After disembarking the ferry it was only a kilometre to our Warmshowers host, Fanny. Fanny, along with Tobias cooked a delicious meal and gave us a wealth of information on Gothenburg. They are planning their own bike trip for later this year which will include cycling through England so hopefully I, or more likely Al, will be able to return the favour. After having been on the road for over a month it felt strange to actually be able to provide them with some bits of useful information in advance of their trip too. Although still fairly new to cycle touring, it’s surprising how quickly one can pick things up, mainly from learning through our own mistakes first of course.
Gothenburg to Kungälv – After a lovely evening where Fanny even left us with her flat as she went to Tobias’s place, we got round to washing some clothes for the first time in a while. This also gave us chance to do some route planning for some of Norway. As well as that, it was also very nice to be able to sit in one place for an extended period of time. This lead to a very late start where the plan simply became, get out of the city and find somewhere to camp. Unfortunately this didn’t give us much time to see the city itself so other than cycling through and across the bridge, we really didn’t get to see too much. Al did a fine job of navigating us out of the urban sprawl and after passing Bohus Fortress before arriving into Kungälv where we picked up some dinner and cycled off to find somewhere to camp.
Like the last time we were in Sweden we took advantage of the relaxed wild camping laws and set up just off a public footpath in a nice wooded area. A number of people saw us but merely passed by with a smile or a wave. Later on, a chap came past before doubling back round and I wondered if there was going to be an issue. He said something in Swedish before I replied that I didn’t understand…’Do you want to see the moose?’ he asked. I needn’t have worried. Of course I wanted to see the moose! I grabbed my camera and ran up the steep slope to join him, Al in close pursuit. Unfortunately we only caught a glimmer of it as it disappeared into the trees. The man told us to be stealthy however he had two large dogs on a lead who were barking away and I blame this on our inability to get any closer. He then preceeded to tell us that there had been a wolf in Kungälv the previous day and we could check it out on Facebook. Well, nearly two months later, I’ve checked it out and there was indeed a wolf in Kungälv. Probably for the best that we didn’t come across it though. There was one more wildlife encounter at this campsite. I rose first in the morning to get the coffee going. While the water was boiling, I err…went through the normal morning ritual. As I did so, I heard a rustling behind me and turned to see a deer no more than five metres away from me. I looked at it, it looked at me, both as startled as each other. The deer turned and ran. I was not in a position to move anywhere in a hurry but it was a great way to start the day and it hit home that we were really getting into wilder Scandinavia now!
Kungälv to Uddevalla – After that brief excitement we got going and despite a few showers we made decent progress through lovely woods, again enjoying the feeling of being out in the wild. We still passed through a number of towns including Stenungsund where we stopped to buy various bits and bobs including the most exciting purchase of the trip so far, a fishing rod! We reasoned that we could save money by simply catching our dinner rather than having to pay overinflated prices in the supermarkets. It was a foolproof plan and nothing could go wrong! Except that neither of us have ever really fished before. Nonetheless, we went for it and the third member of the group, Rodney, joined the trip. The day’s end brought us to Uddevalla where we decided, after setting up camp, that we should have a rest day. As we had Rodney with us, we found a spot close to the sea. Apart from a return visit to a supermarket and some fishing (so far unsuccessful) we didn’t do much except enjoy having a full day off the bike.
Uddevalla to Tanumshede – After the rest day we saddled up and set off direction north. We climbed up past the supermarket I went to the previous day as a light drizzle set in. Along the way we passed a man out practising cross country skiing on roller blades and walking poles. We passed him on a climb and despite our heavy baggage I pitied him as he clattered his way up at half the speed. After a mid-morning snack break at a bus shelter where we tried to wait out the rain, we didn’t have much choice but to crack on with numb fingers and toes. Luckily by lunch time the rain had stopped and we found an awesome place for lunch, one of the best so far. We sat atop some rocks and looked down over a lake with forests and just the odd house in the distance. Round two of fishing was more successful in that we didn’t lose any lures however only slightly more successful as we left an hour later with no fish to show for our efforts. The afternoon was full of ascents and descents, nothing too brutal but enough for us to set our new top speed records. Early evening we picked up food for the next two days (tomorrow being Sunday) and lugged the extra weight a few miles out of town. We asked a farmer if we could camp on his land but he said no. In his defence there were cows in the field and he was friendly enough. Five minutes later we snuck into some woods where we set up for the night, barely 15 metres from a country lane but it would suffice.
