NIDAROS – the Jerusalem of the North – was a very important pilgrimage destination for centuries – until the Reformation. For some years now, pilgrims again have been making their way along St. Olav Ways to Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim in Norway.
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For My wife and My daughter
This translation was created with the help of DeepL, a very helpful translation programm, and was then further revised.
I apologize for any translation errors.
The basis was the 2017 edition of my book „Pilgern auf dem Olavsweg“ Michael Schildmann
Historisches zu König Olav
Tag 1 11.06. Freitag Oslo/Granstangen - Skedsmo - Frogner(Kirche) - Arteid - Gård 35km
Tag 2 12.06. Samstag Arteid Gård - Klofta - Ullern 10km
Tag 3 13.06. Sonntag Ullern - Hovin/Kirche – Gardermoen - Elstad-Melby 16km
Tag 4 14.06. Montag Melby - Dal - EidsvollenVerk - Mark-Gard/Eidsvollen 18km
Tag 5 15.06. Dienstag Mark-Gard/Eidsvollen - Samleilokka - Lysjøen 22km
Tag 6 16.06. Mittwoch Lysjøen - Granerud - Romsætra - Sorlia - Hestness Gård 18km
Tag 7 17.06. Donnerstag Hestness Gård - Skaberud - Tangen - Ekeberg Gård 12km
Tag 8 18.06. Freitag Ekeberg Gård - Stange Kirche - Sandvika - Hamar 22km
Tag 9 19.06. Samstag Hamar - Skarderud - Furnes Kirche 8km
Tag 10 20.06. Sonntag Furnes Kirche - Brumunddal - Veldre - Ringsaker 23km
Tag 11 21.06. Montag Ringsaker - Moelv - Klovstad - Brøttum 21km
Tag 12 22.06. Dienstag Brøttum - Bergseng - Granum - Lillehammer 20km
Tag 13 23.06. Mittwoch Lillehammer 5km
Tag 14 24.06. Donnerstag Lillehammer - Isakstua - Stutterud - Midli Aset 22km
Tag 15 25.06. Freitag Midli Aset - Bergaust - Simengard - Börkerud Gard 15km
Tag 16 26.06. Samstag Börkerud Gard - Glomstad - Prestangen - Berget 18km
Tag 17 27.06. Sonntag Berget - Nordrum - Fåvang - Ringebu 14km
Tag 18 28.06. Montag Ringebu - Valebrua - Frya - Hundorp 16km
Tag 19 29.06. Dienstag Hundorp - Hove Kirkje - Skard - Kleiva - Soedorp 18km
Tag 20 30.06. Mittwoch Soedorp - Vinstra - Sortiere - Rossellini - Kvam 15km
Tag 21 01.07. Donnerstag Kvam - Lofta - Dalum - Varnhaugen-Gard/Rafting Center 11km
Tag 22 02. 07. Freitag Varnhaugen-Gard/Rafting Center - Sel Kirke - Jørundgard 21km
Tag 23 03. 07. Samstag Jørundgard/Nord Sel - Dovre/Budsjord 28km
Tag 24 04. 07. Sonntag Budsjord - Dovrefjell - Furuhaugli 22km
Tag 25 05. 07. Montag Furuhaugli - Avsjoen - Hjerkinn Hotel 15km
Tag 26 06. 07. Dienstag Hjerkinn Hotel - Kongsvold Fjellstue - Ryphusan 35km
Tag 27 07.07. Mittwoch Ryphusan - Oppdal Kirke - Björkelia Gård 33km
Tag 28 08.07. Donnerstag Björkelia Gård - Dannalia - Vesl-Sætra - Hæverstolen 20km
Tag 29 09.07. Freitag Hæverstolen - Gardstun Damtjønna Hütte 12km
Tag 30 10.07. Samstag Damtjønna Hütte – Gunnes - Rennebu-Kirke - Tverdal 18km
Tag 31 11.07. Dienstag Tverdal - Rikstad - Meldal - Olskastet 21km
Tag 32 12.07. Montag Olskastet - Loekken - Svorkmo - Skytterhuset 15km
Tag 33 13.07. Dienstag Svorkmo-Skytterhuset - Korslia - Mellingsaetra - Skaun 20km
Tag 34 14.07. Mittwoch Skaun - Hogstra - Buvika - Sundet Gard 20km
Tag 35 15.07. Donnerstag Sundet Gard – Trondheim - letzter Pilgertag 20km
Tag 36 16.07. Freitag Trondheim
Tag 37 17.07. Samstag Trondheim Ringve Museum 12km
Tag 38 18.07. Sonntag Trondheim
Tag 39 19.07. Montag Trondheim
Tag 40 20.07. Dienstag Trondheim - Oslo
Tag 41 21.07. Mittwoch Oslo, Mariakirche - Granstangen 10km
Tag 42 22.07. Donnerstag Oslo
Tag 43 23.07. Freitag Oslo - Bremen - Oldenburg
Pilgrim ways - Life ways
Preparation and Arrival
Route plan / Table of contents
