Norway

Visiting Norway? Forget fjords, Trollstigen is the main event

Norway. It has locked up its status as the fjord king of our world and chucked the key away (probably into one of those fjords). As majestic as they are grand, there is so much more to the Nordic land. Enter: Trollstigen.

  • Published on 15th November 2017
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I feel sorry for Trollstigen. Why? One of its closest neighbouring landmarks is arguably the most famous fjord of them all - Geiranger. You know, the one and only fjord that pulls in swarms of visitors every year that only the annual Black Friday worldwide retail event could beat.

That’s not to say the lesser-known neighbour doesn’t see its fair share of traffic, literally - NRK.no reported 2,500 vehicles passing through Trollstigen every day in 2012. I was one of those 2,500 drivers in 2017, and I was astounded by my discoveries.

10 minutes in, and that’s all it took

During a road-trip across southern Norway this year, having shaken hands with Geiranger the day before, I set off on a sensational albeit short trip to Trollstigen, which is a 90-ish minute drive north from Geiranger (including a ferry).

I was looking forward to the destination, but hadn’t prepared myself for the goodies lying in wait on the way there. Around 10 minutes after the ferry trip across Storfjorden, I followed a roadside stream leading from the fjord, past the town of Valldalen and into the mountains:

As corny it may be, but when I pitched my tripod, mounted my camera onto it, and sat by this stream shooting away, that feeling of harmony and a true escape from normality finally overcame me, with the forests and faraway mountains gleaming under unusually tranquil conditions. I was rather happy, and I had yet to shake hands with Trollstigen.

Introducing: the Trollstigen welcoming committee

Having recovered from fainting at the Valldalen stream (well, almost) and hitting the open road again, it was virtually impossible to evade incredible Norwegian natural vistas.

Heading further along the Fv63 highway, which by this point had clearly become nothing other than a glorious gateway to unlocking Norway’s scenic treasures, I discovered mossy-like mountains as far as the eye could see.

A faint passageway can be seen cutting through the ocean of trees enveloping the mossy-like mountains and leading into the distance. Perhaps next time.

Stopping off at Valldalen for serene streams and on the roadside along the highway for mountains and valleys had caused distraction. I may have pondered a reality in which I never actually make it to Trollstigen before nightfall.

It wasn’t until I took to the road once again that the granddaddy of “Okay - I HAVE to stop for this” moments manifested.

The 'Sandcrawler' mountain parked beneath a deep blue sky.

I’ve personally named the prominent mountain on the right-hand side the ‘Sandcrawler’, because the more I look at it, the more its shape is reminiscent of the sandcrawlers in Star Wars: A New Hope. Take a look again and tell me I’m wrong.

Weird Star Wars throwback or not, I had to pull over for this beauty. The entire area played as an enormous goody basket of treats to my empty, unsatisfied belly (despite leaving Valldalen not 20 minutes beforehand - I get hungry for scenery quickly). Turning my head, I observed the Sandcrawler’s neighbouring peaks:

The gateway to Trollstigen lay ahead, with the Kongen and Bispen peaks on the left and only faraway mountains visible up ahead.

The two pointy peaks on the left, named after the chess pieces Kongen and Bispen respectively, teamed with the more level mountains on the right, seemingly create a visual gateway to Trollstigen. The time had come.

Hello, Trollstigen. I better not look down...

This is advice that I would certainly pass on to anybody who happened to suffer from a fear of heights and also happened to wake up one morning at the top of this monstrously deep valley surrounded by precipitous mountain ranges.

Trollstigen, or “The Troll’s Road”, is just that - a road, one that definitely has more sex appeal than the T-junction leading to my house. It is 10 miles worth of winding tarmac planted into the side of the valley, following the terrain down some 2,800 feet from the top.

The immense Trollstigen valley, almost an entire kilometre deep. Photo credit: Steinar Skaar (nasjonaleturistveger.no).

Diving down the valley along the serpentine road, we are joined by countless waterfalls taking the plunge with us, the most recognised of which being Stigfossen - a sizable cascade that pours from the very top to the very bottom, narrowly missing the roadside:

Stigfossen thunders down the valley. It passed the roadside and fortunately didn't spit any water droplets onto my lens.

Finally reaching the bottom, it was incredible to think that just moments ago I was a lot closer to these clouds and the warmth of the sun’s rays:

Arriving at the end of the winding tour and looking up, I could cross the Trollstigen mountain road off my bucket list.

I wasn’t quite ready to take the rather steep hike back up in the car having just got here, and what’s more I noticed a designated path for keen walkers to venture into the woodland.

Taking the bait and following the short route, I discovered a familiar site - the Stigfossen waterfall, or rather the stream that was once a waterfall before it hit the ground with us.

One final sweet at the bottom of the goody bag: the wonderful Stigfossen stream and all the harmony it brings with it.

Surging through the forest, cutting a clear path in amongst the trees either side, and in the company of serenity, the Stigfossen stream served as a wonderful finale to the discovery of this classic piece of Norwegian scenery that is Trollstigen.

There was one downside, however... I had to leave eventually, and drive all the way up again.

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