Mellom Bolæren Hiking Trail
Exciting Island in Færder national park
- Destination: Færder National Park
- Season: January-December
- Difficulty: Easy
- Distance: 4 kilometers (out‑and‑back)
- Elevation Gain: 0 meters
- Duration: 2-3 hours
About Mellom Bolæren
Many would argue that Mellom Bolæren is the most exciting island in the entire national park, both in terms of nature and cultural heritage. The island is among the national parks largest, measuring 247 acres. Here you find three burial mounds from the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Much later the island belonged to the Jarlsberg estate up to 1916, including several small farmhouses, with the oldest settlement from 1645. In 1875, as many as 33 people lived on the island, mainly making their living from fishing and farming, but also piloting. Count Wedel Jarlsberg’s hunting lodge Grevestuen, was built in 1844, is still in good condition. In 1916 the Norwegian Armed Forces took control of the island, but Mellom Bolæren has not had the same defense significance as the neighboring islands of Vestre and Østre Bolæren. However, it has a tragic history from World War II, and traces of the prisoner of war-camp is still to be found on the island. The road across the island built by Soviet prisoners of war will also be a part of your roundtrip. Diseases flourished among the prisoners, and many died out here. A great deal of work has been done over the last 25 years in the restoration of buildings and cultural landscapes. Good trails and roads make the island accessible and full of excitement.
From April to September there are regular boat trips to the Bolærne Islands from Tønsberg harbor. On request the ferry takes passengers to the ferry-pier in Jensesund on the western side of Mellom Bolæren, and pickup can also be arranged in Kongshavnsund, on the eastern side. Further information on ferry times and prices can be found on the ferry's website: www.bolernebaaten.comThe trip to Mellom Bolæren is recommended to combine with visits to the other Bolærne-islands, so check the information given in Outtt about these islands. If you arrive in your own boat, free mooring is recommended at the floating pier in Jensesund. Keep in mind that longside-mooring is not allowed. If you arrive in a kayak or other light boat, you should pull your kayak or light boat up on the beach just north of the floating pier. Here you can also camp on the field adjacent to the beach in a good distance behind the trail, but not too close to the houses above. Toilet and garbage facilities can be found in a small shed by the floating pier, but freshwater is not provided.
The tour naturally starts at the boathouse between the ferry pier and the floating pier for small boats. On the wall, you will find good information about the Færder National Park and the island in particular. Additional information is also provided on several boards along the route.
Shortly after your start, you will see the two small fishing and farming houses, Søndre Rønningen and Nordre Jensesund. Take a quick stop by the information boards which tell the story. Considerable clearing of the surrounding forest has been carried out to open up the former farming ground. Eventually, the aim is to restore flowering meadows typical for extensive farming fields. The trail continues east from Nordre Jensesund into the forest. Remember to close the gates for grazing sheep. Enjoy the forest environment and take a rest on the bench, which is placed upon the hilltop before the trail descends southwards. Coming down you will enter an area with small-leaved lime trees, some of them large and with peculiar sizes and shapes.
Passing a new gate you will enter a large recently cleared area between Samuelskilen in the south and Ingerkilen in the north. Here you can see the remainings of old farmhouses, and on the information board, you can see a picture of the buildings and meadows from around 1900. A great deal of work has been done by volunteers to restore the fields. From here the path turns east and passes the open meadows before going northeast into the forest. Here begins the road that was built by hand by Soviet prisoners of war. The inhuman conditions and the miserable state of health led to several deaths. A number of them were buried on a burial ground on the southern side of the island.
On the top of the hill, the road turns southeast, but you can take a marked detour north to the Bronze Age mound on Ingeråsen. This is the oldest part of cultural heritage on the island and dates back from about 1800 - 500 BC. More information can be found on the information board on the site. Back on the road and down the hill you will find yourself surrounded by a surprisingly rich deciduous forest. Here you can explore a number of warmth-loving trees such as oak, elm, ash, and lime trees. The forest is an important habitat for birds, fungus, moss, and insects. For more information see the information board next to the enormous oak tree.
Still, in the deciduous forest, you will find the path leading south to the above-mentioned burial ground on the southern side of the island. 28 crosses could once be seen here, but in 1953 the deceased were moved to Vestre Gravlund in Oslo. For more information, see the info board on the site.
Having returned to the road, we are led further east where Count Wedel Jarlsberg's hunting lodge “Grevestuen” will meet you on the right side of the road. The lodge has been thoroughly restored, and appears in its original state, both inside and outside. A considerable clearing of the forest has been carried out from the “Grevestuen” down to the sea, and the lodge has today regained its original sea view. You can read more on the information board by the entrance.
We are now approaching Kongshavnsund on the island's east side where the road ends, and where you can find toilet and garbage facilities. But a few meters before we get that far, it is strongly recommended to visit the tragic war memorial on the island. This was the camp for over 300 Soviet prisoners of war from 1944 to the end of the war. First as a labor camp, then as a death camp. The remnants of the camp give a strong contrast to the beautiful surroundings but leave us with historical depth and insight. It is recommended to read the information board and picture on the site.
Before the tour ends for those who have arranged pickup from the pier in Kongshavnsund, or for those who choose to hike back to Jensesund, a detour on the trail down south to Solviken is recommended. Solviken reveals a lovely beach, perfect for a refreshing bath, and a break.
For those of you who choose boat transport from Kongshavnsund, we now thank you for the visit to Mellom Bolæren and wish you a pleasant onward journey.
For those of you who haven't had enough, you're invited back to Jensesund, largely along the same route. But from Samuelskilen we suggest an alternate route via a trail directly west from the Samuelskilen towards Vestre Rønningen. From here you can take a detour south up to the Bronze Age mound on Ravneberget. Here, you will also find valuable information on the information board.
Eventually, you will arrive close to Vestre Rønningen, where it is important to respect the privacy of possible tenants. Bear in mind that you can rent this cabin and many other coastal cabins privately. Information can be obtained from the Oslofjordens Friluftsråd webpage. The tour ends when we are back at the ferry- and floating piers. Færder National Park and landowner Færder municipality thank you for your visit to Mellom Bolæren and wish you a pleasant onward journey.
More information can be obtained at:
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