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Norway 2015 - The 'Mjølkevegen' & 'Numedalsruta' Tour

Part 1 - Kvam to Beitostølen

03.08.15 - Home to Oslo

We left home in good time but there was an accident on the B1066 which blocked the road so we had to turn around and go via Garboldisham. Fortunately it hadn't made us too late and we were still in good time to park our car at my sister's house and cycle the mile and a half to the airport. Our flight out from Norwich to Amsterdam was on a Fokker 70 and it was good weather so we had some good views as we came in to land at Schiphol. It was a short transfer from the Norwich flight at Schiphol to get the Oslo flight so we had hurry around the airport. The Oslo flight was again on another Fokker 70, it just a shame that we couldn't have got a direct flight. On getting to the Norwegian coast there was a little bit of cloud but generally good views out of the plane window. On landing at Gardermoen it didn't take long to get our luggage and the bikes and we put the bikes together in the airport concourse after we had left customs, they seemed to have survived the flight without any problems. It was only a short ride along the pathway to the Raddison hotel. They let us put our bikes in their left luggage room. That evening we had a lovely meal in their restaurant. It was their summer buffet and the best bit was the salmon and fish soup.

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04.08.15 - Oslo to Kvam

map linkHaving left our bike bags with the hotel to pick up on our return we headed off to the station at Gardermoen. We intended to catch the 9.59am train from the airport to Vinstra. When we bought our tickets the young lad said that the train would leave from platform 4. But when we got there using the lift the information board said that it was leaving from platform 1 so we rushed back to the lift and over to platform 1. We need not have rushed as the information board on that platform said that the train was delayed by 20 minutes. The information board very helpfully told you which carriage took bikes and when the train finally arrived it was easy to walk the bikes on to the train, much easier than getting on to most UK trains. We had to change trains at Lillehammer and we knew that we only had 20 minutes to change trains there however when we were approaching Lillehammer we had made up 10 minutes of our delay. The Vinstra train was just across the platform which made it easy to get the bikes across. As we approached Tetten there was a little drizzle however when we got off at Vinstra it was dry but overcast.

We were in need of a drink so we popped into a bakery which had its own cafe and we had a very welcome coffee and wiener brot. After our refreshments we cycled down the town to a small out of town shopping mall where there was a GSport where we bought some camping gas and visited a Mega CO-OP for some food. We had planned on staying at the Bøygden campsite at Vinstra but we were told that it had shut so we headed up to one at Kvam 10 km north of Vinstra. Rather than cycling the busy E6 we took the 417 on the west side of the river. On the way we found our first Norwegian cache at the Sødorp Kirke just over the footbridge as we left Vinstra. Soon after leaving Vinstra it started to rain and we put on waterproofs. Although there was a initial hill coming out of Vinstra it was a lovely ride alongside the river and we were soon turning over the bridge to Kvam. They were putting in a bypass for Kvam and the tunnel entrance was near the bridge and they were constructing a new bridge close to the one we were crossing. As we turned on to the E6 it was quite busy with traffic and we could see why they needed a bypass. We soon found the left turn to the campsite but had a bit of a shock as the sign said that it was another 12km to the campsite. I thought this couldn't be right and we turned down to where the map was showing the campsite and soon saw the campsite which was a relief, the sign must have been signposting for campsites further on.

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05.08.15 - Kvam

As things had been rather hectic since the end of term we had promised ourselves to slow the pace down and have a rest day. We didn't miss much as it rained most of the day.

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06.08.15 - Kvam

map linkFrank and I were still fairly tired so we decided to take it easy and take the time to visit the Krigsminnesamling in Kvam which was very interesting as we hadn't realised that there had been a battle here in WWII where our brave boys mainly from the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and the Green Howards fought a rearguard action to try and slow the German advance into Norway in 1940. Afterwards we went to the Kirk across the road where 52 of our brave boys lie in a commonwealth war grave. The Kirk itself was burnt down in the fighting and was rebuilt in 1952. In the afternoon I went out for a short ride down the valley to find a couple of caches.

