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25th May, 2015

Flam, Norway

We glided slowly through the calm waters of Aulands Fjord, up towards our anchorage as low cloud clinging to the snow-capped mountains started to clear. We had been in the Sogne Fjord since just after midnight, our two embarked Norwegian pilots taking shifts to con the ship during the extended twilight that is a late May night in southern Norway.

Just about all the tours offered from Flam involve the railway that goes from the village 20 kilometres up to Myrdal, climbing 863 meters as it does so. It is a spectacular trip and one I have been fortunate to make several times when time and work permitted. I joined the ‘Flam Railway Hike’ tour, somewhat to the surprise of a few of the other participants, who soon realised it wasn’t unusual for the Master to take a few hours off when they also met the Master of the other passenger ship alongside in Flam who had come with his young son and two bikes to cycle back down the valley.

We eventually left the train at Berekvam station, just about half way, to commence our walk. Normally this tour disembarks from the train higher up, but the route was still engulfed in thick snow which would have made the going just a tad difficult, if not dangerous. It was a delightful walk, following the river which, at times, was racing through narrow rocky passages. Either side the odd small meadow, small wooden agricultural buildings plus plants and trees clinging to the hill sides, which were beginning to show the soft green of new spring growth. We crossed the train track from time to time and everyone chatted as they walked. After a while my need to be back on board required me to ‘stride out, and the rest gradually fell behind. As I reached the lower slopes the damage caused by terrible flooding in late autumn last year became very evident, the road had been washed away in places, as had a couple of houses apparently. Even the charming centuries old church had been very close to disaster and there was much evidence of reconstruction, right up to its white wooden fence.

With only a 50 mile run to our next port I elected to sail as soon as the last tour had returned, so the passengers had spectacular views right through dinner and then after as the late evening really didn’t get dark, not even by midnight when we arrived.

Captain Philip Rentell

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