The steep and craggy cliffs on the pocket-sized island of Runde, some 70km west along the coast by road and ferry from Ålesund, are the summer haunt of several hundred thousand sea birds. Common species include gannet, kittiwake, fulmar, razorbill and guillemot, but the most numerous of all is the puffin, whose breeding holes honeycomb the island’s higher ground. Most species, including the puffin, congregate here between mid-April and July, though some – like the grey heron and the velvet scoter – are all-year residents. A network of hiking trails provides access to a number of birdwatching vantage points, though these invariably involve a fair climb up from the foreshore. One of the more popular hikes is the stiff forty-minute hoof up to the sea cliffs on the island’s north shore from the car park at the end of the road: the island is connected to the mainland by bridge and this, its one and only road, slips along both the south and east shores. For more detailed advice about hiking routes on Runde, consult
wrunde.no. The easiest way to see Runde’s bird cliffs is on one of the Wildlife Sea Safaris (late June to mid-Aug; 2 daily; 2hr; 800kr) operated from Ålesund by 62° Nord (t70 11 44 30, w62.no). You can also drive there – allow two hours or so: Runde is itself connected to the mainland by bridge, but the journey still involves the car ferry ride from Sulesund to Hareid (every 30min; 25min; passengers 33kr, car & driver 90kr; wnorled.no).