Progress along St. Olav’s Way: Virtual pilgrim completes journey (part 1)

Photo: Alasdair McLellan / Wikimedia Commons Locomotive no. 5 of Thamshavnbanen at Løkken Station, Norway. The train runs between May and September.

Photo: Alasdair McLellan / Wikimedia Commons
Locomotive no. 5 of Thamshavnbanen at Løkken Station, Norway. The train runs between May and September.

Christine Foster Meloni
Washington, D.C.

It is hard to believe! I have at last reached my final destination: Nidaros Cathedral. I have walked the 378 miles from Oslo to Trondheim. Let me describe the final leg, the last 52 miles, of my wonderful journey.

The Meldal Bygdemuseum
Leg I, the ninth leg, began in Meldal, a small village with a population of 628 (2013). The name in Old Norse means “middle of the valley,” and the village is in the middle of Orkla Valley in Sor-Trøndelag. The most popular activities here are salmon fishing and hiking.

I decided to visit the village’s open air museum. It has about 20 timber buildings that reflect life in this area between the 17th century and World War I. I was especially interested in the trønderlån. This is a home built in the typical style of the Trondheim region. It is an open-hearth building with a smoke vent built into its roof. This is the only such building found in Trøndelag.

Many of the objects in the museum’s collection were donated by Eilert Storen, who was a doctor in the village from 1889 to 1929. He was a pioneer in the creation of open-air museums. There are now many such museums throughout Norway. This one was established in 1931.

I didn’t know this in time, but you can order some goodies in advance of your arrival at the museum—rømmegrøt, coffee, and cakes. Unfortunately, I missed out!

Photo: Meldal Bygdemuseum / Facebook The Meldal Bygdemuseum is an open-air museum of buildings from as early as the 17th century.

Photo: Meldal Bygdemuseum / Facebook
The Meldal Bygdemuseum is an open-air museum of buildings from as early as the 17th century.

Thamshavn Railway
This line was the first electric railway in Norway. It was built in 1908 to carry pyrites from the mines at Lokken Verk to the port at Thamshay and also to carry passengers. It carried passengers until 1963 and transported ore until 1974.

The mines were a very important resource for the Germans when they occupied Norway during World War II. For this reason Norwegian saboteurs actively worked against the Germans by blowing up locomotives, rails, and lifts.

It became a heritage railway in 1983 and runs between Løkken and Bårdshaug. You can ride in an original train carriage between May and September. I missed this opportunity, but I may return someday to have this historic experience!

Svorkmo Skytterhus
I decided not to spend the night in this hostel that is located right on the Pilgrim’s Way. I am not too keen on roughing it, and here I would have had a simple sleeping mat or a cot. I would also have had to get my own food and cook it in the hostel’s kitchen. And it has a shooting range that definitely did not appeal to me. So I waited for the farm that was not too far away.

Gumdal Gård
This farm has existed at least since 1600 when it was first listed in the tax records. It has been a pilgrim’s hostel since 1794. I slept in the brewhouse that has bedrooms with 30 beds, a bathroom, and a kitchen. It also offered Wi-Fi!

When I left the farm, I started down the path that goes through Skaun municipality and headed toward the Trondheimsfjord. I was only 16 miles away from Trondheim!

The Bauta Stones
I went through several villages in the Skaun municipality. Børsa was noteworthy because of its four monoliths. The story is that these monoliths are very old and were used as grave markers between 500 and 1000 A.D. Another story is that the Viking chieftain Einar Tambarskjelve, who lived from c. 980 to c. 1050, used these monoliths to moor his boats.

These monoliths are standing stones that are really not very tall, perhaps between seven and nine feet high.

Photo: Kirkesøk The churches get grander the closer to Nidaros. Ilen Kirke is just outside Trondheim’s city center, a scant kilometer or two from the big cathedral itself.

Photo: Kirkesøk
The churches get grander the closer to Nidaros. Ilen Kirke is just outside Trondheim’s city center, a scant kilometer or two from the big cathedral itself.

Kristin Lavransdatter’s Husaby
Another place in this area that I found very interesting was Husaby. I love the classic Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy by Sigrid Undset. The protagonist and her husband Erlend lived at the Husaby farm. Kristin is a fictional character but every year a very popular cultural festival in her honor takes place at Husaby.

Skaun Kirke
Skaun Church is a lovely stone church from the medieval period. It was finished in 1183. It has both Romanesque and Gothic characteristics. It is a rectangular church with 250 seats. It has a beautiful Baroque-style altar that was carved in 1773.

The name of the architect is not known. But we do know, from the marks in the stone, that the mason who carved the church’s portal also worked on the octagon of Nidaros Cathedral. The stone work is of very high quality.

I noted that a pilgrim mile marker is on the site of the church.

Kleivan Pilgrim Hostel
I stopped for the night at the Kleivan hostel, located 25 km from Trondheim. This very pleasant hostel is open all year round and costs 250 kroner per night. Pilgrims need to have their own sleeping bags. Linen and breakfast are provided for 200 kroner. Lunch and dinner are also available. You need to book your accommodation and order your meals in advance.

The home-cooked meals are a very welcome feature. The sauna is, too, as it does a world of good to the weary pilgrim!

Sundet Gård
The Sundet farm is near the mouth of the Guala River. The name of the farm perhaps comes from the Norwegian word skipsted, which means ship’s place. It might have been a ferry’s landing that was destroyed by a landslide.

When I arrived at the river, I contacted the ferryman at the farm, and he came across the river to get me! This was just what the pilgrims in the medieval period did.

This farm has been here since the 1300s and has been accommodating pilgrims for hundreds of years. I decided to relax and enjoy the wildlife and plants. I also enjoyed traditional foods and had a restful sleep. The next day was going to be momentous!

The next morning I arrived in Trondheim. This was an exciting moment. My first stop was at Ilen Kirke, the last small church I would visit. I was, of course, looking forward to seeing the great cathedral, but I had been enjoying my visits to these small churches along the way

Ilen Kirke (Ila Church)
This lovely church is located in the modern Ila neighborhood of Trondheim, located near the Trondheimsfjord. It is a Neo-Gothic stone cruciform church that was built in 1889 by the architect Eugene Sissenere.

From here it was on to the final destination! Tune in next week to read all about it.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 8, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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