The first picture I saw of Michael Schildmann was a panorama photo of Dovrefjell: wide, a narrow path and sky. There‘s everything a man‘s soul needs. The expanse to become free and to get an overview of one‘s life; a path, no matter how narrow, that shows that there is a way forward and a goal somewhere, even if I don‘t yet know or suspect it; and heaven as the strong symbol that there is an unlimited reality beyond the ego that can bless and inspire our realities.
Pilgrimages are inspiration and may this book become a source of inspiration for many people. I wish the readers and browseers of this book the pleasure of walking and curiosity on the St. Olav Way.
Pilgrimages are a way of life - on the way I become aware of many things and many things become clear. Most of all, however, how much heaven there was in the middle of my path so far: God, who looked through even the smallest knothole of my fence and looked after me. Usually I first need the distance to everyday life to understand the wide reality. Good books are good tools for understanding. I thank Michael Schildmann for his contribution to the interpretation of life through this beautiful book.
May this book become such for you and may you feel like a conscious walk on the pilgrim path life. God take good care of you.
North Elbian pilgrim pastor at the main church St.- Jacobi in Hamburg
This stone can be found in Oslo at the old harbour - my starting point
That‘s a question I keep being asked.
In 2007 I set off for the first time. I set out on the Way of St James from Somport Pass to Santiago de Compostela and on to the coast and that little church at Muxia. It‘s been a long time of thinking. But it was also a time when I got to know the fascination of lonely running. In addition there were the pilgrim hostels, simply furnished and easy to find everywhere. I felt cared for and taken care of.
I wanted to repeat that, but in a different way. 2010, when I had time for it, was a Holy Year and I knew that there would be many pilgrims on the Way of St James. That is why I decided to take the clue of a fellow pilgrim from the Camino and make a pilgrimage on the Olav Way. This way is still quite unknown. It was only through a two-part television programme at the beginning of 2011 that this path has penetrated more into the public consciousness. But it‘s still very little committed. Today you will even find guide books to make a easier for pilgrim to find their way.
In 2010 about 450 - 500 pilgrims have registered for a certificate at the pilgrim centre in Trondheim. Only a small fraction of it was probably started in Oslo and therefore the whole distance of 650km was pilgrimed. And in reality you can start further south e.g. in Tønsberg at the coast or coming up from Sweden.
So there are still only a few people on this road.
For me, the St. Olav Way through Norway‘s magnificent natural landscapes was a great gain. I hope that many other pilgrims will follow this path, it is more strenuous and lonely than the Way of St. James. That makes it different, but it also makes it very exciting.
In 2010 the Olav Path was recognised by the Council of Europe as a „European Pilgrim‘s Path“. Thus it has the same status as the Way of St James. This also corresponds to its historical significance, as it was once the fourth most important pilgrimage - to the Jerusalem of the North, to Nidaros.
Another motive became clearer and clearer to me only on the way. A son pilgrimages in the footsteps of his father. My father was in Norway from 1941 during the German occupation and was on exactly the same route from Oslo to Trondheim. Photos in old albums show it. It‘s a good thing this time of occupation is over. Thank you for the friendly reception in Norway.
