The first ‘o’ of the town name should have a forward slash through it as it changes the pronunciation but I don’t appear to have that symbol on my keyboard, if I hold down on the ‘o’ I just get oooooooooo!
As our express train came to the end of its ascent from the coast and moved onto the 2000 foot high plateau the sun shone over the snowy countryside and the conifers were left behind in the shade, replaced by softer birch woodland, the naked branches clothed in silvery silk chemise of powdered snow.
Family friend Elin was there to meet us with her spark, a sit on sled where two can take it in turns to relax or scoot from behind with one foot safely on a runner to prevent a fall. Lots of locals use them in the winter as they are safer than a car and like a zimmer, they give some support to the pusher.
I straightaway noticed there was no grit on the hard packed snow and ice and after a few steps realised that at minus 22 degrees the frozen surface becomes grippy and we managed the fairly steep walk up the road to the church without a slip.
Roros was once a farm, but then copper was discovered on it and provided jobs and fortunes until the enterprise morphed into a museum and the inhabitants of the growing town turned to arts, crafts and musical theatre. In 1980 the town was declared a World Heritage Site which has put it on the global map of places to go and in the summer the crafts markets, music festivals and cultural shows swell the normal population of 3,500 by twenty times.
We swelled the population by just four as we admired the 17th and 18th century wooden houses with their dark pitch log walls, snow piled high against them to clear the paths and add insulation to the homes. Most are still lived in and the poorest mining families occupied tiny wooden homes nestled just beneath the slag heaps of mine detritus. Remember the Aberfan disaster in Wales, where a school was engulfed by the slag heap sliding down hill after heavy rain? Just the same these heaps loom over the town and we walked upwards between them for a fine view and now covered in purifying white snow they enhance the area. In summer they wouldn’t look so beautiful.
One street has been so designed that it tapers as it ascends uphill. The perspective of the Mayor’s house at the bottom is that from the top it looks bigger than it really is and from the Mayor’s house looking up the street the narrowing towards the top makes the street look longer and grander. Such architectural vanity!
The busy main street shops are full with Nordic items, reindeer hides, woollen clothing, modern extreme weather clothes, pottery items, the list goes on. Many of the homes are built around tiny courtyards, some containing stables, where there would be protection from bitter winds, but not the snow as you can see. Where once sleighs and carriages would have been housed cars now wait.
Elin had arranged a dinner for the five of us in a warm little dining room decorated with a Wedgewood style attractive frieze and brass lamps. A simple plate of locally caught fish, boiled small potatoes in their skins and lightly cooked cabbage cole slaw gave us a brief break from our thigh numbing wanderings around this uniquely attractive place.
The name comes from ROA meaning small river, the one you see in the photo which enters the Great Glama river at the OS meaning river mouth.
So soon, mid-afternoon, as the winter light faded into what is eloquently referred to as ‘The Blue Hour’ when everything takes on the hue of shallowing water we prepared to board our express in the now balmy minus 16 degrees.
This was my third visit and Rob’s first and it’s the sort of place where for some visceral reason we know we will be back, the journey alone is unmissable on a visit to this part of Norway, in Trondelag county in the Gauldalen Region.