Woodlore — School of Wilderness Bushcraft  


The Heroes of Telemark Expedition

Retracing Their Journey

Hitler's efforts to produce an atomic bomb were thwarted by a highly secret allied mission in 1943. A small group of men were sent to destroy a production facility nestled within a deep gorge in the Nowegian mountains. Their truly heroic and inspiring story demonstrates the highest degree of stoicism, resourcefulness, teamwork and determination.

Join us as we follow their story of endurance on the remote Hardangervidda plateau and pay tribute to their bravery and success which ultimately changed the outcome of the war.

Further Information

This new revised version of the 'The Real Heroes of Telemark Expedition' has been refined and improved; we have taken the best elements of the old course to provide an expedition that is suitable for novice and expert whilst retaining the essential challenge for both. This is a one week action packed trip to Norway for anyone interested in learning or revising their winter skills and re-enacting part of what must be the most famous Sabotage Operation during WWII. This new week-long trip is designed for anyone over the age of 18 with average fitness, an adventurous spirit and an interest in War History.

The success of the Telemark Operation was mainly due to the Norwegian saboteur's ability to operate and survive in a hostile winter environment. Our team in Norway will put you through an intense four day programme of winter skills culminating in a two night mini expedition on Northern Europe’s highest mountain plateau, the Hardangervidda following part of the original sabotage route for Operation Grouse. Altogether, you will ski approximately 35 kilometers; 17 kms of the original route. The final phase of your trip will be a realistic re-enactment of Operation Gunnerside at the Hydro Electric power plant near Rjukan. The Norwegian saboteurs who carried out this operation were to be known as "The Heroes of Telemark".

The Ray Mears' Real Heroes of Telemark TV series demonstrated the bravery of a small group of Norwegian saboteurs during WWII who put their lives at risk to stop the Germans gaining access to a substance called Deuterium Oxide or 'heavy water', a secret ingredient crucial in the Nazis attempt to make an Atomic Bomb. This challenging Woodlore expedition will take you on a fascinating journey retracing the ski tracks of these saboteurs.

The saboteurs were chosen for their local knowledge and their survival skills that enabled them to survive in Northern Europe's most inhospitable environment, the high mountain plateau of the Hardangervidda.

Whilst the saboteurs' target was the hydroelectric power plant at Vemork, near Rjukan in the Telemark region, they were dropped high up in the mountains to avoid detection. The men then travelled through this harsh mountain environment towards their ultimate target, finding shelter as they went.

Even if you are a non/novice skier, this exclusive Woodlore expedition will train you to a level that will enable you to undertake this remarkable journey.

The first three days will be based in the Setesdal Valley, south of the Hardanger led by chief instructor Matt Larsson-Clifford from Hogas winter skiing centre run by Brian Desmond. In a beautifully forested area, this training phase will concentrate on basic skiing skills in forgiving, undulating terrain suited to the novice skier. These are important skills that are necessary to enable you to complete the expedition phase of the trip. These skills will add a dimension to your skiing that will stay with you for years to come.

During the initial training phase you will be based just north of the town of Evje. Your accommodation will be based at the winter centre at the Revsnes Hotel. This accommodation has central heating, double rooms, excellent facilities including en-suite showers, kitchen area and TV room, allowing time to relax in the evenings after a hard day's ski training and hearty meals are provided everyday. This phase will allow you to meet the daily rigors of learning a new skill in a winter environment. It will also prepare you for the challenge of the expedition to come.

On completion of the ski-training phase you will transfer further north to edge of the Hardangervidda where Norwegian guides will be waiting to take us on a fantastic winter wilderness journey onto Northern Europe’s highest mountain plateau. You will stay for two nights in close proximity to the cabins actually used by the Norwegian saboteurs in 1942 using them as a base while sleeping in lavvo and snow shelters. During your time on the vidda you will acclimatise to the local weather and snow conditions as well as take part in winter camp craft skills.

After two nights out on the vidda, having successfully completed part of the sabotage route, you will be transported to a hotel near to Rjukan for two nights from where (after a good night's sleep!) there will be a short tour of the actual attack route used by the saboteurs over 60 years ago. You will also have the chance to ride the Krossobanen cable car, visit the Vemork museum at Rjukan and the impressive Heavy Water display there, plus indulge in some local shopping.

On the last night there will be a celebration dinner, where diplomas will be handed out, before departing for home the next day. Your last two days will conclude this memorable trip, giving insight to the original operation and adding to the historical context of what you have achieved.

Course Dates

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Course Video

Course Reviews

The Heroes of Telemark Expedition is rated 5/5 based on 7 customer reviews.

All of our reviews are from people who have attended our courses.

