There is a walk along the side of Geirangerfjord which involves being dropped off by the sightseeing boat partway down the fjord, walking up to an old farmstead and then back along the mountainside to the town. With not a cloud in the sky, it seemed like the day to do it and we caught the 9.30 boat for a tour up the fjord. Despite the bright sunshine it was pretty cold chugging over the glassy water, especially in the long shady stretches where the granite walls suddenly looked a lot more forbidding. We saw a couple of little porpoises break the surface and passed numerous wispy waterfalls floating down from 1600 meters up. There are old farms up there too, on seemingly impossible-to-reach patches of grass. They are all long abandoned, but preserved by a local association.
The path went initially through the trees; wet underfoot and very steep. Soon we were looking down at the fjord through a comforting mesh of slim tree-trunks. Eventually though we got above the tree line and began climbing along the very edge of the cliff on a tortuously steep path – thankfully with stout metal handrails. It was still hand over hand stuff, but the path was well stepped and we are veterans of the unfeasible trail now…
In no time at all the path turned a corner and onto a large grassy area with some wooden farm buildings with turf roofs. This was the Skageflå mountain farm which was inhabited until 1960 and one of the most successful in the area because of its sheltered position.
The family had 125 goats 80 sheep 5 cows, a horse and ten children who were tied to large boulders to stop them falling off the cliff when they played outside. That sounds like something I would make up but it is in fact true. It must have been an extraordinary place to grow up.
A couple of the buildings were unlocked and some of the old farm implements had been left inside. In others you could still see the remnants of rusting iron stoves, old bottles and rubber boots.
It was up and further up from there, climbing out of the shadow of the cliff and into the sunlight. Eventually we reached a fantastic rocky overlook with a gap through the trees where we could see right down the fjord, with cruise ships steaming towards the town of Geirangerfjord like bathtub toys.
We passed a couple of other old buildings with turf roofs at the halfway point. There were swathes of raspberry bushes around them, but the ripe ones appeared to have been picked. We’ve noticed lots of fruit trees in the area.
There is good sized orchard near the campsite with apples and pears and some of the lower farms along the fjord used to specialise in growing fruit – including apricots – which I would never have associated with somewhere so far north.
The downward stretch was fairly uninteresting to be honest; a wet, muddy and slippery path which clearly doubled as a stream when there was enough water. When we got back to Geirangerfjord we stopped at a chocolate shop which had set up in one of the old boat houses. P and I had chocolate with chili, and it went straight to all the achy joints. So it was definitely medicinal. Definitely.