Hafrsfjord is one of the most significant fjords in the history of Norway. The walkable parts are on the eastern side (Stavanger) of the fjord. An exception is Sørnes in the municipality of Sola. It is worth visiting as it has a monument to the crucial battle of Hafrsfjord in the year 872.
For matters of principle one might argue that Hafrsfjord – being a fjord – should not be part of this hike project on the coastline of Jæren. I let go of such principles and include a description here anyway. The reason is obvious: There are a series of very fine hikes along the fjord, right on the doorstep of Jæren’s largest town – Stavanger. Hafrsfjord is outside the Jærstrendene Protected Landscape Area, but local jurisdiction grants public access to the shoreline.
I will be describing the hikes here in sequence, starting at the bridge at the mouth of the fjord. The hikes combined are not long and can be done in one go, unless you only have a couple of hours to spend an afternoon and plan on returning the same way you came. From the bridge we follow a near continuous hiking and biking trail along the Stavanger side of the fjord. Some parts are quite inaccessible though.
Hafrsfjord bridge – Hestnes (2.7 km)
This first hike starts at Hafrsfjord bridge, located at the mouth of Hafrsfjord. The bridge connects the municipalities of Stavanger and Sola. This hike covers the stretch from the bridge to Hestnes. There we took a detour up to the small hill of Fluberget to see the petroglyphs (rock carvings).
Boathouses and small marinas along the fjord help setting a rather maritime theme on this hike – just a stone’s throw away from the major residential areas at Sunde. It is a charming and calming hike.
There has for many years been a large population of swans in this part of Hafrsfjord, year-round. At these outer reaches of the fjord we even find a beach, especially popular in the summer. There are some remains of ancient dwellings here as well, but only archeologists are able to enjoy them – they are invisible to most others.
At Hestnes we may follow the fjord further south or return to the bridge. It would be sad though if visitors missed the little detour up to the hill of Fluberget with its rock carvings from the Bronze Age about 1800-500 BC. There are around 170 figures and 80 pits. The figures are painted to make them more visible.
This video covers the hike from Hafrsfjord bridge to Hestnes
Hestnes – Madlasandnes – Håhammeren (2.5 km)
The next stretch along the fjord is a very pleasant walk in natural surroundings, but also at times very close to, and sometimes almost through the gardens of local residents.
Håhammeren – Møllebukta (2.2 km)
In the year 872 AD there was according to tradition a naval battle taking place in Hafrsfjord. King Harald sailed in with a number of ships and beat the opposition thereby for the first time unifying Norway into a singular kingdom. Historians doubt the decisive importance of this battle and regard it more as an important episode in a long process.
That may be so. The case is nonetheless that the Battle of Hafrsfjord remains a central symbol of Norway’s status as a kingdom, as a unified nation, and as a country. For this reason there has been erected a couple of monuments commemorating the battle. The first was erected at Ytraberget (see below) 1,100 years after the battle, the second some years later in Møllebukta (1983). I would suppose all visitors to this area make a stop here.
The three bronze swords are more than nine metres tall.
There is a popular and quite nice little sandy beach at Møllebukta.
Video from a hike from Møllebukta to Madlatua
Møllebukta – Grannes (1.5 km)
From Møllebukta there is an easy walk along the fjord to Grannes. That is where hiking opportunities stop. This innermost part of Hafrsfjord has a lovely, flat and winding asphalt trail fit for bikers and hikers. Unfortunately there is also one of the region’s major roads running parallel. In combination there are thousands of drivers, bikers and joggers rushing along here every day. They all have wonderful views westwards across the Hafrsfjord.
There are iconic sights on either end of this short hike. Møllebukta is mentioned above. At the Grannes end the yellow boathouse on stilts has been on postcards from Stavanger for decades. I haven’t been underneath that boathouse for decades either, but decided to return for this short hike on a windy, sunny day.
As a matter of fact, very few seem to ever make a stop, or walk along the shore to take in the scenery with all senses. Very few stop to study the picturesque boathouses, sit down on the benches, study the shells on the pebble beaches, or make a dive from the rocks or diving boards at Liapynten.
This video does that: It brings you three metres down below the asphalt trail, to where the sounds from the road above are reduced and the sounds of the ever restless waves are enhanced.
Video from the hike the other way, from Grannes to Møllebukta
The rest of Hafrsfjord – Ytraberget
As far as I know it is not easy to walk around the rest of Hafrsfjord. I have tried to trace a theoretical hike from Grannes around the southern and western end of the fjord north to Jåsund and the Hafrsfjord Bridge. This map calculates that hike to 19 km.
Visitors should know though that Sørnes has a memorial to the Battle of Hafrsfjord. According to tradition the battle took place right outside the peninsula of Ytraberget. Snorre, the man from Iceland who in the 1200s chronicled the Norwegian kings, has been translated to English. Read his account of the Battle of Hafrsfjord. Excerpt:
“The whole [army] met together north of Jadar, and went into Hafersfjord, where King Harald was waiting with his forces. A great battle began, which was both hard and long; but at last King Harald gained the day.”
I have an intention of developing this article with more descriptions, and in time with videos. This article presents some of the many hikes on the coast of Jæren, Norway. Get an overview here. The hikes and corresponding articles are sorted in a north to south order. The adjacent hikes are:
North: Kvernevik (Stavanger): The rocks at the tip of Smiodden receive the rythmic pounding of the waves, while the trail winds in the hilly terrain of heather and grassland just inside. You don’t want to miss the “Broken Chain” memorial.
South: Jåsund – Tananger (Sola): This is a remarkable hike on white-washed cliffs between Hafrsfjord Bridge and the very pleasant harbour of Tananger.
Read more in my special article about Jæren’s geology, flora, fauna, history, people and art: Jæren – The coastline explained.