Egersund to Dalen Scenic Drive

  • Secret scenic roads
  • Ski towns galore

Looking for an alternative road to the mountains, bypassing the tourists, highways and seeing the secret beauty of Norway? This drive is perfect. I know, the Egersund to Dalen drive is not the most commonly suggested route in Norway, but it is worth the consideration. Both towns are very cute and scenic with plenty to do, and they are separated by a beautiful valley and mountain range that you’ll pass.

On this page, you’ll find practical info outlining what you’ll see between the two towns, plus where you can stay and what you can do. Be sure to watch my own drive, where I’ve put together a timelapse with information. 

If you have done this drive, or have any questions for me, let me know in the comments. 

Table of Contents

The Drive

Watch on YouTube

Start: Egersund

Egersund is a beautiful town on the southwestern coast of Norway. It is located on the opposite end of the Jæren Scenic Drive from Stavanger. If you can, I highly recommend doing that drive first. 

Detailed information about Egersund can be found below. 

Driving Directions:

Head north out of Egersund and then turn right onto the highway 42 (Fv42)

Trollpikken

Trollpikken is a unique and strange rock formation in Norway. In the last few years, it has gained popularity due to its, well, shape. ‘Pikk’ is a relatively new word in Norway that translates to ‘dick’, and as you can see in the image, the name describes what locals have come to recognise the formation as.

Trollpikken made the news in 2017, when it was vandalised and severed off using power tools. The locals were saddened by this and a crowdfunding campaign raised an incredible 226,000 NOK and within two weeks the rock was reattached (watch the video on the left!). One person was arrested for vandalism.

Since this incident, there was more effort made in promoting Trollpikken. It’s got its own website now (click here), which goes over the history, folklore, and practical info of the site. There are road signs leading to the large carpark, and the walk to the monument is well marked with modern signs. The name is also recent; it’s only from 2017.

For those interested in geology, the rock is anorthosite. This is a very rare type of rock that’s found on the south-western coast of Norway and the moon. Yes, the moon! When astronauts were training for going to the moon, they came here to practice collecting rock samples. Trollpikken is 12m (39ft) high.

It is relatively easy to hike to Trollpikken, and the info can be found here: https://ut.no/turforslag/1113153/trollpikken

Driving Directions:

Join onto the European Highway 9 (E9)

Helleland

Helleland is a small village just outside Egersund. The language used here is nynorsk rather than the commonly used bokmål. The Sørlandet train connection between Oslo and Stavanger runs through (and stops at) Helleland.

Helleland Church is from 1832. It is built in wood and has seats for 500. The architect was Hans Linstow, who also designed the Royal Palace and Karl Johans gate in Oslo.

In Helleland, there are memorials dedicated to the British aircraft which crashed during the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany in connection with the Operation Freshman sabotage attempt, part of an action that was aimed at the Vemork hydroelectric plant, site of heavy water production. Furthermore, there is a cave in the forest which was used as a hiding place during World War II. People who had kept illegal radio equipment hid in this cave, and the Germans never discovered them.

You’ll find a grocery store in Helleland (Coop). 

 

Driving Directions:

Just after Helleland, turn left onto the Fv42

Terland Klopp

Terland Klopp was built around 1800 as a stone slab bridge. With 21 runs and 60 metres, it is considered the largest in the Nordic region of this type. The bridge crosses the river Gyaåna, which we are following on this road. The valley we are in is called the Gyadalen Valley.

Terland Klopp has not been in use since 1977; today it is a listed monument. It is considered the best-preserved bridge of this kind. 

Agder Kommune

We now cross over into Agder kommune. 
Originally, Agder was a medieval petty kingdom that governed itself until Norway was unified into one Kingdom. The name Agder was not used between 1662 and 1919; it was reinstated after the counties Aust-Agder (East Adger) and Vest-Adger (West Adger) were established. Since 2020, those two counties were merged into one: Adger.
 

Viking Connections

 
The word ‘Adger’ is older than the Norwegian language; about 1,500 years old, to be precise. Unfortunately, the origin and meaning of the word is unknown.
 
Before and during the Viking Age, Adger was a petty kingdom called Agðir. Until the country was unified, it was made up of many petty kingdoms with royal families led by chieftains. The chieftains contended for land, maritime supremacy and political power. They sought alliances through marriage with other royal families, either voluntary or forced.
 