This revised edition now contains all maps I downloaded from the Norwegian website in 2010 that I used on the road. It makes the whole book even more authentic. Many thanks to the National Pilgrim Centre in Trondheim.
Olav II Haraldsson was born in 995, his father died early. As a young man he travelled as far as Spain with the Viking raids and served English and Norman rulers. He was christened in Rouen. In 1015 he returned to Norway and fought for Christianisation and the unification of Norway into a single kingdom, but had to flee after initial successes. He died on 29.7.1030 in the battle of Stiklestad, when he wanted to return from Kiev to Norway.
Soon miraculous events were reported, the people venerated him, the church canonized him as a martyr on August 3rd, 1031. It is also said that in August 1031 a wooden chapel had already been erected above his grave. Around 1070 the Norwegian king Olav Kyrre laid the foundation stone for today‘s cathedral. He had the chapel replaced by a stone church (1090). More and more people went on pilgrimage to Nidaros. After the beginning of the Protestant Reformation in Norway in 1537, pilgrimage was forbidden under threat of punishment. Catholic rituals should probably be eradicated in this way.
People used to walk on narrow paths through the impassable terrain. In most cases, the pilgrims‘ paths were identical with the other paths of the time. In the valleys with the oldest settlements such a path, the so-called „Tjodveien“, ran high on the mountain slope. They were used by riders and hikers. Often one chose the direct and thus shortest way, little consideration was given to natural conditions. The pilgrims often walked in groups. The fastest of the hikers covered up to thirty kilometres a day. The entire route was divided into sections of eight to ten kilometres each. At their ends stood inns, hostels or the simplest form „sælehus“, an unmanaged self-service hostel.
The day‘s going well. Soon after I leave Valerie‘s apartment, I come to the first yellow arrows. So now I am on my way; the famous St. Olav Way, which after about six hundred and fifty kilometres will lead me to the famous Nidaros cathedral. I keep looking for the arrows, follow them and get to a school, circle around it - and look at a writing on the floor. I‘m irritated. Although in Norwegian, I understand it as „start destination“. I followed the yellow markings of a school track. - So I go back again and correctly, after about six hundred meters I come to a crossroads. Here suddenly these yellow arrows appear, painted with a different brush. So it‘s so easy for me to go astray, so easy for me to let myself be distracted from the „right“ path. I didn‘t think that of myself.
In the further course I find a yellow marking in time and leave the city at the eastern edge quickly and arrive at Stovner in a forest area, which stretches up the mountain.
Shortly after the start it had started to rain slightly, but I didn‘t want to give in so quickly and put on my rain poncho. When it turns into a constant rain in the forest, I have to give in. So now I walk as a red „dwarf“ through the forest, always uphill, truly over stick and stone. It‘s wet and slippery. Fortunately I run with my walking sticks.
Nobody meets me up here, even that close to the city I‘m already alone. It is not unpleasant for me, no, I am happy about the peace, the silence of the forest. From a distance I can still hear the sounds of the city, but only very muffled. A first idea of what‘s coming is coming through my head.
Meanwhile I have been walking through the forest for almost two hours. First quite steeply uphill, then of course the descent comes, just as steeply downhill and again slippery. Finally I come back to normal forest roads. I am hot under my poncho. Although I walk at a very quiet pace, there is still a lot of warmth in my body. It is not removed quickly enough because of the rain poncho, although it is supposed to be breathable.
Keep walking. At Lahaugmoen I finally leave the forest and follow a small road. At Hellerud I follow the markings along the main road, so I don‘t immediately turn north towards Ramstad, but cross the E6 and only then turn off. Well, I guess I missed a turnoff at Jogstad. This mistake unfortunately only becomes clear to me when I reach the beginning of Korsfjellet and find myself at another place on the map than expected. Great, that‘s a good start. A slight doubt in my abilities gnaws in the back of my mind.
Meanwhile I am hungry, but there is no resting place, no a café like I was used to from Spain. Finally I settle down at a bus stop and eat a sandwich. Then I close my eyes for a moment. The way up here was one long climb, I‘m tired. What am I up to, what am I doing, why is that? Late boy scout dreams? Maybe I‘ll find some answers to that, too.