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07.08.15 - Kvam to Fefor

map linkWith our rest days over it was time to get going and hit the Mølkevegen. We set off at 10.30 am and we headed back along the 417 the way we had come along from Vinstra the other day. It was a beautiful sunny morning and there were loads of lovely wild flowers along the road for Frank to photograph. We got to Vinstra just after 1 o'clock and stopped for lunch in a cafe in a small retail centre before setting off again. The first part on the 256 was easy enough but it was when we turned up on the 422 that it got interesting. Up was the operative word! It really was hard going especially as we were in full sun most of the way and we were dripping with sweat. After doing the first few kilometres of what must have been a 15% gradient we were seriously considering whether we were up to doing this route. It didn't help that we knew we weren't at our fittest but we just pushed on and had to just resign ourselves to the fact that it was going to take a long time. We literally climbed a few hundred yards and then had to stop to get our breath back. There seemed to be quite a bit of traffic going up the road and we worked it out afterwards that it was due to the theatre production of "Peer Gynt" that was taking place by lake Gålåvatnet. When we got to the Vollsdamen lake we did consider camping there but there were a lot of people enjoying the late afternoon by the lake so we headed on which was just as well as there was another 150m of climbing to get to Fefor and we didn’t fancy doing that first thing in the morning. As we got to where the turning for the Fagerlivegen we were expecting according to our map that the road surface would change to  gravel but it was still tarmac and the gradient didn’t ease up. There was a little rest bite as we got to Kronhjulsbakken and we stopped to get our breath back and admire the view we had certainly climbed a fair few metres in height (checking the elevation profile later we had climbed 1008m that day). It finally levelled out at around 950m.

We didn't get to the Fefor Fjellhotell until 7 o'clock. The lady at reception looked a bit gone out when I asked if we could camp in the hotel grounds ‘but we don't have a camping ground’. Don't worry about it pet have you got a hytte free? Luckily they had it was a bit expensive at 1600kr but what the heck we were both so knackered we didn't care. It was quite a nice hytte with its own toilet, shower and kitchen.


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08.08.15 - Fefor to Hattdals

map linkWe were up and away fairly early as we had no tent to pack up. We nipped back to the Fjellhotell to hand in the key for the hytte. Fefor Fjellhotell has some quite an interesting history as it was the hotel that had been used by Robert Falcon Scott whilst he was trying out his new motor sledges prior to his expedition to the South Pole in 1912. The initial test was for the sledges to get up the bumpy track from Vinstra which they did with ease pulling a 100 local village folk to the delight of Kathleen Scott. Scott himself was a little less passionate saying “for 3 thousand pounds one would expect it to do something of use”. They were later tested on the lake at Fefor but Scott was perhaps correct in being sceptical as they proved useless when they were used in the Antarctic. In the 1930’s there was a aeroplane route from Oslo to Fefor to bring in winter holidaymakers to the hotel where the planes used to land on the frozen lake. During the second world war the hotel was requisitioned by the Nazis. Whilst the German officers holidayed at the hotel right under the Wehrmacht's noses the hotel owner set up a Milorg Brigade comprised of workers from the hotel and under the cover of darkness regularly picked up arms shipments that had been parachuted in from England.

