At Lista lighthouse, electric bikes, normal bikes and children's bikes are available to rent for a reasonable price. Bicycle helmets, too. Try out the Vita Velo Vest-Lista cycle route.
While the bicycle seats are adjusted and the helmets fastened under our chin, we learn that "vita" means life, while "velo" means wheels. Freely translated, we can say "life by bike", or even "adventures by bike" if you will.
“I never get tire of riding a bicycle in Lista. The nature and terrain here are so varied. I always discover something new," says Anne L. Kolnes, who has taken a short bike ride in the morning sun.
We meet her on Vita Velo's first leg in western Lista. It runs on gravel country roads, through agricultural landscapes and pastures. We bike past cows and sheep, cute calves, curious alpacas and small newborn lambs, while we draw in the scent of wildflowers and the sea filling the air.
Because there are so many animals to be greeted, and so many daisies and red clovers to be picked, the first kilometer of the marked bike path takes us just over an hour.
We allow ourselves to take the small detour down towards Verevågen, one of the oldest ports on Lista, where there is a charming row of old and rustic sea shacks. Verevågen was a good and incredibly important port for local and visiting fishermen. It also served as a port of refuge when storms were raging, and was frequently used by the navigator.
In Verevågen we also find one of Vita Velo’s many rest areas on the way to Varnes lighthouse. These rest areas are clearly marked with the Vita Velo logo to clarify the distinction between what is public and what is private.
At the end of the quay is a Vita Velo bench where you can sit down and watch the abundant bird life in Verevågen, where wading birds, ducks and cormorants dominate. Here you can also experience magical light shows if you are lucky.
We pedal on, and the journey now goes through the yards at Stave and Vere, where the special buildings and architecture are worth noting. At Stave, the farms are organized into a cluster, hence the name cluster yard, while Vere is a typical row yard where the buildings are lined up along the road. Characteristic of this area are the many longhouses, characterized by the fact that the outbuildings and the residential buildings are built together. In doing so, heat was given off from the animals during winter. The building tradition has its roots all the way back to the Iron Age, and Lista is one of the few places in Norway where this tradition is this well preserved.
From Vere you can take another detour to the Vita Velo rest area at Stavestø. From here, it is not far to Sausebakk with its many burial mounds from the Iron Age. Here you will also find the fertility symbol Vanen, or Pikksteinen (the phallic stone) as it is called in popular speech.
After Stave and Vere, we ride on an asphalt road up towards the museum at Nordberg fort. It was built by the German occupation forces in 1942. The fort has a fantastic location with panoramic views of the sea and Listalandet. Here you can experience the original German buildings, go exploring in the trenches and see the remains of the large cannons and the radar. The most unique building is the canteen with murals that depict soldier and sailor life. The painter was one of the German soldiers who served in the camp.
At the fort is also a newer informational facility with exhibitions, children's activities and a museum shop.
We treat ourselves to a well-deserved pancake and an ice cream in the museum café, before we make our way down the walking path towards the ancient monument field Penne, where several restored stone fences meander around the fantastic cultural landscape. At Jærberget you will find some of Norway's most famous rock carvings with 25 ship figures and around 70 cupholes/indentations in stone from the Bronze Age.
A little below, at the very edge of the sea, we find the remote and weather-hardened village of Jølle, which has several residents and holiday homes, its own kindergarten, a farm, some fishing boats and an architectural office. Here we can look towards the pebble beaches of the south and the steep cliff beaches to the west. Here the climb towards Rudjord begins, before turning off towards Varnes and continuing three kilometers inland.
At Varnes we have to put down our bikes and walk the last and barren kilometer out to the lighthouse. Here a rest area has been established in a concrete building on the lighthouse mound where it is possible to seek shelter from the weather.
Written on a bronze tablet is the story of Navigator Ingeborg, the servant girl who defied the lighthouse keeper's orders and rescued the English steamship Neptune from distress on a stormy winter day in 1852. As a thank-you, she was fired and given a life of disgrace.
The English captain, on the other hand, honored Ingeborg Osmundsdatter by giving her a beautiful pearl. The artist Borghild Rudjord Unneland has inserted this pearl into the bronze board. She has also made a bronze copy of Ingeborg's clogs. They are placed on a remnant of the staircase of the lighthouse keeper’s residence, and you are welcome to try them on.
We stay at the lighthouse for a long time and enjoy the view of Listafjorden, Hidra and Anabeløy, while listening to beautiful songs about the sea from an audio installation. From here, we can also look over to our starting point, Lista lighthouse, and now it is time to go back.
The trip back goes surprisingly fast. We arrive at Lista lighthouse in less than an hour. The youngest in our small cycling group is 10 years old and he has completed the 30 km long Vita Velo route on a completely normal bike without complaint. Even the sullen teenager on an electric bike smiles from ear to ear and admits that this was fun — it’s no wonder: We will ride Vita Velo Vest-Lista next summer as well.
Vita Velo is a pilot project focusing on architecture, nature and culture in combination with the joy of riding on safe routes marked with signs and good information, as well as providing rest areas along the way.
The project is a close collaboration between Farsund municipality, Vest-Agder county municipality and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration to achieve the goal of increasing the use of bicycles and highlighting the architecture and qualities of the sites.
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