Norway June 21st – July 1st 2007
Three cars from the Panther Car Club embarked on the trip to Norway joining up with three Scandinavian cars on the way. After an uneventful run to Harwich we, Roger & Joyce Burn, met with our travelling companions George & Tony Ansell and Jeff & Joan Allen for our 6pm crossing to Esbjerg. The 19-hour ferry journey across an unbelievably calm north sea docked at lunchtime the next day. A steady drive that afternoon across Denmark to Fredrickshaven took us through acres and acres of cereal crops. Next day the fast ferry took us to meet up with Kalle & Babs Jensen in Gothenburg, and then there were four. We headed north through the pine forests of Sweden with glades of agriculture between the trees. As we crossed the bridge into Norway the scenery suddenly became more picturesque, and we had time to take it in, as the speed limit in Norway is just 55mph! We followed the E6 motorway turning off to Fredrickstad south of Oslo where we were the guests of Atle & Anne Grete Anderson. Finn Ivar & Berit Hagen, the owners of the sixth car on the trip, joined us here. Two restful nights were spent at our host’s delightful home, with a day to explore the old town and experience a first taste of the fjords. The first of the gremlins (or was it a Norwegian troll) struck when returning from the old town. The petrol pump stopped working on Jeff’s Lima, it’s an electric pump with a capacity to feed two very thirsty Weber carburettors. When all else failed it was persuaded to work intermittently with the aid of a hammer. Next day, and back on the road, three Panther Limas and three Kallisters headed north to the Olympic centre of Lillehammer. On the way we drove the length of Lake Mjosa, the largest lake in Norway, described as a typical Norwegian fjord lake, it has a surface area of 365 km2, maximum depth of 449 m, and a maximum length of 117 km.
It was with every good intention to make an early start for the next leg of the trip from Lillehammer to Trollstigen, the home of the trolls. But news spread around the breakfast table of Atle’s Lima loosing its water over night. Was it the water pump? As the source of the leak was hidden behind the Lima’s cambelt cover, the car wasn’t going any further in it’s present condition so there was nothing to lose in stripping off the front cover. For those of you not in the know there is a short length of hose (2”) connecting the water pump to a casting on the front of the engine, it is almost inaccessible. This had become hard and cracked! A new piece was fitted courtesy of George & Tony and we were back in business. Jeff, in the meantime, had located a Chinese version of the facit pump and fitted it, only to find out on the road the volume was inadequate. Back on with the old one, hammer in hand! Once under way we travelled through increasingly beautiful countryside stopping off at viewpoints and by rivers with their waters of melted snow pounding over rocks and waterfalls. We stopped in Dombas for lunch and on leaving the town forked left towards Andalsnes and Geiranger. We were heading for the land of the trolls and Trollstigen Camping at the foot of the pass from which it takes its name. Our rooms for the night were in a large comfortable self-catering chalet tucked on the hillside. As the weather was due to close in that evening, it was decided to go up the pass to take in the sights. The road zigzaged scenically up into the snowfields with magnificent views back down into the valley.
A leisurely start next day saw the cars board the ferry from Valida to Geiranger. The two-hour journey took the group through the spectacular Geiranger fjord with the waterfalls tumbling hundreds of feet down into the clear waters. Tiny farmsteads now abandoned and used as holiday homes could be seen high on the steep wooded slopes, accessible only on foot. Visiting Geiranger was the magnificent QE 2 dwarfed by the mountains of this breathtaking World Heritage Site. The Panthers were an added attraction to this beautiful area as we were greeted by hundreds of clicking cameras. It was then off to Bergen via Forde for the last of our overnight stops, we opted for a longer scenic route, taking the unmetaled road from Grotli passing frozen lakes, an all year ski centre and snow, banked three meters deep to the sides of the roads. The optional route would have taken us through one of the longest tunnels at fifteen kilometres. We passed round and over many scenic fjords. On arrival we had two days of relaxation taking in the sights of the city, with its museums, the amazing fish market, funicular railway for impressive views over the city, old Bergen a museum of buildings and the much photographed port of Bryggen where we took the opportunity to photograph the cars before joining the ferry for the journey back to the UK.
Many thanks to our Scandinavian hosts for their generous hospitality.