The so-called Follo, Gudbrandsdal and Østerdal routes are part of a larger network of historical pilgrim routes through Europe. They all lead north towards Trondheim and the mighty cathedral Nidarosdomen, which was the northernmost goal for Christian pilgrims during the medieval ages.
An unofficial, but nevertheless beautiful and enticing part of the pilgrim route, runs through the county of Østfold. You can find more information about the Østfold pilgrim route here.
Today, both pilgrims and other hikers use the well-marked paths along the route. Many still wander all the way to Nidaros, but it is also possible to go on shorter trips.
The pilgrim route through Akershus and Oslo
The pilgrim route through Akershus og Oslo, known as Folloleden, starts right south of Son by the Oslo fjord. It continues along the old King’s road through beautiful cultural landscapes in Vestby, Ås and Oppegård. The route ends in Oslo’s old town, an area that contains several medieval heritage sites. It was most likely here that Oslo was founded around year 1000.
By the pilgrim centre in Akersbakken lays Old Aker church, built around year 1150 and Oslo’s oldest remaining building.
The pilgrim route west or east of Lake Mjøsa
North of Oslo, the route called Gudbrandsdalsleden continues towards Nidaros. The route divides into two paths by Lake Mjøsa, and hikers have to choose whether to go across Hadeland on the west side of the lake, or through the Hamar region on the east side.
Both sides of Lake Mjøsa have a lot to offer. Hamar in Hedmark is famous for its medieval church ruins at Domkirkeodden. By Granavollen at Hadeland hikers pass by the mythical Sister churches. In summer the two paths may be combined by crossing Lake Mjøsa between Gjøvik and Hamar on the paddle steamer DS Skibladner, a unique experience in and of itself.
From Lillehammer up the valley of Gudbrandsdalen
Gudbrandsdalsleden was the main road to Nidaros in medieval times, and it is the longest pilgrim route in Norway. Up through the valley of Gudbrandsdalen, the route passes by several cultural heritage sites from the Viking and medieval ages. Ringebu stave church from year 1220 is one of Norway’s largest stave churches.
In Gudbrandsdalen you may also sleep on historic ground, in the very same building as medieval pilgrims. The stately farm Sygard-Grytting has hosted travelers since the 14th century, and offers overnight stays on sheep skins in Norway’s only preserved medieval loft.
The pilgrim centre in Gudbrandsdalen holds house at Dale-Gudbrand’s Farm, a large estate which was the centre of power in Gudbrandsdalen when the people in the valley were converted to Christianity. Dale-Gudbrand’s Farm offers accommodation and traditional local food, and is an significant stop for hikers along Gudbrandsdalsleden.
The Østerdalen route from Rena through Stor-Elvdal
Many roads lead to Nidarosdomen, and hikers who come from the east often walk through the Østerdalen valley rather than Gudbrandsdalen. Østerdalsleden meanders through beautiful and pristine nature, and is known as the wildest of the pilgrim routes.
There are in fact two routes in Østerdalen. One follows paths in the forest around the river Rena from Åmot through Stor-Elvdal. The other comes from the Swedish border. The routes meet at Åkre, by the medieval pilgrim’s rock, and continue north as a single route.
Plan your hike
The web site pilegrimsleden.no offers a thorough description of every stretch of the pilgrim routes through Norway. Here you will also find maps, a planning tool, and suggestions for where to stay and what to see along the way.
The regional pilgrim centres in Oslo, in Hamar, at Granavollen and at Dale-Gudbrand's farm in Gudbrandsdalen provide good information and guidance to those who stop by as they hike the pilgrim trails.