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Imagine you are floating through crystal clear water, looking down at what looks to be an enchanted forest. You can see the remains of a settlement, the roads and stone fences used to herd sheep and transport goods over a hundred years ago.

Welcome to Norway’s Atlantis, welcome to Lygnstøylsvatnet.

Henrikke swimming through one of the stone fences

General information:

    Destination: Sunnmøre, Norangsdalen, Lygnstøylsvatnet
    GPS:62°10’30.6″N 6°43’44.0″E
   Maximum 13 meters
    Time: 45min each dive
   Height: 152 meters
    Difficulty: Medium
   Season: Spring, Summer, Autumn
    Type: Diving/Freediving
   Special Equipment: Scuba/Freediving gear

 

How it came to be

Lake Lygnstøylsvatnet, situated in Nordangsdalen Valley in the West of Norway,  is one of the most amazing dive destinations in Norway. Originally there shouldn’t be a lake to dive in, but the 26th of May 1908, the 1218 meters tall mountain Keipen cracked. A large amount of rocks came crashing down the mountain side, creating a dam across the valley. The river was blocked and the water had nowhere to go. Slowly the valley filled with water, and thus Lygnstøylsvatnet was created.

On clear, calm days you can actually see some of the remains just by parking and looking out your car window. However, the experience is most rewarding for those who can scuba or freedive down to 5-13 meters, and swim through the remains of the old road, the forest and the farm houses. 

The old farm buildings and the road before the landslide (Photo: Knud Knudsen, Universitetsbiblioteket i Bergen)

The landslide

What to see

When scuba or free diving, you will be able to see the remains of nine farm buildings, two bridges, a farm road, stone fences, a gate,  and most importantly; a mesmerizing underwater forest consisting of bare apple trees, over a hundred years old, frozen in time.

The old “Troll forest”, frozen in time

How to find the lake?

Finding the lake is quite easy; You follow country road 655, between Hellesylt and Øye in Sunnmøre, or simply enter Lygnstøylsvatnet into google maps. You will pass several smaller lakes, but once you reach Lygnstøylen, you will see a plackard stating that this is the Lygnstøylsvatnet lake. Weather permitting, you might also be able to see some of the old farm buildings from the shore. There are a few parking spaces available by the lake.

Overview of Lygnstøylsvatnet

How many dives?

The visibility of the lake varies from crystal clear to murky, depending on how rainy the weather has been the previous days. The more rain, the more sediments are dragged into the lake from the mountains, making the visibility bad. 

We believe that you will be able to experience the most important features of Lygnstøylsvatnet in two (scuba) dives. Thus, we have made a suggestion as to how you can perform these two dives; one longer dive at the south west end of the lake, and a shorter second dive at the north west side of the lake. Take a look at the map above to look at the main points of interest. These are approximate placements, but they should be close enough to navigate by. If you don’t want to do scuba diving, it is also perfectly possible to have a nice free diving session at the lake, and we highly recommend this as well as scuba diving.

Henrikke getting ready to descend, looking real intense

 Related Posts: How to get stunning underwater video from a GoPro

 

DIVE 1 – The tunnel and forest:

Descend, and start off by swimming close to the fences you will see from the starting point. Follow the fences a bit south, and you will arrive at the first bridge at about 5-6 meters depth. It is great fun to swim through it, but be careful not to kick up too much sediments, as this will possibly annoy the diver following behind you.  

Old fences close by the old road

The first bridge

After swimming under the bridge, it is nice to follow the “riverbed” into the mysterious forest at about 10 meters depth. If you want to see more of the forest, you can swim east for an extended period. If you do this, you will see even bigger trees at about 12-13 meters depth. Please remember: All the trees in the lake are very brittle, and very little contact is necessary to break them. Be mindful of your fins and your arms, and never lean on the trees. The branches can snap quite easily. Keep that buoyancy controlled! 

The riverbed, where the river used to run over a 100 years agoRemains of an old gate

 

After enjoying the forest you can swim northwest and arrive at the road. Continue towards north east to shallower waters, and you will find the old farms at 2-3 meters depths. This is a very nice place to perform your safety stop. Surface when you feel like it, and walk or swim back to the starting point.

Get out of the water, get yourself a cup of coffee, and get excited for your next dive!

One of several old farm buildings 

DIVE 2 – The road and old farms:

The second dive covers a shorter distance, and gives you time to enjoy the old buildings and the large rocks in the land slide. Start descending near the fences until you reach the road at about 5 meters depth. Swim north while following the road, and you will soon reach the landslide with its massive rocks, at about 6-7 meters depth. At the end of the road, you will also find the second bridge, which you can also swim under. Turn around, and ascend to 2-3 meters depth. Swim back towards the starting point, while checking out the old farms and fences along the way. 

Henrikke and Morten swimming towards the landslide

The second bridge

SUM UP

Diving in Lygnstøylsvatnet is quite easy, as it is not so deep. However, it requires good buoyancy control. We want to stress the fact that you should never lean on any of the fragile trees, and that it is not considered good dive etiquette to stir up sediments from the bottom, making it murky for the divers following behind. You should also be mindful that the drive to and from Lygnstøylsvatnet could include mountain passes. All in all, be considerate and careful, so that Lygnstøylsvatnet will continue to be a place we can all visit and enjoy in the future as well 🙂 

Farmhouse foundation falling apart

Lars made a movie from some of the scuba dives we’ve had at Lygnstøylsvatnet. It was recorded over a period of 3 dives. The weather conditions were cloudy and we experienced some rain, but the underwater conditions were absolutely fantastic. Check it out at the top of the post.

Henrikke swimming over the fences

Where to stay, and where to rent equipment.

If you want to spend the night close to Lygnstøylen you can try Hotel Union Øye, or Hellesylt on the other side of the mountain. Contact Ålesund Dive Center if you need to hire equipment.

 

We hope you enjoyed this article. Be sure to drop a comment in the comment section, and share the post with your friends.

 

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