No discussion of hiking in Jotunheimen would be complete without mention of Besseggen, the most popular hike in Norway. Indeed, some travellers find it too popular, with at least 30,000 hikers walking it in the three months a year that it's passable. The day hike between Memurubu Lodge and Gjendesheim takes about six hours and climbs to a high point of 1743m. Park at Gjendesheim, hop on the M/S Gjende ferry and cross the lake to begin the hike.
Most people do it in this direction but there's nothing to stop you doing it in reverse, except that if you're planning on returning to the trek start point, and your car, then you need to time your walk well in order to get the last ferry back (4.30pm). Note that at busy times (which is most of the July to August period), long queues can form for the ferry and the boats operate a near continuous service.
From Memurubu, follow the signs up the steep hill. After much huffing and puffing you emerge on a flatter plateau. The trail is very obvious and it would be hard to get lost. The route winds past Bjørnbøltjørn, a small glacial lake, and offers amazing views down to the much larger, turquoise lake Gjende, which gains its extraordinary colour thanks to the 20,000 tonnes of glacial silt dumped into it each year by the Memuru river. After an undulating couple of hours, you reach the steepest part of the climb up onto the Besseggen Ridge proper. From afar this looks very narrow and precarious, but, although you do have to do quite a lot of scrambling and have a head for heights, it's actually not as hard, or narrow, as it seems from a distance. Once up onto the ridge, the route climbs gently through scree slopes to the summit of the Veslefjellet plateau before a fairly tame walk back down to Gjendesheim.
The walk is accessible to anyone of reasonable fitness. We have seen lots of families with small children doing it, although you will have to carry them up parts of it and the climb up the Besseggen Ridge becomes somewhat trickier with a young child clinging to you.
In the words of Henrik Ibsen, Besseggen 'cuts along with an edge like a scythe for miles and miles…And scars and glaciers sheer down the precipice to the glassy lakes, 1600ft below on either side.' Stirring stuff, and still true as ever.