(Walking from Oslo Mariakirken (Mary's Church) to Lillehammer Train Station, 213 km)
Tips for Pilgrims
Remember that April and May are likely to be very warm in Norway. As a result, when you are walking drink as much water as you need and don't forget to refill your water bottle. You can knock on anyone's door and politely ask if they could refill it for you.
Similarly, if you are not sure about where you are or which way to go, knock on a door and ask.
Between Hamar and Lillehammer few Norwegians will reply to your questions in English; they may not be able to speak it but they do understand English. If you tell them that you are a Pilgrim on the way to, for example, Brøttum, they will point you in the right direction.
As to your choice of accommodation, you will find that most of the accommodation along the trail is located at 32- to 38 km intervals along it. Therefore plan your walking day carefully.
The distance from Oslo to Ullern gård (farm) where you can stay overnight is 38 km and from there to Eidsvoll it is 34 km. The distance from Eidsvoll to Spitalen/Spetalen Nord is about 32 to 35 km, and from there to Hamar train station it is about 35 to 38 km. The distance from Hamar train station to Domkirke (Dom church) is 3 km. The distance between Hamar Domkirke and Ringsaker kirke is 33 km and from there to Lillehammer train station is 35 km. My overnight accommodation had showers, bed linen and covers, however, you may be asked to bring food with you. I also recommend taking along a bottle of wine to share with your hosts.
You can lunch at the many petrol stations, pubs and restaurants along the trail that are open every day, but groceries and supermarkets are closed on Sundays!
If you decide to walk the trail the way that I did, that is over the weekend, returning to Oslo by train, then check the train timetable and note that over the weekends and on public holidays there may be no trains from any station to Oslo after 9 or 10 p.m.
The Norwegians whom I met along the trail and who provided accommodation were not only very friendly but also very hospitable. I am very grateful to all of them for their hospitality.
My journey from Oslo to Lillehammer:
The first and second stages of the Pilgrims¹ Trail from Oslo to Eidsvoll and from Eidsvoll to Hamar are marked with yellow arrows. The yellow arrows are clearly visible and are of great help to Pilgrims. Remember that during the initial stage from Oslo to Eidsvoll most of the walking is on the asphalt road. This is not very pleasant, but it is unavoidable as this is the actual route of the Pilgrims¹ Trail.
One of the most beautiful sections of the trail starts around 5.5 km or 6 km after your leave Eidsvoll. You hit the trail and go east to Lake Mjøsa and along the five lakes all the way to Spitalen Nord where you can stay overnight. The main local town is Espa. The section from Spitalen Nord via Espa and Tangen to Stange kirke goes mainly through woods and along Lake Mjøsa. The last 12 km from Stange kirke to Hamar is along asphalt road. If you are not too tired by the end of the walk, and do not intend to continue walking next day, I suggest that you walk the extra 3 km to the ruins of Domkirke in Hamar. You can get there either via the center of Hamar (looking for sign Domkirke) or by turning left approximately 300 to 500 m after reaching Hamar train station, continuing along Lake Mjøsa. Both ways will lead you to the milestone inscribed `488 km to Nidaros´.
Remember that the train station at Hamar closes at 1 a.m., so after then you will be politely asked to leave the section. It is therefore wise to contact Hamar Bed & Breakfast, Hamar Camping or Hamar Vandrehjem (Youth Hostel) in advance if you intend to stay the night there. Since all of these were full on the night of my arrival I went to the Hamar Police Station, explained my problem and asked for help. The police officer on duty that night contacted Mrs Solfrid Bjørge Goldsack, the owner of Seiersted Pensionat and Bellevue Bed & Breakfast. After a short conversation the police officer and his colleague drove me to meet Mrs Goldsack at one of her houses. She arranged accommodation for me at the Bellevue Bed & Breakfast. I am very grateful to the police officer (unfortunately I did not get his name) and Mrs. Goldsack. A hotel room would have cost at least 700 NOK per night!
