The path that was a road

Published 23 June 2013

Old road signs remain despite the fact that no cars come down here any more.

Most people will know that old railway lines have found new lives as walking routes and cycle lanes, but in Norway they do things differently. There they use old roads instead.

Norway is home to many large hills and mountains and the road network wriggles and weaves its way through it all. The original roads took winding and twisting routes, often with steep inclines and sharp corners as the road builders of the time battled to make its way. And that’s before we’ve even mentioned the potential rockfalls.

Since then, road technology has improved and Norway has invested in a number of deep level road tunnels – straight and efficient to keep the traffic moving better.

The new deep level tunnels aren’t, however, suitable for those on two wheels or on foot so both are banned. So what to do?

Well such people aren’t stranded. Instead the authorities took a very practical attitude. They simply re-purposed the old road.

I saw “re-purposed”. In real life they didn’t even bother removing most of the road signs, whilst the old road tarmac was simply patched up as necessary.

We walked one such footpath in 2006 and the whole thing feels like some sort of 28 Days Later type of thing. Weeds grow through the tracks; random boulders are strewn on the old tarmac.

Of course, some tunnels do find a new reason to live. The one we walked through had, for example, become a storage facility for road signs.

A collection of roadsigns stored in an old road tunnel in Norway

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