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North-Sea-Cycle-Route (NSCR)

Kristiansand - Bergen - Shetlands - Scotland - England


1 Saturday, 14.6., Journey from Braunschweig to Kristiansand

The North-Sea-Cycle-Route keeps you to be alert. Especially when you left this route last year amidst the most beautiful landscape. That was in Kristiansand at the southern part of Norway. How to get there this time and how to continue? We have friends in this region and these are Turid and Terje Melheim who live on the island of Stord which is just crossed by the NSCR (we change Emails with Turid and Terje since many years and once at our Neisse-tour we met them on the route). Moreover there is an impressive documentation of the NSCR Opening Tour in 2001 in the Web. Everywhere and as well at the islands Bømlo and Stord there were festivities and receptions for the participants. So this time it is challenging to visit these northern (and as we think dull) regions and to combine this tour with a visit at our friends.

There is a proposal to get to Kristiansand by bus which is going daily from Hamburg to Stavanger. It is amazing that this busline exists and who will use it? Later we will learn that Norway is so expensive and many locals like to travel to Germany and enjoy the cheaper markets. But the bus does not accept bicycles except they are disassembled and hidden in a cardboard box. So this will be to strenuous. My favourite travel agency does a good work instead and I get the cheap weekend-ticket until Flensburg , the ticket on to Hirtshals and the ship voucher to Kristiansand. They only forgot the bike tickets. And I will have to change trains 5 times (Uelzen, Hamburg, Padborg, Fredericia, Hjoerring). I try to reduce the luggage as much as possible in order of the slogan: take as much for three weeks as for a single weekend. So this time I leave my heavy Canon camera at home and will only use a simple digital camera and can shoot more than 700 photos cost free (finally I got 442).

I start on Saturday the 14th which seems to be better then Friday, 13th for the superstitious travellers. Unfortunately the last event at home is the death of a small bird, which crashed against the glass of our garden window. I remember the end-to-end tour 1999 which was introduced by a bird's shit on my head, and that was a lucky charm. Let us await what will happen this time...

Meanwhile I sit in the comfortable train to Uelzen, and there is the station built by the famous artist and architect Hundertwasser. So everything is somewhat warped and twisted and the underground crossing looks rather oriental. In the next train to Hamburg I meet a local of our village, so we chat until Hamburg where we part: he will go to the island of Sylt but I won't. I enter a private train of the company named FLEX. May be they have taken over some old stuff of the Deutsche Bahn resp. Deutsche Reichsbahn of the former DDR. Anyway on the high bridge of Rendsburg it is recommended not to use the toilets to prevent that the settlers below get something unpleasant stuff on their barbecue...

After I arrived in Denmark the conductor immediately reclaims my missig bike ticket and I have to pay in Euro. I get 20 DKR back, which will later end without success in a telephone slot at Esbjerg. At last I arrive at Hirtshals. There is so much time yet and I am hungry. I remember the  "Hirtshals Fiske Pizza" from the last year and enter the first Pizzeria in the pedestrian area. I get somewhat like  Pizza marina and it tastes well. Some shops ahead there is the "right" Pizzeria with the Hirtshals Fiske Pizza, but this is much more expensive. Eventually you should get used to the high cost of living if you go to Norway.

It is a long time now to wait until the ship will leave. At 11 pm I watch the sunset and the full moonrise. I linger around in some waiting rooms and cafes whith closed booths. At last some busses arrive and the pessengers are served with instant meals like burgers or so. Finally on board of the ship, the nice hidden places behind stairs or cupboards are immediately occupied by the sleeping bags of some friends from the far east. I find the room with the sleeping chairs, where you sit and watch the sea gliding along with the full moon above it (I sit in the front row). And finally the sleep wins the fight. In the morning the backside hurts after sitting all the time. Can one cycle after such a night, bleary-eyed?

