Roadtrip #5.2: Driving along ‘the valley of Gudbrand’ (Gudbrandsdalen), feat. the Ringebu Stave Church

After camping at Mageli in Tretten, we continued our roadtrip on to one of Norway’s popular valleys, the Gudbrandsdalen. There are many legends surrounding the 230-km stretch of a valley, which runs through famous mountain ranges Jotunheimen and Dovrefjell-Rondane. VisitNorway calls it “the king of the valleys”, and it doesn’t disappoint. During our trip, aside from momentary stretching brakes which leads us to amazing natural scenic views/vantage points like waterfalls, lagoons and rivers, we stopped by the Ringebu Stave Church, one of the remaining 28 stave churches in Norway.

Roadtrip c/o Google Maps

The map above shows the whole route for the day, but for this entry, I’d only be writing about a portion of it. Gudbrandsdalen was obviously named after Gudbrand, but who was he? According to Wikipedia, it came from the norse name Guðbrandr, which means “god” and “sword”. Gudbrand could have been a chieftain during the Viking era. His name popped up in several legends, and there was also a “Dale-Gudbrand” who fought the Viking Eric Bloodaxe. The last Dake-Gudbrand was said to be probably the one Olaf II met in 1021.

Anyways, we left the camping site Mageli Camping and Cabins at around 09:00 AM, and drove to the municipality of Ringebu. It is one of the main hubs in the valley, and known for the beautiful nature, summer and winter activities, and the Ringebu stave church. Ringebu can be considered as Norway’s smallest city, but in reality, it is a landsby or village, with its 4,393 inhabitants (2020).

We decided to stop by the village, get some breakfast and hunt some geocaches. So we got a glimpse of the place! To begin with, we saw this nice stainless steel sculpture of a “Dragon” by Linda Bakke (b.1973).

Dragon by Linda Bakke

First impressions: Ringebu seemed to be a very quiet, very peaceful place, with rivers/canals, and surrounded by green mountains which I imagined to be nice during winter when they’re all white from snow. We saw the Pilgrim’s marks, or signages for those who are doing the St Olaf’s Way, a pilgramage road that leads to Trondheim.

A small bridge in Ringebu
Ringebu
By the Ringebu library
Ringebu townhall

A must-see in Ringebu is the stave church which dates back to 1220. A unique feature of the Ringebu Stave Church is its red tower, which was added in the 17th century. The church is open during the summer season. We probably had arrived late, since it was closed, but we were not the only ones there who took the chance of seeing the interior in early September. Later in the road trip, we will visit another stave church and it was open, so, perhaps Ringebu is the only one which closes early after the summer season.

Beautiful Ringebu Stave Church
Ringebu stave church
Ringebu stave church, up close
The surrounding mountains

Just like when we visited the other stave churches, I felt awed by the fact that religion was actually very active in early Norwegian history, and that it actually influences the people’s way of life. Today, there’s much freedom of religion in Norway.

After Ringebu, we contrinued on to the small town of Vinstra, which has about 2,500 inhabitants. We had to stop by Biltema to buy a new and bigger tent and new sleeping bags. The automatic tent we had and used last night was heavily swayed by the wind in Mageli, and Carl wanted a bigger space. The new one can accommodate 4 people, so hell yeah! Camping!

On the road to Vinstra
Gudbransdalen
Gudbrandsdalen
A quick stop @ Biltema in Vinstra

It was a nice drive along the valley, until we reached the next one, Romsdalen, which will be for the next entry. 🙂 The Dovre train line and European road E6 passes by these valleys, so it was besically perfect for taking photos and experience Norway’s varied landscapes. Here are more of my favorite shots from Gudbrandsdalen:

Gudbrandsdalen
Gudbrandsdalen
Gudbrandsdalen
Hello, Dovre train line! – Gudbrandsdalen
Gudbrandsdalen
All types of clouds in one place?! – Gudbrandsdalen

As you can see on the photos, it was still very, very summer-y on this side of Norway in very early September. 🙂 Luscious greens in the mountains and rolling fields. By the time we reached the end of the Gudbrandsdalen, it was nearing 13:00, so we stopped by a town located in the next valley. More about that in the next entry.. 🙂

For now, cheers to safe driving! #spreadlove

(ALL PHOTOS AND VIDEOS ARE MINE.)


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