A short guide to the Norwegian pilgrim trail

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When Dave Tett, Dave Briceland and I walked the St Olav pilgrim trail in Norway last summer, we were surprised to find there wasn’t an English-language guidebook in print [Update August 2015 – there is apparently a new edition, available at pilgrim centres and from Amazon].

So Dave T and I have put together our own short guide. My InDesign skills are not as elegant as my prose, but Dave’s photos are beautiful, so hopefully that makes up for it.

It doesn’t currently contain detailed route guidance (perhaps I’ll add some if I can arrange a couple of months to do it properly), but there’s loads of useful general information on walking the trail, including some stuff we’d have liked to have known before we started.

We’d love to hear any feedback, both positive and negative, so drop me a line using contact@jolybraime.co.uk or add a comment if you fancy.

If you need any further persuasion to block out a month in the calendar and get your boots on, then have a look at my video of the trail and Dave’s photos.

Download a guide to the St Olav pilgrim trail (updated Jan 2016) (PDF) (6.3MB)

Photo: David Tett

12 comments on "A short guide to the Norwegian pilgrim trail"

  1. Thanks for this, and your great video on vimeo.
    The photos are beautiful
    My 15 year old daughter and I will walk a part of the trail this summer. We only have 10 days, and will walk from Oslo to Lillehammer……
    I’d love to walk the whole route between Oslo and Trondheim someday too.
    I know what you mean about thirsting for the next adventure when you finish one. Do you have any more adventures planned?


    Shona Fernyhough

    1. Hello Shona, and thanks so much for commenting. What a lovely adventure to be walking it with your daughter. Are you doing the western loop or the eastern one between Oslo and Lillehammer? I took the west route, though I’d love to walk it again taking the eastern road. If you go the west way then I rather liked the peculiar twin churches in Granavollen (where there was a volunteer-staffed pilgrim centre), and I had a lovely experience earlier that same day when a family spotted me on the road and invited me in to have lunch with them. It was a remarkable old trail in so many ways.

      My next adventure is going to be the Green Ribbon (or Grona Bandet) in Sweden this summer. I was supposed to depart this week, but the snow conditions have meant I’ve had to delay my start. I’m pretty excited all the same though. Just need a bit of sunshine over Northern Sweden in the next couple of weeks.

      Anyway, I do hope you have a wonderful trip, and as a quick aside it would be amazing if you could let me know if there have been any notable changes since I wrote my little guide (then I can update it for anyone else who comes looking!)


  2. Hi Joly,

    My name is Ivar Rekve, and I run a website on the Camino de Santiago https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/ for pilgrims planning their walk to Santiago.

    I have just started a similar site for the walk up to Trondheim (I published it yesterday, so yes… very fresh) https://www.stolavways.me

    … and I am looking for materiel that might help pilgrims plan their walk and found your pdf guide.

    Question: Would it be ok for me to upload it to the “Resources” section of my new site?
    ..linking back to your blog as the author of the guide (or course).

    All the best,


    1. Hello Ivar! Yes, of course that’s absolutely fine. Thanks for sharing my little guide, and good luck with the site!


  3. Hi, many thanks for the guide and wonderful photography.

    English language resources for this walk seem scarce now – I see the old Cicerone guide is only available for about $270!

    I am thinking of walking the trail in reverse, i.e. from Trondheim to Oslo, then continuing south through Denmark and onward to Spain. A few years ago I walked from Dumbarton (a small town west of Glasgow) to Santiago, so this is not an unrealistic project for me.

    Would it be possible to follow the waymarks travelling from north to south?

    Douglas Lockhart

    1. Hello Douglas. Your plans sound awesome, as does your previous adventure! I’d say it might be a bit tricky in places to follow the waymarks in reverse (often they’re only on one side of a post, for example, or they might only signpost a fork going one way). However I wouldn’t have thought this was insurmountable – you just might need to take some decent quality maps, and if nothing else you’ll at least be able to check behind you to make sure you’re on the right track.

