Imagine the scene – standing on the edge of a flat table of rock with nothing but a 2,000ft drop straight down to the fjord below…
We were coming to the end of our two week cruise up and down the coast of Norway. Ahead of us lay Norway’s oil capital, Stavanger, and we’d not booked any shore excursions. By now we were seasoned nordic shoregoers and preferred to tour independently, especially when the ship berthed right in town. With a working assumption that we’d simply mooch about the city for half a day before returning on board for a late lunch and a relax before the hordes arrived, we happened to pass the shore tours desk and overheard one of the staff talking about his planned day off the next day in port. I walked away from the desk with a whole new plan for the day.
Dan was planning to go for a bit of a walk to Preikestolen, known in English as the Pulpit Rock. Pre-trip research had flagged this as one of the highlights of the Stavanger area, but with no tours heading there and it being quite a way outside the city, it didn’t look likely so I’d put it out of my mind. But here I’d happened upon a situation where all of the logistics had been worked out. At pains to make it clear that this wasn’t, and couldn’t be, an officially sanctioned tour, we were told that we were welcome to follow him but that it was our own responsibility and if we missed the ship then tough. A ferry and a bus would be needed to get to the start point and it would be a full day trip as a result.
While the womenfolk of the family did their own thing in the city, David and I joined a group of 4 other intrepid explorers and we headed ashore together. We took the local ferry up the fjord to Tau, jumped ashore and took the bus to Preikestolhytta where the trail starts.
We joined a good number of others on the 3.8km walk to the rock. First through forested land which opened out into an expanse crossed by a boardwalk. Then the rockier terrain kicked in. We gradually climbed up, emerging onto a plateau with a lake. Never in doubt of our route, which was just as well as we weren’t exactly overburdened with local maps, we followed the steady trickle of people across the rocky ground, emerging onto a more exposed section where views opened out and we got more of a feel of being up high.
We crossed the rocky plateau and soon found ourselves on the side of the mountain and then above the fjord. Ahead a crowd stood on a flat projection – our destination. We arrived at the rock and took our turn to stand as close to the edge as we dared and engaged in cunning photography aimed at making our positioning look more dramatic than it actually was.
But we were on a strict timetable, and so we snatched a brief lunch and then retrace dour steps along the side of the mountain, across the plateau with the lake and down into the wooded part that would take us back to the bus stop. We made our connections and arrived back on the ship in good time.
This was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the trip – a trip that had involved seeing the midnight sun, crossing the Arctic Circle and a visit to the northernmost point of Europe. Not to mention my favourite European city. And I was so glad that we’d chanced past the desk when we did, and that we grabbed the opportunity that presented itself. It just shows that you never know when you might stumble upon an unexpected adventure.