ÅRE – STIKLESTAD
From the Indalsälven valley, the route continues along Skalstugevägen, a high road with stone bridges, mountain views and reindeer pastures. The pilgrim route crosses the Norwegian border into Stiklestad, where St. Olav fell in battle.
The Indalsälven river flows through lush agricultural landscape with Iron Age remains. You walk west along the old road to Duved, where a path leads to Tegeforsen waterfall. Duved church in the centre of the village resembles a wooden Gothic cathedral. After Forsa, the road ascends to a panoramic view of the valley with a fortress beside the river. After a brief stretch along the E14 highroad, you turn into Skalstugevägen. It is also called Karl Johansvägen (Karl Johan’s road), because it was reinaugurated in 1835 by King Karl XIV Johan. The beautiful vaulted stone bridges still remain in place, about 20 in all. Make a detour to Tännforsen, a thunderous waterfall with a foaming 38 metre drop. The tourist station, built in 1906, has a café and a shop selling Sami handicrafts.
Skalstugevägen was a busy route during the winter market in Levanger, Norway. Farmers transporting leather to market stayed in hostels along the road. Medstugan originated as a pilgrim hostel. Skalstugan also had a dairy, a brewery and a sawmill in the late 19th century. The road continues on high terrain surrounded by mountain peaks. You are now in reindeer territory. The reindeer from Kall Sami village graze here in early winter before migrating to the mountains of Mullfjället and Sundsvalen. Their summer pasture is in Skäckerfjällen, but with a little luck you might see reindeer on the Norwegian side. St. Olavsleden now diverts from the tarmac road and crosses the national border on an old road through a sparse mountain birch forest.
In Norway, the landscape becomes dramatic with high cliffs. There is a picnic area beside the second vaulted stone bridge over Kvilbekken stream. This stretch boasts a magnificent view of Inndalen valley and the mountains. Ådalsvollen was a toll station until 1994. The route continues to Sulstua. There is a St. Olav spring in Sul, and accommodation is offered at Lillemoen farm. In Sul you can visit Olavsåkern (St. Olav’s field). It was trampled by the army, but when Olav rode round the field the grain rose up again and bore fruit. St. Olav’s Way splits into two alternative routes, one over the mountain and the other along Karl Johansvägen. The mountain road ascends 550 metres above sea level to Brekka mountain, where you are rewarded with a spectacular view over the valley and a downhill walk to Kvernmo farm. After the bridge across Kverna river, the route follows a country lane to the village of Vuku. There is pilgrim accommodation beside beautiful Vuku church dating from 1655.
In Leirådalen valley, you can see the basin that was formed by the disastrous Verdal landslide in 1893, in which 120 people perished. The route continues to Stiklestad. You can make a detour to Hegstad to admire Iron Age burial mounds. The stone church was built on the spot where St. Olav fell on 29 July 1030 while fighting the peasant army. It was rumoured that a miracle occurred beside the stone where he died, and the place became a pilgrimage destination. The St. Olav Stone was built into the altar, but it disappeared after the Reformation. The stone has now been restored beside the church altar. There is also a cultural centre that coordinates activities and information about St. Olav. Stiklestad is a green, peaceful spot where you can feel the wings of history. Here modern-day pilgrims can reflect on their inner and outer journey and exchange thoughts.