      In terms of English language resources, I was reliably informed that Alison Raju’s updated guide was due to come out this summer (she’s been working on it for a couple of years and it promises to be really good), but I haven’t been able to find it available for sale anywhere yet. Cicerone let the title go, but a Norwegian publisher (Museumsforlaget) has taken it on. They just don’t seem to have sorted out effective distribution yet, which is a real shame since I guess she’s worked very hard to get it right up to date. If anyone has it then I reckon the pilgrim centres will, and it also appears as if you might be able to order it by emailing the publisher directly.

      Anyway, best of luck with the adventure, and please do let me know if you find any inaccuracies in my little guide.


  4. Hi Joly

    This is a superb resource and has been very useful in our early planning of this walk. We walked The Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand in 2013/14 and have just done Lands End to John o’ Groats in 2015.

    We ‘only’ have a month in 2016 to travel so this trail looks superb and fits our plans well. We have never been to Norway before so really excited.

    We plan to walk in June, because of the cost of food do you think it would be possible to send food parcels from the UK to certain points on the trail?

    Cheers, Dave


    1. Hello Dave,

      Cheers for the comments about the guide – much appreciated. I’ll be updating it in the next couple of months ready for the 2016 season (a fellow from one of the pilgrim offices has agreed to check it over for me), so I’ll drop you a quick email if there are any substantial changes.

      Really jealous of your Te Araroa trip – I was in NZ in December of 2014 and since then the trail has definitely been on my list!

      I think sending food parcels from the UK might work well if you’re looking to save money. I spent a couple of months walking the Green Ribbon in Sweden in the summer (which, by the way, should definitely go on your list if you’re into big trails), and though I chose not to send supplies ahead (Swedish prices are pretty similar to ours), most of the other Green Ribboners did post themselves food parcels.

      It might be worth getting in contact with the individual pilgrim offices along the route and asking them if they’d be happy to receive parcels for you. They’re very friendly and I’m sure they’d agree to help. Though the Dovrefjell one is quite remote (and when we went it had fairly limited opening hours), so it might be worth seeing if one of the campsites on the outskirts of Oppdal would agree to receive a package for you instead. Also if you take the west route there aren’t any pilgrim centres between Granavollen (which is a bit early for a resupply) and Dale Gudbrands Gard, so you might consider arranging to pick up a package at whatever accommodation you decide on in Lillehammer.

      Suppose it all depends on how many resupply points you reckon you need. I just had one restock, in Lillehammer (my mate the photographer flew out to meet me there with a bag full of Morrison’s finest), though it did mean my bag was pretty heavy for the middle stretch and my rations were a smidge on the lean side.

      Anyway, good luck, and I’m sure you’ll love it. Give me a shout if there’s anything else you need to know.


  5. Hi there,
    am curious about the size backpack you brought with you: 48, 58 liters?
    we will camp some but will not have cooking gear.

    thank you,

    Freda Herseth

    1. Hi Freda!

      I usually take a 70L rucksack on these sorts of extended trips, but I guess if you’re not taking cooking gear and you’re buying food along the way then you could go much smaller (for non-mountain trips in the UK I tend to take a 45L). I usually carry quite a lot of food with me when I go walking in Norway, partly because the supermarkets are so expensive and partly because there aren’t always that many places to get supplies. However, there are lots of resupply opportunities on the pilgrim trail, so you don’t need to carry much food at all if you don’t want to. The only place where you’ll need to be a bit careful is on Dovrefjell – we didn’t encounter any shops between Dovre and Oppdal, which depending on your pace is a 4-5 day stretch.


  6. Great job with the guide! My wife, young son and I walked parts of it in July 2003. Our packs were way too heavy and after a few days walking from Oslo we began taking buses between parts of the pilgrim route and walking other parts. We did make it to Trondheim in time for the St. Olav’s feast. The Norwegian people were wonderful to us.

    Jim Hoban

    1. Cheers, Jim! In truth, my pack was a bit heavy too, but you live and learn. I was really surprised by how welcoming everyone was to passing pilgrims – feel like I ought to walk it again one of these days.


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