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According to the Great Norwegian Encyclopaedia, Innerdalen is regarded as one of Norway's most beautiful mountain valleys. Measurements taken in the area show that the valley has the cleanest air and water in Europe. The valley is situated in the Trollheimen mountain range, northeast of Sunndalsøra in the district of Nordmøre, on the border between Møre og Romsdal and Sør-Trøndelag.

Maximum beauty per cubic metre

The famous writer and philosopher Arne Næss was also very taken by the valley: ‘Maximum beauty and magnificence per cubic metre. The landscape changes incredibly quickly as you make your way across the terrain, and the distances are remarkably short between each miracle,' Næss said about Innerdalen in Nordmøre.

Eystein Oppdøl runs Renndølsetra in Innerdalen|© Eline Karlsdatter Fladseth

Ahead of his time

Innerdalen is today owned by Eystein Opdøl, who in the summer also runs the accommodation Renndølsetra summer pasture farm. The valley has been in the family since 1740, when it was bought to be used as a summer pasture. In the 1960s, the landscape was very attractive to those wanting to turn water into cheap power.

‘I suppose my grandfather was an early conservationist. He joined forces with other groups and organisations, including the mountaineering club and the trekking association, to stophydropower development.’

He managed to secure protection for Innerdalen valley and it became Norway's first landscape protection area in 1967.

‘Many people, myself included, are very happy that my grandfather Øystein fought to prevent the development, by seeking protection for the area and preserving the landscape for future generations. In many ways, he was ahead of his time. Nowadays it's obvious to most people that we need to look after and protect nature and the planet,’ says Eystein.

Hear what Eystein has to say about Innerdalen valley, what you can see and do there, and how the valley gained the reputation of being Norway's most beautiful valley:

Local food and cowshed accommodation

Innerdalen valley is gradually being discovered by more and more tourists, from near and far, who want to experience the tranquil atmosphere at the mountain farm. Renndølssetra summer pasture farm offers accommodation in houses and cowsheds, and is an excellent base for wonderful mountain hikes in the area. Eystein's grandparents were the first to offer accommodation and welcome guests to Innerdalen valley.

‘It all started when climbing courses were organised in the valley and it became well known for climbing. My grandparents expanded the mountain farm in 1950, making it possible to accommodate tourists. We’ve just continued what they started, but the last ten years has seen a large increase in the number of tourists. We now have 25 beds, and many of our guests use us as a base for short and long hikes in the local area. Guests who aren’t too demanding when it comes to comfort can check into the cowshed and spend the night with the cows.’

In addition to a bed for the night, Eystein offers his guests dinner, breakfast and packed lunches each day as part of their stay.

‘We have an incredible amount of home-made and low-mileage food. We use milk from our own cows and make everything ourselves. Many visitors enjoy talking to the cow from where their milk came. In autumn, we go hunting, meaning we can serve, among other things, farm-made elk sausage. There is generally a lot of game and local food on the menu, mostly from our own farm.

Upholding the peace

‘It's a lot of hard work during summer, but I couldn't be happier. I want to preserve the slow pace and tranquillity of the valley, which is why there will never be a road in here. It would destroy the peace you find here,’ says Eystein, who inherited the family farm.

The Innerdalen valley is perfect for day trips, including for families with children. At a gentle pace, it takes about an hour to walk the 3,5 -kilometre cart track from the car park to the farm.

More than 100 peaks above 1,500 m.a.s.l.

‘Many of those visiting Innerdalen valley and Renndølsetra farm are planning to climb Innerdalstårnet mountain. There is no getting away from the fact that it is one of the area’s top attractions. At the foot of the mountain is Innerdalshytta, a popular DNT lodge that offers food and accommodation. The area has an alpine landscape with more than 100 summits over 1,500 metres, making it an eldorado for summit hikes. There are a number of other wonderful, shorter walks too, including to natural pools that are just half an hour away. There’s always a lot of swimming there in the summer,’ says Eystein.

Getting close to the farm animals

Many of those making the trip to Innerdalen valley want to experience something different from home – like having a cow outside their bedroom window.

‘The animals roam freely on the farm and people really seem to appreciate being able to be around them. It’s fun to see visitors who’ve never encountered animals at such close range, making friends with the pigs, cows and sheep.

If you're really lucky, you can — if you believe in such things — meet a genuine blue gnome from Blåfjell in Innerdalen.|© Oddgeir Visnes

Chasing out the nymphs

Legend has it that several types of beings once lived in the valley.

‘When you were paying a visit to the farm in the old days, you weren't allowed to enter the farmhouses without first shouting and running around the buildings a few times.

According to Eystein, it was to warn the huldra, the wicked wood nymphs that lived on the farm during winter, that people were coming. In many places, a sacrifice had to made – a few coins or some butter – for those who dwelled there in winter.

‘The practice continued well into Christian times, people really believed in it back then, that you had to chase the nymphs out of the buildings before you could use them yourself.’

In the houses in Innerdalen it was believed that huldra lived in winter. They had to be chased out before the house could be used when spring came.|© Stian Skram

As well as beasts from the underworld, there’s said to be one or two ghosts in Innerdalen valley. Hear what Eystein has to say about Falesæter Hans and the reason he may be haunting the valley:

Getting to Innerdalen valley

To get to Innerdalen valley, take the RV70 road between Sunndalsøra and Tingvoll. Take the exit at Ålvundeid and follow the signs for Innerdalen. Leave your car in the car park and enjoy the 3, 5 kilometre stroll along the gravel track and into the heart of the Innerdalen valley.

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