Text and photos by Sigrid Thorbjørnsen. Edited by Michael Holtermann and Rick Shupper.
A photographer friend of mine, Svein Erik, wanted to go shooting at the lighthouse, so he offered me a ride out in his boat. We left from the coastal village of Tregde, between Mandal and Kristiansand. I had remembered everything. Bedding, food, water, soda, warm and waterproof clothes, and my kitbag was packed and padded. As I was traveling by boat, I had to ensure that nothing would get wet and ruined by saltwater.
Taking a boat trip on a late August afternoon is a good idea for everyone. Especially when the sea is quiet, temprature is mild, and the wind rests. Taking photographs as a goal for the trip was even better. To get a perfect, first impression of Ryvingen, we made a detour around the outside of the island. Although the waves were decidedly larger, it was worth it – taking in the sky, the ocean, the birds, and, at the end, the lighthouse.
We turned around and pulled into the pier belonging to the lighthouse. The hosts have their own pier, but the second pier is big enough for anyone who wants to dock for the day, or stay the night. The breakwater pier here is also designed to protect boats from storms.
From the pier and up to the lighthouse there is an approximately 1,500 feet long scenic road. There are trolleys in the boathouse at the pier that can be used to transport the luggage up the road to the lighthouse. The road is well built, so there is no problem walking this short stretch.
The walk made the whole experience of coming ashore somewhat solemn. The road is framed with a red metal fence, and at the very end stands the 22.5-meter tall Ryvingen Lighthouse. There are traces of history along the way. Overgrown stairs, a freshwater pool, masonry surfaces on earlier foundations, trodden paths, and concrete traces from WWII. So, the small stretch of road feels even shorter than it really is.
The lighthouse area is fenced in so approaching was exciting. Up there we could see the small gate that led us in to the Ryvingen area, to the courtyard between the lighthouse and the main building. There is a tall fence around the entire area. At first it seemed a little strange. The weather was so hot and pleasant, and it was almost a little annoying having to climb to see the ocean. But little did I know, it did not take long before the wind came, and suddenly I was eternally grateful for the idea of fencing in the area. It was a great and needed protection against the elements.
Finally inside. Inside the keeper’s residence. This house is well kept, clean, and with a new coat of paint. It shows that the people who maintain this place love to be here and how much they take pride in the upkeep. It’s a bit of work to keep a house like this from deteriorating, there is love in these walls.
In the living room, you can find all the information you need, from everything about the house work, division, what to do while here, to a list of everything you must do before you leave. There is water in the taps, showers, toilet. There’s a stove, electricity, Internet access, and amazing pictures on the walls. Kai-Wilhelm Nessler is the photographer behind most of the pictures – he sure has taken the best photos of Ryvingen.
His images also appear in the book Ryvingen. Fyrtårn, fyrliv og fyrvenner published by Lindesnes Lighthouse Museum in collaboration with Vest-Agder County Council in 2012 (ISBN: 978-82-92994-03-0). The author, Rita Tove Dyrstad, tells the history of the lighthouse as well as her own family history, as her father was lighthouse keeper here at Ryvingen. Today, she is the driving force behind the entire Ryvingen, I would say. There is not a thing about the lighthouse and its story this woman doesn’t know. I spent much time reading her book, as the book in itself is a huge tribute to Ryvingen Lighthouse.
Ryvingen Lighthouse is a cast iron structure and was lit for the first time on June 20, 1867. It is painted red with a white waist belt. Inside the lighthouse, the elegant iron staircase – with brass heads in both ends of the railing – shows a beautiful and unique architectural style. Simply gorgeous! Walking up, all the way to the top, suddenly I felt no urge to step onto the balcony below the beacon. I’m not too fond of heights, but, I had to venture outside. I must say that no matter how calm the wind was around me on the ground, up here, it felt like a hurricane. With constant tickling in my stomach, I took the tour, my photos act as witness. But, honestly, I was too scared to stay for long.
Back on the ground, my eyes began to see the stone species on the island, the colors and lines. Details. The stone here is something special – there’s pink granite everywhere. Parts of the mountain appears to be solid rock, while other parts have given in to the sea.
The road leading up to the lighthouse is made of local, hand-chiseled stone, with no help of machines. At the highest point, you can see a stone pyramid. It’s called Varden. From the road, it looked like a small cake, but it is not small. It was a great colossus at close range. Standing beside Varden makes me feel like I have the whole lighthouse and the horizon to myself. What a breathtaking view.
There is only one thing left for me to do this evening. That is waiting for the sun to set into the sea and for the light rays of Ryvingen to start shining. I wonder how the sunset is going to be. The weather has been so many things today: No rain, no wind, windy, sunny, cloudy, heavy rain, and no rain again.
The sea has turned a purple color and I can not see the sun disappear into the horizon. The strip of the horizon that was bright now is completely blocked by heavy clouds. In this darkness, I clearly see the lightning strikes, repeatedly. (I’m really sorry I did not get pictures of this.) The dark clouds come closer, while the sky above me is still purple.
I photographed, sighed, and sauntered back inside. I concluded the evening while it was still light outside. It’s a new day tomorrow with more adventures, places to explore, and new photos.
Ryvingen is never boring. It will never be boring. This is a wonderful place to stay.
For contact information and further reading on Ryvingen Lighthouse see our listing.