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It was very cloudy, looking back the way we'd come up the valley.
The Church is a wonderful colour that comes from hundreds of years of creosote. You can smell it from quite a distance too, and the no smoking signs start about 200 yards away!
You can see how thick the creosote is on the footing here. You can also see the stone plinth the church stands on.
Some of the planking on the outside of the church has these strange carvings on. It looked to me like the sort of symbols you see on Sami drums, apparently they are the marks of local farmers. Some clearly have runic components.
All these little tiles are wooden. Thats a lot of carving...
This is the old Priest House (now a souvenir shop).
We found this Pokemon water energy card on the way out of Hamar, and carried it as a magical way of reducing the extreme heat of our journey! As we were laying in our sodden tent it seemed like a good time to 'discard' this card so in a variation on an old spell to dispel rain we threw it out the door... The next day it wasn't raining, hurrah!
The next morning the church was open, its as stunning on the inside as it is on the outside. The pillars are all wooden but are painted to represent marble (by someone who has never seen marble). It is like most Norwegian churches a crazy mixture of folk carpentry and fantastical baroque carving and giltwork. A lovely dutch lady who seemed to fluently speak every European language showed us round, and let us take pictures, which is against the rules!
This is the altar end of the church.
We walked into Ringebu Sentrum and finally after much searching found the cafe on the second floor above a DIY shop. We had an omlette and a lot of coffee. It was here that we discovered that the cost of a coffee usually includes at least one and sometimes infinite refills. No-one had thought to tell us this! Caffeeeeeeeeeeeeeein.
It was still early so we walked out of town, stopping in the suburbs to admire this fine Stabbur which was in someones garden. The kind lady owner came out to tell us it was 300 years old and to give us some waffles!
We crossed this fantastic chasm, the photo doesn't do justice to the sound and power of the water.
The river soon widens out, we had a nice sit down and a cup of tea.
Late in the afternoon we came to an old barrow which had a big sticky up stone on top, and...
and a kind of lunar looking white quartz stone balanced on another rock in a grove down below. The coffee spirits were pleased with our observances as although the nearby Gudbrands Gard hotel and museum was closed the nice young lady, who we discovered played fiddle in the Valley Fiddle Band took pity on two itinerant fellow musos and gave us all the left over coffee! Caffeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeein...
On a coffee high we passed this house with lovely dragon gable ends.
We started to climb again past Sor Fron Kirk, which is called Gudbransdal Cathedral as its the largest church in the Gudbransdal valley.
The gathering storm clouds let through shafts of light briefly illuminating the cathedral.
The valley was transformed by a beautiful light show...
as we climbed higher, though the rain soon passed, we'll never forget the view.
After getting slightly lost we arrived at Sygard Grytting, a famous old Pilgrim Hostel, still providing hospitality to Pilgrims 700 years after it was built. Robert the English pilgrim we had met earlier arrived shortly after us, which was really great. The normal rooms that pilgrims slept in were all full with people attending a nearby concert so we were bedded down in the old pilgrims day room on the ground floor. It was a creaky building but we eventually got to sleep.
I took quite a few pictures of Sygard Grytting, it is a very photogenic place. We had a nice chat with Robert, and then a chat about music with the owner, who is quite a well known fiddle player locally.
We asked him how long he'd lived there, he told us his family had lived there for sixteen generations, since the 15th century, before that the farm had belonged to another family for two generations, but before that it had belonged to his family, going back he presumed to the migration period...
And that, we thought, is the difference between Norway and England. Only an aristocrat in England would have such a sense of his family history. The average Englishman was disposessed after the Norman conquest and we have been shoved about the country to suit the needs of our 'betters' ever since. In Norway it is common for the surnames on the post boxes to be the same as the name of the village, whereas few people know where they come from in England, the only clue as to where they belong being the street names on their UB40s. Viva la Revolution!
These beautiful sledges were laid up for the summer under the big Stabbur.
We had dinner and watched the clouds form over the valley.
The place had the stillness that comes with age, handmade furniture and natural materials, all weathered by time and use. Every chair and table a work of art.
We wouldn't have missed our stay for anything.
The next morning it was off up the steep mountainside, through juniper bushes.
There was an intense burst of 'Pilgrim Vibes' up on the hill. Someone had fixed a cockle (familiar symbol of the Santiago Pilgrimage) to a post. When you have walked the Camino the sight of a yellow arrow or a cockle when you are not expecting it gives a great sense of nostalgia and a sense of being at home. It might sound funny to some, but every pilgrim will know exactly what I mean.
We passed this old farm, abandoned for many years.
More pilgrim energy next to the old farm, signposts to each of the main pilgrim destinations. Reminded us of a similar signpost we saw near the Cruz de Fer in Spain.
Inside the old farmhouse there were still bottles and a biscuit box on the shelf. The floor didn't look safe enough to see if it still had biscuits in...Kate spent hours wondering how they got the stoves so high up such steep mountains...
The view from up here was quite astounding.
