Pulpit Rock

For all my discomfort with uneven ground at height, I decided it would be a great idea to climb up a steep Norwegian cliff!

2017-06-04 Stavanger

I was at a conference in Stavanger last month, and having been there a few times and heard of Pulpit Rock (or Preikestolen), and seen it from below on a boat, I decided it was finally time for me to give it a go. It’s a popular tourist attraction, and there’s a lot of information out there about it, including the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge and Visit Norway websites.

Unfortunately on the one day that I could go it was rainy or misty at best, but hey ho. I got the ferry from Stavanger to Tau, and then a bus (cleverly timed to coincide with the ferry schedule) to Preikestolen Mountain Lodge, which is the ‘base camp’ and starting point of the hike. Pulpit Rock is 600 m above sea level, but the 3.8 km hike starts at a height of 270 m.

The journey from Stavanger to the Mountain Lodge takes about 1.5 hours in total. There are a couple of bus companies that put on buses from Tau, and you can buy a return bus ticket beforehand at the ferry terminal in Stavanger. Since I got the Boreal airport bus (Flybussen) into town when I arrived the day before, that ticket got me a 10% discount on the Tau – Preikestolen bus with the same company.

2017-06-04 Stavanger
A foggy start at base camp

When the weather is not suitable for hiking there are signs and warnings against going up, but summer rain and mist weren’t stopping anyone. Armed with my walking poles I headed off.
2017-06-04 Stavanger

Pulpit Rock has a mix of steep rises and falls, and lovely flat bits in between. There’s also quite a bit of tree cover most of the way, which I liked. There are also sections which have been improved over the last few years, and rock steps built with the support of Nepalese sherpas.
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2017-06-04 Stavanger

2017-06-04 Stavanger

2017-06-04 Stavanger
Interesting boggy bits

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Bog cotton

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Helpful trail markers dotted all along the way

The path is largely rock steps, some only little steps and some quite large. As it gets higher some sections are also ‘smoother’ and steep, which I think were a little more daunting than usual because it was wet.
2017-06-04 Stavanger

There are also one or two very steep sections, with narrow ledges to pick your way down or up, depending on which way you’re heading. Not terribly high, but if you’re going down it’s still too high to jump. Most people managed just fine, but some, like me, found it difficult. This was the only downside of walking poles, when you need your hands! But there were many kind strangers, and I had some help in places like this, and people waited patiently for slower ones to take our time.
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Halfway up there is a lake, which people do swim in when it is hot, but definitely not today. You could hardly see it! I really liked this bit; it was very atmospheric.
2017-06-04 Stavanger

2017-06-04 Stavanger

Finally, I got to the top, and by this time the mist had become rain2017-06-04 Stavanger
Final stretch – 1 km to go

Made it!
2017-06-04 Stavanger
Facing a corner, with the famous edge on the left

Although the weather meant you couldn’t see over the edge to the fjord all the way below, I thought the mist gave it a really unique feel that you don’t normally see in the brochures. Atmospheric, enigmatic, wild, mysterious, mystical (Thesaurus.com doesn’t disappoint!).

Makes for a cool photo, but I couldn’t ever do this!
2017-06-04 Stavanger
2017-06-04 Stavanger
Obligatory selfie – this is as close to the edge as I got

After sitting at the top for a bit and having my packed lunch, I then headed down again. This was harder! However the rain and mist had started to clear up, and I could see more of the surroundings that were hidden on the way up.

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2017-06-04 Stavanger
So many shades of green

2017-06-04 Stavanger

And finally I got back to the starting point, and jumped on a bus back to Tau, back on the ferry to Stavanger, and back to my hotel for a nice hot shower!

What a mad but exhilarating experience! It took me 3.5 hours to go up, and about 3 hours coming down (which is about an hour longer than average each way), but I had been going really quite slowly, stopping often to catch my breath, as well as stopping to take lots of photos, especially on the way up. I’m not a regular hiker, and I found some parts pretty scary, but other amazing parts made up for it. I’d told myself that I could stop and turn back at any point, but I’m really pleased I managed to push on and get to the top in the end!

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Norwegian Canning Museum

During my weekend in Stavanger I visited the Norwegian Canning Museum, which I found utterly charming. It’s in Old Stavanger, stitting quietly amongst the pretty traditional houses. It was a cannery from around the 1920s to the 60s, part of Christian Bjelland & Co., Norway’s largest canned goods company. Later on after it shut it was preserved as a museum.
2013-09-15 Norwegian Canning Museum

We had a very nice English speaking tour guide who took us through the process. Here is where the sardines were washed, and then taken away in wire baskets.
2013-09-15 Norwegian Canning Museum

In Norway they’re also called brisling or brisling sardines. From what I gather they’re all parts of one family of fish, and it’s to do with what you can and can’t call a sardine, and competition with the Mediterranean fishing industry.

The fish were placed on rods by hand. At first they were put on one by one, but later on they developed these things where the fish could be lined up in a row, and the rod pushed through a row at a time.
2013-09-15 Norwegian Canning Museum

The rods were lined up on these racks – about 700 sardines in each rack. This section was women’s work, by the way, and they were paid per item, whereas the men were paid for their work per hour. A situation that is no longer the case in Norwegian factories today I’m sure…
2013-09-15 Norwegian Canning Museum

The racks were then slid onto carts, which went into the smoke ovens. They were oak smoked, which gave the Norwegian sardines their distinctive flavour. Our guide said just one of those ovens can get Very Hot, and when the cannery was operating all 14 would have been lit!
2013-09-15 Norwegian Canning Museum

The smoked fishies then got their heads chopped off – more aesthetically pleasing, apparently. And of course in the days before health and safety laws, many a finger got caught here as well…
2013-09-15 Norwegian Canning Museum

The sardines were then laid in the tins, in a very particular way. It’s really not easy, we tried! The women who did this back in the day went at a crazy rate of around 5 seconds per tin.
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Lids on and sealed,
2013-09-15 Norwegian Canning Museum

and then sterilised at 120 degrees Celcius.
2013-09-15 Norwegian Canning Museum

And then, the most exciting part, the labels! The labelling and marketing was a HUGE part of the industry, and boy did they go all out!
2013-09-15 Norwegian Canning Museum

Ships!
2013-09-15 Norwegian Canning Museum

Animals!
2013-09-15 Norwegian Canning Museum

Royal family!
2013-09-15 Norwegian Canning Museum

Just some of the many many labels they produced back then. Can you tell this was my favourite bit? I wandered up and down the label section for ages. The rest of the museum also had replicas of the offices and board room of the canning company, from around the 1920s. There was also a video being shown, about the sardine canning process – a proper old school affair in black and white with a very cheery narrator. If I understand correctly it is the first ever advertisement to be shown on Norwegian TV. And then from the gift shop I came away with a t-shirt and my very own tin of sardines from one of the last canneries in Stavanger. These days most of the canning is done in Eastern Europe and sent back to Norway.

I really enjoyed the Canning Museum – such an eye opener and just a lovely snapshot of what life was like back then. I loved everything about it, from the original equipment and tools lying around, to the little plastic sardine props, and the labels, all those amazing labels! I highly recommend a visit if you’re ever in Stavanger.

For more on Stavanger’s sardine industry the Museum website has plenty of info.

Visit my Flickr set for more photos from the Canning Museum and the rest of my trip.