A BIG THANKS TO THE FARMER

I would like to say a big THANK YOU to the farmer who works every day to provide us with food and to decorate our fjord landscape. If it hadn´t been for the farmer and the livestock, the landscape surrounding our fjords would not be as beautiful as it is today.

 

FJORDS NORWAY - Happy Cows at Fiva in Romsdalen. Mt Trollveggen in the background.
Happy Cows at Fiva in Romsdalen. Mt Trollveggen in the background.

There are some pictures at the bottom of this article, pictures of grazing animals, and of the beautiful cultural fjord landscape. These pictures would not exist if it hadn´t been for the farmers and their farm animals. For generations they have worked so hard to survive in the harsh Norwegian nature.

A big thank you to the Norwegian farmer

Agriculture at Jæren, Rogaland.
Agriculture at Jæren, Rogaland.

The Norwegian farmers do an invaluable job of supplying us with food. Meat, grains, potatoes and vegetables, fruit and berries, milk and cheese and juice and jam are just some of the products that our farmers supply us with every single day.

Norwegian products travel a short distance and therefore have a small environmental footprint. In addition, the farmer maintains our beautiful cultural landscape.

Norway is right up there in the world’s elite when it comes to the quality of agricultural products, and we are in a class of our own when it comes to using little antibiotics and pesticides.

Urnes Gard at Ornes by the Lustrafjord grows fruit and berries and makes juice and jam.
Urnes Gard at Ornes by the Lustrafjord grows fruit and berries and makes juice and jam.

So look for Nyt Norge brand the next time you shop in the store. It gives you products with high quality and a low climate footprint and ensures Norwegian jobs.

Below you can read about some of our mountain farms and what life was like in the old days. Some of the mountain farms are abandoned, but are being maintained and restored by new owners and other enthusiasts. Other mountain farms are still in operation, and are an important part of life in the villages, both for the locals and for tourists.

You can also read about fruit and berries in Hardanger, a good example of how the orchards have shaped both people, culture and landscape over generations.

The Aurlandsdalen Valley

Sinjarheim Mountain Farm in the Aurlandsdalen Valley.
Sinjarheim Mountain Farm in the Aurlandsdalen Valley.

A great example of some of our old mountain farms are the farms in the wild and beautiful Aurlandsdalen valley by the Sognefjord. Most of the farms in the Aurlandsdalen Valley were abandoned between year 1875 and 1907 AD, and many of them emigrated to America to become farmers and start a new life over there. The life was too hard for the people living in the valley.

Sinjarheim Mountain Farm was the last farm to be abandoned. The farm was abandoned in 1922, but was used as a mountain farm until 1964. The farm Sinjarheim consists of seven buildings, including a drying house for corn, and has through the last few years been restored to its former state. So now, once again, there is farming in the summer and the students from Sogn Agricultural School in Aurland use it as a practical teaching station.

Almen Farm in the lower part of Aurlandsdalen.
Almen Farm in the lower part of Aurlandsdalen.

Almen is the last farm in Aurlandsdalen before Vassbygdi. The house is well protected under a big rock, which is why, perhaps, it’s so well maintained.

They say the people who lived there always talked very loudly, this to drown the noise from the river.

You can still see the well preserved mountain farms in the valley today. Despite the farms were deserted more than 100 years ago, they have since been restored by their new owners, and in summer you can still see animals grazing in the beautiful valley. The Aurlandsdalen Valley are now one of Norway´s most popular hiking trails.

The Mountain Farms Nedbergo, Stigen, Skageflå og Knivsflå

The Nedbergo and Stigen farms above the Aurlandsfjord in Sogn, and Skageflå and Knivsflå farms above the Geirangerfjord in Sunnmøre are other beautiful abandoned mountain farms that you can see from the fjords. For me it is unbelievable that people had the imagination to even think about establishing farms in those places.

Nedbergo Mountain Farm

View from Nedbergo Mountain Farm above the Aurlandsfjord
View from Nedbergo Mountain Farm above the Aurlandsfjord.

Nedbergo Mountain Farm, 530 meters above the Aurlandsfjord in Vestland, was actually a perfect place to have a farm. The place had more sun than the farms down by the fjords, and the people living there were quite wealthy.

They even had reserved the foremost benches in the local church.

They had to cross the Aurlandsfjord to Undredal on the other side to go to church. If they were delayed due to weather or other conditions, the others used to wait until those from Nedbergo arrived before the worship service could start.

Stigen Gard

The trail up to Stigen Gard is steep and exposed.
The trail up to Stigen Gard is steep and exposed.