The Dam over the Lake Kvislevann

2 Sunday, 15.6., Kristiansand - Lyngdal, 110 km

Yes, one can. Past 7 am I come off the ship, I am the only cyclist - alas! At Kristiansand I look for a bank to get money from the automat but don't find one. Impatiently I want to start - the lost night doesn't bother at all and I am fully motivated. Soon the (nearly not existing) traffic is left behind and we enter the old Postal Trail. Here you mainly meet joggers and dog-leading people. The old trail in 1790 to 1880 was part of the west Norwegian mainroad from Kristiansand to Stavanger - so to read in the Cycel Guide. They may have had some trouble with the slopes and the quality of the path's surface at that time. And they had no motorized vehicles except stagecoaches drawn by horses. I prefer to walk at the steepest slopes as well to avoid aching muscles - I have learned from the last year. So I am not so sportive but finally success and don't suffer from this trouble this time.

We reach the lake  Kvislevann. Here they have built a dam in 1861 across the lake. 20 years later the route was closed - anyway. Today the cyclist enjoys this passage and we have a first panorama photo. Then we rush downhill and reach a tarmac road again, there is still as much as no traffic. Now we admire the beautiful world of flowers. Once for ever I state: Norway is all but dull at this season. We see the lupines, cloves, fox gloves or wild pansies (Stiefmütterchen) aside the street, mighty rhododendron bushes in the gardens of some picturesque estates.

Now there is the occasion of a shortcut. But better let us enjoy the scenery and perform a nearly 10 km circle. The most scenic places are near the fjords with their shining surface and rocks and the coloured boatshouses ashore. The eye laughs looking around. Now we reach  Mandal, the most southern town of Norway. At last I find a bankautomat and feel like a civilized person again. But may be I am spoiled by the free nature and botany already and we will find out, that I never will enjoy to pass larger towns (we have read about this effect in various tour reports).

The weather gets dull more and more and around  Svennevig or  Spangereid it starts to rain. At an abandoned petrol station I rest under a big roof and think about sense and nonsense of my expedition. But we we are on tour not for the first time, so some rain will not bother. For the last 10 km of today there is a climb of 210 m. This seems not to be so much, but we have a 100 km stretch in our legs already. And you must realize that there are various ups and downs, so the height difference may summarize to twice as much. But at last we fly down to Lyngdal and find an accommodation at the  Rosfjord Strandhotel. "You pay half of the price" the boss says, but it is still rather expensive. So the dinner at the restaurant is too expensive as well and I consume the last sandwiches from home and some chocolate. Meanwhile the sun has come out again and we have a fine panoramic view of the Rosfjord.

Rosfjord in the Eveningsun

3 Monday, 16.6., Lyngdal - Flekkefjord, 110 km

At breakfast there are some German mechanics (transport gear or so). They as well as me have two stomaches. The second of mine is the handle bar bag eating some yoghurts and two rolls. The mechanics have plastic boxes and fill them without any shame with numerous sandwiches from the buffet. Finally the boss comes up and says (in German): "The women are angry on you. Your rooms look like a piggery."

Now we have "Kaiserwetter" as we say on a day without any clouds. There is a wide view and mighty colours everywhere. I resign to enter the official route which climbs up to 130 m through woodland. The mainroad along the Lyngdalfjord is more promising and this is finally true. There is few traffic, may be this is not always the same so the cyclists may cross the hill. At last we join anyway at the road (Nr. 43).

Farsund to the left of the Bridge

Farsundto the right of the Bridge
We reach Farsund, a jewel with the bridge, white houses and the boats at the pier. In the outskirts we pass some industrial areas and then are back in the botany with the nearly unnatural colours and scenes. A blue lake with flowers around it and some mountains in the background, or a veteran of a bicycle with flowers are fine motives.

After some 5 km on gravel we reach the village  Borhaug. The road is closed and some people run around with cameras, mirrors and folders under their arms. "What's that?" I ask and learn: Filmshoots. "Television?" I ask. "No, this will be an action film" they say. "You need an actor, James Bond or so?" I ask, but just a joke and I fail to enter the glory of the world of movies. So I buy a big bottle of Fanta in the next shop and watch the actors some time. But there is no  Julia Roberts or  Richard Gere, may be they have just their breakfast lunch.

