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The construction route known as the «Rallarvegen» is a 100-year-old man-built transport road designed for the conveyance of men and materials during the building phase of the most mountainous sector of the Oslo - Bergen Railway Line.
The railway constructors' road is a cultural and historic monument. From this road you will at all time keep in touch with, and see the Bergen Line which was opened in 1909. You will discover painstakingly detailed work in stone and earth, carried out by a labor force which at its peak comprised 2400 men. You will see Line Inspectors' houses of high architectural caliber and get an impression of Norway's loftiest place of employment from 1900 to 1964.
It all started when the Norwegian Parliament decided in 1894 that a railway connection were to be built between Bergen in the west and Christiania, former name of Oslo, in the east. The railway would cross the mountain range that split southern Norway in two, and to do so, they had to build construction roads leading up onto the plateau from Voss, Flåm and Geilo and along the path that the railway would follow. This would soon become the most demanding railway project in Europe. Everything that would be needed of supplies and equipment had to be transported from the villages and up onto the plateau. Every day throughout an hectic summer season, hundreds of horse carriages transported all the material and gear that was needed for the work to be carried out up into the highlands.
"Rallar" was the name of the work force which later gave the name to this famous construction road; Rallarvegen.
The Bergen Railway Line was officially opened on November 27 1909. In 2009 the railway will celebrate its 100-year jubilee.
Rallarvegen - not only for construction purposes.
Rallarvegen was opened for cycling in the summer of 1974. For the first few years it was only a couple of hundred cyclists who rode the track from Haugastøl to Myrdal. Rallarvegen as a cycle destination became famous in the late 1980s after a TV show had made a program about the route. Off-road bikes has become more and more famous, and the interest for cycling in the mountains has increased. Through the last few years we estimate that about 20 000 bikers from both Norway and abroad has found their way along the Rallarvegen each year.The season
In these high mountains there are usually large quantities of snow, and along the Finse to Hallingskeid stretch, precisely where snowfalls are heaviest; there is no snow clearance service. Early in the season, i.e. in July or if there is a lot of snow about, we therefore recommend that you travel the Finse-Hallingskeid sector by Rallar train. Scattered sizeable snowdrifts up to 100 or 200 meters in length can also occur east of Finse and west of Hallingskeid. In July/August traffic tends to be heavy. September is therefore to be recommended both because the road is then free of snow, there is plenty of room in lodgings and on the road, and in addition the autumn coloring is so beautiful. The season extends until the snowfall in late October.
Haugastøl - Finse 27km
You can choose to start the trip from Haugastøl Train Station. The trains from Oslo and Bergen stops here regularly, and here you will also find public car parking. From the station you follow the national highway RV7 to Haugastøl Turistsenter. You can also find public parking across the road from Haugastøl Turistsenter. Our Bike-Deal is a popular choice for those who wish to cycle the Rallarvegen.
The Rallarvegen starts just outside Haugastøl Turistsenter. It rises 222 meters over 27 km up to Finse from Haugastøl. Along the road you will experience powerful nature, many impressive man-made bridges, inspector's huts and the Nygård Farm. Nygård Farm used to be the only farm at this level still in function up until the middle of the 1900s. You will also pass by the Storurdi Lake and the Storurdi Inspector's Hut at 1105 meters a.s.l. You will also pass by Okseboth at 1160 meters a.s.l. This is an ancient summer farm used by farmers from Ulvik. You will see the new and modern railway track, built to withstand the speed of future trains. A new tunnel is built, Gråskallen, and you will see the snowscreens built to keep the snow from covering the tracks.
Finse lies at 1222 meters a.s.l. and is the most elevated railway station in the whole of Norway. Here you will find many possibilities for nice hikes like the one to Hardangerjøkulen, the glacier just west of the station. We can recommend a guided tour on Hardangerjøkulen with Jøklagutane. A visit to the Rallar Museum is compulsorary for you who are cycling the Rallarvegen. Detailed and useful information concerning the story behind the Bergen Railway is found here. It shows how the men recorded snow depths, planned, staked out the route and the actual tools and aid that were used to make sure the construction work could carry on, can be found in the Rallar Museum at Finse. This is situated in the house east of Finse station. If you wish to spend the night at Finse, it is possible to do so at Finse 1222 and at Finsehytta.