Agðir is mentioned many times in the Norse Sagas. Perhaps the most famous story is in the Ynglinga Saga. It’s about Harald Redbeard, the chieftain of Agðir. He refused to let his daughter Åsa marry Gudrod Halvdanson, who was chieftain of another kingdom. As a result, Gudrod invaded Agðir, killed Harald and took Åsa as his wife. Åsa had a son, Halvdan the Black, and she arranged to have Gudrod killed. This may sound quite dramatic, but these kinds of events were ordinary among the royal families. Åsa’s grandson, Harald Fairhair, unified Norway under one kingdom.
 

The Development of Agder

 
Until the 15th century, there were no towns between Skien in the east and Stavanger in the west. Rather, there were few scattered rural settlements. The earliest town in Agder is Arendal, which recieved market rights under the much larger Tonsberg in 1500. In the mid-17th century, King Christian IV established Kristiansand on the south coast as a new market town to replace Stavanger.
 
In the 16th century, Agder became more important due to its timber. Dutch merchant vessels began coming to purchase salmon and other goods, but they discovered the high quality of Norwegian timber that’s exceptionally well-suited for shipbuilding. After all, that’s what Norway had been doing for hundreds of years. As the Netherlands grew, many Norwegian families from Adger moved to the Netherlands to fill the gaps in the labour shortage. 
 
When steamships became prominent in the 19th century, Agder declined in importance. The area was known for its manufacture and repair of sailing ships, and the introduction of steamships caused economic hardship in the area. Many people emigrated to the United States to escape the high unemployment that followed. Many Americans returned to Agder when Norway became prosperous. This feature is particularly prominent in Kvinesdal, which is often referred to as the ‘American Village’ due to its strong cultural links to the USA and high number of American residents. They are typically either Norwegians who moved to the US, got US citizenship and then moved back to Norway, or are descendants of Norwegians who have never acquired Norwegian citizenship. Fun fact: there is a town in Minnesota called Adger!
 

Life in Agder Today

 
Today Adger is probably the most religious place in Norway with the highest number of active members of the Church of Norway in the country. The region is often nicknamed the ‘bible belt’.
 
Most of the population lives along the coast, where there are many islands and fjords. In the northern part of the county, the landscape is mountainous and sparsely populated. Because of the Gulf Stream, the Agder coast is often called the “Norwegian Riviera” and the “California of Norway”.
 
The key industries are forestry, agriculture and tourism. Many Norwegians take their summer vacations here, and in winter there are good skiing conditions on the mountains. The farms here are very small; in the lowlands they focus on dairy farming, while on the mountains they have sheep. There is very little fishing industry here as the strait between Norway and Denmark, Skagerrak, is highly polluted from shipping traffic. 

Driving Directions:

Continue on the Fv42

Tonstad

Welcome to Tonstad! The name means “Tone’s Farm” and is a typical small town name; towns were often built around farmsteads where the church was located. The church here is Tonstad Church and it’s from 1852. It seats 300.

The town has a large hydroelectric power station and a large ski centre. In fact, Tonstad has one of Norway’s most modern biathlon facilities, and it is known for producing many highly regarded biathletes. The local high school uses the facility for training.

Tonstad is located on the northern end of the Sirdal Lake. In July, the boat ‘Snorre’ does tours of the lake every Wednesday. A guide on board tells you the stories and local legends, as well as some tales of Vikings from the Norse Sagas. 

 
At Tonstad you’ll find road signs leading to Kjerag, a famous natural monument and hiking trail. 

Continue straight onto Fylkesvei 468 (Fv468) 

Lunde

Lunde is a small farming village located on the river Sira.

Lunde Church is from 1873 using plans by architect Hans Linstow. The church seats 250. 

Image Source

 

Driving Directions:

Continue on the Fv42

Dorgefossen

Dorgefossen is a regulated waterfall, though it is more like a gorge. Due to the water regulations, the waterfall is much smaller than it used to be.
 
An old legend from Sirdal tells that death row inmates got one last chance to save their lives by jumping over Dorgefoss. If they managed to do so, they would be free. If they did not succeed, the fall of the waterfall and the rapids fulfilled the death sentence.
 