As I continue after three quarters of an hour, I stand at the beginning of a settlement and in front of a bakery with a coffee bar a few minutes later. „Too bad,“ it crosses my mind, „that I hadn‘t noticed it before.“ After a short consideration I go in anyway and take another break, now with hot coffee and rolls.
There‘s still no arrow or stake to be seen. Thanks to my map, I can find my way around at the moment without marking posts of St. Olav Way, but since I obviously can‘t do without the maps, I want to print out the twelve missing maps to Hamar in an Internet café. (I had only changed my planning in Oslo from the West Trail to the more original the East Trail, after talks with Eivind Luthen. Luthen had told me that this might not be the more beautiful way, but the more authentic. But I couldn‘t print the corresponding maps any more because of a printer problem.) In the meantime, however, I realize that it will be difficult to find such an Internet café here in the country to print those missing maps. In a large specialist craft‘s shop near a shopping centre I inquire about such a possibility. Instead of giving a route description, the young man at the checkout asks me: „From which internet page would you like to download the maps?” He puts my data in the cash terminal and opens this page. And he prints me all twelve maps one after the other and doesn‘t even want to accept money. I‘m surprised and grateful. (I notice later that the resolution is not as good as with my first print. But so I have at least again some maps.)
Now I‘m on my way again. It‘s still raining. After I crossed the motorway and I finally find the markings again. I would like it best if I found it in time and only had to use the map for security and general orientation. The scale of the map is too large for more precise orientation. But the reality on the road is different. I don‘t always find the mark: either because I overlook it or because it disappeared, maybe it never existed. So I will probably have to use the maps all the way for the exact orientation.
The marked path turns left off the road as a dirt road, it becomes calmer. Only after a few kilometres I come back to a more frequented road at Ullreng and have to turn north.
After a few kilometres, the marker points to the left - directly to a field - without pointing to a really recognizable path. I guess I‘m supposed to walk on the edge of the field - through the tall, wet grass. Not very tempting. Then luckily I recognize the reason for this special way - in the distance I can see Frogner Kirke.
In 1918 the old Romanesque church from the 12th century burnt down. The walls were restored in 1936, the roof and floor in 1948 and the interior in 1977. On some gravestones you can find the symbol of the St. James pilgrims, the shell. The present Frogner nye kirke („new“ church) was completed in 1925. The old church stands on a hill diagonally opposite the Frogner nye kirke, both are just outside the village.
Through the small village of Frogner the path leads back to the busy country road. In reality, this piece of road is a single, long construction site: a cycle path and footpath are being built. I won‘t let the barrier stop me and I‘m already using it. So I don‘t have to keep an eye on cars anymore.
Shortly after Lindeberg we finally leave the road for the countryside. Over a small country lane I reach a forest area. This path is supposed to be the St. Olav‘s Path, which the early pilgrims used to get from Frogner to the church of Ullensaker. It‘s another route similar to the morning. Stony, slippery, ascending. And it‘s raining again - all in all not cosy. I notice that I‘ve already run over 30 km. On my very first day. Arteid Gård, where there is supposed to be a hostel, lies unfortunately only behind this forest area. For a moment I wonder whether there was a shed or an open hut somewhere along the way. At the moment I would accept such a temporary accommodation for the night myself, but there is no opportunity. So I move on.
Finally, however, also this passage ends - at the edge of a forest. And before me streches a meadow. On the other side I see a gravel road. So I follow the trail through the meadow and walk up the mountain to a farm visible on the left. When approaching the farm becomes a manor, so large is the whole plant.
It‘s already dusky when I ring the bell at the house. I must look bold. Wet, dirty, sweaty, with rain poncho - just a red dwarf. Inside I am insecure, think a rejection because of my appearance is possible. The reaction of the man who opened the door is really good for me. He rejoices and shouts, „Oh, a pilgrim. Welcome.“ Friendly he describes me in which of the buildings I find the hostel and the toilets and offers me, after unpacking, I can come back to his house and shower. Of course, I‘m not going to miss this opportunity. Equipped with a cool beer from my host, I return to my hostel after the shower.