Szenen near Jølle
I head on and have my break some time later within the most wonderful landscape. Some nice houses, the sea, the mountains far behind and a picturesque little haven. It would be nice to stay here longer. Nearby there are some rock paintings of the bronze age, 3000 years old. I read about it afterwards. I have to fight with the cap of the Fanta bottle which cannot be closed properly. Finally a tricky construction of handkerchief and knot helps  (picture).

Along lonesome paths we reach a height of 120 m and then run down to a fjord. Then up to 190 m on a gravel road. As I just push uphill as usual some German caravans from Rendsburg (remember the High Bridge and the Barbecues...) come along. I see them some time later at a nice lake with their tables and chairs, coffee and cake, enjoying not to sit at home under this nasty bridge all the time...

I must climb up to 220 m now. If you add all the heights of the day afterwards you will find out, that you have done more than 1000 m height and you will not miss the Alps. At the downhill to Kvinesdal the ride and not this alone nearly finds its end. There is a small sink on the road surface and with a speed of 45 km/h I bump into it. I feel as I come off from the saddle and nearly fly ahead over the handle bars. But I succeed to keep steady and from now on I am more cautious. At Kvinesdal we may wonder about the distances: there is a sign 31 km to Lyngdal, where I have come from. But my odometer shows 67 km - and that was all mere landscape.

Now there is the E39, which is unbearable, though it would be possible to use a tunnel instead of a 160 m climb. The cyclist better enters the West Norwegian Main Road again. The guide claims: "...the masonrywork of the hairpin bends brings you up quickly...". But there are no walls but simple guardrails and no one brings someone up, it is all to do for oneself in his sweat. Moreover a guy on high speed roller skies overtakes me and soon disappears around the next bend. I always believed the bicycle to be the most effective human powered vehicle, but now we must think it over. May be it is better to do the next tours by roller skies and rucksack, or a small trailer behind? I didn't see the roller ski guy again, may be he has gone another way ore was thrown in a ditch at the steep downhill following.

Boathouses at Feda
This time we have to overcome 240 m after the 100 km stretch of today - just as yesterday. We reach the village  Feda on the other side side of this roaring tunnel and we would have reached this place within 10 minutes. Up above the next tunnel is yawning. The trucks rumble in and out and I am sure, inside there you will find your secure final end. Fortunately a mighty guardrail prevents from any misuse. So we continue going up and down and the landscape is fine. At last there is a strange deposit for certain muds, may be they are not suited to be used as garden mould. For some 100 m we are forced to use the E48 - a nightmare. Then some signs pilot the cyclist on steep gravel paths. I imagine a neat cavalier with his sweet tender girlie, as he has to carry his and hers, bike and baggage on this stretch. The climax is a construction site, there they have knocked rocks big as a piano on the path. The only solution is to unload the bike and ballance over several times.


Original Landscape
After you are properly in sweat you see a waterski lift construction down in the fjord and may refresh optically. So the end for today is  Flekkefjord. I soon find a (comparable) reasonable priced accommodation at the  Guesthouse Bondeheimen. The more generous traveller may reside at the Grand Hotel or First Hotel Maritim. I pay my bill with the credit card again and three keen women are busy to operate the card reader automat (Ratsch-Ratsch). They were not far away to smash the card to garbage and then I would have been a beggar. The shops are open and I buy a proper stuff for supper, guess:  Krepsehaler von Fiskemannen and  Cheese extra smøret and (by mistake) raisin rolls.

4 Tuesday, 17.6., Flekkefjord - Nærdal, 125 km

The plan for the next days is as following: just in a week the ship will leave from Bergen to the Shetland Islands. This happens only once the week, so the deadline is mandatory. The weekend is determined for the visit at Turid and Terje and I gladly await it. Terje wants to come from ahead on the island  Bømlo, this could be on Friday. So the route is easily bearable until then, but as usual I say "You got what you got".


We leave Flekkefjord on a lonesome road within an original landscape with rocky cliffs and mountain lakes. We have 170 m height and then run down to a road blocking again. They are busy to clean the rock walls from loose material. I remember the accident of a friend, who years ago ran with his motor bike into such a blocking and was severely hurt. But there is a post stopping all vehicles far in front of the barrier. There is a high platform as wide as the road based on hydraulic pillars. The cyclist may pass, all the others have to wait and this may last up to half an hour.

