Graham Laing decided to retire 10 years earlier than planned to enjoy an epic driving tour with his SLC. The plan, inspired by conversations with his Father, was to drive the SLC from the southern most tip of mainland Europe in Spain to the northernmost tip of mainland Europe in Norway.
When he told his children, they said ‘you should write a blog about it’… So that’s exactly what Graham is doing. Graham approached the SLSHOP and asked whether we would be interested in hosting his work, and we were only too happy to share his story. The SLCenic Route was born!
In this episode Graham almost finds Scotland in Norway.
The SLCenic Route
Episode 17 – Oslo to middle of nowhere (Lesjaskog) via Rondane National Park 290 miles
Woke up for some reason at 1am, looked out of the window and the sky was a light blue. It’s only 10 days from the summer solstice and although I’m still 600 miles from the Arctic Circle and the chance of a proper midnight sun, the bright twilight means I won’t be far enough south to see any stars for another 10 or 11 days.
Later, after getting up at a sensible time (apologies to all shift workers), I head off to the middle of nowhere. Much of the beautiful Norwegian countryside is the middle of nowhere; in the UK there are on average 704 people per square mile, in Norway it’s only 41. As a comparison to where I’ve been so far, Monaco has 49,000 people per Square mile. Note, that not including places like Monaco and Gibraltar, the UK is still only the 4th most dense country in Europe, Norway and Finland the least.
In mid-morning, I needed some of the tools I brought. No not for the SLC, a VW had broken down on a small back road and I stopped to help. I know no Norwegian and he was the first Norwegian I met that knew no English, but luckily we both knew car engine part language and got on fine. Half an hour later, we were on our way.
It’s very noticeable that Norway has invested a lot of money in its infrastructure since the early 80’s when North Sea oil money started to come in. The roads are in excellent condition, considering the logistical challenge of being so remote, they are the best I’ve driven on and there are new tunnels and bridges everywhere.
Headed off for the Rondane National Park, one of the many Norwegian scenic roads recommended after a quick Google search. Fabulous, lots of wow moments and something extra I’ve not seen on the trip so far. You often don’t notice something is missing till it appears again, rivers. Obviously there have been bigger rivers on the trip so far, the Danube, Elbe, Tagus etc. but nothing like the quantity of little rivers rushing down every hillside. These are the sort of rivers Scotland also has in abundance and this part of Norway, reminds me so much of the highlands.
The rivers are nowhere near as big and majestic as say, the Danube, but there are so many, and as you stand on a small bridge on a hillside watching the water nosily racing over the rocky rapids, they are so enjoying to watch while having something hot to drink. Yes, it may be summer but it’s cold here. I could easily spend a week in this one national park, so many places to park and pick any direction to go for a walk in the fantastic hills, the views are outstanding and considering this is a bank holiday Monday in Norway, the roads and countryside are very quiet.
Couple of things made it different to the Scottish Highlands, came across some sheep in the middle of the road; as you would perhaps in the highlands, but the sheep had bells on, like the bells you see on cows in the Alps. Unusual? And there are large areas covered in a white moss, or it may be lichen, that I don’t remember seeing, at least in this quantity, in Scotland.
Another thing to point out if you ever are lucky enough to drive in Norway, the speed limits are low and obeyed by everybody. Not like in Germany where rules are rules, but because speed cameras are everywhere, there are many unmarked police cars and fines are hefty. It’s not a problem though; the gorgeous endless scenery is there to be enjoyed.
I’m now just over half way of my planned route round Europe, it feels so long ago that I got on the ferry from Newhaven, yet there is still so much more planned to see, and I don’t think I’ll get bored in Norway!