Having done the usual walk up to Pulpit Rock using the ferry and coach from Stavanger we were keen to try out some more walking in Norway. The walk up to the famous Kjeragbolten seemed to fit the bill nicely.
More distance, more altitude gain and more technical terrain seemed to fit the bill for us.
A coach leaves Stavanger Bus station each morning at 7am, you can book tickets online beforehand or turn up and buy one (assuming there’s space) for 490Kr. It’s a 2.5 hour journey, with a 30 minute coffee stop on the way there. The drive across is a great way to see some stunning Norwegian terrain, especially once it turns onto the last mountain road. When we went in early July 2015 there was still a large amount of snow on the ground up there.
The coach drops you at Øygardstøl (Eagle’s Nest) at about 10:30 where there’s a car park, some toilets, a basic information booth and a cafe. The coach driver won’t offer much in the way of advice, but the information bureau will offer you information on the state of the trails and conditions.
The driver will inform you of the time they’ll be leaving for the return trip (16:45 when we went), and also give you the dire warning that there’s no other way back to Stavanger, and the other options are to sleep over in the toilets or to make your own way to Lyseboten and then back to Stavanger.
I decided to set an alarm for just under halfway
The route is marked with red T’s all the way up. These are nice and accurate, but some can be hard to spot:
They can also be painted on the rocky surface itself which again makes them problematic to spot.
Heading out of the car park you’ll be mainly walking over rocky terrain. It won’t be long till you hit the first of the chained sections on the route. These chains are fixed in place on steeper and trickier sections to offer some assistance. Some of them are very useful (especially in the wet), but sometimes they can actually pull you onto trickier terrain. If you’re happy with technical scrambling, and know how to trust your boot’s soles then sometimes it pays to ignore them and just go with the flow.
Pretty soon into the walk it became that the benign weather forecast we’d seen wasn’t going to hold:
Visibility dropped to not very much, and we spent much of the walk either in the rain, or in the cloud itself getting just as wet. Not a problem if you’re used to walking in the UK and have decent kit, but we did see a lot of people heading up in jeans and t-shirts (and a couple of people in shorts as well).
And in July there was still a fair amount of snow on the route:
Once on top there was quite a bit of snow crossing as well. Here you had to keep an eye on the route as the red markers were spaced further apart and some people had added shortcuts which took you off route (we met a couple of people heading the wrong having gotten lost through that). Also don’t assume that every cairn is a way marker, Norwegians appear to build them a lot for some reason (you’ll spot 100s on the drive over).
The top of Kjerag is a pretty bleak spot (what we could see of it in the cloud anyway) marked by a very tall cairn, 200 metres further on and slightly downhill you’ll arrive at the famous KjeragBolten. Unfortunately for us the visibility was horrendous:
Due to the conditions (both photographic and underfoot) we skipped the traditional photo opportunity on top of the boulder and headed back down.
The weather cleared up a bit on the way down so we could see a bit more of the surrounding mountains:
The rock was still very wet under foot, so the chains did come in useful in places. We were back in the car park for about half 3, so headed to the cafe to dry off a bit and warm up with some coffee before the coach returned.
The coach trip back took 2.5 hours so we were back at the bus station for 19:15.
Overall a good walk, only made a bit tricky by the weather conditions. We were walking in good walking trainers/approach shows and general UK hillwalking kit. As it was so damp we wore waterproof jackets for most of the day. A pair of gloves would have been handy, mainly for the chain sections on the way down though.
If the weather had been much worse, then some of the people we saw might have ended up in a bit of trouble, so at least take a decent coat with you.
(for reference we happily walk in the UK year round, and are happy on broken ground like Crib Goch and Striding Edge. Plus have plenty of experience in bad conditions).