At Halnefjorden, a few hundred metres east of Halne mountain lodge, lie the remains of two stone sheds – Halnelægeret. Some generations ago the cattle drovers stopped here in the summer; they were the cowboys of their time. But Halnelægeret already had a long history before the cattle drovers came.
In the steep hillside in Hjølmodalen, a small side valley from Øvre Eidfjord (Upper Eidfjord), which has been a key entrance to the Hardanger Plateau, the hamlet of old farmhouses still lie clustered together. The yard is empty today, some of the houses are used in the summer, but the grass grows round all the corners.
High up above the fjord, at a height of 600m lie the two holdings at Kjeåsen. Today you can drive there by car, through a new tunnel that the power engineers in Sima have drilled. Until 1974 the only road went up the steep hillside, along iron bolted ladders across dizzying rocks – a road for the strong at heart.
Måbø is the uppermost farm in Måbødalen. This narrow and steep mountain valley has been one of the routes from the fjord communities up to the mountain plateau from times immemorial. We are not certain of the meaning of the name Måbø. Perhaps it has its origin in an Old Norse male name Mávi, from the name for seagull, már. The last syllable “bø” means farm. Today Måbø gives us a compact close-up of the subsistence economy: the small farm with the clearance piles, stone walls and a lane that guided the animals into the yard, at the foot of the great mountain expanse.
The old pack road had 1500 steps, where cars today gas through the mountain. The time of this hard work is over, and of getting used to the steep terrain, as well; only the view from the top is much the same as before. Vøringsfossen in summer is one of Western Norway’s biggest natural wonders. It marks the transition between the older, open part of the Sysendalen valley and the younger, narrow and winding valley of Måbødalen.
The main house at Færavåg was built in 1599. History tells us that a German came to Færavåg and built the house. He divided the land between his two sons. They in turn divided it between their two sons, thus there were four equal holdings on the farm. And it is said that all households lived in the same house. They each stayed in their own corner around the fire in the middle of the floor.
Vågsbygdo was severely hit by landslides and rock falls in the decades around 1700, in addition, the rivers transported masses of loose sediment, both large stones and gravel. A lot of what slid down from the Vågsliene (slopes at Våg) collected in Neravåge. It was so bad that the damage “never again can be remedied or restored”, it was said in 1670.