Exploring the Kingsroad over Filefjell

Facts

Duration
5 hours
Distance
18 km
Difficulty
Beginner
Suitable for
Everyone

Description

Vennisvegen runs through the villages on the northern side of lake Vangsmjøse, and is a walk through a diverse cultural landscape.

Most of the route is on gravel, and leads along Vangsmjøse on the opposite side from the E16. This is also the pilgrims' way, and starts as a trail.

Until 1808, the original Kongevegen led to Lerhol farm where there was a ferry across to Hella. The stretch was later replaced by Kvamskleive.

This is the second section of Kongevegen across Filefjell if you start in the east. The bordering section to the east is Kvamskleive, and the bordering section to the west is Øye Stave Church – Tyinkrysset.

The Kongevegen walk leads through here as there are more attractions, and it is also safer than to walk along the E16 which sits on top of the old original route.

 

PILGRIMS’ WAY

If you are heading west after Kvamskleiva, start by Neset (parking) and walk for 800 metres on tarmac along the E16 to Hemsing bridge. Then cross the river and continue along Vennisvegen (see map).

There are a few parking spaces by Hemsing bridge, and this is a good starting point.

After Hemsing bridge, it is possible to avoid walking on tarmac up the bends by following the trail through the forest. When you reach old Sørre Hemsing farm, pop in to say hello to the hosts. Sørre Hemsing can offer Kongevegen-walkers food and accommodation if booked in advance.

To continue to avoiding tarmac, follow the pilgrims' way. When you reach Remisåsen, Kongevegen runs along Vennisvegen – on gravel.

The mountain in front of you, when walking west, is Grindane (1724 m a.s.l.) where the troll Tindulv Grindo lived. Behind you to the left is the green Hugakøllen (1131 m a.s.l.). This was the home of the Labo Hugakøll troll. Skutshødn (1630 m a.s.l.) was where Langbein Rise lived.

According to legend, Langbein once upon a time wanted to visit Grindane. However, it was too big a step, and Langbein had to put his foot down in Vangsmjøse. This made his trousers wet, and therefore the lake is believed to be very deep.

 

BURIAL MOUND RICHES

By Lerhol, you will pass the farm of the knight Sigvat Leirholar, who captured himself a girl in Gudbrandsdalen. His residence, Riddarstøga, is still there. This is Norway’s oldest non-religious building, dating back to the 1300s. Guided tours can be arranged by contacting the farm in advance.

Take a detour to the burial mounds at Lerhol (follow the sign «Gravhaug»). One of the mounds has been opened, and you can enter the stone coffin used sometimes around year 400 AD (early Iron Age).

The grave contained great wealth – a necklace of coloured glass and amber, glass gambling pieces, and several items of unknown purpose. Both the necklace and the gambling pieces are from abroad, and this tell us a lot about the old route across Filefjell: that the items may have arrived by sea, in which case to Lærdalsøyri, and that people travelling across Filefjell may have brought them to Lerhol – at least 1400 years before Kongevegen was built.

After the village of Venis, you will walk through beautiful pastures. You may want to enjoy a break and a swim at Sparstadsanden, weather permitting.

From Vennisvegen, you can see Skakadalen mountain farm area on the other side of Vangsmjøse.

It is also possible to reach Sanddalen mountain farm area on your right from Vennis. At Sparstadstølen i Sandalen, you can treat yourself to some sour-cream porridge and cured meats.

 

RURAL GRINDING MILLS

Enjoy a break by the old pine forest at Leine (picnic area, seating, and toilet facilities). This is where the renowned rural mills are located.

In earlier times, every farm at Vennis had its own grinding mill. These rural farm mills were used for grinding grain every spring and autumn. However, as they did not produce fine enough flour, they were gradually abandoned. In the 1900s, they were instead used to grind malt for brewing beer and grain for animal feed.

There were once 13 mills here by Leinefossen waterfall, but all except one were lost in a landslide during the flood of 1860. Four were rebuilt, and today you can explore five historic mills to see how grinding was done in bygone days.

Close by is Leinesanden where Olav the Sacred – the king who introduced Christianity to Norway – tried to convert the Vangsgjeld locals, but without success. It was not until he burned down the village that they succumbed and became Christians.

Continue a bit further, and you will discover why Kongevegen never was built on this side of Vangsmjøse. The massive mountain today known as Kløvningadn put a stop to any such project. It had a very narrow pass, and it was not until 1959 this was extended to fit a car.

Shortly after you will reach Kviture, which is another reason why Kongevegen was not built here. The 200-metre wide talus was considered dangerous. It was never still, and therefore stayed completely “white” as moss never took hold.

 

RICH FLORA

The trip through Vennis offers rich flora, with hardwood forest, elm, and hazel. This is due to the phyllite bedrock, and the village facing the sun.

At Lunde, turn onto Lundevegen and follow the pilgrims' way on the outskirts of Lunde farm to the E16 by Eltun in Øye. If you walk 350 meters back towards the east along the E16, you will find Øye Stave Church from around year 1200.

The church was demolished in 1747 and was believed to have been lost, but was rediscovered under the floor of the new church in the 1930s. It was re-erected here, although originally it was located further down towards lake Vangsmjøse.

This marks the end of the Vennisvegen section.

The stretch from Hemsing bridge to Øye Stave Church is approx. 18 km long. From Hemsing bridge there is a trail for almost 1 ½ km, and the rest is on gravel.