After an initial short climb from the hotel to the Peer Gynt Vegen it was down hill most of the way through for the first few miles through birch scrub and fir trees on a gravel road. There were loads of wild flowers along the roadside and Frank couldn't help but stop and take photographs. So our progress was a little slow at times but it didn't matter as that is the reason why we do these trips to enjoy the fauna and the flora. As we descended through the forest we met several large tractors with huge trailers full of reels of hay. We eventually dropped through the trees and came to Lomsetrin a lovely lush plateau with hay meadows and small summer houses for the farmers. The farmers were cutting and bailing hay making the most of the dry weather. As we came around a bend we met two tourers coming in the opposite direction and stopped to have a quick chat. They were from Holland and were also doing the Mølkevegen. After the hay meadows the route went back into birch scrub and we climbed steadily up to Hattdalen where it became more open moorland with some great views of Stølfjellet. We reached the highest point at 1000m just above the collection of summer farms at Hattdalssetrin and I a spotted a nice grassy area just off the road. Although it was only 3.45pm we looked at the map and decided that there didn't look like many other camping spots on the route ahead of us as we would be soon descending into Dalsetter. I had remembered that there had been a reasonable stream just a few hundred metres back the way we came so I unloaded the panniers from my bike and gave Frank the tent so that she could be putting the tent up whilst I went for the water. As I was climbing back up from getting the water I could see Frank standing looking at me and no tent up! On getting closer Frank shouted 'no pegs'. I had the pegs in the pannier that I had taken to put the water container in, oops! There was a lovely view from our wild camp across to the Jotunheim mountains and it was as lovely warm evening so for the first time for a long time we sat outside and cooked our evening meal. There were a few mosquitoes about but there was just enough wind to keep them at bay.

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09.08.15 - Hattdals to Olstappen Lake

map linkWe had a reasonable night sleep and I cooked pancakes for breakfast which were made from a dehydrated mix, they weren't too bad but not as good as a fresh pancake mix made with real egg and milk! It was nice to be going down hill from our campsite for a change.

Soon after Hatten not that far down down the track we spotted a cache on the GPS. As this cache wasn't too far off from the track we parked up the bikes and headed off up the hill to find the cache. Initially there was a good path which seemed to be taking us away from the cache but looking at the map it looked like the cache was on small promontory and that the path probably took the easier ground along the spine of the hill rather than the steeper way especially as it was thick birch scrub. We continued on and the path got narrower, at this point Frank stopped to take some photos of the wild flowers and suggested that I go on ahead and that she would catch me up. The path very soon disappeared but I climbed up and up checking the GPS as I went as the birch scrub was quite thick. I was soon down to 25m to GZ and I pushed on and I arrived at a small rocky outcrop and the GPS said that the cache was only 4m away. I thought it must be here and looked up through a break in the trees to see a hunter in full camouflage gear sitting with his back to me looking down the sights of a high velocity hunting rifle. Just to his right 10m away was another hunter looking through his rifle's sights. Fortunately I had been quite quiet on my approach and being down wind they hadn't heard me. Judging from the cache hint the hunter was sitting right on the cache! There was no way we were going to find this cache now. What do I do? announce my presence so they knew we were about but then again they wouldn't thank me if I broke cover and frightened off their quarry. As they were obviously looking away from me I decided to slink back into the trees and headed back down. I suddenly thought of Frank coming up from below. Where was she? I hoped she hadn't missed the initial path and wasn't straying into the path of the hunters. Fortunately there was some mobile phone coverage and I managed to contact her and luckily she had spent a lot of time photographing the flowers and hadn't got very far along the path. We both headed hurriedly back to the bikes just grateful we hadn't approached the cache from another direction. We certainly hadn't considered the possibility of being caught up in hunting whilst caching in Norway. Certainly a memorable DNF!

A little further on we parked the bikes and took a track to the north to find two other caches. We found these without incident or hunters. After getting back to the bikes it was downhill through more birch and conifer forest along a winding gravel road until we came to the 255 at Dalsetter. Just along the road there was the Dalsetter Fjellstue Hotel and as it was just after 1.30pm we decided to see if we could get some lunch. Well they were still doing their midday summer buffet lunch. It was rather good with a selection of hot and cold treats on offer and we had a lovely seat next to the window in their lovely panorama restaurant with a wonderful view over Breisjøen lake and surrounding mountains.

