A Visit to Hell

The last few days have been stranger than the preceding ones.  Leaving behind the huge naked people with their remarkably resilient babies, we paused to check out a Stavekjerkje – a wooden church coated in tar to preserve the timber – that had been put up in 1180 before transitting the World’s Longest Tunnel (24.5 km) and overnighting on the edge of a mighty abyss.  Yes, you’ve guessed it, we were back on the atlas obscura again.  Here’s the photographic evidence:

But from this point on, the atlas had no further suggestions and so we were left to fall back on our own meagre resources.  That said, regular readers will recall that Kate has the gift of finding memorably-named places and sure enough, she hit pure gold.  As a just punishment for having taken such an unholy joy in visiting (and then blogging about) Höör and Båstad we were going to go to Hell.  So off we went.  Since it was quite a long way off, we paused in a small campsite on the edge of a town called Lom.  Arriving early, we decided to go for a short walk.  “Let’s follow that yellow route, it’s only about 3km”, we agreed – however that meagre distance was made up of a pretty much constant 45 degree slope that just went up and up.  Eventually we reached the tree-line and were in theory able to enjoy the view – but when all you can hear is your blood pounding round your veins and the harsh gasping of your overworked lungs, it’s difficult to enjoy anything apart from the fact that you’ve stopped climbing.  So we enjoyed that instead, took a couple of snaps of the view to enjoy later and then set off down the hill.  This was almost as hard and when we and our rapidly tiring hound reached the van again we found that two and a half hours had passed in relentless physical exertion.  Early night for all.

Sunday dawned inappropriately bright and clear for a day that was to witness a journey into Hell.  Contrary to probably all expectations, arriving in Hell was an occasion for much mirth and camera work.  It was a revelation (to continue a more than slightly Biblical theme) to discover that Hell has its own railway station and is also served by a small airport, in addition of course to the well-knwown Highway To Hell (AC/DC) and the Road To Hell (Chris Rea).

We took the rather more prosaic N.705 and parked up between the railway line and main road (or highway, depending on your musical preferences), right under the flightpath of the airport.  Say what you like, we did our best to ensure that our stay in Hell was not going to be pleasant.  Even so, the well-regulated and considerate Norwegian approach to out-of-hours peace and quiet meant that all road, rail and air traffic ceased by around 11.00 pm, so our best efforts were thwarted.  Perhaps sensing this, the dog did its best to create discomfort for all by finding a way up on to our bed and then repeatedly worming its way beneath the duvet.  This new skill seems to be a permanent acquisition, proving that an old dog can actually teach itself new tricks.  If you count 7 as being old for a dog, that is.

As an aside, we were not quite sure what the inclusion of a bi-lingual signpost to Jerusalem implies, apart perhaps from the interesting theological points that (a) major religions seem to share a common Hell and  (b) even in Hell there may be some cause for hope.  Anyway…

The next day we rose early so that we could buy a few hellish postcards to frighten friends and relations with, and departed for a morning in Trondheim.  Idling around the old town proved to be agreeable but no more, so the trek northwards resumed.

After a while we pulled off the E6, which by the way is Europe’s longest continuous road, and followed signs to an overnight free camping spot which turned out to be delightful.  Not only that, but it was a mere 400 yards from some 6,000 year old prehistoric rock carvings of various animals and a stone-age bloke on skis.  The nearby lake was deserted and gorgeous and it came as no surprise to learn from the ever-educational Norwegian information boards that people had been living in this area since before 4,000 BC.  We spent about 12 hours, and we’re still trying to work out what that says about us…

By way of closing remarks, I’ve just found out that the TravelMap bit of this website has a tab that you can click, which opens to show what I’d thought were my own notes to self about where we’d stayed and what we’d done.  A sort of condensed version of this more verbose thing, if you like.  So if you can’t be bothered reading all this tripe, just get the salient points off the TravelMap thing.  With a map of our route.