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Robert knows the area very well. He actually went to the school that he and Laila have now developed into amazing accommodation with various activities in the area.

© Visit Haugesund

It was in December 2017 that Etne municipality wanted to sell the building. The couple Robert and Laila saw an opportunity, somewhere they could create their own place of work and generate activity in Fjæra, at the head of the Åkrafjord. After a lot of hard work and long days, they welcomed their first guests on 1 July 2018.

© Åkrafjorden Nature B&B

Classrooms were turned into bedrooms, and Åkrafjorden Nature B&B could boast 32 beds in 10 rooms. The first summer was good but, after the high season, things turned quiet at the old school. Robert and Laila had to put their thinking caps back on. How could they use their knowledge of the local area to develop activities that would attract more visitors and expand their season?

The first thought was to start with guided nature walks, guiding guests around the area they know so well, but after looking at the huge mountain wall behind the school for a while, they had an idea – why not make a Via Ferrata route? They contacted Børre Bergshavn to present the idea and, on 26 May 2019, Via Ferrata Kyrkjeveggen, considered one of Norway's toughest Via Ferrata routes, was opened.

Bygging av Via ferrata i Åkrafjorden|© Åkrafjorden Nature B&B

The couple have never looked back since the first Via Ferrata route opened, and they have developed new activities every single year. In 2020, the more family-friendly Via Ferrata Ingadalen was built, in 2021 canyoning became part of their programme, and in 2022 the Via Ferrata Hylling opened. At about 1,700 metres, this via ferrata route is one of the longest in Norway. It means you can now climb a total of 2.8 km of Via Ferrata routes around the Åkrafjord – perfect for those who like being active and enjoy taking on new challenges.

© Åkrafjorden Nature B&B

The activities they offer are just as varied as the fjord's towering landscape, including activities for those preferring a slower pace of life and a bit less physical exertion. You can rent an SUP stand-up paddleboard or kayak from Åkrafjorden Nature and explore the steep mountains, roadless farms and waterfalls.

This is not a job for Robert and Laila – it's their way of life. They work long days and put in a great deal of effort, but they find that creating amazing experiences for others based on their familiarity and knowledge of the area is very rewarding. What started in 2018 as a dream of guided nature walks has grown into a multitude of activities around the lesser-known, but so beautiful Åkrafjord.

© Espen Mills

It's difficult to predict where this adventure will end but, with Robert and Laila's energy and drive, we can’t wait to see what comes next. Who would have thought that an old, run-down school would be the perfect place for an active holiday by the fjord?

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