“Cos I’m on top of the world, hey!”

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Photo kindly donated by Andy Watson

After a night of attempted sleeping where guests in other parts of the hotel where either jumping on their beds to an impressive degree or having an all night rave we awoke early and checked out. Our destination was, for Pete and I, back home. We were heading back to the island of Tysnes to show Andy and Alan where we were staying. We journeyed on a bus, a ferry and in the car until finally the now familiar sight of the farm and the mountains was once again surrounding us. It had snowed again since we had been away so the mountain tops were even more heavily laden with white but on the farm itself all was still green.

Exhausted after our journey we showed the boys our cabin and got the fire going, ate some lunch and then headed back out for we had a hike to go on. We were aiming for the top of Tysnes sata which is the tallest mountain on Tysnes (752 metres). It is actually one of the mountains which looms over the farm and our hosts like to refer to it as their mountain but it is more frequently scaled by another. There is a woman on the island that climbs it every single day! No matter what the weather or conditions she marches up and down the trail daily and we often see her car but never her. What we would also see of her that day, and come to rely on, was her footprints.

We set off from the cabin bundled in many layers against the cold and headed up the track. Pete and I were rather impatient to do the trek as we had saved it specifically for when the boys got here but it had been taunting and beckoning to us since we had arrived on the farm. Also we knew we had to be conscious of time to ensure we weren’t still on the mountain in the dark so we marched up the track with considerable speed, or as much as the rocky and watery footing would allow.

The first couple of hundred metres is basically following the bed of a stream although the real rush of water is a few metres below you on your left. This is the water that the farm uses and the higher up we got the more it became a waterfall, interjected every few metres with a few brave rocks for the spray to eventually erode away. As we got higher we would look back at the farm and see the stout red wood of the barns get ever so slightly smaller. And did I mention this track was steep?! A little while later we were all desperately shedding layers and becoming grateful for the white snow which was gradually encroaching on our path.

We had passed the border now and gone into totally white country, leaving the green behind for our return and every step upwards resulted in deeper and deeper snow. Soon we were scrambling up a step or two only to sink down the equivalent distance into the snow itself. It was very heavy going, but so exhilarating, especially every time we looked back at the farm and across to the village and fjord which had now become visible.

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Photo kindly donated by Andy Watson

We eventually turned right and up along the track, leaving the waterfalls behind and started to really climb. At some points the snow had gotten waist deep and we were all struggling as best we could, aiming for the peak ahead of us which seemed impossibly far away through all the virgin snow. However we had the crazy lady’s footprints to follow and a dogged determination.

Once we had finally reached the rim of that first peak I looked back and felt like I was in the Himalayas. We had reached a sort of plateau with tall snow covered peaks surrounding us at every turn. Everything was bright white up here and Pete even resorted to putting his sunglasses on. It was truly a spectacular sight and though i have scaled many mountains in my time, never had I ever attempted something like this in the snow. The sky overhead was an impressive cobalt blue in contrast with the snow and i tried in vain to capture it on camera.

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At this point Andy had overheated in all his layers so was resting a little way further on whilst Alan and I scouted ahead. We came across a sign pointing us towards the trig point. It was tantalisingly close at only half a kilometre away but with the snow it would still take awhile. Once Andy caught up we discussed whether it was possible in the time frame we had. The stubborn streak in me was convinced we could make it before we needed to head back with enough light to safely see us to the bottom. We tried for another 15 minutes of relentless marching through knee deep snow but the trig point always seemed to be over the top of just another hill.

According to the boys gadget tech we were only about 80 metres out but still couldn’t see it and even I was admitting defeat as I collapsed in the snow, completely exhausted. We all conceded we should turn around, slightly defeated but still amazed by such a spectacular place.

The journey down was much easier for two huge contributing factors – gravity and snow! After a few exhuberant leaps and skids down to the plateau we decided it was genuinely faster to attempt to slide down on our bums. Only slightly lamenting the lack of a proper sledge we sat down, accepted the numb bum status and started to slide. It was hilarious fun and could get us quite far quite quickly. An added bonus was that it would save the jiggly knees of a mountain decent until later on.

About half way back down the mountain the snow turned to rocks and we conceded that the rest of the way should be done on foot. Our arses were beyond numb, our shoes and trousers completed filled with snow and a few rock related colliding incidents had bruised but not battered us as we carried on down.

With much relief, just as the light began to fade and the rain started to trickle down on our exhausted frames we trudged back into the farm (after a quick hello to the ponies) and collapsed in the cabin. We lit the fire and surrounded it with our soaked walking boots and clothing, all enjoying the feeling of being warm again.

Once a little rested we took the boys for a quick tour of the farm and the cheesery before we had tea and the best part of the evening – the cheese party! I chopped up chunks of nearly every cheese the farm makes, we had 3 different types of crackers to go with them and we dug in! The boys were excited to try all the new flavours and sampled a few of each before deciding on their favourites. The big winners of the night were the vintage goats cheese and the pepper cheese. However we gleefully enjoyed huge amounts of all of them whilst recouping our energy from the hike.

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Sadly the next day it was time for the boys to go home and in typical Norwegian style it was pelting it down with rain as we said our goodbyes. It was really wonderful to have shared the weekend with them (and packed so much in to it!) but for Pete and I it was back to work on the farm and in the cheesery until the next weekend which would promise more Norwegian adventure.

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