The Lovatnet is a beautiful lake with a long, tragic history. A little past Loen, in the surroundings of Stryn in Sogn og Fjordane, you can still tell from the surroundings what distasters took place in this gorgeous valley more than a century ago.
The tragic history of the beautiful Lovatnet
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The pearly green lake contains mostly melt water that finds it’s way down from the Jostedalsbreen and the Tindefjellbreen to the Lodalen valley. From the Lovatnet on the water flows through the Loelva river all the way to the Nordfjorden.
Because of the sky high mountain tops surrounding the lake, the bright water in the fjord and lake and greener than green grass along the waters, the Lovatnet is almost too pretty to be true. Tourists are very fond of this place and really love to camp along the shores of this lake. And I don’t blame them!
How do you get to the Lovatnet?
When traveling from the north, navigate to Stryn first. Once you have arrived to Stryn, you can navigate to Loen. After passing Stryn, you’ll arrive in Loen within 10 minutes.
When traveling from the south up, navigate to Stryn. About ten minutes before arriving to Stryn, you will find yourself arriving in Loen. Don’t forget to park the car and look around you every once in a while, because the Innvikfjorden are so beautiful!
From Loen on you can find signs that say Lodalen and road 14 – Kjenndalsbreen. Just follow these signs and you will get to the Lovatnet.
Make sure you bring cash when you plan on driving these routes! You have to pay toll in a very old fashioned way by putting money in an envelope and writing your number plate on there.
50 shades of blue
We left Ålesund early in the morning and headed for Loen. After spending a day in the city, we couldn’t wait to get back into nature! And it was totally worth the wait, because this route was amazing!
With U.S. Royalty at maximum volume and lyrics like “I’m breatless” in our ears we drove along pearly green and bright blue waters that literally left us breathless. With the sun coming up from behind the mountains I had a hard time believing this was real.
You will find many tiny and typical mountain paths around Loen. Along with snowy mountain tops, bright green waters, waterfalls coming down, thousands and thousands of trees.. It almost feels like driving through a big painting! So gorgeous..
When the sunlight reflects in the fjord, it’s almost as if you’re having an Instagram filter in front of your eyes. This reflection has a funny effect on every picture that you take. Every single picture we took that day, has a different glow over it. From all kinds of blue to all kinds of green and back to blue. You just can’t get enough!
Once we got to the end of the Lovatnet, we arrived at the Kjenndalstova. A little restaurant and at the same time a useful landmark for exploring this area. The restaurant is located at a crossroad between routes to the Bødalsbreen and the Kjenndalsbreen (of which I will post some more stories this week!). You can understand that I almost tripped while getting out of the car when I saw this view. You can take a break at the picnic tables that belong to the restaurant with this view. And you really should! This was probably my most favorite moment of the day!
The tragedy of the Lovatnet
But nothing is as it seems. Because what you can’t see at first sight is that this valley has a very tragic history. Where you find peace and beautiful nature now, the most spectacular landslides in Norwegian history have taken place. Because of the very high and steep mountain tops there have been lots of avalanches in the Lodalen valley as wel. Around the 14th century the first farm (as far as we know) has been completely destroyed by nature.
In 1755 an avalanche destroyed all buildings on Helset farm. Everbody who lived in the surroundings got crushed under metres of snow and ice. Only one man survived, because he was out fishing that day. He single handedly build up the farm after the disaster.
In 1855 another landslide hit the area and crushed a farm, but luckily everybody survived.
At the end of the Lovatnet you can find the villages Bødal and Nesdal. These villages have been safe from avalanches and landslides for centuries and with the big open area of grass behind it, they were considered ‘safe zones’. But on the 5th of January, 1905, this status came to an end.
A big piece of rock from the Ramnefjell mountain (1493 m.o.h.) came loose and made a 500 meter drop into the water. Approximately 350.000m3 of stone landed in the lake and created a 40 meter tidal wave that hit both Bødal and Nesdal. One side of the wave whiped Bødal off the map and he other side hit Nesdal. 61 people died, more than 50 houses were destroyed and 80 boathouses disappeared in the wave.
Bad luck for Lodalen valley
The little steamer “Lodølen” got lifted up in the air for 40 meters and was thrown down 300 meters further. Survivors had a hard time recovering from their wounds and loss, but eventually they were the onces who rebuilded the farms. This time further up the land.
Better times were coming for the hamlet. Thousands of tourists showed up to watch the scars of the disaster that took place and especially the little steamer was very popular. For 31 years the area was safe and peaceful.
But this came to an end at September 13, 1936 when nature took its toll on the area again. Another landslide hit Lodalen valley, but this time way heavier then before. A big piece of rock, almost twice the size of the Eiffel tower broke loose and ended up in the lake.
About 1.000.000m3 of rock ended up in the water and created a tsunami that was so large that even the previous taken measures were useless. All farms were destroyed and another 74 died that day. Hundreds of acres were destroyed and covered with sand and stones. Several boats sank and even the “Lodølen” steamer was completely shattered. The rusty red skeletons of the little boat still lie hidden between the trees along the Kjenndal road.
A little further up the hill you will find a white cross marking the place of the disaster.
Along the road between Bødal and Kjenndal you will find a copper plate with the names of all the people who have disappeared during the disasters. There is also a little flowerbed there to memoralize all the inhabitants who have died during these tragic events.
Despite the tragic history of this place, it is really worth the visit. You can see the scars and wounds that the disasters left on the area and read the stories alongside the road. The contrast couldn’t be bigger, since the area is very peaceful and quiet around and the nature is breathtaking. The tragedy of 1936 is the biggest natural disaster in Norwegian history. Nowadays you will find only one inhabited farm in Bødal and none in Nesdal.