The SLCenic Route – Episode 18

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 has his best day yet.

The SLCenic Route

Episode 18 – Lesjaskog to Trondheim (a city you need to visit) via Trollstigen (a road you need to drive) 245 miles

When wow is not enough.

Had a difficult decision to make in the morning. On the trip so far, I’ve tried hard not go to a place of interest without it being on my general route. If I hadn’t, I’d probably only just have got to Spain and wouldn’t be home till Christmas. So today, do I take a detour to see a road that is supposed to be epic? Chatted to some people on the campsite in the morning and their faces of disbelief in me even thinking of not going, was enough to almost convince me…

40 miles there and 40 back just to see a twisty road up a mountain; I’d seen and driven loads of brilliant ones already in the Alps, Pyrenees and southern Spain. Still wasn’t sure, but I had a couple of spare hours anyway, so not much to lose.

Wow just doesn’t cut it; amazing, epic, fantastic, jaw dropping, the best ever, I could go on and on.

Just the road to the Trollstigen mountain pass was more than enough. Drive west on the E136 and the 20 miles before the turning to Trollstigen will be make you gasp in awe. I’m pleased with the pictures today, but the reality is a million times better. Then you turn onto a road that leads into a dead end valley. Well it should be a dead end. I can just imagine when some lunatic said, there is a mountain goat path up and over that cliff face, let’s build a road instead. They should have been locked up; but the world is a better place that they weren’t.

You can still walk the old path but the road doesn’t follow it too much. There are 11 hairpin bends, proper first gear, use most of the road ones. Only 11; each hairpin has a name but it seemed like a lot more.

The upper part of the pass is single track with only tiny breathe in passing places. The road builders decided against using steel crash barriers, this mountain pass needs something more substantial; see the pic of large stones guarding the side of the road, awesome in their own right.

The road goes through the biggest of the waterfalls; I had to close the windows to keep the spray out. Some of the bridges over the many other fabulous waterfalls seem incredibly to be made of massive drystane dykes. The drops over the large guard stones are on the scary side of terrifying.
And there is so much more, it is all just fantastic, you simply must see it, drive it, enjoy it.

However, it is Norway’s most visited tourist road, so my advice is to get there very early or late in the day. I was there at 9:30am on a weekday in early June and it looked packed, I would hate to think what it’s like at a busy time in the summer holiday season. It’s the only place in Norway that I’ve seen tourist busses, but the drivers are smart; they wait at the bottom and go up in 2’s or 3’s, checking that no busses are coming back down at the same time.

And then the joy of getting to drive it all again in the other direction, so glad I did this, can’t imagine why I was thinking of not doing it!

To follow it was another marvellous drive up to an Airbnb in Trondheim, over vast moors, and chasing rivers down beautiful gorges, what a day. Trondheim itself is a stunningly beautiful University City with 200k people living in it. But it’s not like any other city of this size; it feels more like a large town, spread out, with wide streets and lots of green spaces. There is no bustling claustrophobic city centre. But that is the Norwegian way.

Picked up 2 locals who were hitchhiking after camping on the moors over the weekend, and after being amazed, taking pics of the SLC and wanting to know more about the car, they explained the Norwegian (and Finish) thoughts on personal space and why even in the small villages, houses are hundreds of yards apart. Put it this way, Norwegians wouldn’t like a London tube journey in the rush hour! They were happy enough though to squeeze everything into the SLC, which as always can do so much, so easily and never ceases to amaze.

A brilliant, epic day, one to remember and another reason to put Norway on the list of places I will visit again.

Click here to read Episode 19