Slottet: The Castle, a downsized Preikestolen!
“I want to experience rough nature, without the big masses of people and in close proximity to the city“. Slottet are the perfect hike for tranqulity and Norwegian nature. A spectacular daytrip from Bergen.
“Watch out for trolls,” warns mountain guide Frank on this sunny day. “This isn’t exactly their kind of weather but better safe than sorry.” Legend has it that trolls fear sunshine because exposure might turn them into stone. But they could still be lurking in the shadows.
“This rock field, with all its moss, is perfect for an ambush, and trolls like nothing better than snacking on a human,” says Frank. I chuckle to myself at his joking but some of our fellow hikers almost seem to be on guard.
Our goal on this hike is Slottet (The Castle), which is Vestland County’s answer to Preikestolen to the south. Our boat leaves from downtown Bergen’s Zachariasbryggen wharf for a roughly 1.5-hour cruise through majestic scenery that seems to change minute by minute as we sail deeper into striking Osterfjord. Along the way, the fjord narrows, and the mountains stretch even higher above us.
Our boat powers through the strong currents of the narrow and shallow Mostraumen straits. We pass an old wooden schoolhouse, where you can almost hear the kids laughing and playing in the schoolyard.
It’s hard to believe what comes next as our boat presses on: The scenery becomes even more beautiful! We close in on ever steeper mountains, and unforgettable, idyllic waterfalls flowing down steep rock faces.
All the way at the end of Osterfjord is Modalen, Norway’s second smallest municipality with just some 350 residents. A lucky handful of us get off at Mo, the main village, for the trek to Slottet. Space is limited on these hikes, for safety and to make the adventure more intimate and genuine. After a five-minute drive to the trailhead, we don our daypacks and are ready to go. The hike takes about an hour each way, with just a 200-meter vertical gain. It’s an easy walk, even for children as young as seven.
How to hike, Slottet:
The trail starts from the road. The first stretch is a bit steep and serves as our gentle warmup. We continue through a forest area on a well-worn trail with blue markers that make it easy to follow. There are some marshy patches, so we always suggest solid, water resistant footwear that have soles with a solid grip. It’s a good idea to wear woolen socks that stay warm even when wet, in case you step in marshy water while distracted by the beautify scenery.
We walk at an easy pace and along the way pass small rivers, moors and boulder fields. Our guide Frank keeps his eye on us, making sure the group stays together and that everyone is comfortable with the pace. A few brief stops along the way let everyone catch their breath.
Halfway through the climb we can see all the way down to the village of Mo. Far below us, small boats sail through the fjord. The higher we get, the more natural beauty we can see. The mountain landscape opens up. There are spots where you can walk out on a mountain ledge, but we don’t recommend it. Frank makes it clear that we shouldn’t go too close to the edge. There are trees, and potentially slippery roots and moss near the ledges, which could lead to an accidental flight down the mountainside that you would do well to avoid.
As we approach the summit, Slottet comes clearly into view. The plateau juts out from the mountain itself. Those who have visited Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) will see that it is similar but smaller and covered with trees. We’ve been hiking for a solid hour, so it’s nice to have some time at the top to enjoy the view, have some snacks and, of course, take a mountaintop selfie or two. Not in the least, we get to enjoy Mother Nature’s tranquility. The eight of us have this magnificent setting all to ourselves!
On the way back to Bergen, we get to spend some time exploring Mo, with its charming village center of small, white wooden houses. Down by the harbor is a small cafe, where you can sit and enjoy the stillness at the edge of the wharf while watching the boat that will take us back to Bergen come steadily closer.
Modalen is a small but prosperous municipality. Much of its revenue comes from hydroelectric plants and sand quarries. However, a tech company based here is the beautiful village’s biggest employer by far.
We then take the boat back to Bergen. On board, I enjoy a hot cup of cocoa and a waffle in peace and quiet while Osterfjorden shows off its best side.
Here are the expert’s own tips for the hike:
Although the trail to the Castle is relatively short, we always recommend good hiking clothes. The weather can be unpredictable and it can vary a lot from Bergen to Mo. We always recommend being prepared for shifting seasons.
In your bag (yes, bring a small bag or daypack!) you should have:
- Woolen clothes for layering when it gets cold: We suggest using wool next to your skin because it helps regulate temperature
- Even on a nice summer day, woolen clothing works well.
- Good hiking trousers with stretch and water-resistant fabric. Denim jeans are one of the coldest types of attire, so leave them behind.
- A windproof jacket that can withstand rain.
- It’s not a bad idea to pack light gloves and a hat.
- Hiking boots with a good grip that are water resistant. (Ordinary sneakers often become slippery and are not recommended).
- A bottle of water, or a small thermos with a hot drink.
- Sunglasses and sunscreen for those sunny days.
- Bring some extra battery capacity for cellphone and/or camera.
Have a nice hike!