel between the buildings to be gobsmacked out the other side! We walked about 300 yards to the right on the concrete walkway to the vantage points dug into the cliff face to look down the valley. Looking at this whilst driving would have been the death of me!

 

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The road her at the Trollstigen was built over an old goat track.

.

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Thumbs up to a magical view…In spite of seeing similar vies over the years. I could have quite happily stood here quietly for hours! To stand and look at individual things far away in the distance is more satisfying sometimes than taking in the overall picture.

 

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Waterfalls over 400 metres below. Most of the time was spent looking down, down the valley ahead of us, there was no point looking up coz there was nothing above us, not even a dickie bird!

 

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The mountains a few miles behind us which we’d driven down and through where in fact the only things higher than us.

It was time to climb aboard and take the road down into the valley. The melt water was gushing from high above down cascading down hundreds of feet splashing off the sheer rock face,  several large waterfalls channelled the water down and mostly fell between the folds of the mountain were the hairpin bends where. The spray soaked the road from 30 -40 feet away, Id left my window down and got a cold shower momentarily!

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   Another hairpin another waterfall. Karen and Scott about to get a shower

 

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                                                    First wet face moment coming up…

 

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                           That is going to some drenching when we get to it!

 

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                                               Picture postcard beauty

The Norwegians had decided years ago to make this a tourist route what I’m wondering is how many folk had perhaps run off the road looking at this stunning scenery? It nearly happened to me several times in the 1980’s when I first explored the French Alps on the motorbike when I scared myself half to death several times. I since learned to stop and stare it works much better!

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                          Julie at the wheel, Hugh and Richard pause behind

 

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Around every bend a view hits us to take our breath away, just like this one…..

 

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        Pete zigs as we zag whilst Jo waves to us

Further down this massive valley we went until we stopped at a view that just made one sit back in awe. We’d come around another band and saw water below it looked like a bit of an inlet, then I saw a couple of small boats THEN I realised they were actually ocean-going liners, three of them! It’s really difficult to take in to begin with and accept what we were looking at was real and not some CGI movie! We pulled over at the small car park stuffing the trucks in and stepped down out of the trucks to stare in awe.

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 If Carsberg made fantastic views this would be one..probably…..

 

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  Very happy to be retired and spending it!

 

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Pete looking after his customers! Can you see the HUGE waterfall about Pete’s head? also the white zig zag line just above Julie’s head? Well that’s OUR road out of the valley which we hadn’t gone into just yet

Well we dragged ourselves away from the edge and back into our trucks to make our way still downwards it was about twenty minutes before we came to the village and the small dockside where all the tourists came ashore from the ocean liners, buses were laid on to ferry those who wanted to see the view we’d just had. Slowly we passed through the village in ones and two’s, we slowed to re group after leaving the village behind us and then began another accent but not before two blokes appeared from a gate in the rock face carrying a lawnmower across the road in front of us!! We climbed and turned for the next half hour until we finally reached the top and began another descent down to the water’s edge and the small dock to wait a couple of minutes for another ferry. This may well have been a tourist route but Im happy to say it wasn’t cluttered with cars and coaches. That would have done my fruit in hanging back behind a bloody coach unable to nip round it like we used to do on the motorbike! This place called Norway was outstripping my wildest dreams of what it was like. What’s next  wonder……..

 

 

 

 

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5 Responses to Scandinavia by Land Rover….Part 1

  1. Pingback: Scandinavia by Land Rover….Part 1 | Come into my world

  2. Cerys says:

    What a fantastic read, really made me laugh and a great reminder of our amazing adventure together! Can I share it on my wall? Xxx

    • David Sharp says:

      Hi Cerys glad you liked part 1 and yes feel free to share on your wall and share with your friends too. Im start Part II in a few days! x

  3. Cerys says:

    Thanks Dave xx

  4. Scott says:

    Absolutely brilliant. Still reading it I between emails. It is great to be able to relive the trip especially at it all seems such a long way away now that I am in Singapore!!

    Keep up the good work and can’t wait for Part II

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