5- to 8-day tour starting in Porsgrunn and following little-known roads in Mid and East Telemark. The tour has a significant elevation gain but small adjustments make the route flatter and more accessible, though also busier. Midway round the route, at Grunningsåi, you have to wade across a stream. Work is under way to construct a simple footbridge during 2018.
The starting point for the tour is Porsgrunn Station, a public transport hub that is easy to reach by bus and train. The route is set out clockwise.
From Porsgrunn Station, we follow the river, heading over the bridge and past the Porcelain Factory, towards Kilebygda. Immediately after Kilebygda Church, we follow the road in to the Høydalen valley, where the road surface changes to gravel.
Once in the valley, we follow the road on the right-hand side, past the barrier and into Landsmarka, along Lakes Børten, Sannervannet, Langen and Tyri. From Tyri, follow Tyrivegen road to Lunde, where you can choose either Strengenvegen road or Flåbygdvegen road to get to Lake Flåvann. It’s worth doing some shopping before leaving Lunde, as it’s a long way between kiosks and shops on the route to Kviteseid.
We follow National Cycle Route 2 along Lake Flåvann, where we’re sure to see one of the canal boats on its way up the Telemark Canal to Dalen.
Once we’ve reached Fjågesund and crossed the bridge, we turn right and follow Fjågesundvegen road along Lake Kviteseidvannet until we come to national road 41 at Kviteseid bygdetun local museum. After a short break at the museum, continue over Spjotsodd bridge and past Kvitsund Gymnas school towards Kviteseid.
In Kviteseid, there’s time to stock up on supplies and enjoy the amenities of the little town by the lake. There is a ferry landing here for the Telemark Canal and a chance to ‘cheat’ on the first big climb of the tour. From Kviteseid, we can follow Dalanvegen road until we come to the turn-off for Vesterdal. We’ve already started the climb, but now it’s uphill all the way to the top by Lakes Sendingsvatn and Langesæ.
From here, the route heads downhill to Kvålofossen waterfall and Lårdalsvegen road. We’re still high up, around 400 metres, but it’s time to make a decision about a detour down to Lårdal. This side trip comes highly recommended, even if it does involve an extra elevation gain to get back up again. There is also a good place to stay there.
Heading up from Lårdal, the route follows Lårdalsvegen to the village of Høydalsmo. An extra loop takes you up the Støylsdalen valley, and to Eidsborg Stave Church and Vest-Telemark Museum. This adds 20 or so kilometres and some extra elevation gain.
In Høydalsmo, we cross the E134 and the River Ofteelvi, and pick up the road towards Øyfjell. We can make a brief stop in the hamlet of Øyfjell or cycle a few extra kilometres to Straumebui, which is a nice little shop just before the turning for Åmotsdal.
Continuing along county road 503, we come to Drivarbekkdalen valley. There is another opportunity here to simplify and shorten the route by continuing to Åmotsdal and following the E134 to Sauland.
Instead, we follow the route to Lake Gjevarvatn on good gravel roads along the water’s edge through Langlim’s forest and moorland terrain.
From here, we follow Langelimvegen road until we see the dam on Lake Osetjønn. Here we cross on to Millionvegen road along Lake Sundsbarmvatnet. If you’ve got your walking shoes with you, you can also hike to the two plane wrecks: the American bomber and the German passenger plane that crashed just over a month apart in the autumn of 1944. The sites are marked on hiking maps.
The end of Lake Sundsbarmvatnet marks the start of the descent towards the village of Seljord, down Gullnesvegen road and the mighty Skorve. Enjoy the view of Lake Seljodsvannet and down to Lake Norsjø.
On reaching Seljord, we’ve completed approximately half of the route. There is time here to replenish stocks and enjoy the hospitality. There may even be a festival or some other event taking place at Dyrskuplassen. Or perhaps time for a pleasant night’s stay at the picturesque Seljord Hotell?
From Seljord, it’s only a few kilometres before the tour once again winds up the mountainside on Grunningsdalsvegen road. There’s an elevation gain of 600 metres before the road stops at the River Grunnåi and we have to find somewhere to wade across the stream or the end of Lake Slåkåvatn. Fortunately, it’s not long before we’re back on gravel and can continue through the Grunningsdalen and Slåkådalen valleys along Mælefjell and Heksfjell down to Sauland.
From Sauland, we follow Tuddalsveien road almost to the centre of Tuddal (and ideally beyond), before turning off Flugonvegen road across Flugonfjell. As the route passes Kålidalen and continues down Venåsveien road, there are many things to look at before arriving at Tinnoset. Both the dam and the start of the Tinnoset Line are worth a visit.
From Tinnoset, the road heads down to Gransherad and a little way along county road 37 until we can turn on to Årlifossvegen road and follow the ‘power road’ past the Årlifoss, Grønvollfoss and Svelgfoss power plants down to Notodden and on to Notodden airfield. We cycle across the airfield and turn on to Søndre Vestsidaveg road for 1.5 km before turning on to Tåråfjellvegen road. Here we follow Fiskebekk up to the summit at Vassbua. At Lake Svalbjørgtjønna, we take a sharp left down towards Lake Visjå and all the way down to Sauherad Church. Enjoy a brief stop for refreshments at Epleblomsten AS before following Bygdevegen road down to Norsjø Hotell at Akkerhaugen. Perhaps there is time here, too, for a stop and an overnight stay. The area offers many accommodation options.
From Akkerhaugen, we follow Nordagutuvegen road until we can turn on to Valebøvegen road. We follow this past Dalsvatn Station to the top and so on to the road along the Bratsberg Line past Valebø Station. Here you can follow a smaller road past Lake Dalstjenn and out again at the foot of the hill up to Ytre Valebø. From Ytre Valebø, we recommend Skådalsvegen road, which comes out almost at the ‘red transformer station’. A large data centre is planned in the area you’re now cycling in!
Back on Valebøvegen road, we follow the road until we can turn off past Venstøp School on to Holmsvegen road and continue down to Lake Børsesjø. If standing with binoculars watching the bird life of this protected area isn’t your thing, follow Siljanveien road up to Åmot and continue a short distance along Åmotvegen road until you turn off Setervegen road towards Lensmannsseter summer mountain farm. Just before the River Djupedalsbekken, you have to cross to the trail along Lake Ørnstjern until you reach the gravel road up to Vealøs. From here, we follow Skifjellvegen road, Mensvannsvegen road and then Brokenvegen road until its end. From this point, it’s approx. 1.5 km on a trail through the forest until we come to a continuation of Oklungenvegen road, close to Mount Svarteberget. This stretch offers the last opportunity for accommodation because from here it’s approximately 25 km back to Porsgrunn and the route’s end point at the railway station
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