Finse- Hallingskeid 21 km.
When you cycle westwards from Finse, you will glide into the beautiful and natural surroundings of the Hardangervidda. Take your time and enjoy the landscape. Be impressed by the magnificent mountains surrounding you, and take in the view of how the Hardangerjøkulen Snow Cap peaks with his great cape of white and blue eternal ice. If you are lucky you might even spot wild reindeer in this area, and notice details like the beautiful highland flowers along the road. You can see traces of how the men lived whilst they battled against the weather for so many years just to keep the railway track open in all conditions. You can see the Inspector's Dwellings where the men lived with their families. You will pass by dwellings at Sandå, Slirå, Fagernut and Grjotrust. Fagernut lies at 1310 meters a.s.l. and is the most elevated Inspector Dwelling in Norway. The dwellers lived here in the years between 1904 and 1964. You will also pass by the Fagervatn Lake, which is the highest point of Rallarvegen. In the summertime, a Cafè is run in the Fagernut Dwelling. Here you can buy freshly made waffles and coffee. They have tried to restore the dwelling to how it was decorated when the instructors lived there in the start.
Hallingskeid - Vatnahalsen 17 km.
The first dwelling you will pass by, is now a tourist cabin that is open for visitors all year around. Notice the grassy opening in the bottom of the valley. This used to be the base of a annual summer marked up until the Black Death in the 1300s. People came from all of the nearby valleys and fjords, Hallingdal, Sogn, Hardanger and Voss. They met up to sell groceries, to hold competions, to dance, to drink and to fight.
From Hallingskeid and down the valley to Myrdal you can see how the railway track leads along a mountain shelf. Imagine the workers building this part, and the challenges they were faced with. This is a part which is troubled during the winter months by many avalanches. The bridge, Klevabrua, is a beautiful and impressive bridge that you will notice before you carry on down the wild and facinating gully, Klevagjelet. The road carries on along a narrow shelf, so be careful and walk this part of the road. On your way to Vatnahalsen, you will pass by Seltuft where you can see traces from the Stone Age.
At Vatnahalsen you will find one of the stations for the Flåm Railway Line, as well as Vatnahalsen Highland Hotel. At this point you will have to make a decision. - You can either carry on along the road down to Myrdal and Flåm, or take off down to Voss. It is 2 km to Myrdal, where you can enter the train and go both east towards Oslo or west towards Bergen.
Flåmsdalen 20 km
Flåmsdalen is an impressive valley with the steepest railway track in the North of Europe, The Flåm Railway. It is 20 km, has 20 tunnels and a altitude difference of 865 meters. The Flåm Railway is world famous. Every summer it is almost 400 000 tourists that travel the Flåm Railway as well as about 100 cruiseships arriving Flåm with guests for this famous railway track. The Rallarvegen makes its way through 21 sharp bends down to Kårdal which is the highest farm in Flåmsdalen. From Kårdal the road carries on through the wild Flåm Valley past Berekvam and Dalsbotten. From Dalsbotten and down to Hårreina you will pass by the powerful waterfall, Rjoandefossen. You will also pass by the Flåm Church which was raised in 1667. The poet, Per Sivle, was born and grew up on the farm across the river from the church. You can see the stone that has been raised in his memory.
The Flåm Train Station is located in the end of the Aurlandfjord, one of the arms of the Sognefjord. During the summer, Flåm is a melting pot of tourists from all over the world. You can hear all kinds of languages and watch tourists on their way to new experiences by boat, buss or train. You will find all facilities you need, hotels, b&bs, campingsites, cafees, restaurants and shops. It is possible to catch the train over Myrdal to Bergen or Oslo, or a boat taking you out the Sognefjord either southwards to Bergen or northwards to Selje.