It is possible to swim in the river, but without warning water can be released from the pond, making the water colder than normal.
 
By the road, there is a picnic area with restrooms and information boards. The road we drive over goes over the waterfall via the Dorge Bridge. The bridge is from 1919.

Driving Directions:

Continue on the Fv42

Sinnes

Sinnes is a small village located in the upper part of the Sirdal valley. There are two ski centres here: Ålsheia and Tjørhomfjellet. Together, they make the largest alpine facility in southwestern Norway.

See Also

Several alpine and cross-country competitions are held in the area. The largest one is Sesilåmi, which is a 52km long ski run.

Sinnes is a popular cabin area for people from Stavanger, Sandnes and Jaeren.

Driving Directions:

Continue straight onto Fylkesvei 987 (Fv987)

Note: this road closes in winter. Check vegvesen.no for up-to-date traffic information.  

Setesdalsheiene

The mountains to the north are called Setesdalsheiene. Just north of them is the Hardangervidda plateau, while the Ryfylke mountains lie to the west. The highest point is 1,300m (4,300ft). Wild reindeer herds live here.

Håhellervatn

The lake on our right is Håhellervatn. The total walking distance around the lake is 6km (4 mi).  

On the east side is a cave called Håhelleren. It has a lot of stories associated with it. After the Napoleonic Wars, two families moved to the area. They first settled in a fisherman’s hut, and then built a home. Their main job was to keep the road clear and shelter road users in bad weather. They were unable to grow grain on the site, but they did try to grow potatoes, though without luck. After living here for 26 years, they realised it was not such a great place to live and they moved to Sirdal. After their house was torn down, road users used the cave for shelter if need be. Today there is a tourist cabin on the sight, and up to 16 adults can take accommodation in the cave.

Driving Directions:

Turn left onto the E9

Valle

Valle is the first major town we’ll pass after crossing the mountains, making it a good place to stop. 
 
We have now entered the traditional district of Setesdal; it’s a valley (dal) that up until recently was very isolated.
 
The name Valle comes from the farm where the church was built. There used to be a stave church on the site called Hylestad stave church; sadly it was torn down in the 19th century to make way for a new church. Fortunately, the portal carvings were saved and are on display at the Historic Museum in Oslo. They illustrate the legend of Sigurd Favnesbane (Sigurd the Dragon Slayer), who is described in the Prose Edda and Beowulf saga.
 
An important historic site is Rygnestadtunet, an old farm. It was built by Vonde-Åsmund (Asmund the Evil) in the mid-1500s and has been well-preserved. Today it is an open air museum, where the interiors reflect the period around 1919. Around the farm, grave findings indicate that the site was settled as early as 900AD. 
 
As mentioned above, Valle was incredibly isolated. To get out via the north, travellers had to follow the river and take a path on a torturous steep cliff face. This was the only way out until the 1870s. Today, the European Highway 9 (E9) crosses through the valley and under the torturous mountain thanks to a nice tunnel. 
 
Valle is known for its ancient silver smitheries. Today, the local high school specialises in silversmith and goldsmith training. Students from all over Norway and abroad come here to train to become jewellers. 

Sylvartun Museum

Sylvartun was the central silversmith and folk music arena in Setesdal valley. Exhibitions in the museum focus on musical instruments and the visualisation of music and dance traditions in the valley.

Visitor information can be found here. 

Image Source

Driving Directions:

Turn left onto the E9

Store Bjørnevatn

We pass a large lake called Store Bjørnevatn. It’s about 15km (9 mi) north of Valle. The elevation is 801m (2,628 ft) above sea level. 

Skafså

Skafså is a small town known for its mountain farm Grimdalen. Today it’s a museum with farm buildings from the time of barter economy in the 17th century.

Famous sculptor Anne Grimdalen is from here, and there’s a gallery with 300 of her sculptures here.

Skafså Church is from 1839. There used to be a medieval crucifix standing outside the church; this is now at the Vest-Telemark Museum.

Dalen

We have made it to Dalen! Dalen is home to the Telemark Canal, historic Dalen Hotel, and the Vest-Telemark Museum. 
 
Dalen is explored in depth in my next video, the Telemark Scenic Drive. 

Continue the drive!

On the following day, we drove through beautiful Telemark to Heddal. You can find all the info on that drive via the button below. 

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