Day 34-1. Halden to Strömstad.
Distance D 50.01 km Max 48.0 km/h Time 3.33:50 Average 14 km/h
Distance S 50.63 km Max 46.0 km/h Time 3.18:18 Average 15.4 km/h
Our day started on the late side, by nine we were up and about, the sky above us a fetching shade of grey. During the night we had been woken by the sound of torrential rain on the tent a couple of times. The top of the inner tent was covered with spatter from the outer tent. Outside, the campsite was even more rain sodden that it had been the day before. We were on our own again, as the Czech Surrealist Theatre Group had left early. In the reception, the evening before, Damae had heard them say that the were going to drive back to the Czech republic in one day so didn't need to stay for more than one night in Halden. That sounded like a long day's drive.
The weather was not looking promising today so a tour of the Festning and its museum seemed like a great idea. Just before eleven we walked our loaded bikes up to the fort and found a covered space to leave our bikes in, next to the Tourist Information office and shop. As it looked like the weather would stay fine for the next half hour, we decided to take a look round outside first and then visit the museum.
The fort reminded me of the Welsh Castles, except that it is much better state of repair than most of the Welsh castles. Halden Festning was built as a defence and not a pimped-up country home and shares that solid impregnable feel with say Conwy or Harlech castles. The interior of the fort consisted of a large grassy area with various installations. Here is a 360' panorama of the main upper level of the fort. We parked the bikes next to the grey and white building about halfway along the panoramic view. I have to admit to having fogotten most of the history of the fort, but a quick search on the internet should give you some useful information.
Damae got a bit bored waiting for Stan to finish his photos and wandered down towards the main entrance. We found the side of the Festning that looks out on the town of Halden in the valley and it was immediately clear why this location had been chosen for a fortress. These days it makes a great place to take in the views of the surrounding contryside. I managed to spot the top of the arch of the 'new' bridge at Svinesund, just poking up above the trees into the grey skies.
We wandered around a bit more and discovered 'The Envelope' apparently built in the period between 1705 amd 1709. I always marvel at the thick walls used in fortresses and also consider the horrible fact that one attack helicopter with the right ordinance, could destroy the whole fortress in a few minutes. In a sense that would be an advantage of no more oil, no chance of being killed by a autonomous drone or a helicopter hanging in the air some three kilometres away from your home.
The last modernisation was just before the dissolution of the Union between Sweden and Norway and then the fort was de-commisioned as part of the agreement between the two countries. History repeats itself, as whilst countries can always justify spending money of weapons they don't always manage to ensure that all their citizens have good education or healthcare.
From up here we also got a good view of the industrial zone away from town up the Tista. Plus a wonderful view across the port of Halden, Idefjord and the islands of Sauøy and Brattøya and the approaching rain clouds. Before long it would be time to head indoors and take a look at the museum.