With great ingenuity, Norway’s road builders have cobbled together the E39 coastal road, the Kystvegen (wkystvegen.no), which traverses the west coast from Stavanger to Haugesund, Bergen and ultimately Trondheim with eight ferry trips breaking up the journey. The first part of the trek, the 180km haul up from Stavanger to Bergen, includes two ferry trips and sees the highway slipping across a string of islands, which provide a pleasant introduction to the scenic charms of western Norway – and hint at the sterner beauty of the fjords beyond. Perhaps surprisingly, this region is primarily agricultural: the intricacies of the shoreline, together with the prevailing westerlies, made the seas so treacherous that locals mostly stuck to the land, eking out a precarious existence from the thin soils that had accumulated on the leeward sides of some of the islands.

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