Underwater village and forest in Lygnstøylvatnet (or however you spell it)
This place has always been on our Norwegian bucket list dive sites since we first heard about it almost two years ago. Its about 7 hours drive away from Oslo in the scenic region of Møre and Romsdal. Whenever we did the excruciating drive we always got distracted by other sites in the area. But one weekend in July we finally decided to go and check it out.
Lyngnstøylsvatnet used to be to a farm in Norangsdallen, a valley close to Ørsta. On 26th May 1908 a sudden rock slide from the mountain Keipen blocked the local river Lygna which filled the valley in a matter of days forming a new lake. The farm houses of Norang and Stylstad, road with gates as well as surrounding trees have now been underwater and preserved in the cold waters for more than hundred years. Today the place attracts tourists passing by, stopping to take the pictures of the remnants of the houses which are visible through the clear water even from shore, but also divers from all around Norway and abroad that explore the ruins from underwater.
We drove here from Oslo on Friday afternoon after work, so got to the lake almost at midnight, but thanks to the long summer days there was still light and we could find a place to pitch our tent along the shore of the lake. The valley is quite narrow with steep mountains on both sides, so suitable places for tents are not that easy to find. The nicest spot on the South beach of the lake was already taken so we had to scramble a little to get on the Northeastern shore, further away from the road with a little bit more privacy. In the morning we were visited by a herd of cows who seemed surprised and intrigued by our presence.
The entry point is off the little lay-by approximately in the middle of the lake. There we met a pair of Swedish divers kitting up and ready to go in and while we were kitting up a two Norwegian divers showed up, proving that this is a popular spot.
Although late July and it has been a particularly hot summer in Norway, the water temperature was only 10°C. The dive itself is very easy as the lake is quite shallow (up to 10m) and generally has very good visibility. In summer the bottom is covered in lush green algae giving the place an even more surreal look as though the grass is still growing in the pastures. Immediately at the entry point we could see the remnants of stone fences that guided us to the old road. On either side of it you can find trees, which don’t have any leaves left and look a bit like a haunted troll forest.
After exploring this area first we followed the road to the South where we found a stone marking the road and a small bridge. After swimming through it multiple times we turned back and explored the northern part of the lake, where in the shallows we saw the foundations of several farm houses and a gate.
Small fish were keeping us company throughout the dive and after one last look at the forest following the road we returned to the entry point. Calling this lake a Norwegian Atlantis as labelled by the official VisitNorway website is little bit of an overstatement as there are not that many buildings to explore. In comparison with our trip to underwater prison in Rummu Estonia was much more exciting. But the place is very scenic, offering a glimpse at farms over 100 years old and definitely worth a visit.
Credit: Knud Knudsen - Universitetsbiblioteket i Bergen