Exploring the Kingsroad over Filefjell

Ljøsne - Lærdalsøyri

Facts

Duration
2 - 2,5 hours
Distance
9-12 km
Difficulty
Beginner
Suitable for
Everybody
Available periods
All year

Description

The full Lærdalsøyri – Ljøsne section is on tarmac. Most of the original Kongevegen lies underneath today's E16 and route 5.

From Lærdalsøyri, the starting point for Kongevegen is at the harbour in the old part – Gamle Lærdalsøyri. It then follows the main street (the original route), and continues up to the hospital and along route 271 to Voll bridge. See signposts by Voll bridge. Then follow route 272 up to Ljøsne.

Read also the section “Where to walk” below. Use map and follow the signs along the route.

 

RICH HISTORY

At Lærdalsøyri, you can see the impact Kongevegen had on local development. A small town emerged by the fjord.

Lærdal had always been the place where people from Valdres, Hallingdal, Sogn, and north in Gudbrandsdalen met to do trade. Those living along the coast came by sea with fish and salt. People form the eastern part of the country walked across the mountain with hides and meat.

Hence, there must always have been a seaport somewhere along where Lærdalsfjorden meets land.

From the Middle Ages, this was Lærdalsøyri. The village grew around the renowned Lærdal market, which was first mentioned in 1596.

Later, Lærdalsøyri emerged as a marketplace and seaport. After the opening of Kongevegen, it grew into a small town. Further development came with the later addition, Den Bergenske Hovedvej, as well as the road across Hemsedalsfjellet and scheduled steamboat calls.

Until the mid-1800, the population, trade, industry exploded at Lærdalsøyri.

This «town» still exists, and is today called Old Lærdalsøyri. The village is protected, and features some 170 wooden buildings from the 1700s and 1800s. Start/finish for Kongevegen across Filefjell is the old harbour.

Today, you will find small shops, cafés, and a post and telecommunication museum in Gamle Lærdalsøyri. Purchase local food, bakery products, souvenirs, gifts, designer goods and antiques in old country stores. Or maybe just sit at a café and take in the atmosphere.

Make time for a stroll between the small wooden houses. There are few such villages with authentic wooden buildings left in Norway.

Accommodation is available at Sanden guesthouse, Lærdalsøren Hotel or Lindstrøm Hotel, all situated in Gamle Lærdalsøyri. Include a visit to the Smak av Sogn country store.

The post and telecommunication museum (Øyragata 44a) shows how important Lærdalsøyri was as a communications hub.

 

WHERE TO WALK

If you are heading east, Kongevegen across Filefjell starts by Løytnantsbryggja – the old harbour at Gamle Lærdalsøyri where goods and people changed means of transport in bygone days. After walking through Øyragata in Gamle Lærdalsøyri, continue through the new part of Lærdalsøyri. Here you can visit the Norwegian Wild Salmon Centre or Sogn Art Centre, both in the same building, or do some shopping.

Follow the long street through the new part of Lærdalsøyri, and then enter the residential area where you follow Sekleppvegen (to avoid E16). This will take you to Sjukehusvegen. Turn left, and then follow Sjukehusvegen past Lærdal hospital on route 271, on the «Molde side» and into the Lærdal valley.

An area of fertile farmland will open up. The valley of Lærdal supplies Bergen and large parts of Sogn og Fjordane with food throughout the summer season.

It is responsible for half of the country’s cherry production, and produces in addition large amounts of potatoes, carrots, cabbage, raspberries, strawberries, and other produce.

The reason is the valley's excellent climate. Spring comes early, and the average temperature is high. Despite very limited precipitation (400–600 millimetres annually, which makes the valley one of the driest in Europe), Lærdal is very fertile. This is largely due to the large Lærdalselvi river.

 

FURTHER UP THE VALLEY

Large parts of the walk are along the renowned salmon river Lærdalselvi. It is a popular fishing spot for the wealthy, actors, musicians, and royals – including our very own King Harald.

The route leads past the smallholdings Hunderi and Hauge. At the latter you will find the medieval burial site Hauge, which was the religious meeting point before the church was moved to Lærdalsøyri. You will walk past the farms at Molde, and see Tønjum with its church and the old moot on the other side of the river.

As your reach the end of the county road, by Voll bridge, continue across the E16 bridge and take an immediate right (you have to step over the crash barrier).

Walk down to the river (there is a ladder), and continue underneath the bridge along Lærdalselvi for approx. 60 metres before you step up onto the river bank (follow the signs on the trees). Then follow the river wall of the feeder river Kuvelda for approx. 120 metres until you reach the county road (do not walk through the yard).

Follow the county road on tarmac up the valley.

For provisions, take a 350 m detour by Bø bridge to Joker Ljøsne.

The next section of Kongevegen across Filefjell is Ljøsne–Selto.

 

IF YOU ARE HEADING TOWARDS LÆRDALSØYRI

For those walking from east to west (towards Lærdalsøyri): The signs have led you to county road 272, leading down the valley. Stay on this for just over 5 km, and you will see the Kongevegen signs on the right hand side of the road. This will take you down along the river bank by river Kuvelda.

Follow this down towards Lærdalselvi. Then follow the signs on the trees showing the route down to the river bank. Walk along the river for approx. 60 metres, and then underneath Voll bridge on the E16. You will then see a ladder.

When you are back up on the E16, step over the crash barrier and follow the E16 across the bridge. On the other side, turn left onto a new county road 45 metres from the abutment, and follow this down to Lærdalsøyri.