Dronningruta (The Queen’s Route): No Crowns for Us

You can see why it could take eight hours to hike the entire Dronningruta
You can see why it could take eight hours to hike the entire Dronningruta

It isn’t often we misjudge a hiking trail and give up on it. And we certainly didn’t expect that on Dronningruta, a hike Queen Sonja of Norway first enjoyed trekking in 1994, hence the royal moniker.

Dronningruta, in its entirety, is a round-trip hike that follows the ancient path between the historical fishing villages of Nyksund and Stø in the Vesterålen archipelago on the far north of Langøya, Norway’s third-largest island. In years past, the midwife on Stø followed this route to assist women giving birth in Nyksund. 

You can hike it three different ways—or more. 

A 10 km high route with a total elevation gain of 900 metres to Finngamheia peak with an incredible view of the Atlantic Ocean. 

A 5 km low route that mostly follows the coastline, passing by little coves, the white-sand beach of Skipssand, and Enge, where there’s a longhouse from the Viking Age. 

Or you can combine the two hikes into a round trip, a loop the Norwegian Hiking Association rates as red (challenging). 

If you choose the round trip you could start at Nyksund and take the coastal route to Stø before climbing the mountains and then returning to Nyksund. Or you could tackle the mountain route first and then follow the coastal trail. 

We started at Nyskund at the very late hour of 1 pm. Mistake number one as the round trip takes eight hours, we hadn’t checked into our accommodation at Nyskund, a town that’s practically abandoned, and being a Sunday, the only dinner option closes at 8 pm. 

The first 300 metres is straight up a slippery scree pile. Not terrible but with no ACL in my right leg, I knew it could be on the way down. (It was.)

Climbing up, we soon realized there wasn’t enough time to do the loop. We knew what was ahead:

…rope handrails to assist you due to the muddy footings and sheer drops…this last blast up the mountain is steep, rough and, in parts, slippery… It will put the average person to the test…

We continued on over a few ridges until we had a royal view of the fjord, then turned toward the coastal path. 

Dronningruta wasn’t one of Norway’s popular hikes, even with Queen Sonja’s name attached to it. But it may be now. The year before we visited, the NRK, Norway’s equivalent to CBC, filmed a large group led by outdoor celebrity Lars Monsen, minute-by-minute as they hiked the trail. Had we watched a few of these episodes we’d have realized our folly.

Not carrying through with a plan isn’t what we do. Still, we covered 12.8 km and mostly enjoyed our 5½ hours on the trail. 

Besides, even queens have the wisdom to deviate from their plans in favour of saving their heads and being around to enjoy dinner. 

Navigation

There are two hikes in Norway that bear HRM’s name. This was the first one named for Queen Sonja, the second one we covered in a previous blog, Dronningstien.

NRK’s minute-by-minute account of tackling Dronningruta (The Queen’s Route.)

Summit Posts’ description of Dronningruta (The Queen’s Route). Excellent photos of the route.

4 Responses

  1. Thanks Barry. “A walk is only a step away from a story, and every path tells.”
    (Robert Macfarlane from his book, The Old Ways: A Journey of Foot.)

  2. I concur with the late start time and the folly involved with the unknown trip. The trail does not look all that great to me although being on the trip may provide additional information in that regard.
    Thunderstorms have delayed my comments as servers up and down all day, no fires, some nice rain, so no regrets on that.
    Cheers,

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