Norway Day 5 – Hiking the Besseggen Ridge Trail

This was by far the best hike I did during my short time in Norway. The Besseggen Ridge lies well far into the interior of the country, possibly why we had great weather on our hike! The hike is 14km long between Gjendesheim and Memurubu. You can hike the ridge first and get the ferry back, or ferry first and hike back along the ridge. We opted for the latter. The elevation gain is 1,100m with the highest point just after you climb the ridge at Veslefjellet, at 1743m above sea level.

Here is a short film about the hike:

The route is worn and signposted, so unless it is covered in snow, you will find it hard to get lost. Sun hats and sun cream are essential as there is NO shade on the trail. If the wind is up then the ridge is well exposed so take the appropriate clothing. It’s worth taking a photo of the map before you go. The route is also marked on the maps.me offline maps app. There are also a couple of alternate lower level routes as you can seen in the image below.

Ferry and Parking

The ferry from Gjendesheim to Memurubu is bookable online so you can skip the queues at the ticket kiosk. We bought our ticket the same day at the kiosk in peak season, but it was covid times so can’t say how busy it actually gets. Tickets this year (2023) cost kr 220.00 per adult, kr 110.00 for under 15s, under 5s are free. There is limited free short term parking near the ferry building but this is for up to 2 hours only (ticket still required). The long term car park is located at Reinsvangen just down the road (charges apply) and there is a free shuttle to take you to the ferry. The tourist board recommend leaving 30 minutes between parking and your ferry departure to unpack, take the bus and board the ferry.

The Trail

When we boarded our ferry, space was limited due to social distancing rules, so we had to sit inside, downstairs. Not the best place for taking photos, but needs must. We disembarked at Memurubu and used the toilet facilities before commencing the hike, last chance! The initial part of the hike was a long climb up hill and got you right up onto the hill top nice and quickly. Pretty soon we were surrounded by views of glaciers, hanging valleys and frosty peaks! There were still the odd patches of snow around but these were easily passable. There were plenty of alpines flowers on the ground and birds of prey in the sky, so plenty to keep you occupied if the great views start to get overwhelming!

About a third the way along the hike there is a large peak on the left. There is a route up here but we decided not to take it as there was still plenty of snow on the top. Trying to find the route down off the top of hill with no path visible and plenty of cliffs can take ages, so we decided to stick to the main route. The path passes by a small lake and then over a rougher section towards the end of another much larger lake. This is where you can take a lower level alternative route to the north if you don’t fancy going up the ridge or the weather conditions have changed. This lower level route is easier going but is unmarked (apparently) and is 4km further. Our weather was amazing so we had our lunch and continued towards the ridge.

As we headed towards the ridge, the path suddenly got closer to edge which overlooked the lake. Suddenly I was confronted with a sheer drop of what must have been 800m! This was an optional terrifying experience though as the path was really wide, so I didn’t HAVE to walk to the edge, it just ended up that way. The ridge then became pretty steep and turned into a sort of scramble. If you suffer from vertigo then I’d recommend some walking poles to keep you steady. No actual climbing is involved, just brave stepping up big rocks.

Once you break out onto the top, the peak broadens out into a baron wasteland, quite different to terrain below. There is a cairn marking the summit and a couple of walled shelters for you if the weather is rough (though these shelters seemed to have been used as toilets by some inconsiderate people out there!). As you then start to head downhill back to Gjendesheim, there are plenty of viewpoints on the right looking back down the lake. The way down is steady, not treacherous and there is a cafe at the ferry building where it all began for your refreshments!

After our hike we spent some time swimming in the lake just along the lakeside path from the ferry terminal, which was marvellous after a long hike! We then went down the route 51 and found a very large free campsite where we relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Summary

I’d say for the the general population, this is a medium to hard grade hike, but is easily accomplishable for most people. Just make sure you leave enough time and don’t have anything to do later in the day, and you can just enjoy it at your own pace. Personally, for me is was incredibly enjoyable due to the stunning views and great weather. It was physically demanding but just the right length. I’d definitely recommend it for anyone visiting Norway (far better than Trolltunga from what I’ve heard)!

Camera Equipment for this trip

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For this trip I used the highly portable Olympus EM-5 II, now superceded by the OM-5 Camera. I used the Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens and Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro.

Norway Day 4 – Reinheimen National Park

Following our previous night sleep wild camping in the mountain pass, we packed up the tent and drove down what seemed like an endless valley. We passed several lakes and stopped off in Reinheimen National Park at Billingen Seterpensjonat, which was a small restaurant next to some spectacular waterfalls. We ordered the house speciality which turned out to be waffles!

After a good break we decided to go on short walk which looped around up into some alpine forest and over a couple of rivers with stunning waterfalls. The loop was only a few kilometres long but was well signposted and a good break from the long walks we had done the previous days. The smell of pine and the occasional Deer sighting was humbling and the waterfalls a vast torrent of power thundering by. The walk did involve climbing over a rock which was wedged into a gorge, which was a bit disconcerting!

