Exploring the Kingsroad over Filefjell

Selto - Ljøsne

Facts

Duration
2 hours
Distance
8-10 km
Difficulty
Expert
Suitable for
Everbody
Available periods
All year

Description

«Genuine» trolls, cultural landscapes with artificial irrigation systems, and traces of a Viking village. These are some of the points of interest you will encounter on the stretch between Selto and Ljøsne.

This section follows Galdane if you head west, and Lærdalsøyri–Ljøsne if you head east.

Most of the route is on tarmac.

The exception is a 2 km trail through a spectacular cultural landscape halfway through the section.

If you are heading west, your starting point is Selto where you ended the Galdane walk. By Selto, you have to cross the E16 and continue on a tarmac footpath along Lærdalselvi and past Bjørkum.

 

VIKING HISTORY

Take time for a stop by the information displays by Bjørkum. Here you can read about the amazing Viking-site find made by archaeologist in 2009.

Tens of thousands of bones – mostly reindeer antlers – and combs, weaving equipment, tents, glass beads, keys, and animal graves from what may have been a cult, are some of what was discovered. One of the world's most spectacular Viking combs was found here. It even had a runic inscription.

Copies of the artefacts are on display at the visitor centre by Borgund Stave Church.

See also «Nårekista» – the large split boulder by the information display. It was originally located further ahead along Kongevegen, and was “opened up” by splitting it in two. The name is old Norse, and means coffin.

It is 2.70 m long and 1.40 m wide. Both the bottom half and the lid are 80 centimetres thick.

According to legend, there was a wealthy giant, or maybe a troll, in the coffin – buried with all his riches. Others believed that it was Olav the Sacred’s food basket.

Nårekista was probably split i two by curios Kongevegen-labourers in the late 1700s. It was left in two parts until it was moved and put back together here at Bjørkum during the road construction around 2010.

 

THE TROLL

Kongevegen across Filefjell continues for 350 metres along the E16, down to the sign “Hønjum” pointing across the bridge and river.

Before you continue, stop and take a look at the mountain side.

You will then see one possible reason for the Viking village being established at Bjørkum, this far from the fjord.

The troll «Jutlamannen» stands on the mountain side, looking straight down at Bjørkum. In the village, people may have seen the troll as a cult figure. If you are interested, you can walk for 500 metres along the E16 to read more about Jutlamannen on the information display by the car park, and then walk back to the bridge taking you across to Hønjum.

Kongevegen continues via the farm Hønjum/Hynjo. Please follow the signs, and do not walk through the yard.

This will lead you through a cultural landscape with stone walls and old foundations from the 1700s and 1800s. There is a grassy track for 2.1 km down to Stuvane power station.

You then cross the bridge spanning Lærdalselvi, turn left immediately, and continue on a trail along the river down to Saltkjelen residential area.

The route continues on tarmac through the residential area, and then along a footpath to Ljøsne school. By the school, walk across the large white suspension bridge (for cars), and follow route 272 down towards Lærdalsøyri.

The rich farmland for which Lærdal is renowned will then open up.

 

IRRIGATION SYSTEMS

When we talk about Lærdal having a good climate with high average temperatures and limited precipitation, it is mostly Ljøsne that we refer to. The area has a so-called microclimate.

Officially, the valley has between 400 and 600 millimetres of precipitation annually, but unofficial measurements for Ljøsne over a 15 year period show only 280 millimetres.

At Ljøsne, you will therefore find various forms of artificial watering systems – such as sprinklers. Before the Second World War, however, irrigation canals were important. This type of cultural heritage is not found in many places, but for the dry but yet fertile farmland at Ljøsne, such canals were crucial.

The most renowned is Ljøsnaveiti, also known as Undebakkveiti. This spectacular irrigation canal supplied seven farms at Ljøsnabrekka, and stretches for several kilometres.

There is hardly any gradient in the valley, but the engineers still managed to lead the water down to the farms – and even through stone walls.

 

WALK ALONG THE IRRIGATION CANA

Ljøsnaveiti is not part of the Kongevegen route. However, if you would like to add it to your walk, continue straight ahead to the E16 after the bridge leading to/from Stuvane power station. Cross the E16, and the canal is up on the hillside. To cover the full length, you should walk 400 metres back east along the E16 (please be careful) to where the valley narrows (car park). The canal will be visible on the hillside. For a shorter route, you can also start at the junction for Saltkjelen (opposite side of the residential area, signposted).

Walk along the canal down to Øvre Ljøsne farm, return to Ljøsne school, and you will find Kongevegen a bit further down. Then follow the signs and continue along route 272.

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