Many travellers between Mundheim and Gjermundshamn are captivated by the expansive view toward Øynefjord, Varaldsøy and Folgefonna. The barren pine forest on the slopes on the upper-side of the road is not seen by many. Who would think that this area is home to rare species of plants and animals, creatures who have made their homes here for thousands of years?
There are especially many seabirds inwards along the fjords of western Norway. There are not many islets, either, so if the birds want to nest, it is not always easy to find good sites. At Aksnesholmane there is an impressive colony of gulls, and the locality has been protected since 1923.
After the ice age, Granvin Fjord reached all the way up under Skjervsfjossen waterfall. Just a thousand years later, as a result of the rising of the land after the ice melted, this whole inner part of the fjord freed itself of the sea and became Granvinsvatnet lake. In spite of this rise in elevation, this waterway is still navigable for fish: Sea trout have wandered into Granvinsvatnet in more recent times and evolved to become freshwater trout. And salmon and sea trout made the journey 13 kilometres up the Storelvi river.
Bruosen is one of the few river harbours in the county. As landing place for the churchgoers, this place and the boatshed environment follow a tradition that goes back to the Middle Ages, but the country store of today is much younger.
If you come by sea to Bergen and come up the Herdle Fjord, the yellow ochre marine shed at Holmeknappen is a well known landmark to starboard as you come close to the little shore settlement. In olden days Holmenknappen served important functions as a centre for a wide hinterland of the surrounding farms, warehouse, landing point, country store and later a steamer quay, a hotel (1896) and a dairy (1909). But today Holmeknappen is no longer a focal point. Transport and commercial routes have changed the old pattern
Furthest north in the island community Rongevær, at the entrance to Fensfjorden, lies Krossøy. Belonging to the farm are the islands of Krossøy, Husøy, Kårøy, Lyngkjerringa, Søre Kjerringa, Rotøy and Kuhovet. All of them have been inhabited. On Krossøy itself today there are four holdings. The marine use environment here is one of the best preserved along the West Norwegian coast.
Folkedal, which today is like a small “detour” from the main highway, was in the Middle Ages centrally situated in one of the most important roads between Hardanger and Voss. This is the road that Olav Haraldsson travelled in 1023, when he came from the royal farm at Avaldsnes for a meeting with the Voss inhabitants about the new belief. The road passes across the mountain pasture Krossaset and down Bordalen to Vangen.
On a large gravel terrace in Matredalen (the Matre valley), a couple of kilometres from the coastal settlement Matre, lies Storseterhilleren, at the end of a large stone block that came rushing down from the mountain. The Matre river runs just over 100 metres to the east of the cave.
Tthe Otterstad farms lie in the innermost part of Mofjorden, on the northwest side of the river. The row of stave-built boatsheds that belong to the farm were probably constructed a little after the middle of the 1800s. Both here and on the Mo side, the boatsheds were important storage places at the seashore; wood and other farm products intended for the town; corn and merchandise in return.
In one of the frame-built haysheds at Nottveit, at holding No. 3, we discover that several of the staves have a medieval look, with large dimensions and carefully rounded edges. According to tradition, it was the farms Nottveit and Mostraumen that supplied the timber for the stave church at Mo, and it is not unlikely that these farms received the old timber in return when the new church was erected there in 1593.