After the walk we drove further down the valley and had a lunch break at a place serving Elk burgers! The burger was OK but nothing to write home about. The lake was very inviting though so we decided to go for another swim (and a bit of wash/rinse if I’m honest). We headed further on down route 15 and filled up at Vagomo before doubling back to head down route 51. We found a wild camping spot just north of Maurvangen on a small headland by lake Ovre Sjodalsvatnet. We got a good night sleep before our big hike along Besseggen ridge the next day.

Our Winter Castle

This is one of the last photos I’ll take in the UK this year and I think it’s definitely one of my favourites of the year. Dolbadarn Castle sits between Llyn Peris and Llyn Padarn near Llanberis. I have walked up to it many times over the years and wondered how I would photograph it. While I was up there this time in the snow on a clear night, I remembered the first time I saw the castle with my girlfriend (now wife!) Rosy. We joked about how when we were rich one day this would be our winter castle and another one nearby could be our summer castle. So here we are Rosy, “Our Winter Castle”….. in Winter! Love you! xx

Dolbadarn, llyn, padarn, peris, milky way, astrophotography, Our Winter Castle, Llanberis, Wales by Sam Davis Photographer
Our Winter Castle, Llanberis, Wales by Sam Davis Photographer

Available in print on my online store.

Mountaineering Adventure in the Ogwen Valley

I stayed overnight in my campervan in the Ogwen valley in County Conwy so I could wake up to freshly fallen snow and a winter hike! I walked up from Idwal Cottage towards Llyn Idwal below the steep cliffs of the Devils Kitchen. On my way I met fellow photographer Ben Hughes and product photographer Sandris Ilinigorskis. Sandris was working hard doing both the modelling for his outdoor clothing photoshoot and also doing the photography for it too using a remote control! After a good chat we decided to team up and head up Y Garn. That’s right, its a motherflippin team-up!

As we neared the top the cloud level began to lower and we could see that all of our time on the top would be spent in a cold cloudy gale. We decided we didn’t like the sound of that as we like to be able to see where we are when walking in the snow, so made the decision to turn back down the hill. Just as well, because shortly afterwards a thick snow storm began to fall! We managed to get most of Sandris’ products photographed, but sadly the shirt would have to wait to another day(not really winter attire!).

Below are some images from the day. The images that are for sale are linked to my online store. If you would like to Sandris or myself for a product photoshoot then please contact me at info@samsphotogallery.com or Sandris via his instagram.

Ribblehead Viaduct Aerial Photography

I grew up just down the road from Ribblehead viaduct at the top end of Ribblesdale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, but because it was always there for me, I didn’t take the time to photograph it. As one of the most popular landscape photography landmarks in the UK, I thought I’d try and put my own spin on it.

I flew the drone up and down the viaduct looking for the right angle, taking care as a drone operator to watch out for RAF fast jets and other aircraft. I thought aerial photography suited the viaduct as when you ride over it on the train you are already getting a unique elevated view of the valley and surrounding mountains. I went for monochrome as to accent the form of the cloud shadowed upon the landscape, demonstrating the ever-changeable weather of the Yorkshire Dales.

As always this image is available to purchase on print or digital licence on my online store.

Menai Bridge Aerial Drone Flyover

I made this video back in September before the Menai Bridge closed for repairs. The Menai bridge is one of two bridges that connect Anglesey to mainland Wales. Local businesses and residents can’t wait for it to open again due to the traffic and congestion the closure has caused, and also the dependence on the Britannia bridge which is now the only transport link to the mainland.

If you would like to hire me to get some aerial video or photos for your business, then please don’t hesitate to contact me at drone@samsphotogallery.com.

Some Autumn moments

My wife Rosy and I took a walk in Gaer Fawr, a Woodland Trust site near Welshpool. The leaves were starting to change colour and there were mushrooms everywhere! The colours were a real mix of green, yellow, red and brown.

My favourite image is the mushrooms on the logs surrounded by leaves and berries. It looks like it was staged but it was a natural occurrence! I don’t own a macro lens, but instead used a telephoto lens from a good few meters away and a steady hand.

Mushrooms at Attingham Park

I went on a trip today to Attingham Park near Shrewsbury. Attingham is a manor house with a deer park that is now run by the National Trust. I actually went to see the Deer rut but unfortunately, they did not perform and when they briefly did it was a long way away behind a tall fence! So, I decided to photograph some woodland mushrooms instead! I used the focus stacking feature built-in to my Olympus EM5 MkII which takes several images at different focusing distances and smashes them all together, so your finished photo is in focus from front to back. This is particularly useful when photographing small inanimate objects like mushrooms. Yes, you can use a higher f-stop but that also reduces the amount of light and can degrade the quality of the image. If you use focus stacking (or focus bracketing and stack them in post-production software) then this retains the light quality in the image.

I tried to identify the mushrooms. We are confident a couple are edible but as always, I don’t want to give any advice as to their edibility in case someone becomes very ill!

Sunset on Anglesey

I was treated to an absolutely fantastic sunset a couple of weeks ago at Porth Cwyfan near Aberffraw on Anglesey, Wales. I had the camera on a tripod with some ND filters on so I could reduce the light and smooth the water. I also got the drone up in the air and got some aerial shots of the church on the island. The colours you see in the photos are genuine, they really were that vivid! If anything, I wanted to tone them down a bit! Check them out below, I hope you like them!