I then prepare dinner on the gas stove; it is the first of many bag dishes that I will consume along the way. Fresh vegetables are unthinkable for weight reasons. I already have almost twenty kilos on my back because of the tent and the cooking equipment. I don‘t want any more, even if the strain doesn‘t cause me any problems at the moment. With the help of a fan heater, I succeed in creating a pleasant temperature in this old and very rustically furnished storage building. It also helps to dry the shoes and the quickly washed shirts and trousers.
For a long time I sit in an old armchair, study the map and the track for tomorrow, make the first entries in my diary and listen to the rain on the corrugated iron roof. My thoughts go back to Spain, to my first pilgrimage. There I got to know Valerie, an Australian woman married in Oslo, during the last section. We shared dinner with others in a hostel in Saria and later some routes. It‘s through her that I know of this lonely pilgrimage. There are no German books yet, I have an outdated English guide in my backpack. And a set of maps on A4 - from the Norwegian website of the trail. I couldn‘t find any more information.
The whole night it keeps pelting on the tin roof. And it‘s still raining in the morning. So I have no choice but to put the poncho back on. Fortunately, the boots have dried, and my mood is good. Klofta, the next bigger town, isn‘t very far. Because the hostel was supposedly not very tidy, I don‘t have to pay anything. So I just say goodbye to my friendly host and leave again.
In Klofta I find the shopping centre beyond the railway line to the north after short questions. But there is no Internet café for a better printout of my maps. In an electronics store I explain my problem and without hesitation this young man immediately prints (this time in color and best quality) the missing maps - again free of charge. Afterwards I add to my food supply in the supermarket and use the café next to the library for a hearty second breakfast.
Today must be a special day. Tents are erected on the square opposite the café, and after a short time a marching band arrives with loud music and swings into the square. All of a sudden there are a lot of people there. Despite the rain. But I can‘t see an occasion.
Along the main road the map leads me out of the city to a new roundabout. After some searching and wandering I see my next destination from afar: Ullensaker Kirke. So I‘m on the right track. There I finally discover marking poles again.
The marked path turns right before the motorway and leads north past the village. While in Spain the Camino, the Way of St. James, actually always leads into the village - to the church - and then out again and on to the next village, the Olav Way very often leads past the village. Perhaps because in many cases the churches are not located in the village centre; the Norwegian villages and towns are often much more loosely structured than here. Perhaps it is also because the „fathers“ of the St. Olav Way have simply forgotten that pilgrims also have to shop from time to time.
Arrived at the Ullensaker church I just see a wedding party getting into their cars and leaving. The church door is still open. I hear the organ playing - the organist is probably practicing for tomorrow‘s service, as my father used to do. So I go in and see the church. Inside, I meet the pastor. She tells me they‘re still waiting for a baptism. She is proud of her church, gives me a brochure on the history of the building and the stamp in the pilgrim pass. Then I‘ll go back to the road.
Ullensaker Kirke is the fourth church that has stood on this site since the end of the 11th century. The first church was made of stone and after its destruction was replaced by a wooden stave church. In 1768 the stave church was replaced by a wooden „normal“ church. Unfortunately, it burned down after almost 200 years. Today‘s church was consecrated in 1958. The magnificent painting comes from Alf Rolfsen. There is also a pulpit from 1649, a stone baptismal font from the 12th century and an altarpiece from 1633, carved by Johan Reinholt.
It‘s become afternoon by now. This morning I decided not to run as long as I did yesterday. Therefore the pilgrim hostel in Ullern Vestre is my goal. In spite of several attempts to announce me by telephone, I can‘t get anyone on the phone.