For those who chose the Bike Deal from Haugastøl Turistsenter, a return journey from Flåm to Haugastøl by the famous Flåm Railway is included.
Myrdal - Voss 43 km
Myrdal Station lies at 867 meters a.s.l. and is the connection between the Bergen Railway and the Flåm Railway. If you are intending to bike the Raundalen from Upsete to Voss, you will have to take a local train through the Gravhals Tunnel to Upsete before you can carry on. From Upsete you will follow the Rallarvegen to Mjølfjell Youth Hostel where the road crosses over onto the main road. You will pass by Reimegrend, Urdland and Ygre on your way to Voss.
Voss lays right in heart of Fjord Norway with good transport connections to Hardanger, Sogn og Fjordane, Bergen and the eastern parts of Norway. Voss is a well known tourist spot, and can offer anything a tourist might want. Voss can offer many activities such as short day hikes, horse back riding and river rafting.
The Navvies' Road, as the Rallarvegen is also known as, is 80 kilometers long, extending from Haugastøl through Finse and on to Hallingskeid and via Vatnahalsen downstream to Flåm. An additional length of 43 kilometers runs from the western end of the Myrdal to Upsete Gravhals tunnel and descends the Raundal valley to Voss. The 11 kilometer stretch westwards from Haugastøl to Storurdi is open for motorized vehicles, but from the county border near Storurdi Lake the road is barred to such traffic to Finse.
West from Finse the Rallar Road is reserved purely for walkers and cyclists and continues thus as far as the top of the Flam valley. Along the Storurdi to Finse sector however, you must be prepared to encounter such cars as have been granted Norwegian State Railway permission to use the road. From Upsete and as far as Mjølfjell Vandrerhjem or Wayfarers' Hostel the construction road is also a pedestrian and cycle path, though here too the actual landowners in the area have the right to drive cars. In both the Flam and the Raundal valleys the road is open to ordinary traffic. Those sectors of the Navvies' Road which are accessible for walkers and cyclists only have a rough and uneven surface. Certain parts may be damaged as where the road has fallen away or been washed out. Because of dramatic differences in altitude: Haugastøl at a height of 988 meters above sea-level via Taugevatn at 1301 and on to Flam at a mere 2 meters and Voss at 57, most cyclists, choose to travel westwards. Cycling in the opposite direction however offers the advantage of building up strength and physical fitness, at the same time as you command a better view of the surrounding landscape and waterfalls by cycling, as it were, into the countryside instead of away from it! The recommended optimum cycling time is three to four days, though obviously by forcing your pace you could cover the whole route in the course of 24 hours.
Together with Norwegian State Railways who own the «Rallarvegen» and in consultation with the cultural and tourist councils of Hol, Ulvik, Aurland and Voss, we are endeavoring to develop this old construction route into a tourist product of some standing, plenty of time, low cycling speed. And frequent stops on the way for pleasure and exploration are important factors in achieving this. You can spend the night at tourist cabins and hotels. NSB's «Rallar train» which includes a special van for the transport of cycles serves the stretch between Voss and ÅI in the period from late June to mid-September and ensures good connections to and from Flam. Consult the special timetable for specific details. We recommend that you use a bicycle equipped with stout tires and reliable brakes. Gears are not necessary if you are traveling westwards. Your cycle should be in a good state of maintenance, and be sure to take puncture kit, pump and tools with you. Bicycles can be hired here at Haugastøl and also at Finse You can hire cycles from any of these places just mentioned and dispatch them by train back to your point of departure after use.
The «Rallarvegen» has three rather perilous spots where the utmost caution is required:
1 - Where you cross the railway track in the snow shed at Grjotrust
2 - In Kleivagjelet ravine with its unprotected roadside and precipitous drop into the turbulent river below.
3 - On the way down the notorious 21 hairpin bends in the upper end of the Flam valley, dismount here, as there is real danger of your brakes getting overheated and seizing up.