Tour Guides on Tour Part 1: James goes to Norway

“November 1st? Sure, why not…” Well, I can actually think of one MAJOR reason why not, but the flights are almost £100 cheaper, so yeah, that sounds fine. The reason? Samhuinn. A fire festival in Edinburgh (at which two of our guides are volunteer performers) that finishes at about 5am, giving me approximately 4 hours to wash off all the body paint, pack, and get myself to the airport for the 10am flight to Oslo. But still, £100 is £100, and with Norway being famously expensive to foreign travellers, I book the cheaper flights, and use the saved £100 buy enough dehydrated camping food and whisky to last a week, and off I go.

As with every trip I take, I did a little research into where I was going, and learnt the importance of leaving a small pile of ammunition for the local trolls. If you leave them supplies, they will leave you alone; if you get chased by them, you have to run or hide until sunlight, when they will either flee the brightness or risk turning to stone in its glare, so when I found myself at the base of the highest waterfall in the country (Vettifossen), I thought it best to leave a little offering to the guardians of the pathways, just in case.

The searing beauty of the west of the country is hard to describe- using Laerdal as a base we explored the Sogneford as much as we were able to, seeing 12th century Viking churches, seemingly endless torrents of frozen water and snowy mountaintops, icicles forming structures that resembled magnificent church organs, and some of the most remarkable night skies imaginable.

I would love to claim that I went out running every day, but with temperatures dropping to -22 degrees at one point, I decided that a week off was alright. I supplemented the running regime with a healthy dose of walks in the fjords, scrambling through frozen mountain passages to get to forgotten areas in the snow, the only company the wolves who’s pawprints I had spent the past few hours tracking…

After a week in the wilderness, I pack up my things, head to the airport, and get on the plane home. You would think that after a week in the winter wilderness I would be prepped and ready for the Winter Warmer running tour to get underway, but 18 hours after landing I’m on another plane, bound for a very different climate; that story you’ll have to wait to hear about in part 2…