The steep mountainsides were a major challenge, the solution being to build hairpin tunnels in order to equalise the big differences in altitude on the steep mountain. The danger of avalanches and rock falls also constituted a problem. To avoid these hazardous stretches, the line crosses the river and valley three times during the journey, but it does not cross the river on bridges. Instead, the river is led through the mountain in tunnels underneath the railway line.
We left our mountain camp on the old road and descended back into Laerdal to refuel and back on the E5 through the longest tunnel again to Aurland. We emerged from the tunnel under clear blue skies and drove on to Flam though Fjord and farmland areas of strawberry’s, cabbage and potatoes.
Flam is very much on the Norwegian tourist route. With tourists from all over the world visiting here.
Unlike our previous fjord cruise today is clear and sunny. We decided to leave the Hymermobile behind on this trip and give Steven the opportunity to look at more of the scenery instead of driving.
We caught a bus through the tunnels from Flam to Gudvangen to catch a Fjord cruise back to Flam via the spectacular Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord.
The Nærøyfjord, a branch of the Sognefjord, has been included in the UN’s World Heritage list and is considered to be among the most scenic fjord areas on the planet.
Its outstanding natural beauty is derived from its narrow and steep-sided crystalline rock walls that rise up to 1400 m direct from the fjord.
We disembarked the boat at the port of Flam, went back to the Hymermobile for a cup of tea. It was onlt a short walk to the railway station to catch the train to Myrdal and back. This exciting stretch of railway attracts people from all corners of the world, making the Flåm Railway one of Norway’s major and most spectacular tourist attractions.
On the 20 km-long train ride you can see rivers that cut through deep ravines, waterfalls cascade down the side of steep, snow-capped mountains and mountain farms cling dizzily to sheer slopes.
On the way up the train went through Hairpin Tunnel which made a 180-degree turn inside the mountain. The train emerges from the tunnel and stops for the passengers to take photos at an amazing water fall called the Kjosfossen waterfall. (well the front carriages emerge we actually got out of our part of the train still inside the tunnel).
To our surprise celtic style music started from the falls and mystic maiden appeared at the ruins danced and disappeared to reappear and in front of the falls. Very nice touch.
The Flåm Railway is one of the worlds steepest railway lines on normal gauge. The train ascends over 863m and the gradient is 55/1000 on almost 80% of the line, i.e. a gradient of one in eighteen.
The twisting tunnels spiral in and out of the mountain are an engineering feat. At Myrdal we stayed on the now nearly empty train for the return trip down to Flam.
We collected the Hymermobile and headed off from Flam through the steep uphill 5k tunnel and downhill through the 11.4k tunnel to Gudvangen on emerging and reaching for the sunglasses realised that Stevens sunglasses were missing. After a search turned around back to Flam station. Not in the lost property so may be still on the train. Fortunately the train we were on spends the night at Flam.
We had dinner while waiting for the train to complete its last return trip up the mountain. Steven met the train on arrival and the guard let him look for the glasses. Amazingly they were under the seat we were in on the way up.
Feeling like we had just won lotto we headed off back through the tunnels and on toward Voss about 75k.
Our first breakdown
Click read more below for more and more photos………..
There were strange grinding noises coming from the drivetrain of the Hymermobile which sounded like a universal joint or some other impending failure. Slowing down we crawled into Voss at 11pm. We found a parking area just outside town. We purchased continental breakdown insurance before we left the UK (just as well) and called the 24hr assistance number. The nice French lady who answered arranged for the local roadside rescue service to come out. Shortly after I received a call from a road rescue service in Sweden asking where we were. Once I advised we were in Voss Norway not Sweden the error was quickly sorted out and I advised we would spend the night and await the roadside assistance in the morning. We went to bed however at 1am a rescue truck pulled up to check on our problem and advised that they will be back in the morning.
As promised the rescue truck turned up just after 9am. I drove around the car park and the mechanic went looking for drive train problems. Well until he found that the rear wheel was loose!! Wheel nuts tightened we were on our way again.
An interesting day
Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord Cruise