We come to  Åna-Sira and in sight of this picturesque scene you will wipe your eyes. But thereafter the highest point of the Norwegian stretch of the NSCR with 275 m is waiting. Not an hour later we run down again to the  Jossingfjord. Moreover the name Jossingfjord is a symbol of Norwegian resistance against the German occupants. There are some signposts and you can read about the activities during the early World War II. In the February 1940 the British destroyer  Cossack followed the German supply ship  Altmark with 300 British prisoners of war into this fjord and freed the captured compatriots. Then there are two ancient houses from the 17 th century under a rock edge. I just see them in the corner of my eyes.

There is a bizzarre rockwall ahead, they have milled the road into it. We cross a short tunnel, not dangerous this time as I walk up in it. Behind the tunnel we find a fine rest place with beautiful views down to the fjord. A couple from Halle, Germany has arrived (by car) already and they enjoy their breakfast.

Houses under the Rock Cliff


Finally a 180 m climb, and then we run down to  Hauge and the small village  Sogndalstrand at the coast. This time the passage through the village is blocked because someone likes to paint his house from a high platform. The cyclist has no problems once again. Now we pass  Nesvåg and you can compare the pictures of numerous brochures with the real world.


The next stretch is nice and lonesome through heather and moorland riddled with rocky hills. Always when we run downhill with the highest speed on the deepest point there is a cattlegrid to prevent the sheep wandering around in alien areas. But the cyclist must brake down and cannot save his high speed for the next slope. At last the gravel route is not quite comfortable, but soon we reach the road again and with high speed but not so nice we reach  Egersund.

Hestvad bru at Egersund

At first this should have been the final station for today but now it is too early yet. So we pass this town quickly except the supermarket. At the old bridge  Hestvad bru from 1843 a rest is a must. But then we have such a nice tailwind that we stay to the main route Nr. 44 for a while.

After some time there is a stretch of the old Westland Trail again. This is a hard work but it offers a stunning landscape. There are mighty rock cliffs burnished by the glaciers of the ice age. At the lower areas there are moor bassins with a rich vegetation. Now and then we pass a small creek with brown waters. The path itself has killing slopes. I found out that the best way to get up a steep hill is to pull the bike behind with one hand at the seat post. In consequence of the extraordinary views we even do not recognize the strenuousness of the winding path. At last a steep downhill leads just towards the glasses of a greenhouse at the end of the path. So keep an eye on your brakes...

The landscape immediately turns to be flat now. This is nor quite typical for Norway and this landscape is named Jæren. So we have a good progress with the tailwind. I know: there will be another highlight today. At first we pass the  Hå Gamle Prestegard, an arts and culture center. There are a lot of people listenig to a speaker, who surely tells something about art or culture. I pass the group and a stonewall but then end in a meadow. So I have to return and pass the stonewall and the group once again. Hopefully they were not too diverted.

But the "right" path does not look very comfortable as well, a narrow grass trail leading to the banks of the river named  Håelva. And there it is, the highlight of today: an adventurous suspension bridge. Of course I prefer to walk over it. Just behind the bridge we reach the village  Nærland and the guide promised a hotel here. I do hard to find it but at last there it is behind a flagpole, the  Nærland Gjestegard. So we have a roof above our head and the dinner comes out of the shopping bags.

5 Wednesday, 18.6., Nærland - Skudeneshavn 62 km (79 km)

We start into a wide farmland, passing the lake  Orrevatnet, a bird reservation area. The helpfulness to the birds does not apply to the road. There you see the flat rests of them, once three young oyster catchers have been run down, one after the other. A small seagull sits at the road and cannot fly. And I cannot give any help. Back at the coast we find a long beach, and this is rare in Norway.

At last we reach the village  Mekjarvik just in time to reach the ferry boat to the islands  Kvitsøy and  Karmøy. Departure is 1.50 pm, but why does the boat go off already as I come around the last bend? I enter the quay and after some time I understand: I have annotated the departure times of the opposite direction. The correct departure was 12.15 and now we have 12.30. The next boat goes at 15.25, but then only to the island of  Kvitsøy and then returns and not earlier than 17.20 the transfer to the island of  Karmøy, where I want to go, will be reality.

