The mysterious tale of Kallebu

Published 24 February 2016

The road on which Kallebu sits

The road that when walked up, can take you to a mysterious place

In 2006 my partner Catherine and myself went on holiday to Norway. Having been to Iceland the previous year, we were keen to explore more of Scandanavia’s stunning landscape.

What I was less keen was having a car. Although I can drive, we didn’t (and still don’t) have a car in London, and I’m much more of a fan of sitting in trains than I am driving round mountain passes. We’d had a hire car in Iceland, but as Catherine doesn’t have a licence, the onus was on me to get us everywhere.

So when we found a holiday package available through a specialist travel agent that was for a two week holiday travelling by public transport, we instantly signed ourselves up for two weeks of buses, coaches, trains and ferries.

This proved to be an interesting challenge in the second half of the holiday when we stayed in the small town of Ulvik, next to the Hardangerfjord where the local public transport system was less than comprehensive. Which is why on one day, we ended up having to walk a couple of miles up a busy road in order to get to one particular tourist attraction.

Walking several miles up hill on a main road isn’t always interesting or indeed fun. But on this occasion it turned out to be something well worth doing for we saw something we could never have anticipated.

We saw Kallebu.

A small trolls house built in the rocks in Norway

Hidden in the rocks is the front of Kallebu

Sat a short way off the road was something that looked like the front of a house, located in a gap in the rocks. Inside it got even more curious. Inside two tiny rooms were a little seat in the rock a kettle and cups hanging from the wall.

It was too small to be someone’s real house, but it appeared someone had put in a lot of effort to make Kallebu. Yet it wasn’t mentioned in any guide books we had. When I got home I scoured the internet to see what I could find.

And the internet said nothing. No web pages, no photos on flickr, nothing.

That was in the summer of 2006. To this day, my three photographs remain the only ones of Kallebu on flickr. That I can find, anyway.

It was an enigma. A mystery. Frankly if I hadn’t taken photographs I’d now be beginning to think I’d imagined it all. And was all the better for the fact that most people would never have seen it.

The interior of Kallebu

Chairs and cooking implements inside Kallebu

Realistically not many people probably walk up that road (there’s not even a pavement) but somehow it still seems fundamentally wrong that Catherine and myself are some of the few people to actually have seen this place. Still, it was all the better for the fact that we had seen it, and it had been our insistence on not using a car – and then going out for a walk up a busy main road – that had led to us discovering it.

After the holiday I wrote about it on my (now defunct) general blog. And promptly forgot about it along with the sight of a fake bus stop that someone had installed in a tree on an old walking trail.

Of course it didn’t end there. And it didn’t end there because I’d put something about Kallebu on the internet. If we know one thing about the internet it’s that if you search for something, chances are someone else will at some point. And at least two other person has searched for the internet for Kallebu.

In 2009 Rioger did, and then three years later, Inger did. I know because they told me. And they know about Kallebu because they have a personal link. They knew Kallebu’s creator. He was Roger’s grandfather and Inger’s father. And that man was Karl Heiland.

Karl built Kallebu in the 1970s and used to stay there when on trips to fish for salmon in the nearby river. According to Inger, during one summer he caught a massive 169kg of salmon over a two month period.

The little house, built in a cave, was naturally built without the Norwegian equivalent of planning permission and at one point it was dismantled by the local authority. Undeterred Karl rebuilt it and the battle even hit the press. It became a bit of a tourist attraction with cars parking up on the road to pop in and take a photograph.

Catherine inside Kallebu

Putting the kettle on inside Kallebu

Karl sadly died in 1985, but Kallebu remains, and in 2006 it was clearly looked after, and I would presume still is. I hope it remains so for a long time.

For Kallebu was something magical; something special. A special something that you’ll only ever see properly if you get out of your car and onto your feet.

If you’re even in Måbødalen, it’s on route 7 and is a few miles east from Eidfjord, in the Hordaland region. Why not walk up the road and discover it the most magical of ways? And whilst you’re there, put the kettle on and give an appreciative nod to Karl and all those who have looked after Kallebu in the years since he’s gone.

This article was published in a different form on the now defunct Planet Bods Blog.

Your Comments


30 September 2017 at 5:37 pm

I have been in this plase.Spesial plase and lovlig.

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