Varaldsøy seen from Løfallstrand
Located central in Hardangerfjorden, surrounded by Hissfjorden, Øynefjorden and Sildafjorden, Varaldsøyna offer grand views to the nearby regions. The distance to the mainland is less than 1Km, across Bondesund. Øyefjellet (Varden) will naturally give you the best views, being the highest point on the island. Especially towards Gygrastolen (1334m), towering over Ænes, The name Gygrastolen comes from the legend of Gygren (mythical figure) who lived on the mountain. Gygren tried to pull the Varaldsøyna island across the Hardangerfjord. Gygren slipped, fell backwards and created the basin below the summit. "Stolen" (as in Gygrastolen) means "the chair". This is the short version....
Øyefjellet is part of Kvinnherad Turlag's "Fjelltrim". "Fjelltrim" is a list of named peaks, and the purpose is to inspire people to visit these mountains. Accessing Øyefjellet (or Varden, as the summit is also called) is fairly easy through high access from Øvsthus and a visible trail. Getting to and from the island, demands some planning. Ferry routes can be obtained on the HSD web site. Go to "Ruter - Båt", then "Ferje" and select "Løfallstrand - Varaldsøy - Gjermundshamn". Note that if you want to make sure you are guaranteed a place onboard, then you must call and reserve, prior to the ferry's departure from Løfallstrand of Gjermundshamn. The phone numbers are listed on the ferry table on the above web site.
While waiting for the ferry, you can drive the 10Km northbound gravel road to Øyerhamn, and get some good views towards Strandbarm. Note that after 4,5Km on this road (northbound), you see "Svartahorgi" painted in red by a rock next to a lake. This is the trail to the second highest mountain on the island.
Øyefjellet's primary factor is 600m, as Varaldsøyna is an island.
Note: Class ratings are in reference to YDS (Yosemite Decimal System).
Note: The trail described below is not necessarily the easiest trail to this mountain.
Øvsthus - Øyefjellet (summer/autumn)
From Bergen, follow highway E16 towards Oslo. At Trengereid, follow highway 7 (Oslo) down to Samnangerfjorden. Pass Bjørkheim (Statoil gas station on your right). Continue through two tunnels, and just after the second tunnel, exit right onto highway 48 (Tysse). Follow this road to Eikelandsosen, and continue on highway 48 towards Mundheim. At Mundheim, turn right onto highway 49 and drive to Gjermundhshamn.
Take a Gjermundhamn - Løfallstrand ferry that stops at Varaldsøy. From the ferry at Varaldsøy, follow the road approx 1,2Km. Then turn right at the "Gjuvsland 2" sign. Follow this road for approx. 2,7Km (on this road, don't exit towards Gjuvsland, but follow sign to Haukanes). After 2,7Km, on top of a hill, exit left onto a gravel road (unsigned) and follow the gravel road for approx. 450m to the houses at Øvsthus. Ask for permission to park up there, as it is private property.
A forest road runs from the houses at Øvsthus. You will see a "Varden" trailsign at the beginnig of this road. Pass two gates, and approx. 50m after the second gate, exit right (leave the road) onto the Varden trail. You will see the "Varden" trailsign here.
The trail runs upwards through the forest. Red paint here and here confirms that you are on the right trail. The trail is well traveled, and is visible all the way to the top. After rain, the majority of this trail can be extremely, wet, boggy and muddy.
At approx. 460m, you will head towards a small valley where you will find another trailsign. The trail straight ahead will take you to lake Demmevatnet. Go right and follow the Varden trail along a creek and a cliffband. Once on top, you will soon see the summit cairn. Note that a better trail runs up to the right approx. 50m before the trailsign in the small valley. This trail soon joins the trail from the trailsign. You will find a summit register in a box by the summit cairn.
Today, I would celebrate completing my Top-30 list of the high primary factor mountains in Hordaland. I knew I wouldn't get the magic views that I always looked forward to, once on this mountain. The clouds hung low, and it was raining heavily all the way to Mundheim. The weather forecast promised great weather the following day, and I had delayed the departure from Bergen, hoping to get some better weather in the afternoon. I left Bergen 12:30PM, and caught the 14:20PM ferry to Varaldsøy. I drove straight to Øvsthus (I had found the trailhead on the net), and asked for permission to park. Then we were on our way 14:55PM.
Troll celebrated the day with a major sit-down after 100m. I tried to get him moving through a firm voice and a firm look. He replied with showing his remaining teeth. As he shows his teeth rather seldom, there was no point in a longer debate. He was now fighting for space in the backpack, competing with a sweater and two oranges. After 100m, I wanted to check if he really was going to spend the day on my back. As many, many times before, he went "Hooraayy", and took off like a rocket. I'll never figure out this little fur guy.
The trail was immensly wet, and within seconds, so were we. I had the luxury to take some long steps over the worst parts, but Troll had to wade across some major muddy ground. He didn't seem to mind much, though. To my relief, it seemed as this particular mountain was below the clouds. All other mountains seemed to be hidden. The transition into a gorgeous tomorrow would most likely take place much later in the day.
We reached the summit 16:00PM, and performed the ususal rituals. GPS waypoints, round of pictures, and a lunchbox for the little one. I celebrated with a chocolate bar, and soon we were sitting side by side, chewing, looking at the views that weren't there.
We left the summit 16:15PM. Troll was still walking willingly, and I started focusing on tomorrow's planned hike to Storeflåtten. Just as I was crossing a tiny creek, I slipped on a rock, and performed a twisted double where-am-I. I landed with both arms and feet in the creek, but saved the rest of the body from going in. It was a scene taken out of a breakdance movie, and I felt young again.
We got to the car 16:55PM, and I immediately check on the ferry table. I grew a concerned grin on my face, when I realized that there were no more ferries from Varaldsøy to Gjermundhamn this day. I called the phone number that was on the ferry table, and asked if this really was the case. They replied that they would pick me up at 18:40PM, and asked for the car's registration number. That would guarantee me place on board the ferry. Happy with the new development, I chatted with the people in the car behind me. Then I learned that the 18:40PM ferry was going to Løfallstrand. Not exactly my favourite direction at that point in time. When the ferry towards Løfallstrand arrived, we backed the cars onto the ferry. The very good news was that I was now first in line when we ferry finally would reach Gjermundshamn. Recreation vehicles, foreign, filled up the main deck behind me. I got off first, and had the most excellent drive back to Bergen.
Move cursor to read notes, and click on the images to see full version.
Some of the thumbnails may have been cropped to fit the format.
Pictures are presented in the order they were taken.
Other hordaland mountains Other Kvinnherad K. mountains westcoastpeaks.com