Me-Åkernes, Hellesylt, Norway | CruiseBe
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Natural sights
fjord farm, landmark, nature

Me-Åkernes or Midtre Åkernes (literally "field in the middle of the headland") is a deserted fjord farm along the northern shore of the Sunnylvsfjorden (an inner branch fjord of the Storfjorden) in Stranda Municipality in Møre og Romsdal county, Norway. It is located 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) northeast of the village of Hellesylt. The farm is located in the West Norwegian Fjords Norwegian World Heritage Sites and has been preserved both for its unique geologic siting and as a representative of typical Norwegian farm culture in the fjord regions. This geologically unique farm has also been identified as the model for the farm place appearing in Henrik Ibsen’s play Brand based on the similarity in the description and his visit there on 16 July 1862:

And here it stands without a fear
Because the glacier passes here
Just when the time of leave sprouts comes
Above the heads like boulder storms
The parsonage protected stands, like in a cascade cave.

Location and access

The farm is situated on a ledge about 100 metres (330 ft) above sea level located on a steep, avalanche-threatened hillside. Thus the five farm buildings are built against the rock face of a protected overhanging cliff face in the hillside, and the roofs are level with the slope, such that avalanches pass over the buildings without harming them. The only access is from the Storfjorden waters below; access from the ridge above is extremely difficult.

There is no natural harbour on the shore, just a small, man-made landing place and some remaining stone walls that are remnants of an earlier boat shed. The boats were dragged onto dry land for safekeeping from the seas from the fjord.

Buildings and operation

The main house is located where it is least exposed to avalanches. The hay barn and cowshed are added onto opposite ends of the house, for a total length of 35 metres (115 ft). The Me-Åkernes farm is, except for the unusual adaptation to the terrain and accommodation for danger from avalanches, a typical multi-activity farm representative of the fjord and mountain farms of the Sunnmøre district. The farms had to base their economy on agriculture, fishing, and hunting.

Me-Åkernes was originally a single farm, but in 1881 its fields were divided in two halves between two related couples. The house and farm buildings were shared in common, but each couple maintained their own livestock. There could be as many as 12-14 people living simultaneously at the farm. Each family would support livestock of four cattle and 40 sheep by supplementing fodder in the winter season by use of seaweed. The seaweed was treated in warm water, minced, and barley flour added. Although recently they grew potatoes and barley, a field area named "Rugåkeren" (the Rye Field) indicates that rye was grown there in earlier times. To thresh the grain they used a manual threshing machine.

Today, the farm is private property, but the preservation society "Storfjordens venner" (The Friends of The Great Fjord) have maintained the buildings. The last residents farming the land were Anders and Solveig Hanson Ringdal. They moved away from the farm on 6 December 1958.

Risk of landslide and extinction

Today the farm is, due to its location by the Åkernesrenna (the Åkernes crevasse), at considerable risk. The Åkernesrenna has in the recent years widened at an accelerating rate, and analyses show the threat of a coming landslide, estimated at 50 million cubic metres (65 million cubic yards with latest estimates of up to 100 million cubic metres or 130 million cubic yards). The landslide will go directly into the fjord, causing a flood wave (landslide induced tsunami) of about 30 metres (98 ft) in height, which will sweep the fjord and devastate the areas adjacent to Sunnylvsfjorden and Storfjorden.

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