This is about the Skeie hike, one of many hikes on the coast of Jæren, Norway. The hike is 9.1 km one way.
Orre – Skeie – Hå Old Vicarage (Klepp & Hå): Varied hike on grass, gravel roads, boulders and sandy beaches. There are some very fine sandy beaches, unknown to most. This is a tricky hike: Forget crossing the Orre river, watch out for the extensive use of barbed wire fences and electrified fences even inside the protected flora and fauna reserve, there are few fence climbers and attacking birds do hit your head.
The Orre river empties into the ocean on the southern end of the popular Orre beach. Unfortunately there is no bridge and you will have to wade across. In addition there is no place to park around here. It is better then to start this hike at the large parking lot at Hå Old Vicarage and walk north. There are a couple of places to park in between if you want to split this trip. Try the Refsnes beach or the airfield at Skeie; they are both signposted from Road 44.
I made the return on that road but turned back to the beach hike at Refsnes for the last kilometres. This is not shorter than the other way but you avoid all those electrified fences. This hike is 9.1 each way. Unless you are serious about following my footsteps I advise you to drop the northern part and concentrate on the 4 km stretch between Hå Old Vicarage and the small airfield at Skeie.
What to see
Hå Old Vicarage
The Hå Old Vicarage is a lovely place. Have a look into the two old residential houses for a look back in time and to savour some good pastries and coffee. The barns on this old farm has been converted into one of the most visited art galleries in Rogaland county. The changing exhibitions are worth paying attention to.
I was set for an 18 km hike so I skipped the vicarage this time. Instead I went behind the buildings and followed the path eastwards to the Hå river. There you find this nice little bridge that brings you over to the other side. Imagine 12,000 eager cyclists getting across here on the Nordsjørittet race in June each year.
Håtangen and Hå river
We have a way to go so we take in the view downstream of the boathouses at Håtangen. You can walk down from the vicarage to the river mouth and watch them on the other side, but this bridge several hundred metres upstream is the only way to get across. It is a nice little walk if you are visiting the exhibitions on a Sunday to have a closer look the boathouses at Håtangen.
The Hå river has for centuries been famed for two things: salmon and pearls. This is not a place for the casual fisher, one has to obtain a permit to fish here, and its presumably not cheap.
Our less than leisurely walk brings us on the gravel road past the “Jonsahuset”, a Swiss style house built in the early 20th century, now available for rent. A few hundred metres on we pass the “Thiisahuset” which is a lot older (18th century), built in the traditional Jæren way.
To the east (right) we see the hamlet-like small and large buildings of Nærlandsparken. It was for many years an institution for the mentally disabled. It also served as barracks for the Germans during the War, as temporary homes after the War for Norwegians who had been dislocated from Sørøya in Finnmark following the “scorched earth” policy of the retreating Germans. In the 1990s Yugoslav refugees found refuge here. The chapel spire is very characteristic.
Several sandy beaches
We now pass by a couple of sandy beaches, first Nærland beach and then Salte bay/Refsnes beach divided by a promontory called Raunen. (At the first there is a small parking lot, at the second a large one signposted from the main road.) Refsnes is a popular beach and there are a number of cottages hidden inside the forest a few hundred metres off the beach. There is a canal-looking river running across the Refsnes beach, but it has a small bridge a hundred metres from the shore. You can’t miss it.
At the end of the Refsnes beach there is another little wood. This one is a kind of camping ground but it is filled with caravans on a permanent basis. (Read this chapter of my account of the history of Norwegian camp-sites.) Fortunately these two sites are well hidden behind pine trees all year round.
The next landmark on this hike from Hå to Orre is the airstrip at Skeie. This airstrip is used for micro planes but there were none in the air this day. I walked to the end of the grass airstrip and had a closer look at the amazing boulder beach here. The white-washed rounded boulders are almost in the league of Sele and Børaunen further north on the Jæren coast.
Greenhouses at Vik
My next landmark were the large and numerous greenhouses of Vik. I soon realised however that the remainder of this hike is for the special interest group of people seeking annoying challenges. Many of the beaches are not easy to walk on, and the grassland behind are cultivated and should not be used in the summer. Likewise farm animals (young cattle and sheep) grass on the narrow protected landscape strip causing the farmers to put up high barbed wire fences and electrified fences (turned on I can tell), and keeping them well maintained.
It was a hassle to get over those fences, and the fence ladders seen elsewhere on Jæren are a scarcity here. Better come in wintertime when the electricity is switched off. Presumably. Why is the shoreline on this part of the Jæren protected landscape area not open for the public?
This is a protected landscape area with particular attention to birds, so the authorities are apparently not too eager to accommodate for the casual hiker along here. The birds pay no attention to the sheep, but are on constant alert if the odd hiker comes along. False attacks are common among these birds, but the bird who sent my sunglasses flying off my head was definitely on a live mission.
Orre beach – full stop
Having passed all these obstacles (and more, like crossing the Skeie canal), it came as no surprise, as I strode across the last few hundred metres of fine grassland followed by the southern end of the very long sandy beach of Orre, that the river cutting across the beach had no bridge. I knew this of course, and if I had been intent on crossing the Orre river I would have waded across it at the very river mouth. This was the the end of my hike.
I just can’t seem to understand why there is no bridge across here. (From what I could see there was no path along the river this time of year for those who are willing to follow the river up to the main road and continue down to the beach on the other side. If there had been, it would anyway mean a detour of 1.5 km.)
The outer reaches of the Orre river are very picturesque. I had a rest on the river bank and contemplated my two alternatives. One was to return the same way I came, but my determination to conquer the obstacles once more had vanished. Instead I walked back southwards behind the high sand dunes of the Orre beach until I found a farm road leading up to main road, the #44. So, after 1.5 km I was walking on asphalt.
On the positive side it gave me a new perspective of the scenery, on the other hand it was not what I had come for. After about 5 km on the hard surface I returned to the beach at Refsnes and finished the last bit (3 km) the same way I came. The return went faster, but was not shorter. One should allow two hours each way.
Video from this trip
This article presents one of 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: Revtangen – Orre (Klepp): Great beach walk. Walk happily in the sand along the seashore one way and on the sand dunes on the rebound. This trip goes north to Revtangen, but can obviously be extended as far as you want. Have a cup of coffee at Friluftshuset and advance your learning from its permanent exhibition on the Jæren coast. (2.5 km)
South: The King’s Road (Kongevegen) between Hå Old Vicarage and Varhaug Old Cemetery (Hå): The historic road from the 1600s has had royal users, but that was a long time ago. We do not find many remnants from that time. However, we find on this hike a number of other attractions, including Grødalandstunet. Enjoy the lovely cemetery (!) and visit the exhibitions at the old vicarage. (8.5 km)
Fottur.net has in the blog posts Bodle – Nærlandsanden, Nærlandsanden – Åsetangen and Skeievika – Reve a number of pictures with comments in Norwegian covering the stretch in this article and more. Fjell-vandring.net has a description in Norwegian from a hike between Hå Old Vicarage and Skeie.
Read more in my special article about Jæren’s geology, flora, fauna, history, people and art: Jæren – The coastline explained.