You find these old railway carriages in the most unlikely places.
As we came down off the mountain we passed this lovely caravan. By now dear reader you will have sussed all the weird things we are into by the photos we chose to take. Caravans and Pylons and Old Wooden Buildings, Housetrucks and Birchbark and Strange Pilgrim Thingies, Churches and Barrows, Megaliths and Kings, these are a few of our favourite things...
This life size 'Root over Rock' style bonsai tree was on the road to Kvam. A lady's dog followed us for miles down this road. For a long way she followed behind on foot trying to call it, and we kept trying to shoo it away, but it could sense we were on a Big Adventure and it wanted to come. Eventually she caught up with us in her car, bundled the dog in, apologised profusely in flawless English and drove away. We missed him for a while, I must confess we had contemplated taking him with us the rest of the way, he was very cute.
Late in the day we arrived at Kvam, the only truly ugly place we found in Norway. It's mostly a big timber mill. A lot of Norwegian towns have one ugly building, a sawmill or a grain silo, but Kvam was ugly to the core. We had a nasty burger in a nasty convenience store, found the ugly campsite (which was closed, but we camped there anyway) and went to bed.
There are a lot of barns in Norway with a ramp up to the second floor, Corwen took this photo because this was a particularly fine example. We always imagine James Bond, Smoky and the Bandit or the Dukes of Hazard driving in only to shoot out the other end after much sqwarking covered in chicken feathers and maybe sharing their car with a goat.
The guide book warns about walking on the E6 motorway as its so busy and dangerous. The biggest danger is falling asleep through boredom and collapsing into the path of a passing cow.
We entered Otta.
The river/lake that we had been walking alongside for weeks was very very green now.
It soon joined another river that was clear, you could see the two differently coloured waters.
We stopped at Sel Kirke for the night. There is a campsite described in the guidebook here, we spent ages looking for it till we spotted the row of abandoned huts in a nearby field. Since the campsite was no more we camped by the church.
Oh did we mention Corwen is also into weird ironwork? All the ironwork on each church gate and door etc is handmade and varies from church to church. Sometimes it can take quite a while to work out how to operate some of the more ingenious mechanisms.
This is a particularly fine example.
The next day we crossed the river, this time for good. The next few days would see us cross the watershed from the Gudbransdal Valley, over the high point of Dovre Fjell, and then down into the Oppdal Valley whose river runs north, not south. It felt very odd to see our familiar river from the wrong angle.
Even at this altitude the Norwegians use any bit of flat land to cultivate a crop. Barley in this case, the fully grown plants a little over a foot tall. We could see the mountains we would shortly be crossing ahead of us, they looked very steep!
The farmhouse had a lovely gatepost like a miniature stave church.
Another picture to sum up Norway. This tumbledown barn has a satellite dish, presumably so the farmer can constantly monitor the price of herring.
A tumbledown old shed, beautiful in the bright mountain air. You can see the layer of birchbark under the turf that keeps the rain out.
This is the Jorundgard Middle Ages Centre, which is a faithful reconstruction of a 13th century village. Above and below you can see the church. This village was originally built as a filmset for the making of Kristin Lavransdatter, a famous Norwegian novel.
The buildings were beautiful and still contained the props from the film.
The MOT is going to be expensive .
The medieval forge. We bumped into Robert again here, for the last time, though we didn't know that then. He has our contact details, but we seem to have lost his, get in touch if you see this, Robert! We left the museum and walked into the village.
Outside the church is this statue of Kristin Lavransdatter. She has a little snub nose like a Manga character.
This is Nord Sel Kirke.
It has some nice woodwork.
Oh, and some really interesting door-handles...
and a fabulous gate-latch (or sneck as they call it up-north, which makes a guest who hovers in the doorway on the way out a sneck-hanger). It took me a while to work out how to use it.
The church, like many others in this part of Norway, has immaculately maintained war graves, we were moved by the age of the soldiers. There was a Piper and a Drummer among these Scottish soldiers.
While we had a snack outside the church we met this fellow, a Swiss who had cycled up from Stockholm. He had an incredible weight of stuff in his paniers, around 40 kilos, no problem to him on his bike! It made us envious as we had 15 kilos between us and that felt heavy! Bicycle travel for us next time we thought. The revolution will not be motorised... We left the church and carried up the valley side which became a steep gorge.
There didn't seem to be much danger of seeing a train up here on the mountainside, but perhaps one passes every so often.
There was some lovely moss, if you are into that type of thing (Kate is).
So she took a photo of this giant liverwort. Ho Hum...
The gorge was pretty dramatic.
But opened out into a really lush open valley.
Fertile cattle rearing country.
We found a campsite, Haugen Vollheim, which was right by the river. The owner gave us a Pilgrim Discount, which was nice, so we splashed out on a giant tin of meatballs for dinner, which wasn't so nice.
Kate thinks it looks like I'm rolling a spliff, but I promise I'm not! As it happens I don't smoke (well maybe if its your birthday).
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