Recovery hiking to the Jettegrytene (potholes) in Åbødalen

This article is also available in: Dutch

In the region of Ryfylke, close to Sauda, lies Åbødalen. It’s a dusty road through a valley that’s sparsely populated, that’s mostly known for its beautiful walks, stunning picnic locations with waterfalls in the background and of course also the Jettegrytene (also known as ‘natural potholes‘ or the literal translation ‘giant’s kettle’).

Location Jettegrytene
Source: Google Maps

A jettegryte is an exceptionally smooth cavity or hole which has been carved by stones under a waterfall or in a river, over the course of hundreds, sometimes thousands of years. It starts out with a small curve or hole. And because the water is flowing, stones and gravel keep rolling and rolling on the same spot, carving out more and more stone, eventually forming a smoothly carved hole, also known as a ‘jettegryte’ in Norway. The thing that makes the jettegrytene in Åbødalen special is that there are so many of them on the same spot. Some small, others huge. It makes for a special sight with the waterfall and her crystal clear water. On hot summer days it’s ideal to find some cooling under the mist of the waterfalls, but it’s just as pretty on less sunny days. Besides that, the valley offers many more things like beautiful walks and hikes, picnicking and even swimming in the Storemyr!

How do you get to the Jettegrytene in Åbødalen?

It’s a 2,5 hours drive from Odda to Sauda. Take the E134 to Riksveg 46 and turn left in Ryfylke on the Riksveg 520.

Riksveg 520 is mountain road from Sauda in Ryfylke to Røldal in Hardanger. It’s the most northern (and definitely prettiest!) part of the National Tourist Route Ryfylke. This winding road over a mountain pass is breathtakingly beautiful and serves spectacular views of a very diverse and changing landscape. On the way you’ll see the greenest green, vibrantly colored flowers, but also piles of snow, high mountain peaks and even floating ice rocks (note: it had been a rather cold summer when we were there). From this road you’ll start at the fjord and drive up to 900 meters above sea level.
Jettegrytene Abodalen
Ryfylke Nasjonal Turistveger

Once you’ve arrived in Sauda, keep driving North with the Storelva river on your right. Follow the signs with Åbødalen and keep driving until you reach a small lake (Storemyrtjørna) with some parking places.

Our experience

Because we hiked the Trolltunga the day before we decided to take it easy this day. The drive itself was a real treat. Not only because we could just relax our legs and enjoy the scenery, but also because it’s an amazing experience to drive this impressive, challenging and winding road!

The landscape changed quickly from green and warm to chilling and frozen. We’ve seen heaps of snow along the road from several meters high and ice rocks in cold blue mountain lakes, but also fairytale like green valleys with just a hint of the harsh winter that passed.
Jettegrytene Abodalen

Once we arrived in the town of Sauda it felt a little bit deserted, so we decided to keep on driving to Åbødalen. The road that we ended up gave a real sense of peace and serenity. It’s an excellent place for endless walks, cozy picnics and even a little bit of swimming!  They’ve made special tables alongside the Storemyr and you can park you car almost everywhere. Definitely recommended for a nice day in the summer!

We drove a little bit further and parked our car on a gravel road noted on our itinerary. While we were changing into our hiking boots (it takes a while when your legs are still sore!), a happy looking man with grey hair and a welcoming smile walked towards us.

“You know that this is private property?”, he said in the best English he could speak, but with a heavy Norwegian accent. Eh, no. We actually didn’t know. We tried to apologize, but he interrupted us: “You can stay, but come for coffee when you are back.” Well, that sounded like a perfect agreement, so we promised the friendly man to join him for a cup of coffee in his (stunning looking!) cabin after our walk.
Jettegrytene Abodalen

Despite many websites told us that the path is very well marked, we missed it twice. But we can tell you: take a left on a mountain path at the red house in the above picture. That’s the one! On the walk towards the jettegrytene I was very busy taking pictures of this wonky wooden bridge (pictured below), so I had no idea that the jettegrytene were on my right at that very moment, so we completely missed it and walked on…

Jettegrytene Abodalen

Halfway in the valley we noticed some signs marking a 16km hike. We decided to head back. Fortunately we did noticed the jettegrytene on the way back! We quickly climbed up to look at them closely.

Jettegrytene Abodalen

And to climb on top of rocks and jump over small puddles of water, obviously. Deep down we’re still a bunch of kids. And long live Gore Tex waterproof shoes!

Jettegrytene Abodalen

The highest part of the jettegrytene is the modest Kvanndalsfossen. One of the rare waterfalls in Norway where you can walk both underneath and on top of, without hurting yourself. It’s a nice, accessible walk, well suited for children (and definitely an adventure for them!).

Jettegrytene Abodalen

You can’t really call this 4km walk a hike, but it was perfect for a recovery day. Up and down a little hill we took our sweet time (about 2 hours). It makes up for an ideal family walk!

Jettegrytene Abodalen

We could watch the water making its way down the waterfalls and puddles for hours. It tumbles in every ‘ jettegryte’ before continuing on to the next ‘ jettegryte’. Like watching natural whirlpool match! Quite unique really.

Jettegrytene Abodalen

When you climb up the jettegrytene and turn around when you’re about halfway, you’ll be treated with this breathtaking vista of the valley, the river and the Moringdalsfossen (the waterfall in the distance!)!

Jettegrytene Abodalen

When the sun suddenly got blocked by a bunch of clouds, the whole valley got a faint pink haze over it! Wow… It only lasted for a few minutes, but it looked a bit like a solar eclipse!

Jettegrytene Abodalen

When we finally got back to the car, the friendly looking man from earlier was waiting for us. ” Don’t forget your promise!” After we switched shoes, we walked up to his stunning, self made cabin. He and his whole family were sitting on the veranda around a table filled with fresh fish soup, bottles of wine and all kinds of delicacies. What do you mean Norwegians are reserved and stubborn?! They insisted we dined with them and of course we couldn’t refuse. We had so much fun, we ended up spending the entire evening with this warm, welcoming and great family.

Jettegrytene Abodalen

Not only did we learn all about ‘Slow TV‘ we were also introduced to the ‘Hyttebok‘. A hyttebok is kind of diary that the Norwegians use to write down what they’ve experienced in their summer vacation home, who visited and in which every visitor can write down a message. With the help of our favorite band and the soundtrack of our holiday, we left the following text:

Hyttebok

“I slept in hills of wheat and pine,
Too many years have passed me by,
They offered me their finest wine
We danced and drank to pass the time
I come down from the mountain
And as the light crept up in the hills 
I headed off for home.”

– U.S. Royalty, Equestrian 

And that’s how we could write down a new adventure in our diary from another day that Norway surprised us. What a place. What a lovely people. And what a humbling experience and lovely ending to such a nice relaxing day.

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