Today we head off south from Mundel with some extra books in hand to Aurland. This drive takes us through more tunnels and ferry crossings. Including the longest road tunnel in the world at over 24k.We also planned to drive from Aurland up the mountain on the old mountain road to a lookout over the Stegastein viewpoint with a spectacular view of the surrounding fjords and valleys.
On the way to Aurland we went through mountains onto ferries. Stopped in Laerdal for lunch and to look at the old town. Lærdalsøyri is worth seeing in its own right; a national monument site with 161 well preserved old wooden houses. The newest attraction is the longest road tunnel in the world (E16 from Lærdal to Aurland, 24.5 km, opened 27 Nov 2000. For those interested in wild salmon the Atlantic Salmon Centre is also here with exhibits.
We have been through a lot of tunnels on this trip with many over 6-10k long however the Laerdal tunnel is by far the longest. We were curious before we entered the tunnel if there would be any layby or stopping place part way through. Steven had been tempted to stop in other tunnels and get out however this was too risky. As luck would have it there were 3 stopping places at around 6k – 12k and 18k in the tunnel.
|Aurland Laerdal old road|
We exited the tunnel near Aurland and then turned right onto the old mountain road and headed back towards Laerdal.
While we expected a smaller road it still came as quite a surprise just how narrow and steep this road was. It is single lane, hairpin bends and barely enough room to pass anything, first and second gear only. Those coming down the mountain, white knuckles, eyes wide, full of concentration no waving to each other here!!
A smaller motorhome in front of us could not take it anymore and managed back up into a farmers track to turn around.
Fortunate for us as this would allow us to pass. Unfortunately farmers truck on the way down got passed the turning motor home first, this was going to be a very very close passing manoeuvre.!! Managed to put part of the Hymermobile wheels over the edge of the road and the farm truck passed with less than an inch clearance.
We made it to a stop halfway up and contemplated turning around as well. And then unbelievably a bus went by going up the hill. Well where a bus can go we can go so we set off behind the bus.
A very interesting show watching people backing up and manoeuvring to pass on a steep incline.
After a while we reached the Stegastein viewpoint and took in yet another magnificent view.
Rather than go back down the same road we decided to continue on up the mountain road back to Laerdal, over the mountain we had just come through by tunnel.
What a great decision, we were rewarded with clear skies, wonderful mountain scenery.
We stopped for the night on the mountain just at the tree line next to a fast running stream.