Suitably refreshed after our lunch we were about to get back on the bikes and as I was turning the GPS back on I noticed that there was a cache just a few hundred metres away from the Fjellstove so we decided quickly go and find it. The route down to it wasn't easy so Frank stayed with the bikes while I quickly searched for it. Just after I had got back to the bikes and we were about to set off again when a young lad turned up on a touring bike and asked us if we spoke English. I said that we were in fact English and he said so am I well actually Welsh. He had just come up the 255 from Gausdal and was wondering if there an easy way down to the Olstappen lake from here. I said that my map didn't show a way down but we are going that way and would be going down the 255 and then following the Mølkevegen which is on a track that follows the lake shore. As he was going in the same direction he asked us if he could join us. He was called Thomas and was living in Lillehammer. He had been working as a lumberjack but had had a bad knee injury when a tree had fallen on it. He hadn't broken any bones but had torn all the ligaments and had to have some corrective surgery. His surgeon had suggested cycling to build up his muscles and to reduce the build up of scar tissue. As we sped down the 255 we met up with a Dutch cycle tourer who was coming up the hill and we stopped for a quick chat. He was doing the Mølkevegen and suggested a couple of places that we could wild camp. We wished him well and chased after Frank who had gone on ahead. As we were chatting to Thomas as we riding along I asked him if he had heard of geocaching. He said he had but didn't know quite what it was all about. OK we will show you as there is one coming up near the lake and we pulled off the track to have a look for it. Well as soon as we saw this lovely location next to the lake we all thought what a lovely location to camp for the night. We had intended to find a spot to camp at the other side of Olstappen which had been suggested to us by the cycle tourer from Holland who we had met as we were sped down the fv255 as he was toiling up. But this seemed much better and after the initial 'where shall we put the tents' we suddenly remembered that we had come here to find this cache. We searched for a while and were struggling even Thomas who spoke good Norwegian had translated the cache name for us and we were still none the wiser as to its location. But when Thomas translated the logs for us and one log mentioned it was well hidden but the coordinates were good we searched harder and Frank then found the cache's hiding place but what the location has to do with 'Owls in the moss' we are still none the wiser.

Apart from a few mosies it was a lovely campsite and we sat outside making tea and chatting to Thomas watching the different light on the lake and then a wonderful sunset.


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10.08.15 - Olstappen to Veslefjell

map linkWe woke to a beautiful sunny morning and remarkably we were up and packed and ready to go before Thomas who still hadn't eaten breakfast or packed his tent away. We said our goodbyes as we knew he would be quicker than us and catch us up. It was lovely riding along the track by the lake shore through the trees until we got to Slagan where we stopped to make use of an earth closet by the side of the road. From Slagan we were now on the Jotunhiemvegen and the road started to climb again. It is a gravel toll road and the surface is very good but a fairly steep climb initially on a few zigzags. Frank was struggling on some of the steeper sections and had to get off and push as it was hurting her lower back. So we did it again in relays. I would ride my bike up for about a couple of hundred metres and then walk back down and then push Frank's bike up. As we were getting close to the top and were just stopped by the side of the road Thomas came by and he asked us if we had mechanical problem. We replied that there was no problem we were just taking a quick breather and we wished him all the best for the rest of his trip. Fortunately there wasn't too much more climbing after that and the road started to level off. It was getting close to lunch time so we looked for a suitable place to stop. We found a nice rock just off the road which had some shade from a small tree and had a brew.

Suitably refreshed we headed on and we soon had left the birch scrub and were now in open moorland. On reaching the small hamlet at Veslefjell we had been enjoying the fact that the road now had flattened out but we were in need of a rest so we stopped at the little hamlet of summer houses to admire the view. The wooden summer houses were lovely with their tarred log sides and their painted doors. There was a cache marked on the map close by at the the top of the Falkfangarfjellet the hill behind us. We decided to have a look for it and left the bikes in the little car park. It was good to walk up hill. Although our legs were tired from the cycling walking seems to use different muscles so it was good to stretch the legs using different muscles. The weather was gorgeous and as we climbed up to the Falcon trap the views got better and better and the panorama from the top was lovely. After reading all the interpretive boards explaining how they caught the Falcons we soon found the cache and after a few more photos we headed back down to the bikes. When we got back to the bikes we had to make a decision as to where would camp for the night as it was getting late in the afternoon. Looking at the map we weren't sure of where we could get water from further on so we decided to pick up some water from the stream that was obviously the water supply for the little hamlet of summer houses. There was a little track off to the left so we cycled down it and Frank spotted a little tent sized spot in amongst the scrub. Whilst we were cooking our evening meal admiring the gorgeous view we could hear the sound of bells and were soon joined by a herd of sheep who looked quite bemused at us, perhaps we had pinched their overnight spot!

