Reading material for those who love the camping life

Text and photo: Arne Lunde
Motorhome and Caravan magazine, No. 6, 2016 December

Telemark - a Norway in miniature

Several counties and regions in Norway will claim they hold most of what the kingdom has to offer. But it is asked if Telemark is not thrown on top with regard to variation. The road from coast to high mountain is short.

From Norway's most spectacular view on Gaustatoppen to a real southern idyll in the skerries - the range is undeniably large. The county stretches from Skagerak's salty waves along the coast via lush fruit settlements around Norsjø to the high mountain plateau Hardangervidda. You can experience heavy industry in the Grenland region and beautiful cultural landscapes in the mountain villages west of the county. Telemark is also the county with the largest lake area in Norway. Møsvatn, Tinnsjå, Norsjø, Nisser, Bandak, Totak and Fyresvatn are among the largest. The pleasures of sea life can be experienced with both fresh water and salt water under the keel. 

The world's eighth wonders

A blue ribbon cuts through beautiful landscapes from Skien to Dalen at the foot of the Hardangervidda. The Telemark Canal was considered the world's eighth wonder when it was completed in 1892. At that time, 500 men had worked for five years to blast and dig through mountains that created a divide between the lakes. The canal lifts the ships 72 meters above sea level via 18 lock chambers on the 105 kilometer long trip which was called "Hurtigruten" between Eastern Norway and Vestlandet. The canal created a revolution in transport in its time.

tourist attraction

Today, the canal has long since lost its significance as a traffic route. Instead, it has become one of the county's biggest tourist attractions. During the summer season, boats leave daily from Skien and Dalen in the morning, arriving at the opposite end early in the evening. You can choose to set aside the day to join the whole journey, or you can join for a while, and then be bussed back to the starting point where the car is parked. Bicycle can be an alternative where you combine a bicycle trip and a boat trip of different length and duration. Visittelemark.no sells bicycle packages that include accommodation along the way. For caravanists, there is a relatively good selection of campsites around Norsjø and elsewhere along the Telemark watercourse. One of the larger ones is Norsjø Ferieland in Gvarv, which has exciting offers in most forms of water sports. See own case.

Invisible point of view

Seljord is not far away if you are in the area around the Telemark watercourse, and it may be worth taking the trip. Seljord, which is located in the middle of Telemark, is said to contain Norway's only invisible sight, namely the sea worm in Seljordvannet. For more than 250 years, people have claimed to have seen a worm-like animal in the 15-kilometer-long and 150-meter-deep lake, but evidence has so far been lacking. A 17 meter high lookout tower has been erected on Bjørgeøyane near Seljord camping and many bring binoculars and cameras up into the heights in the hope of getting a glimpse of the monster. 

Dyrsku'n

A little outside the busiest holiday season, Dyrsku'n takes place in Seljord, which gathers up to 90.000 visitors for activities and trade the second weekend in September. Dyrsku'n, which can celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2016, started as a meeting place for trade in livestock between the farmers in the area. This is still the case, but in addition it has become a folk festival of dimensions.

Flatdal, the village located 12 kilometers north of Seljord along Europavei 134, is also worth a stop. Perhaps especially at Nutheim where the view of the village took the breath away from Prince Oscar during a visit there in 1870. King Harald and Queen Sonja followed up in 1996 and they were not disappointed either. Flatdal is otherwise known for its village consisting of 10 farmsteads and 40 houses gathered around Tun-vollen, the crossroads in the middle of the village. There is hardly any such house in Norway.

