A Journey to Utsira in photos
April 2012: Lighthouses of Norway’s photojournalist Sigrid Thorbjørnsen
visited Utsira Island and Lighthouse.
To get to Utsira from Stavanger, you can either take the ferry or ferry-bus. I took the coastal bus, and it did include a ferry ride. First stop Mortavika. It gave me a chance to take in the fantastic weather and scenery.
As luck would have it, this spring day, although cold, was picture perfect and optimal for photographing the 20-minute crossing to Arsvågen. This ferry goes all year round, and it has to be a hurricane for these ferries not to run.
In the distance, small villages kiss the water. Puffy clouds and changing colors in the sky reflect in the almost mirror-smooth water creating a one-of-a-kind tableau of shapes and bouncing light.
A bus and a truck are sheltered on deck, while the ferry glides towards Arsvågen.
The bus trip ends in Haugesund. And from the bus station, there is a 20 minute walk to the Utsira ferry. From the two bridges I crossed, there was a great overview of Haugesund. This old town has a lush atmosphere with bars and restaurants along the harbor. Sailing is both the traditional and contemporary mode of transportation in this part of Norway.
To safely navigate the countless islets and skerries, thousands of lights and markers can be seen along the coast. This one lets us know that we are getting close to Utsira.
The coastline is dotted with tiny islands. The clouds seem to be competing for attention.
Utsira Island. These wind turbines are the first thing you see when approaching Utsira. In an effort to be self-sufficient, Utsira has built wind turbines in strategic areas–where the wind is most constant. Utsira sells its surplus electricity.
Welcome to bird heaven. A couple of seagulls and ducks mind their own business while the ferry arrives. More than 324 bird spiecies have been spotted on the island – a fact well documented in Utsira’s archives. Brightly colored houses add to the island’s friendly first impression.
With the mainland and coast of Haugesund and Rogaland well behind us, we make a turn into the sheltered southern harbor of Utsira.
“The lighthouse keeper’s garden”
Rhubarb is to be found in the lighthouse keeper’s garden. It is used in jams, soups, jello, cakes, and as a treat when fully ripe. Rhubard can grow almost anywhere, so it was an important vegetable for the people on the island.
Daffodils grow wild all over Utsira. In March and April, the island seems covered in yellow.
Weeping Willows are also typical here – a sign of spring and a promise of summer.
This old tree fell in a storm—bent, but not broken—it is still alive. Even resting on a pile of rocks, it is working hard to stay alive. This might very well be a perfect symbol of the whole Norwegian coastal culture.
Currants – popping, jumping, and getting ready for spring.
Though Utsira is far out in the ocean, there is still lots of green everywhere. Spring is a wonderful time here.
The smell of daffodils lies like a blanket over the whole island.
Utsira has a generous share of rocks, but look closely and you will find small miracles dressed in green everywhere.
Artist Solveig Eigeland has created these cabins at Utsira. The aim of her installation is to get people to really listen to the wind and the silence, to see the birds. to hear the raindrops drumming on the roof, and understand why we need to protect the environment. These cabins were built from material found along the shore! She poses the question: how much space do we need to sit on the steps with a cup of coffee enjoying life?
Utsira Lighthouse was established in 1844, and has been a protected site in 1999. It is the highest situated lighthouse in Norway, with an elevation of 256 feet (78 meters).
Utsira has twin lighthouses, that is, two towers separated by about 656 feet (200 meters). Utsira has the only twin lighthouses in Norway. The towers were built of granite with interior lining of brick. The height of the towers was adjusted so that the lights themselves are at the same elevation. The towers are 43.6 feet (13.3 m) tall.
The lighthouse keeper’s yard. This gate is never locked, but always closed to keep the out the sheep.
“The Old Lighthouse.” This one has not been restored as the other one has.
The lighthouse sits on Utsira’s highest point. The road is steep, but the view from the lighthouse rewards your effort.
You can enter the amazing lantern. You have never seen the world through so many prisms before!
Atle Grimsby lives and works on Utsira and is an enthusiastic bird watcher. There are an amazing number of migrating birds that visit Utsira in the spring and autumn.
Inside the lantern, the world seems different than when standing outside.
A close up meeting with the light bulbs in a lighthouse.
Atle Grimsby has stories about what went on here at the lighthouse back in the days. Lighthouse keepers were highly respected and did a very important job. They have saved many ships from sinking, and helped many sailors from drowning.
The south part of Utsira on a very calm day. The boxy building in the background was formerly a herring factory in the days when Utsira had a significant herring industry.
This curious-looking old thing may look like art, but is in fact a German radio transmitter from WWII.
A view of the ocean between fences and houses—great photo opportunities everywhere. Everything seems in balance.
Day is coming to an end. The sky is showing off its colors. The sounds, smell and peace of the evening all contribute to the beauty here at Norway’s edge.
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