On the way I check with a farmer, he is standing in his yard driveway, whether I am on the right track. When he hears where I‘m going to spend the night, he „warns“ me. The person there is quite difficult or strange, I can‘t quite understand him. Anyway, he doesn‘t seem to like him very much. But I won‘t be misled by it and find the farm. But then it comes, as I almost expected. When I reach the farm, there‘s no one there. Everything‘s locked. After some time of waiting I finally set up my tent and lie down in my sleeping bag. I must have fallen asleep at once. A violent „clack, clack“ at a door wakes me up. I put my head out of the tent and see two more pilgrims at the front door. But while I am still trying to contact them, the door opens behind them and the landlord appears. I‘m very surprised. After all, I had no luck earlier when I knocked on the same door.
But now they‘ve obviously knocked him awake. Or he was meditating so hard he couldn‘t hear anything. Kris introduces himself as a Buddhist when we sit together in the living room with a cup of tea. And the other two pilgrims prove to be a Dutch couple who, like me, are on their way to Nidaros Cathedral, with a tent and a big backpack.
Nidaros is the historical name for what is now Trondheim.
Later Kris unlocks the shower in the basement, it is in rather miserable condition. But it‘s got warm water. And the flip-flops protect the feet.
A problem arises during the preparation of dinner. We‘re not supposed to cook in the house, please. But there is no a snack around the hostel. Finally, Kris sets up a temporary table, consisting of an old door leaf, just next to the entrance door. That‘s where Henk, the Dutchman puts up his cooker. It takes a lot of effort and fiddling to get his stove up and running. My own food is almost ready - on my little gas burner, which I built on a garden bench. Since I flew, Valerie had got me the necessary cartridges in Oslo. I wasn‘t allowed to take them on the plane.
Later, we sit in the living room, which can also be used as a bedroom for pilgrims - but we three visitors prefer to sleep in our tents. Everybody talks about themselves. A few years ago Kris took over the family farm, but before that he had come around a lot and worked in France and Spain as a migrant worker in wine and fruit growing. Now he‘s a farmer and a journalist. Henk and his wife walked from the Netherlands to Santiago two years ago - on the Way of St James. For them, however, this was only a sporting challenge and not a pilgrimage. Exactly as they regard the way to Nidaros as a hiking trail. Their interest is not spiritual or religious.
And why am I leaving? My most frequent explanations for the Way of St. James 2007 was „changed circumstances“ and „an indefinite search.“ What I was really looking for, I wasn‘t aware of. Some things became clearer to me on the way. Was I looking for my way in the time I had left on earth? The meaning of my life? What I found was a new look at my life, at my spirituality, at the God of my childhood. But even today I am still a seeker, feeling like the „unbelieving Thomas“ from the New Testament.
The next morning we leave together. The landlord Kris takes the lead - with Machete to clear the way through the forest. The first part of the trail leads diagonally across a cereal field. Of course we go in single file to crush as few plants as possible. Then we reach the forest - a path can only be recognized with difficulty here. (Nobody has walked through here for quite some time because there is an alternative route along the road. It is easier to find and easier to walk.) Thus the machete is doing a good service.
Soon Kris draws our attention to traces of moose. They‘re the first I‘ve met. We don‘t get to see the moose. “When you arrive at the other edge of the forest, the path continues to the right along the edge of the field.” Keeping us as far to the right as possible in order to conserve the coming harvest, we follow him. Finally we get back to another piece of forest. I hear a river rushing from somewhere. Then I notice where „somewhere“ is, namely twenty meters and a steep slope lower. Fortunately, a bridge awaits us downstairs, otherwise a detour would have been necessary. The river Tveia carries quite a lot of water today - from the rain of the past days.
Finally we reach the first farm of today‘s Sunday. The two Dutchmen want to take a coffee break in the shade of the barn. But only a good hour has passed, so I don‘t feel like taking a break yet. So I move on. I‘m glad to be alone again. Maybe we‘ll see each other again. And if not, it‘s also okay.
Shortly after eleven o‘clock I approach a church. A look at the map shows that it is Hovin church. The organ can already be heard from afar. The sound attracts me and I decide to go in and participate in the service. In the last row I find a place, rucksack and rain gear I have already put down in the tower. Some of the visitors marvel at the stranger.
The present church of Hovin dates back to 1675, when the village was situated at an important crossroads until it was moved east towards Jessheim.
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