Norway’s roads less traveled: Ulvesund lighthouse is calm yet wild
Christine Foster Meloni
This article is the second in our series of “Norway’s Roads Less Traveled.” We asked Elin Bergithe Rognlie, Norway’s Consul General in New York, to suggest a special place that the average tourist might miss. The inaugural article in the series, “Spitsbergen: A Place out of the Ordinary” by Ambassador Kåre Aas, appeared in the April 15, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.
Consul General Rognlie suggests a visit to the charming Ulvesund Lighthouse, a special place that is not yet very familiar to tourists. It is located on the southeastern side of the island of Vågsøy in the county of Sogn og Fjordane on the west coast of Norway.
The 33-foot tall lighthouse was built and first lit in September 1870. It is one of four lighthouses that guide ships around Stad, one of the most dangerous sea passages in Norway. Its light can be seen from up to 12.3 miles away and is white, red, or green, depending on the direction.
It was automated in 1985 and it, therefore, no longer needed a resident keeper to turn the light on at night and turn it off at daybreak. After the last keeper and his family left, the lighthouse and the three buildings on the property remained empty for many years.
Sølvi Hopland Aemmer, a resident of the island who was born and raised near the lighthouse, was most unhappy when the property was suddenly deserted. Most keepers had had their families with them and had kept animals, a few sheep and cows. They grew berries in the gardens and fished in the sea. They were a part of the community.
Aemmer had known the last three lighthouse keepers and had often played with their children. She wanted the lighthouse to come alive again and for the public to have access to it. She was able to realize her dream with the help of family and friends. In 2003, she opened a café and a bed & breakfast in the lighthouse.
The café serves breakfast and dinner every day from mid-June to mid-August. Guests can savor the fresh fish from the sea and the berries from the garden. Of course, delicious coffee is always available! The B&B has 17 beds, so it is more like a home than a hotel.
As Aemmer is a singer/songwriter, she makes music an integral part of the enchanting atmosphere. She has also brought animals back to the lighthouse, and you can see goats frolicking in the garden.
Consul Rognlie stayed in the lighthouse with her family and highly recommends the experience: “It is a very family-friendly place as it is a calm place with little traffic and noise. It is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the calm. It is also perfect for exploring the surrounding nature. So taking walks in nature and along the sea is especially nice. And the view from the lighthouse is just breathtaking.”
Although she speaks of the calm that permeates the lighthouse, she does say that in this area one finds “nature at its wildest.”
“The nature at the Stad peninsula is ‘wild’ because it has a very harsh, windy climate. It is the dividing point between the Norwegian Sea to the north and the North Sea to the south and the highest wind speed in the country is often recorded at this promontory. This makes the nature quite ‘wild.’”
She mentions the exceptional sunsets she experienced here. “The sunsets are very beautiful in the summer as the sun sets into the ocean. At that time of the year the sun sets very late and it never gets completely dark during the night. Seeing the sun set almost at midnight is quite special.”
One of her good memories of the café is the excellent locally produced jam. It is well known that Norwegians love jam and expect it to meet high standards.
She notes that when she stayed here, most of the other guests were Norwegian. She remarks that “it is like a small hidden treasure, unknown to foreign tourists.” Sølvi, however, says the situation is changing. As the word spreads, guests are now coming from all over the world. But with the limited number of beds, the lighthouse still maintains a peaceful and friendly atmosphere.
Would you like to relax in a place of awe-inspiring natural beauty and to sleep in an authentic lighthouse on Norway’s wild western coast? If so, contact Sølvi for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the website at www.ulvesundfyr.no.
Eivind Heiberg, Norway’s Honorary Consul General in Minneapolis, will share his recommendation in the next article in our series, “Norway’s Roads Less Traveled.”
Rognlie is Norway’s Consul General in New York and represents Norway, Norwegian interests, and Norwegians in New York and surrounding states. She received her master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Oslo. She started her career with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1989. She has represented the Norwegian government in various capacities in many places around the world including Paris, Ottawa, Washington, DC, Nairobi, and New York. She is married to Tor-Arnt Roko and they have four children.
Christine Foster Meloni is professor emerita at The George Washington University. She has degrees in Italian literature, linguistics, and international education. She was born in Minneapolis and currently lives in Washington, DC. She values her Norwegian heritage.
This article originally appeared in the May 20, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.