Sunnhordland – walks from the fjord to the mountains

Sunnhordland offers a wide variety of walks, from the very edge of the sea to towering summits.

There are more than 200 waymarked and graded walking trails. Everything from a hike to a summit of 1,426 metres to easier walks that are suitable for the whole family.

There are great contrasts in Sunnhordland. Everything from the view from the top of one of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls, to Norway’s third biggest glacier Folgefonna and down to the wild sea beside the North Sea Trail to Ryvarden Lighthouse and Cultural Centre.

Sunnhordland comprises eight municipalities and there are great walks to do in all of them. A selection of the walks you can do in the different municipalities follows below.

Tips for eight great walks

Midtfjellet Vindpark 5419 – Fitjar

Midtfjellet Vindpark with its 44 windmills is one of the biggest of its kind in Norway. The excellent road infrastructure means the mountains are now easy to get to. One of the routes is called 5419. Its name comes from the fact that its length in metres is the same as the Fitjar postal code, i.e. 5419. The walk in Midtfjellet Vindpark is suitable for walkers, prams etc. and off-road bikers. The road is universally designed.

Kongsen

Kongsen is a lovely, short walk you can do from Bekkjarvik on the island of Selbjørn in Austevoll.

From Bekkjarvik, you follow the N-waymarked trail up past a beautiful rose garden and on to the primary school and sports ground. Turn left and walk past the kindergarten and on to Alvamyra housing development until you come to a gravel road to your right. Follow this path to Kongskleiva, where you will find a waymarked trail in varied uphill terrain. If you turn your gaze skyward, you might even spot a sea eagle hovering in the wind, and there are also wild sheep in the area. When you get to the top, you can write your name in the visitor’s book in the post box.

The top of Langfoss waterfall

Langfoss is the fifth tallest waterfall in Norway. CNN ranked it one of the ten most beautiful waterfalls in the world in 2011. It has a total fall of 612 metres, and it can be seen clearly from the starting point for the walk.

The path up Langfoss waterfall starts beside the picnic area and follows the old summer pasture farm road from Eljarvik and up to Langfosstølen summer pasture farm. From the top of the waterfall, you get a fantastic view all the way down to where you started. The Åkrafjord winds its way between mountains towering 1,000 metres above sea level, crowned by the magnificent Folgefonna glacier in the background. The highlight may well be when the path crosses the rocky outcrop level with the top of Langfoss waterfall.

The view is amazing from here! You can look down at the road where the walk started and out across the Åkrafjord. You can also look across to Mosnes and up the protection-status valley to Sandvikevatnet lake on the north side of the Åkrafjord. The Folgefonna glacier towers in the background.

Bondhusvatnet lake

In recent years, Bondhusvatnet lake has become the destination for one of the most popular walks in Sunnhordland. The walk starts on a good gravel road from the car park and takes you to Bondhusvatnet lake, 190 metres above sea level. The road was built in 1863 to transport ice, hence the name Isvegen (ice road), from the Bondhusbrea glacier down to the fjord for export to countries abroad, and recent maintenance has made it an unusually good scenic route. A path then takes you along the lake and up to Vetledalen valley, 320 metres above sea level, where you get up close to Bondhusbrea glacier. This glacier is often referred to as the best in Norway for glacier hiking. Bondhusdalen valley is in the heart of Folgefonna National Park, and it is no coincidence that it was here that HM Queen Sonja opened the national park on 14 May 2005. See her signature on a rock beside Bondhusvatnet lake. The area has attracted tourists and mountaineers since the mid-19th century. The walk is also universally designed.

Wheelchairs
The road from the car park to Bondhusvatnet lake has a packed gravel surface. There are several gates on the walk, so those doing it in a wheelchair will need to bring someone who can open and close them for them. Suitable for motorised wheelchairs. Some hills are steep so wheelchairs need to have powerful engines.

The North Sea Trail Mølstrevåg

The walk from Mølstrevåg follows a 2-km gravel road through hilly heathland terrain and an old cultural landscape to Ryvarden. From the highest point on the walk, roughly halfway, you can enjoy magnificent views of Sletta sea, the islands Stord, Bømlo and Utsira, and south to the Byheiane hills in Haugesund. From the stone dyke demarcating Ryvardsneset headland, you can follow the North Sea Trail across the land to Lyngholm (1.5 hours).

A monument has been erected at a fork in the road right before you come to the lighthouse, in memory of the 16 people who lost their lives when the express boat ‘Sleipner’ sank close to Ryvarden in 1999.

After the lighthouse was automated and vacated in 1984, the old buildings have gained a new lease of life as Ryvarden Lighthouse and Cultural Centre, housing a gallery, café, accommodation and artists’ studios, among other things.

Tysnessåto (752 metres above sea level)

Did you know that Haaheim Gaard is situated at the foot of Tysnessåto? You can walk to Tysnessåto (752 metres above sea level) from Haaheim Gaard, on a good waymarked path. The walk up also takes you past the summer pasture farms Buldo, Huldestølen and Gjerstadstølen. At the top, you can enjoy a packed lunch made from bread baked by the kitchen at Haaheim.

You can also do the walk from Solheimsdalen valley, where you will find a path up to the picnic area, ‘Olavskvile’, in a scree. There are great views from here down to Dalsætervatnet lake and south to the southern part of Sunnhordland. You also pass Malkenesdalen valley and Såterfjellet mountain on your way. You can enjoy fantastic views in all directions from the summit, of the southern part of Sunnhordland to the south, out to the ocean in the west, the Bjørnefjord and northwards, the island Fonno, and the Kvinnheradsfjella, Etlådnefjellet and Hovlandsnuten mountains in the east.

Siggjo

Siggjo has always served as an important landmark for seafarers that can be seen far out at sea. The mountain is a popular destination, and thousands of people walk there each year. Take the time to stop en route and enjoy the views as the landscape opens up. The views from Siggjo are fantastic in all directions. You can see Lyderhorn mountain outside Bergen in the north and all the way to Haugesund in the south. The Folgefonna glacier lies to the east like a sparkling white blanket, and you can gaze across the ocean to the west. You can see Bømlo with its more than thousand islands and the archipelago along the coast of Sunnhordland.

There is a waymarked trail to the rhyolite quarry from the top, where you can see traces of a quarry that was in use thousands of years ago. The type of rhyolite that is found on Siggjo is unusual and very recognisable, dark greenish in colour with lighter veins and spots. The rhyolite from Siggjo was in use from around 4,000 to 2,000 BC, and was mostly used in Hordaland. This area has a high preservation value, so show respect and don’t take stones from the quarry.

The Sherpa steps up to the top of Kattnakken

This walk starts at the gateway to Heio/by the barrier up to the TV mast on Stord. You follow the road past the barrier some way until you turn left up the Sherpa steps and Fossabrekko. There are great views along the road to parts of the Sunnhordland basin towards the islands Huglo, Tysnes, Halsnøy and Borgundøy, and the Kvinnheradsfjella mountains. You can also see the Folgefonna glacier. There are around 500 steps up to the top of Fossabrekko. Benches have been erected in one place along the route where you can take a break.

The walk to the top of Fossabrekko, can be combined with the walk to Stovegolvet.