Native woodland and grazing in SW Norway 28th May – 4th June 2018

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 28th May – 4th June 2018

Flights Aberdeen to Stavanger and return to Aberdeen

The aim of this course is to provide people working in Scottish upland land management the opportunity to see and hear how native woodland has been responding to changes in grazing pressure in the part of Scandinavia most environmentally similar to Scotland.  Participants will visit a variety of biodiverse, reforested landscapes from exposed coast to mountain top, where climate and geology are very similar to our own, and where multiple land uses such as forestry, hunting and farming, are often practised together.

You will be accompanied by Duncan Halley and by guides from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research.

Lysefjorden Lysebotn

Subject to weather, which is closely similar to that of the Highlands at the time of year. Precipitation peaks a short way inland (for our tour, in the Fidjadalen area, which has over 4000mm/year) as weather systems rise over the mountains, and then decline as you go east.

Tour involves walking most days in rough and sometimes rocky country similar to the NW Highlands, and the Cairngorms, in geology and landforms. Appropriate clothing and footwear are essential. Accommodation will be in cabins, an old farmhouse, and a lodge; single beds and shared rooms and you need to bring your own sheet sleeping bag, or sheet, duvet cover, and pillowcase. I’ll be doing most of the cooking, to give participants as much time as possible in the landscape; but everyone will have to pitch in with that and with other chores.

All except the possible first night accommodation come with washing machines and modern showers. Most have dishwashers.

I’ll be inviting people to give talks in the evenings; exactly who will depend on availability and on the interests of the group.

Locations are draft and subject to availability. I’d be interested in what the group would prefer for first and last nights; they could email me individually so I could get a sense?

This is an outline programme and will change according to the participant’s interests.

Day 1

 Arrive Stavanger airport. Pick up hire vehicles, drive to Gaudland , about 90 minutes south, an old hill-farmhouse in a regenerating landscape almost completely deforested for many centuries, until the 20th century. There are beavers in the loch immediately adjacent and canoes and rowboats at your disposal. Gaudland is the most cramped accommodation on the trip, no problem in fine weather but can be a little. The shower is in an outhouse and can strain to cope with 9. If people prefer, we could stay in Frafjord (see below) 2 nights; this would involve a longer drive to get to Gården Li on Saturday.

Day 2

To Gården Li (pron. ‘Gawren Lee’) on Hidrasundet (‘Hidrasoondeh’; Sound of Hidra) on the open coast. An exposed oceanic site, windy and very mild with little or no snow in winter; rocks gneisses (eastern end) and basalts (west end). 45 minute walk on waymarked path (mostly fairly easy, one 100m stretch of rough ground). Gården Li is another old hill farm, on a very exposed section of the coast with average, and extreme windspeeds in excess of anywhere on the Scottish coast. We’ll stay there for much of the day; in the later afternoon:

From Gården Li to Frafjord (‘Frafyor’), overnight in cabins at Frafjord

Day 3

 Based Frafjord. Day tour to Fidjadalen (‘Fidyadalen’; rather wetter but otherwise similar in climate and geology to e.g. West Affric). First 500m is very steep and rocky, with chain handholds provided in places; otherwise fairly flat and easy. Overnight Frafjord.

Day 4

Drive to Byklehaiene (‘Byoowkleh-haieneh’, c. 3 ½  hours driving), crossing two passes showing effects of snow gradient (milder/less snow towards coast) on altitudinal succession of woodland types and on montane scrub species composition. Short walking tours at points of interest on route. Top of second pass in high resolution here.

Overnight (and next two nights) at Bjåen (‘Byaw-en’; NB website ‘under reconstruction’. Bjåen lies at the top end of the montane ‘birch belt’ where it grades into the ‘willow region’ of montane scrub.

 Day 5

The Bykleheiene are closely similar in geology, landforms, and climate to the central Cairngorms.

Two likely trips, weather permitting:

Vicinity of Bjåen – into the mountains behind Bjåen, to look at the montane vegetation succession.

Berdalen (‘Bare-dalen’). An old seter (summer grazing/haymaking) landscape, 750-1000m asl; starting in old granny pines with much recent regeneration, to the birch/willow/alpine transition at Berdalsbu (‘Baredalsboo’), an old seter (shieling) now used as a bothy. Fine views of the vegetational succession from the main Setesdal strath below, to the high tops. About 12km walking (return) on a marked trail, in areas boggy and in others moderately steep.

In perfect weather we could arrange for those who wish to, to return along the ridge on the S side of Berdalen, about 1100m, rough mountain walking but with alpine vegetation and spectacular views; others can return via the path.

Day 6

To Stavanger area (mainly retracing the route from Frafjord on 29th), overnight locally (location TBA; possibly Frafjord once more; or Åmøy Fjordferie if people would like a look at a modern coastal farming landscape).

Day 7


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