The cradle of skiing

Morgedal, the modern skiing cradle, is a natural destination in Kviteseid municipality west of Seljord. Here, the skipper and master scorer Sondre Norheim was born at the house owner Øverbø. Here the fire of the Winter Olympics has been lit three times. Norsk Skieventyr is a rescue center where you can join a trip through 4000 years of skiing history. It all boils down with a magnificent multimedia show that provides a realistic experience of modern telemark driving. 

potholes

Nissedal municipality is located south of Kviteseid and borders Aust-Agder. We are almost in Sørlandet. The municipality is dominated by Lake Nisser, which is the county's second largest. With its steep sulfur mountains plunging into the lake, Nissedal is a natural choice for those who hunt for active outdoor life. A number of marked trails that stretch across the tree line provide rich opportunities for great nature experiences in safe forms. Haugsjåsund Jettegryter is a unique, natural water park with slides and caves created by nature itself. On hot summer days, it can be full of bathers here. The giant pots are signposted from Haugsjåsund camping along national road 41 and there is a toll road with a toll booth to the giant pots. There are otherwise several campsites on the east side of Nisser. If you are going the shortcut across the lake, you can take the small cable ferry across the narrow Fjonesundet. It runs approximately every hour from May 1 and throughout the year.

Tourism and power

If we put on the seven-mile boots and walk north, we come to Tinn municipality with Rjukan as the administration center. The name is related to "the smoking waterfall", ie Rjukanfossen. The waterfall, together with Gaustatoppen, became a favorite destination for both tourists and artists in the 1800th century and made Rjukan a powerhouse in early tourism. The tourist association's first cabin was built in Rjukan. Later, industrial entrepreneur Sam Eyde cast his eyes on the village, and not least on the waterfall. He saw that here was the basis for establishing power-intensive industry. Norsk Hydro invested the equivalent of one and a half state budgets and became the cornerstone company in Rjukan until the 60s.

tungtvann History

The Norwegian Industrial Workers' Museum in the old Vemork Power Station tells the whole story. The power station was the world's largest when it was completed in 1911. The power from here was used to extract nitrogen from the air, the main component in fertilizers. Heavy water production also became part of the picture, and the story of the nuclear race and the heavy water actions during the war has gained new relevance after NRK's ​​major investment in the TV series that was broadcast this winter. They have noticed this at the museum:

- We have registered an increase of 158 percent in visitor numbers this summer season (2015) compared to last year, says Helge Anderson in the public department at the museum. The fact that the facility was added to Unesco's World Heritage List in the early summer has not dampened interest either, exactly.

Mirroring the sun

The center of Rjukan is located at the bottom of Vestfjorddalen, a canyon that stretches east-west with steep mountains on both sides. From October to March, the sun does not reach the bottom of the valley. The Sun Mirror, which was inaugurated in October 2013, is making amends for this. The computer-controlled mirrors 450 meters up on the mountainside, reflect the sun's rays down to the town's turf in a 600 square meter elliptical sunspot to the delight of the town's inhabitants. Sam Eyde also thought about sun mirrors well over 100 years ago but the plans were not realized then. Instead, he made sure that a cable car was built up to the edge of the Hardangervidda so that the locals could easily get up in the life-giving sun. The cross-country track exists to this day and is used a lot by both hikers and cyclists who enter the serviced tourist cabin Kallhovd.

mountain Court

On the opposite side, Gaustatoppen reigns majestically 1883 meters above sea level. It is claimed that you can see a sixth of Norway on a clear day, from Hårteigen west on the Hardangervidda and to Færder lighthouse in Oslothe fjord in the southeast. It can take the breath away from the most blasé. It takes two hours for those who are in normally good shape to go to the top from the starting point Stavsro on the road between Tuddal and Rjukan, one of Norway's highest mountain passes. For those who want to get away with the least possible effort, the Gaustabanen is an alternative. There is a cable car inside the mountain that was built in the late fifties to transport people and equipment for the construction of the radio transmitter on top. It was opened to the public in 2010.

Swallow and snow

The contrast is great from mighty mountains that are topped with snow in mid-July, to sun-warmed boulders that are licked by lazy swells on fine summer days. But such is Telemark. Feel free to take the trip out to one of the coastal towns after a visit to the "hill". You do not need more than two to three hours if you make the road short from hello to the sea. Langesund with its bathing park as a supplement to the rocks, Porsgrunn with its beautiful river promenade and Skien with Venstøp, Henrik Ibsen's childhood home, are just a taste of what awaits tourists with the discovery instinct intact.

Plan your trip to Telemark in advance. Here is so much to experience that you will have to make some choices. website www.visittelemark.no Is definitely worth a visit before you go out in a miniature Norway.

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