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map link11.08.15 - Veslefjell to Haugstetter Fjellstove

We had an interesting night as the herd of sheep that had visited us earlier in the evening reappeared at about 1.30am and having the bells around their necks they aren't exactly quiet. Then suddenly one of them must have thought that our tent was a mound and must have leapt on to it as the tent caved in a bit and sprung back out. Luckily no poles were broken (it was only when we got to Beitostølen later did we realise that the sheep had put 3 small holes in the fly sheet) We were woken at 5.15am by the first shower of heavy rain and the showers continued at regular intervals. We had a look at the forecast on our phone and it said it would brighten up at 1.00pm so we just decided to sit tight until it stopped. Which it did almost as predicted with the sun coming out on cue. It was clear skies to the west but when I looked around to the east the skies were still black, luckily we were heading west! We started packing up the tent and with the sun and the increasing wind the tent soon dried out. Unfortunately the wind was quite strong and very much a head wind much to the dismay of Frank who can't abide riding into a head wind. Initially the ride was up but levelled off for a short while but at the junction of the road to Kaldfjorden it started to climb quite sharply and it was hard work fighting the gradient and the head wind. Quite a few times it got the better of us and we had to stop and Frank had to push. I would cycle as far up as my legs would take me and then park my bike and then walk back down and help Frank push her bike up the hill. Eventually we got to the top of the col with a cracking view down to the vatnet.

It was a good ride down to the vatnet and when I stopped part the way down to take a few photos a herd of Reindeer came right across in front of me onto the track. They had been in a small fold in the contours to my left so hadn't seen me. Unfortunately a 4x4 came up the hill and spooked them and they galloped off to my left. It was a shame that Frank was well ahead of me as she missed seeing them but I got some good photos and videos to show her. Having left our camp late at around 2.00 pm it was now getting late in the afternoon and as we were cycling along the road by the vatnet we started to look for another place to camp. There were no suitable areas so we pressed on and as I was checking out a possible place which turned out to be unsuitable Frank noticed a sign advertising the Haugsetter Fjellstove 3.5km ahead, it hadn't been marked on our map. Don't get me wrong we both enjoy camping but the thought of a nice warm shower and the prospect of real food instead of dehydrated pasta seemed really appealing in the cold wind and this spurred us on. Let's hope that they have a room for us. The track wound its way along the side of the vatnet as we struggled against the cold strong wind. We soon came to the little turning for the Fjellstove. Just as we pulled in a lady came out and said “You look like you are in need some refreshment“, “not only refreshment but a bed for the night would be great to” I replied. “I am sure we can find one“. It was just the reply we wanted to hear! She said they could do us a room, evening meal, breakfast and a packed lunch. The two ladies that ran the Fjellstove were lovely and most welcoming. We had a lovely room and after a very welcome and warming shower we went through to have our evening meal. It was a most comfortable Fjellstove and we sat next to the windows looking out on to the vatnet. Our meal was a homemade Elk casserole with fresh vegetables, it was a absolutely yummy and one of the best meals we have had for a long time.

