Down by the fjord on the farm Berge in Tørvikbygd, is Stekkavika – a sheltered eastward facing harbour, protected against the fjord by headlands and rocks, even manifest in the name. Here is also a comprehensive milieu of coastal industry, with boathouses and sea-sheds that belong to the farms Berge, Heradstveit and Halleråker. Belonging to the farm Berge there is also a mill-house, circular saw, workshop for sloop building, and – a little further up into the woods – the old water-powered sash-saw.
Fjøsanger is known among ice age researchers from around the world. Under an excavation in 1975-77, geologists from the University of Bergen found layers from the last interglacial, ca. 115 000 to 130 000 years old.
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?
Mountain plants with their beautiful, colourful flowers are common in high altitude areas in Norway. On the coast there are not so many of them. But, here and there one nonetheless finds mountain plants, and this makes some coastal mountainsides a little bit different. Perhaps the growth on these mountainsides gives us a little glimpse of a distant past?
When high school student Arne Handegard collected plants for a herbarium in 1962, he didn’t know what kind of rarity he had pressed into his notebook. 30 years later he attended a botanical lecture, where a picture was shown of a plant he recognized: “Norwegian Sagebrush, which in Norway is only found in a large area of Dovre and in Trollheimen, and in a little area in Ry county”. Arne Handegard raised his hand: “That plant grows on Mt. Jonstein in Jondal”.
Lurekalven is an unpopulated island of heather moor which is a part of the wilderness belonging to the five farms on Ytre Lygra. Between the two islands there is only a small sound. As late as the 1920s, milking cows were rowed over the sound from Lygra in summer – a form of farming that was adapted to the coastal landscape.
Otterstadstølen lies in an idyllic grassy plain surrounded by rich forest, but also with high mountains close by. The mountainsides are steep and typical of this part of the county. The same cannot be said about the forest. This spruce forest has been able to develop freely for hundreds of years. Otherwise in the county, only Voss has spruce forest.