Abbey Road The walk over the island Selja ends where Christianity in Norway started. St Sunniva’s cave and the Selja Abbey are extremely well-preserved reminders keeping the area’s rich past alive. Legend has it that St. Sunniva was was trapped in this cave during a rock avalanche while seeking refuge from the hedonistic King Håkon Jarl, and it has become one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in Norway. The best way to experience Selja is to follow the narrow path - either via the top of the island or along the seaside.
The first pilgrims arrived on the island of Selja more than 1,000 years ago, so you walk on historic ground here. Selja, which is roughly 1.5 square kilometres, is located one kilometre from the mainland.
The walk across the island takes you up to 201 metres and from there down to the abbey on the north side of the island. You can do the hike as a round trip and take the trail on the north side back to the starting point.
Remember that you need boat transport to get to the island. In the summer season there are regular departures from the centre of Selje to the abbey. Buy tickets at the tourist information in Selje.
During the rest of the year there is a postal route to and from Bø, on the east side of the island. Contact the tourist information for more details and prices.
Bø was probably a royal estate when King Olav Kyrre established the Episcopal residence for Western Norway on Selja in 1068. The parish church for Selje was at Bø from as early as the 12th century. After the reformation in 1537, the priest moved to the mainland, but the church was not moved until 1654. The ruins of the church at Bø can still be seen, but they have not been extensively excavated. The farms on Selja remained abandoned until the 1820s when a cotter cleared land for a small farm at Bø. On the way to the monastery, you will see Ersholmen islet, the large islet east of Selja. Parish pastor Johan D S Landmark was behind the first tree planting initiative in Selje in 1876, planting many species of trees on Ersholmen. There is a memorial to Landmark on the islet. The woods suffered sever damage during the New Year hurricane of 1992. Buskehaugen is located roughly halfway on the walk between Bø and the monastery. The ruins here are probably from an 18th or 19th century sheep barn. The marshes on the north side of the island were cultivated while the monastery was still in operation. Later on, peat was cut in the marshes on Selja. According to legend, Helmavikja – or Heilagramannvik (holy man’s cove) – on the north side of Selja is the place where Sunniva and the Seljumennene men came ashore. There were wharfside warehouses on both sides of Klostervågen bay until after World War II. Their walls can still be seen. Selje has many accommodation options. Selje Hotel/Selje Spa Thalasso and Doktorgården Selje are located a few minutes walk from the quay. And Seljevågen Appartement has four high-standard apartments down on the quay. There is also a brochure with information and a small map of the island, which is available from the tourist information office in Selje. Remember that to do this walk you are dependent on the scheduled boat service.