Stigen Gard is further out in the Aurlandsfjord, and on the opposite side of the farm Nedbergo. The farm is about 360 meters above the fjord, and the trail up is steep and exposed.

On one of the sections along the trail, a kind of ladder had previously been set up that both people and animals could use. Parts of the mountain were later shot away so that it was not necessary to use a ladder to get up to Stigen.

Stigen Gard, the Aurlandsfjord down there.
Stigen Gard, the Aurlandsfjord down there.

Stigen Gard was abandoned after the Black Death, and the farm therefore became overgrown. From around 1600, the farm was cleared and inhabited again, and is today used as a guest house for people who hike in the mountain areas around Stigen. An organic vegetable garden surrounds the yard, and sheep graze on the steep hillside around the farm.

A popular hike is to walk up the trail to Stigen Gard and to continue to the mountain Beitelen (675 m above sea level), which is located where the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord split. The trail from the fjord up to Beitelen is steep and airy, you should be used to hiking in the mountains to do this hike.

Since Stigen Gard is located far out in the Aurlandsfjord with no road connection, you must have a boat shuttle to get to and from where the trail starts.

Knivsflå in Geiranger

Knivsflå Mountain Farm and the Seven Sisters Waterfall above the Geirangerfjord.
Knivsflå Mountain Farm and the Seven Sisters Waterfall above the Geirangerfjord.

Knivsflå is another mountain farm, further north at Sunnmøre in Møre og Romsdal. The abandoned mountain farm is situated on a small plateau beside the Seven Sisters Waterfall, 250 meters above the UNESCO World Heritage protected Geirangerfjord.

In year 1898 AD, the authorities decided that Knivsflå had to be abandoned due to the danger of rock avalanche from the steep mountains above the farm.

During 100 years, avalanches killed six people at Knivsflå. The last one who died was Oline Marte, 15 years old. On the way home from the mountain pasture, she took a shortcut across the river above the Seven Sisters Waterfall. With the milk from the mountain pasture in her hands, she fell down the steep cliff and died.

Skageflå in Geiranger

View from the abandoned mountain farm Skageflå towards the Geirangerfjord and "The Seven Sisters" waterfall.
View from the abandoned mountain farm Skageflå towards the Geirangerfjord and “The Seven Sisters” waterfall.

Skageflå is an abandoned mountain farm above the Geirangerfjord at Sunnmøre in Møre og Romsdal. The hike up to Skageflå (250 masl) is one of the most scenic hikes in Norway, with view down to the Geirangerfjord and the surrounding mountains, and to the Seven Sisters Waterfall on the other side of the fjord.

There have been farmers at Skageflå since the Middle Age, and it was one of the wealthiest farms in the Geirangerfjord area due to the lush pastures in the Skagadalen Valley.

FJORDS NORWAY - The Geirangerfjord and Seven Sisters Waterfall seen from the trail up towards Skageflå
The Geirangerfjord and Seven Sisters Waterfall seen from the trail up towards Skageflå

In the early years, the trail up to Skageflå went through a steep and difficult mountainside. Due to this, in year 1855, the council in Geiranger decided to give financial support to rectify the trail.

Today, the hike to Skageflå starts with a fjord cruise from Geiranger to Skagehola, the shore below Skageflå where the trail starts.

Blossom in Hardanger

Lofthus by Sørfjorden in Hardanger, from the apple tree blossom in May.
Lofthus by Sørfjorden in Hardanger, from the apple tree blossom in May.

It was as early as the 13th century that it all began. British monks taught the locals in Hardanger how to grow fruit trees.

You can see the result of this today, with hundreds of thousands of fruit trees scattered around the entire Hardangerfjord.

It is particularly in the picturesque villages by Sørfjorden and in Ulvik that the focus is on fruit tree cultivation and the processing of apples, plums and sweet cherries. But the focus is also on fruit trees in other parts of Hardanger.

Apples from Hardanger are a stamp of quality in themselves. In addition to apples, the world’s best apple juice and apple cider are made and sold.

Lofthus by Sørfjorden in Hardanger, from the apple tree blossom in May.
Lofthus by Sørfjorden in Hardanger, from the apple tree blossom in May.

The orchards have farm sales along the entire Sørfjorden, in Ulvik and in other parts of Hardanger. Apples, sweet cherries, plums, jams and juices from Hardanger are sold in shops all over the country. You will also find several unattended stalls along the roads where you can buy berries, apples and juices. Based on trust, you can choose what you want and pay for what you choose.

A “bee-product” of fruit tree cultivation is the wonderfully beautiful cultural landscape that this creates. It shows particularly well in May when the flowering is at its most beautiful. Then Hardanger is really worth a visit, and people come from all over the world to see all the beauty.