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map link12.08.15 - Haugsetter Fjellstove to Beitostølen

After a good breakfast the lady told us to make up sandwiches from the breakfast table spread and she also gave us a couple of Brownies to give us energy for the cycling which was really nice of her. It was a lovely sunny day and the wind had dropped slightly but it was still quite a headwind. Although it was bright and sunny you still needed a windproof top on as it was quite chilly in the wind. Fortunately the wind wasn’t quite as strong as yesterday and we were soon at the little farmstead of Urek with its milk churn stand and on from there it was a short hop pass Melbystølen and up the rise next to the hill Melbyssynet 1097m where we stopped to take a few panorama shots as the scenery was superb with lovely views of the snow capped Jotunheim mountains. Just at the next rise we met 6 Norwegian mountain bikers coming up, one of the young women was pushing her bike up the last bit. They were all unladen and obviously out for the day. I said to Frank after they had passed if seeing that had made her day, save to say there was big beam on her face! The track took us under the rocky sides of Vassklepphøgde 117m by the little farmstead of Vassklepp. We stopped just after Røynisstølen for some lunch where there was a small picnic table just off the road. As long as we sat with our backs to the wind and facing the sun it wasn't too bad. A nice warm brew was just what we needed. The views all along this part of the Jotunheimvegen were brilliant with the views across the Vinstre lake with the magnificent mountains of the Bitihorn 1607 and the Synshorn 1475m dominating the landscape.

As we got to Lykkjestølane we got accosted by a herd of goats who were chewing the cud near the side of the road. As I stopped to take some photos they all came over to us and they kept pushing and jostling for position and one leaped onto my front pannier and nearly pushed me over. The others tried to eat our panniers. From there it was a good pull up to the main 51 road and from there it was a short ride down to Bygdin where we stopped to find a couple of caches. What was interesting was the lack of water in the Lake, apparently the lack of water had stopped the ferry from running. After finding the caches we headed for the nearby cafe for a coffee, some waffles with strawberry jam and sour cream, which were quite delicious and very welcome. From Bygdin it was a bit of a pull up to the col near the Bitihorn on the 51. As we were cycling along we were sheltered in some places but in others there was a nasty side wind with some hefty gusts. I pulled into to the parking spot at the top to wait for Frank and got talking to a Dutchman who had just retired from teaching. When Frank arrived she hadn't fair too well in the gusts and had at one point been blown into the road by a gust just as a car was passing. Fortunately the driver had given Frank a wide berth as he was about to pass her and screeched to a halt beside her! It rather unnerved Frank who walked that bit until she was under the shelter of the Bitihorn mountain and she felt she could get back on and safely ride. We had a good run down into Beitostølen and I was quite surprised to find that they had put in a nice cycle path which started at Garli and went all the way into Beitostølen which was good as it was a busy bit of road. On getting to Beitostølen there was a Intersport shop near the ski lifts so we stopped to buy some more gas for our stove before heading down to the campsite. Just in front of the campsite entrance was a Kiwi supermarket so we pulled in to get some supplies before pitching at the campsite.

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13.08.15 - Beitostølen

We had agreed between us yesterday whist we had been cycling on the Jotunhiemvegen yesterday that we needed a rest day today. After the noisy campers last night we decided to have a look at the other tent pitch on the site, it was much nicer than the other one much quieter and nice grass. There was just one tent and that was a Dutch guy who was on his own, it was just a shame that we hadn't looked at this pitch on the site the night before. Anyway we packed up the tent and moved to the new part of the site. As we were on our rest day we took the opportunity to do some clothes washing as the campsite had washing and drying facilities. Later in the afternoon I went up into town to look for some Trolls as I wanted the figures for a little project. As I was cycling up the cycle path to the centre of Beitostølen I had to pass two young lasses on roller skis skiing up the cycle path, now I realised why there was such a good and lengthy cycle path in Beitostølen it obviously doubled up as a x-country loipe for both summer and winter. I soon found a suitable souvenir shop and found some Troll figures that would fit the bill and as I came out of the shop I had a brainwave that I could send them home rather than carry them on the bike. So I popped into the post office which was in the local Spar supermarket to post them home. After that it was a quick bit of caching to find a local TB Hotel before nipping in to the Kiwi supermarket for something for our tea. Are these really rest days?

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14.08.15 - Beitostølen

Oh poor Frank she seems to be suffering this holiday as she woke to one of her fibro days where she just feels awful like she has flu, so there was no way we were moving on. All she wants to do is sleep so I let her to it and went out on a little caching walk on the hills above the town.

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