Trolltunga (Norway)

Heading to our accommodation and before we even get our first hike in, we were blown away by the views from the road, we were compelled to pull over and take pictures of the towering cliffs to the left and right, the views looking ahead to the seemingly endless Fjord beyond and the waterfalls at the side of the road appeared around every bend.
We had discovered the night before that the two guys who were sharing the accommodation with us were also heading to Trolltunga the next day, so we offered them a ride. Arthur, a French man from Nice couldn’t understand why we were setting our alarms for 0445, so we explained that in order to beat the queues, you have to get there before everyone else. Fumiyoshi (Fumi) Arthur’s Japanese friend just smiled and nodded. We never knew whether he was just easy going or if what we were saying was lost in translation.
We lost count of how many turns it took before we reached the car park which would mark the start of one of Norway’s most popular hikes. We discovered that there were three car parks to choose from; the bottom car park would add hours to an already long day; the middle car park would cost 30 pounds and still had a bit of a walk to the top car park which astoundingly was charging 50 pounds! We settled for the middle car park and what a place to put it - we got to enjoy the views all the way down to the Ringedals dam whilst walking in a snakelike fashion up the top.
Unlike taking part in the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge where we were against the clock to complete the hike under 12 hours, here we were fighting against the elements. The clouds looked threatening, but it was only when we were coming down that we experienced a few showers; a clear view on Trolltunga was not an option for us. We lost Arthur and Fumi quite early on and each time we passed someone we silently celebrated with each other; that was one less person to wait for when we reached the top. We were clearly hungry for it.
With my mind set on that goal, I would still spend time to admire the surroundings. I could never get over how still the water was. You’d think with a big expanse of water like that, you would see at least a few ripples, but no, the water was like glass and it drew us in.
As well as the red painted ‘T’s’ on the rocks which told us we were on the right track, wooden slats would also guide the way and save us from the boggy areas. But everywhere else you looked, there were rocks and huge slabs of stone. In a place like that it was hard to tell exactly how high up you were, but one thing was for sure, you didn’t want to rest for too long as it started to get cold.
About two thirds in, the ground began to level out and the trail took us away from a dizzying drop below, but to the right, there was always that stunning view of the smooth face of the mountains on the other side of the Fjord; the early morning sun captured this beautifully (picture)
At last, I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw a small group gathered together in the distance and I knew this is where Trolltunga would be. When I approached the area, I have to get right to the edge to see Trolltunga; none of this viewing from the back row lark; if you’re here to see these things but want to view them from a distance, then there’s no point going. Before you step on to the object, you have to descend a set of metal rungs. When you’re on it, there’s a slight incline before you reach the ‘tip’ which feels more settling as your body automatically leans towards safety and you don’t feel like you’re going to topple over the edge.
Surprisingly, when I walked to the edge I didn’t feel that dread anymore because I was dazzled by the stunning views from all directions. Looking behind, you see where the Fjord ends and looking ahead passed where the water snakes its way around a bend towards Tyssedal, you see a colossal mountain range covered in snow. I guess seasons don’t mean much when you’re that high up.
Arthur caught up with us but his companion was strangely absent. It turned out he had ditched Fumi for some girl he met on the way up and it was only after we noticed that his trouser legs where soaking wet and we asked him about it that he explained he was taking pictures of this girl and - not paying any attention to his surroundings - stepped backwards off of a bridge into a stream. I definitely call that karma.
After a short while of taking photos and coming to terms with how this slab of rock just juts out over a 2,300 foot drop so majestically, we had to start our descent as the cold was started to sink through our layers. By the time we got back to the car park we had hiked for 9 hours but before I turned my sights away from Trolltunga, I realised at that moment I would never be able to compare this to any other place in the world. It definitely made me feel lucky… and reluctant to go back home to the flattest place in the England.       
WORDS BY CATHERINE