The signposts carrying the Pilgrims¹ sign mark the third stage from Hamar to Lillehammer. Although the signposts are useful, they are spaced quite far apart. As a result, when you do see a signpost keep going in the direction it points, ignoring turns off to the left and right, otherwise you are likely to get lost and waste valuable time. For instance, when you see the signpost near Skarderud, remember that the next sign will be approximately 500 m to 1 km further on. As a result, keep straight on and the path will bring you to the Furnes kirke. You'll see a signpost on the right from the Furnes kirke, ignore it and continue straight on to Brummundal. Approximately 1 km before reaching the centre of Brummundal I knocked on a door and asked if I could refill my water bottle. I also asked how far it was to Brummundal and where I could get a cup of coffee. I was invited in, offered a cup of coffee, a piece of cake and a glass of home-made cherry liquer. It turned out that it was the hostess' birthday. I explained to her guests that I was a Pilgrim on my way to the Ringsaker kirke. After a pleasant stay of about half an hour of, I left the house and continued on my way to the Veldre kirke via Brummundal centre.
Dear hostess (unfortunately I did not ask your name), thank you so much for your hospitality.
As you travel to the Veldre kirke you get a great view of Brummundal, located in the valley around Furnesfjord. From Veldre kirke the signposts will lead you to Rudshogda and finally to the Ringsaker kirke. However, before reaching Mariendal the signposts can let you down. After passing Rudshøgda, Rudsland and Prøysen and enjoying a walk through in the woods you will reach a `Holy Triangle´. In front of you you'll see a lonely house, turn left, turn right and no signpost! Remember to turn right (!) and not, not left. Otherwise, instead of reaching Mariendal you'll end up at an isolated farm.
Nearby Ringsaker kirke I stayed overnight in Ann Mari and Wilhelm's house. I am very grateful to both of them for their hospitality, interesting conversation, tasty dinner and a lovely evening.
At the back of the Ringsaker kirke you'll see the second milestone: `455 km to Nidaros´. From there I started the last leg of my walk to Lillehammer. About 15 to 20 minutes after leaving Ringsaker kirke you'll hit the asphalt road and there you'll see on the left two signposts saying `Steinsodden´. Ignore them and continue along the asphalt road for about 500 m to 1 km and you'll see a signpost at the bottom of the path. Follow it and you'll pass through Steinvik Camping Site, Moelv brygge (bridge), and over a railway crossing near Tolvsteinringen. The rest of the way to Ringen is along the asphalt road. Don't go into Ringen but continue straight on to Ulven. The asphalt road that starts around Vea and goes all the way to Ringen goes uphill. You'll reach the top of the hill and see a sign - `389 m´. There are very few signposts between Vea and Ulven and Ulven and Freng so you need to pay attention to those that there are!
Very close to the 213 road I found the abandoned Brøttum Camping Site but did not see any signposts. According to the trail map, however, I could see that the trail runs parallel to Lake Mjøsa and the 213 road. After about 20 minutes I met the Pilgrims' Trail and continued my walk to Hindkleiv/Hindklev gård. From Hindkleiv you'll hit the asphalt road and walk the next 6 km to the Lillehammer train station.
Finally, if I may, I'd like to make some suggestions to the Directorate for Nature Management and The Directorate of Cultural Heritage. It would be worth putting yellow paint marks around and between the signposts. I do understand the view that yellow paint is neither aesthetic nor desirable, however, it would provide clear, visible signs that would be very helpful to Pilgrims. Furthermore, in the rain and misty weather of Norway, yellow paint would remain visible, while signposts are often difficult to make out.
Last, but not least, I am very grateful to Kris Ullern from Ullern gård, Elizabeth Samnes and Lasse Knutsen from Spitalen Nord, Solfrid Bjorge Goldsack and the unknown police officer from Hamar, and Ann Mari and Wilhelm from Ringsaker kirke for providing accommodation, sharing their time with me and providing good conversation to accompany the bottle of wine that I brought along. I am especially grateful to Eivind Luthen who initiated the Pilgrims' Trail mapping project for his advice and assistance.