Tonje's Travelogue 9: To Åndalsnes via Trollstigen
After bedding down the night before in a little campsite in Valldal which sold the tastiest strawberries we have ever tried, it was time to hit the road and head for Åndalsnes. Just one thing though, this was not any old road, this was the mighty Trollstigen!
Approximately 20 km outside of Åndalsnes and you will find arguably Norway’s most famous road, Trollstigen. Part of Road 63, this dramatic stretch has 11 hairpin bends and a thundering waterfall. Stigrøra, at the top, is 858 meters above sea level. The Trollstigen viewpoint sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking the famous winding road below. Walkways and platforms lead to the edge where you can admire the views across the valley and feel the rush of standing 200 meters above the ground.
Be warned that the road and viewpoints are usually pretty busy. A local tip to escape the crowds is the Hike up to Bispevatnet lake which sits in the shadow of Bispen mountain. We learned that Bispen was one of the most popular take off points for BASE jumpers in the area but unfortunately there were no daredevils the day we visited.
Cut into the mountainside in some places and built on top of stone walls in others, the road is an impressive piece of engineering dating back more than 100 years. With some incredibly tight bends, it was amazing to see the cars towing caravans up the mountain and we were so thankful that we were not driving anything larger than our VW Caravelle. At some points it was too scary to look out the window as the edge of the road seemed to disappear into the valley below.
We felt a sense of relief making it to the bottom and it was absolutely stunning to stop by the side of the road and look back up at what we had just successfully navigated with the serpentine road snaking through the rock and waterfalls reaching up towards the blue skies above.
We arrived safely in Åndalsnes in Møre og Romsdal county, located along Isfjorden at the mouth of the Rauma River. Åndalsnes is home to another of Norway’s most recognizable viewpoints, Rampestreken, a 20-meter long steel ramp – or photography ramp – suspended 565m above the town below. We recommend an early bird hike for any chance of the ramp to yourself, hikers often finish the Romsdalseggen Hike after sunset here too when the crowds have gone.
The 10-kilometer long hike across the Romsdalseggen ridge is 1,329 meters above sea level at its peak but can be adapted to suit various abilities. The trip over Romsdalseggen starts at Vengjedalssetra and ends in Åndalsnes with buses being the most common way to find the start point from Åndalsnes.
With the weather on your side while hiking the ridge you will be able to see Trollveggen wall, Romsdalshorn and Vengetindene as the most distinctive peaks. Trollveggen stretches up to 1788masl, 1000m of which are vertical with a 50m overhang making it the tallest vertical rock face in Europe.
"The special thing about Romsdalseggen is that it offers views and experiences throughout the hike. You will not just be going from one point to another to experience something there. The experience and the wow-sensations are with you the whole time", says Hilde Gråberg Bakke, Romsdal Reiseliv & Handel.
The Romsdal Steps or Romsdalstrappa are a set of stairs that form the final part of this epic journey and help you down to Rampestreken. The steps have incredibly all been hand-laid by specialist sherpas from Nepal. World-renowned sky runner, Kilian Jornet, can often be found running this route making it look way too easy.
For those of us seeking a more relaxed opportunity to explore the area, the Rauma Railway offers exactly that. Voted the most scenic rail journey in Europe, the journey offers fantastic views of Trollveggen and the characteristic Romsdalshorn on the other. Romsdalshorn is 1500masl and was first conquered in 1828. The train itself climbs 574 meters, passing through 5 tunnels and over 103 bridges eventually linking Åndalsnes to the winter ski village Bjorli.
As a one-stop-shop with a little bit of everything, Åndasnes definitely ticks a lot of the boxes.
We will be back for sure!
Douglas & Tonje
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