Exploring the King's Road

Facts

Duration
2-4 hours
Distance
4,4 km
Difficulty
Beginner
Suitable for
All
Available periods
May-November

Description

Kongevegen through Galdane is packed with legends and experiences, and have inspired national icons.

The legendary Olavsklemma, the majestic Laukebergbakken, the picturesque Soknefossen, and the fascinating Galdane croft are only four examples of what you can experience along this stretch.

Galdane is the section that follows Øygardsvegen if you head west, and Selto–Ljøsne if you head east.

If you head west, the section starts at Sjurhaugen. Parking and toilet facilities are available.

 

DANGEROUS

The road through Galdane quickly became known as one of the most difficult and dangerous stretches across Filefjell. In its narrow valley with its steep and rocky terrain, there is only room for the river and the road.

When conditions were icy, the area could be treacherous. It was even worse when the ice melted, and the mountain threatened with avalanches and rock slides.

One of the first points of interest that you will encounter as you walk west from Sjurhaugen, is Olavsklemma.

According to legend, king Olav the Sacred rode through Lærdal in 1023 to force the people of Valdres to convert to Christianity, and the pass was too narrow for the king and his army. He then pressed his horse’s rear end against the mountain, and with this widened the road. The marks can still be seen in the mountain side...

In reality, Olavsklemma is a gorge created by river Lærdalselvi over thousands of years.

You will also see the remains of German fortifications from the Second World War in the area. The German occupation forces understood the importance of control of the road across Filefjell through Lærdal.

 

SEVERAL ROUTE

In earlier times, travellers across Seltunåsen used a route on the other side of the river from Galdane. However, when Kongevegen was built in the early 1790s, it was placed on this side of the valley – past Galdane croft which has given name to the stretch

The terrain was steep and prone to avalanches and landslides. This prompted another change, and during the period 1837–1843 the authorities moved the road back to Seltunåsen where it became Den Bergenske Hovedvej. It was also placed on top of the eastern parts of Galdanevegen after Steine bridge was built.

This is why this walk follows the 1840s Bergenske Hovedvej from Sjurhaugen to Bruknappen, where the road leads down to Steine bridge (which collapsed during the flood of 1860).

Do not follow the route down to the bridge; stay on Kongevegen from the 1790s. From Bruknappen, you will notice a difference in the road standard.

Shortly after, you reach Laukebergbakken, which has been immortalised by Johannes Flintoe’s painting (today on display at the National Gallery) of a merchant trying to hold his horse back down the steep hill on his way to the market at Lærdalsøyri.

 

CROFT

There are a number of old crofts along the way, such as the remains of Glorhelleren. Further down the hill, you will still find tobacco plants and hops planted in the 1800s.

Continue along the beautiful Kongevegen with bridges built according to the 1794 road building instructions, such as across the Sokni waterfall. One of its pillars features the monogram of King Harald V.

Galdane is the best preserved of the crofts, and is the one that has given name to this section of the road. The croft dates back to the 1600s, and today's buildings are from the mid-1800s.

Visit the farmyard, and take a break. Galdane has been restored, and is kept in good repair by a modern-day crofter. Enjoy the spectacular views of Lærdalselvi and Bergenske Hovedvej in Seltunåsen on the other side. Information displays are available on all the farmhouses.

There are two outside toilets just above the buildings.

Kongevegen continues west along Lærdalselvi and down to the 1950s farm Seltøyni, and then on to E16 by Seltun bridge.

In Galdane, there is also an east-west climate divide. It is home to several endangered plants. To protect these you will notice that in Galdane, Kongevegen's vegetation is only cleared in the middle. It is only from August that the full width of the road is cleared.

Remember to sign you name in the visitor book where the road passes below the Galdane croft, and enjoy a break on the lovely Kongevegen bench.

 

REPLACEMENTS

When the flood had destroyed Steine bridge in 1860, Kongevegen through Galdane again became the main route. However, three years later the road authorities blasted out a new road between the bridge and Sjurhaugen on the other side of the river, and in the 1870s the rest was completed.

Hence, both Kongevegen through Galdane and Bergenske Hovedvej across Seltunåsen were replaced by the road along the river.

This served as E16 until the 1630 m long Seltatunnelen opened in 2004.

If you would like a round-trip, we recommend walking Galdane one way, and then Seltunåsen back.

Next section is Selto–Ljøsne.