So we see: it is good to have some spare time to overcome such an eventuality. So what to do within the next three hours? Let's have a look to the oil rigg near the quay, this is maintained at this place. They wind up some pieces of wood up to the higher deck. Interesting! OK, then there is the lighthouse at  Tungenes some km from here. So we go there and look around. A nice place! And meanwhile the sun shines, so it would be nice to find a comfortable restplace for the remaining time. I return to the headland at  Mekjarvik and set my camp into the bushes. Just as I feel comfortable the gallopping of a horse comes up and a girl nearly shoots over the neck of the horse as they suddenly are forced to stop at me. Sorry, I didn't await a horse at this tiny path. But now no one can disturb us and we make photos, write notes, read maps or just doze.

Then the ship to Kvitsøy goes off. I shall pay later on the second part of the journey, the conductor says. Now I have some hours to inspect the island of Kvitsøy. A fresh wind is blowing. The best view is up above at the church. In the shelter of a wall one can sit down and think about the world and this and that. As I have completed with this activity I return to the pier. There is not much to be seen. Only a man in a boat has problems with the motor, finally another boat must pull him out. OK, the rest of the time is spent in a wait-container, it is drizzling outside.

Panorama at Kvitsøy

Eventually the ship arrives and brings me across to  Skudeneshavn. Don't be angry, that they do not ask for the charge once again. May be I have sit enough for it. At Skudeneshavn I must find an accommodation. There is the first guesthouse unlocked, even the rooms inside are open, but no human beeing around though I ring the bell and crie "Hello". So I go outside again and ask a young man for the second guesthouse  Reinertshuset. "Just here, I call the woman, if you really want to charge" he says. The friendly lady comes up with the key, and so I get the ownership of an ancient white Norwegian house as they are typical for this and other towns hereabout. I pay at once - tomorrow morning I shall leave the key in the door - many thanks for the credits.

Some things are to be arranged now: get money, go shopping, two telephone calls. I must call Terje where I am meanwhile. "There you are already?" he says. We keep to our plan on Friday so I have two more unhurried days. I enjoy the rest of the evening. In the guestbook I read, that members of the opening tour of the NSCR 2001 have slept here too. I write something in the book as well:  ...now I have a whole ancient house for my own, I never had that before...

6 Thursday, 19.6., Skudeneshavn - Haugesund, 60 km

The morning starts with a thunderstorm and heavy rain. But so long I sit warm and dry. I have so much time and only want to go to  Haugesund today. I start with a walk up to the view point in the park. There sits a group of school children, may be they are fom France Guyana or so - they look so. They are griddy and I do not stay long up there. Then there is a certain "moonstone", this is a stone as large as a fist and looking quite different from the surrounding rocks.

About 10 am I leave the house and have cleared everything properly - as I hope. We ride along the western coast of the island Karmøy an there are pretty views. Most of the route is on the road. This area is called the cradle (origin, Wiege) of Norway. You can read: "This entire area Avaldsnes has been chosen as the Millenium Site for Rogaland country. Harald Fairhair made his seat in the vicinity after uniting the nation in 872". So some towns around here get profit of this fact and praise their museums, heritage places etc.

After an easy ride today I reach the high bridge above the  Karmsund over to Haugesund. On the bridge is a killing traffic and the passenger/cyclist track is about one meter wide. Expect difficulties if someone comes from ahead. And there it is, resp. she, a woman comes along. Just a heavy truck has rumbled along, so one can make a step on the carriage way for a short moment and the woman can pass.

At Haugesund I just leave the tourist information as a heavy rain starts. The boy of a neighboured fish shop pulls me and the bike into his shop. I can wait there until the rain stops, meanwhile I get friend to a large fish in a bassin. Thereafter I look for the  Best Western Hotel Neptun which is classified as friendly to cyclists. I can confirm this fact - cyclists get 30% discount. Then there is a nap, shopping and relaxing announced for the rest of the day. In the evening I watch the soccer game Brasil - Camerun in the TV. Camerun wins 1:0 and this is quite unusual.

Chapter 2. Stord and Bergen
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