Tanumshede to Skjeberg
We awoke to the sound of rain on the tent. It’s a sound I love when I’m tucked up and off to sleep but not when it’s time to start the day. We found enough time between rain showers for breakfast before it got heavier and we decided on another hour in bed. We finally got on the road by midday and enjoyed tailwind most of the way to Strömstad. It looked like a lively fishing village however being Sunday it was a bit of a ghost town. From Strömstad we pedalled up and down hills through lovely forests in a steady drizzle before arriving in Svinesund, the last town on the Swedish side before the border. I’d seen a fjord marked the boundary between Sweden and Norway but I think we were both unprepared for the view that greeted us. A 420 metre bridge, hundreds of meters above the water linked the two countries. It was breathtaking and it was views like this I imagined when I dreamt of the trip many months ago. After the obligatory photos and spending of our Swedish coins (every little counts on the weight front) we arrived into Norway and country number 8 of the trip. We covered just over 40 miles before turning off the road and taking a very, very steep track into a forest for the night. We cooked dinner looking down the valley over the road and distant train line until fog set in and we turned in for our first night in Norway.
Skjeberg to Kambo
If you’ve been reading from the start, you should know the drill by now. We packed up and hit the road. We were closing in on Oslo and had a hostel booked for the Wednesday night but as we’re trying to watch the budget we planned to camp until then. This meant two things: one; that we had some short mileage days coming up and two; seven days without a shower equals two less than fresh cyclists! Surprisingly, the first full day of cycling in Norway passed without any more of the spectacular scenery we had been treated to the day before. Instead it was a mix of farmland and industry. The cycle bridge beneath the E6 motorway was in fact one of the highlights. Later in the day we went through the town of Moss where we stocked up on supplies and disappeared into a beautiful forest for the night. A night sliding down my tent and being awoken by the earliest birds of all at 3am lead to the worst night’s sleep of the trip so far. Not a major problem due to the short day ahead.
Kambo to As
Following a breakfast of cereal and sour milk we decided to return to the tents in the hope that the drizzle would subside. The sour milk wasn’t off by the way, just that our Scandinavian languages need some improvement. It’s the second time we’ve bought this sour concoction so we’re obviously not learning too quickly. After we arose for the second time we planned to cycle more or less to the outskirts of Oslo before a final camp and then getting into the capital early the next day. Once we got going the drizzle turned to proper rain. We cycled through the town of Vestby where we sought shelter in a bus stop however after twenty minutes and with the rain showing no sign of stopping we pressed on. The route we were taking took us off the main road and down a country lane. This then turned into a gravel track and as we passed a farm the track changed to a footpath. I’m sure in the height of summer this would have been a lovely ride but today it was a muddy, slidy footpath which was barely rideable. I’m sure Al was questioning my navigation at this point but fortunately after a few hundred metres the gravel reappeared and before long we were back on tarmac and approaching the town of As. We decided against cooking and opted for Babylon Pizza’s array of fast food instead. After some serious binge eating we rode all of about 2km out of town before setting up close to a railway track. The woods we were in were swamp like however with the promise of a shower and a roof over our heads the next day, it sufficed for the night. We’d found out the day before that Wednesday was Norway’s national constitution day and as we lay in our tents we heard a marching band kicking the celebrations off.
Next morning we awoke to gun shots and more trumpets. We set off for the final 25 miles to Oslo however after only a couple of miles my front wheel was making some pretty horrible noises. Sometimes after camping in the woods twigs can get stuck in the wheel but after checking for this it wasn’t getting any better. I found a bench and started to try and narrow down the problem. Al returned a few minutes after I hadn’t appeared further down the road. We ended up taking the wheel apart and found that the bearings were loose. As I’ve mentioned before we are far from mechanical experts but after half an hour or so we put the wheel back together and amazingly it seemed to have worked! A major breakthrough for us and our biggest repair of the trip so far. We passed through several towns, all of which were full of locals in traditional dress. The ladies had long and sometimes elaborate dresses and the men wore either suits or outfits that looked like something from the three musketeers.
Apart from a 400m uphill section that was the steepest hill of the trip so far, we were able to enjoy a lot of downhill particularly on the final approach to Oslo. It was a euphoric and to be honest slightly emotional time as we rolled into Oslo. This was always a major milestone. Not just the end of Leg 3 of the trip, but to have made it from the capital of England to the capital of Norway using leg power alone was something I was really proud of!