Ambassadors

Meet St. Olavsleden’s ambassadors
Our ambassadors all have different experiences. Live in different parts of the world. Speak different languages. But one thing they have in common is that they have all been pilgrims on the St. Olavsleden trail, and they are happy to share their stories with you.

Chin-Yu Lee

Taiwan/Norway

Walked the trail: June/July 2019

Section and distance: Hiked Selånger – Trondheim, 580 kilometers.

Favourite memory/experience from St. Olavsleden: Day 15 from Alsen to Mörsil was my “freak-out”-day. The planned route was almost 30 kilometers long, and it was very rainy. I had been following the weather forecast days a head and was not sure if I would manage. I even had to give myself a pep talk on the morning before departure. But off I went, one step at a time, facing the conditions as they appeared. After 7 or 8 kilometers uphill in a muddy forest I found myself in a rather good shape. At the end of the trail, I saw the sign “Choklad” pointing towards a beautiful little shop/café called “Tinas praliner”, with hand-made chocolate. The shop was not open, but the owner opened the door and provided a pilgrim treat. She made my day “chocolate dark”; a sweet and warm color I will never forget.

Jack Shepherd

England

Walked the trail: Have walked the trail continually for almost five years (2015-2020). Completed it as day trips close to Östersund, where I live, before branching out to weekends further away. Now, I need to tackle longer stretches, especially in Norway!

Section and distance: Have walked everything from Sundsvall to Duved. If the border opens, I plan to walk to Trondheim this year.

Favourite memory/experience from St. Olavsleden: A tough question, there have been so many. Sometimes those experiences are just being alone in the thick of the Swedish forest with rain falling around you and the smell of pine hanging heavy in the air. Sometimes it’s the unexpected, like when I was running from a giant bee and stumbled across Revsund’s Prästgård and met my future friend, Ruben. Sometimes it’s the scenery, from Brunflo’s medieval tower to the blinding green of Jämtland’s fields in June. Sometimes it’s the joy of walking the trail with friends, and the kilometers of gravel road giving you time to have conversations you wouldn’t normally have.

Christophe Vandewalle

Belgium

Walked the trail: September, 2017

Section and distance: Hiked Selånger – Trondheim, 580 kilometres.

Favourite memory/experience from St. Olavsleden:
On the island, Frösön, the path leads you through a schoolyard. I didn’t see any gates, and if there were any, they were open. Coming from Belgium, where schools are anxiously closed for outsiders with fences, this was a refreshing sight. Walking through it, kids were outside and came up to me – a pilgrim with walking sticks and a big backpack. They weren’t shy or afraid, the teachers weren’t overprotective keeping them away from me and I was just amazed to have a conversation with them. Both the kids and teachers asked questions, which I tried to answer in Swedish. The faith in humanity I experienced there left me speechless.

Hali Liddell

Sweden

Walked the trail: Summer pilgrimage 2016, a few stages Winter 2017

Section and distance: Summer 2016, Selånger – Trondheim, 580 km. Winter 2017, Selånger – Stöde, 44 km

Favourite memory/experience from St. Olavsleden:
I had expected this pilgrimage to be a lonely one, meeting mostly myself and nature. But on my very first day I stumbled upon a friendly sign welcoming pilgrims to come in for a free coffee or tea, and I met my two first St. Olav Angels, Tommy & Sigrid who made me feel at home, showing me the kindness and hospitality that I would meet all along St. Olavsleden. When you are walking alone it is very comforting to find that strangers along the trail are just friends waiting to happen.

Andrea Opielka

Germany

Walked the trail: September-June 2017 and summer 2019

Section and distance: Hiked Selånger – Trondheim twice, 1128 kilometers

Favourite memory/experience from St. Olavsleden: Meeting all the incredible friendly and helpful people along the trail. They took great care of me, showed me the way, offered me tea or drove my luggage to the next hostel. An experience I will remember especially is my stay at Kjell-Åkes in Gålviken. After a cold day he offered me to use his sauna, located with a beautiful view over a lake. It was great to soak up some warmth and then cool back down in the lake, all while watching a fantastic sunset.

Leanne Downs

England

Leanne Downs, St Olavsleden ambassador

Walked the trail: August-September 2016

Section and distance: Hiked Selånger – Trondheim, 580 kilometres, with exception for some sections that was skipped due to an injured foot.

Favourite memory/experience from St. Olavsleden:
It’s difficult to pick a favourite, but one that always makes me smile is when we arrived in Norway and met a guy on a bike on our way down the mountain. We started chatting and my hiking partner Angeliqa mentioned she was desperate for chocolate. An hour later, a big pickup truck passed by with the guy we saw earlier waving from it. He wound down the window and handed us two giant bars of chocolate! He had driven to the store, bought them for us, then drove around looking for us. It was just the boost we needed that day and kindness such as this was so common on the trail.

Marinka van Kempen

Netherlands

Marinka van Kempen, St Olavsleden ambassador

Cycled the trail: July, 2017

Section and distance: Cycled Selånger – Trondheim, 580 kilometres.

Favourite memory/experience from St. Olavsleden:
It was a very warm day and I had already been cycling for hours. The hills were steep. I was really getting tired and knew I still had many kilometres to go that day. On top of a hill I took a little rest, encouraged myself and mounted my bike again. Then, just as I wanted to move on, there it was: right ahead of me, only 25 meters away, a moose! All alone in the vast forests, I stood eye-in-eye with this beautiful, large and impressive animal. After some time the moose slowly took off. I continued my way in silent tears, overwhelmed by the beauty of nature.

Bob Walker

England

Bob Walker, St Olavsleden ambassador

Walked the trail: May-June, 2016

Section and distance: Hiked Selånger – Trondheim, 580 kilometres.

Favourite memory/experience from St. Olavsleden:
Sitting outside a cabin in the woods totally alone. The cabin was so tidy and cozy, heated by an oil-stove and lit by candles, with honey and cheese that the caretaker left me. I sat outside in the silence, made a fire and cooked my meal. I felt more at peace than I had felt for years. I loved that trail and still dream about it!

Danielle Koornneef

Netherlands

Walked the trail: Summer, 2016

Section and distance: Hiked Selånger – Brunflo, 180 kilometres.

Favourite memory/experience from St. Olavsleden:
During the last stage I climbed a huge boulder, thickly overgrown with beautiful moss. With the feeling of the soft thick carpet under my bare feet, I felt at one with the overwhelming nature. There I experience the power and beauty of Arctic nature. I felt what many pilgrims experienced before and will after me: the discovery of what is really important in life.

Francine Postma

Netherlands

Walked the trail: June, 2018

Section and distance: Hiked Selånger – Trondheim, 580 kilometres.

Favourite memory/experience from St. Olavsleden:
Finding a four-leaf clover on the road between Borgsjö and Lombäcken. I just accidentally looked down and there it was. Small, but perfect. I thought about taking it with me to keep as a souvenir. Then I realized that by doing so I would kill it. So I left it there, hoping that it would make other pilgrims as happy as it made me.