Small-scale agricultural producers in Western Norway

Undredal Stølsysteri is idyllically located in Undredalsdalen.
Undredal Stølsysteri is idyllically located in Undredalsdalen.

Small-scale agricultural producers who live and operate in the fjord villages in Western Norway keep the traditions of the villages alive. They harvest from what lives and grows in the fjord and in the fields, the forest and the mountains by the fjord. And they keep the fjord landscape intact.

Sheep, goats and cattle live freely in the beautiful nature for large parts of the year. Berries, herbs, fruit, plums, potatoes, vegetables, juice, cider, beer, jam and honey are some of what is harvested and produced in these fjord villages.

The Undredalselvi river winds its way down along the narrow Undredalsdalen valley with high and steep mountain sides on both sides of the valley. Undredalsdalen is the beautiful valley that goes down to the idyllic fjord village Undredal by the Aurlandsfjord.

The dairies Erna Underdal Skarsbø and Undredal Stølsysteri are both located in Undredalsdalen. Anna Karine in Undredal and Anne Karin in Skjerdal on the other side of the Aurlandsfjord produce white and brown goat’s cheese on their mountain dairies, the same as the dairies in Undredalsdalen do. In these villages, it is a tradition and culture to work with cheese production, it is part of the identity of these villages.

Skjerdal Stølsysteri og Café

Hiking down towards Skjerdal Stølsysteri. Skjerdal and the Aurlandsfjord far down there.
Hiking down towards Skjerdal Stølsysteri. Skjerdal and the Aurlandsfjord far down there.

At the traditional Norwegian mountain farm Skjerdal Stølsysteri and Café at Leim in Skjerdal in Aurland, the  brown and white goat cheese has been produced for hundreds of years. At the café you can experience the life on the farm and the taste of traditional, local food.

The mountain farm is about 30 minutes hike from Skjerdal. Follow an old farm road up through the steep landscape, with beautiful views over the Aurlandsfjord and the surrounding mountains.

You can combine a Fjord Safari on the Aurlandsfjord with a visit to Skjerdal Stølsysteri and Cafè, then you need to walk from the fjord and up to the café. This service is provided by FjordSafari in collaboration with Skjerdal Stølsysteri and Café.

Skjerdal Stølsysteri and Café are open in the summer, see the website for information about the season and opening hours. We recommend you to order tour and food/drinks in advance to be sure they have food and drinks ready for you when you arrive the café.

The cultural landscape along the fjords

Beautiful cultural landscape at Klungnes by the Romsdalsfjord.
Beautiful cultural landscape at Klungnes by the Romsdalsfjord.

There are fewer farmers around the fjords, and the cultural landscape is less maintained than before. Today, many of these abandoned mountain farms are maintained by volunteers with small funds.

I believe that the authorities should support and pay the farmers for the important work they do to maintain the cultural landscape along the fjords and in Norway in general. Those involved in tourism in Norway and Western Norway have a lot to thank the farmers for, the work that the farmers do should be more appreciated and rewarded.

Skageflå is far down there. The Geirangerfjord and the Seven Sisters waterfall are beautiful backdrops.
Skageflå is far down there. The Geirangerfjord and the Seven Sisters waterfall are beautiful backdrops.

An example of well spent money is the National Tourist Routes project in Norway. It is expected that the costs will be several billion Norwegian Kroner for this project, money used on maintenance, design and architecture on 18 selected roads in Norway.

As great as this is, I wish the authorities could also reward the farmers, and support those who do “the everyday job” by decorating the fjords.

Below you can see some great photos and a video of farm animals and cultural landscapes. I am grateful that the farmers and the livestock in Western Norway have created these beautiful backdrops.

So I send a huge THANK YOU to the farmers and the farm animals for the fantastic job they do!

 

HOTELS - LINKS - FAQ

Here you will find an overview of recommended HOTELS in addition to SPA & BATH HOTELS and OTHER ACCOMMODATION PLACES in Western Norway. The combination of beautiful nature, activities that you can do in all four seasons and a stay at a great accommodation is unique. A stay in one of these places will do you good, both for body and mind.

There are ten restaurants that have awarded Michelin stars and Michelin awards in Western Norway. Eight of the Michelin restaurants are in Stavanger and two in Bergen. Here you will find FJORDS MICHELIN, where you will also find a list of recommended hotels in Western Norway, recommended by Michelin.

USEFUL LINKS is a list of websites with great information on Norway and the Fjords. FAQ is an overview of articles that answer the most common questions you have when planning to visit the fjords in Western Norway.

A BIG THANKS TO THE FARMER – Map Overview

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