Overall Rating:


  1 of 7

  A thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile course which covers an awful lot of ground both figuratively and literally. Brian, the course leader, is an absolute legend. His breadth of historical knowledge of the Telemark saboteurs is quite without equal and it was fascinating to listen to his views and anecdotes (especially when he presents them in such an engaging and accessible way). His passion for the subject is palpable and I'm certain a case could be made for him being the world's number one expert on the subject of the Telemark saboteurs. Mat, the lead instructor, is a professional in every sense of the word. His skillset and experience is about as broad as you can imagine and his ability to get to the core of the subject matter is be hard to beat. I found him to be an engaging and knowledgable instructor and a great deal of fun to be around. Chris, the secondary instructor was also a wonderful addition to the team. His skillset was obviously very broad and his knowledge of Norway and Nordic skiing was great to dip into. A very interesting chap who was both helpful and supportive whenever necessary. I had never skied before this trip yet at no point did I feel out of my depth. My teammates (all previous skiers in one form or another) were encouraging and I rapidly fell in love with Nordic skiing thanks to the training, the support and, not to mention, the true magnificence of Norway. The hotels we stayed at were wonderful, especially the first hotel (the Revsnes) which was extremely welcoming and well presented. The food was excellent and I made a point of thanking the chef personally for his hard and very much appreciated efforts. I could discuss the trip in much greater detail but simply don't want to give away too much! Instead, I'll close by saying that if you have reasonable fitness, at least a passing interest in history and a true love of the outdoors, I cannot recommend this course highly enough. Many thanks to Brian, Mat, Chris and Diane for all of their hard work and attention to detail, not to mention Ray's drive and vision for offering the course in the first place. J Fairhead  


Rated: 5/5

  2 of 7

  The Norway end was well organised, and very well run. The bringing us all up to standard skiing was well done and well judged. The Expo phase was excellent and the final phase a good finale. What was not well done was the recommended flights. We had 4.5 hours hanging around at Oslo airport, and could have easily got a whole series of earlier flights. Recommended flights were via Amsterdam. Why? This just added yet more time, another two hours of hanging about. The flight out, had us all up around three in the morning, and gave most of us a logistical challenge of being at the airport for 04:30. Tubes and trains not running at that time, a later flight arrangement would have worked better. Maximise time in Norway, but not to the expense of being at an airport for 04:30. On the whole I would easily recommend this course, just don't take the advised travel arrangements at face value. Do your own.  


Rated: 5/5

Woodlore's Reply - 15th March, 2022
Dear Martin, Thank you very much for your review. We are very pleased to hear that you had a good time on the Heroes of Telemark Expedition in Norway last week and that you enjoyed all aspects of the skiing trip. We are sorry that you felt that the recommended outbound flight was too early. From previous experience we have found that a longer layover helps to ensure that luggage gets transferred from one flight to another, we have had missing bags a few times, which as you can imagine creates a few problems at the start of the trip. We will however look at this again and see if there are any amendments that can be made for future trips. With best wishes

  3 of 7

  I have just completed the HOT Expedition and as I am sure you have seen from the blog we had a great time. The end to end process was brilliant. Your team in the UK were always able to help in preparation and promotion of our blogging and charity fundraising efforts. Your team in Norway are professional, passionate and fun to work with. Brian and Glyn provide a safe, enjoyable, progressive learning environment and are adept at bringing the saboteurs' story to life. The unique combination of skills, environment, military and local history, team work, personal journey, hard work, fun and the beauty of Norway, in particular the Hardanger Vidda is what makes this expedition amazing - the course director and guide as well as support from the local Norwegians made this come alive for us. In particular I would like to express admiration for Brian's depth of knowledge of the saboteurs' story - I wish I could interview him and learn how to write it all down. I would also like to mention Glyn's training style. We never felt like we were being taught but we all learn't a lot. Glyn also prepared us, helped us form in to a team that would succeed in the task and lead us on the expedition. All with good humor. If you are reading this and are undecided if you should do this - then do it, an amazing allround experience. Thanks Alex  


Rated: 5/5

  4 of 7

  We have just returned from the Heroes of Telemark course and I just wanted to share our feedback with Woodlore. This is the second course we have done with Woodlore having done the Arctic Survival course in 2008. Once again it competely exceeded our expectations. It was one of the most special and emotional trips we have ever done. To follow in the footsteps of the saboteurs was fascinating and humbling. Crossing the Hardanger Vidda was spectacular and to re-enact the final assault on the hydroelectric power plant at Vemork was a perfect end to an awesome adventure. Brian Desmond and Glyn Sheppard delivered the course to an exceptionally high standard. With their indepth knowledge and years of experience we felt very honoured to be with them. Thank you Woodlore once again for an amazing adventure. Kind Regards Rosie and Andy Deamer  


Rated: 5/5

  5 of 7

  This fantastic expedition does exactly what it says on the tin. It retraces the footsteps of some remarkable WW2 heroes and stays as close as possible to the exact route they took - right down to sleeping in the same beds! However, what makes this expedition extra special is the people who lead the course; Brian Desmond and Glyn Sheppard. Both former British Military men with a wealth of knowledge about the saboteurs, the operations of Grouse, Freshman and Gunnerside and an exellent knowledge of Norweigan customs and history. Brian's vast cross-country skiing and biathlon experience assisted in bringing the group up to the base level of skiing ability required for the expedition. Glyn's mountaineering and navigational ability was invaluable up on the vidda and his sense of humour and laid back but professional approach added to the overall enjoyment of the expedition. Although I am well travelled, this expedition goes down in my books as one of this best things I have ever done. Highly recommended - Big thanks to all.  


Rated: 5/5

  6 of 7

  I have just returned from what was a truly exhilarating experience, namely, the Heroes of Telemark skiing expedition. From start to finish the training and the expedition itself were superbly well organised and carried out with military precision. Both Brian, the course leader, and Glynn, the expedition guide, were superb in every respect. At age 61, even with many years of normal Alpine skiing holiday experience, I did not expect this undertaking to be physically easy - and I was so right! For the first two days of training I had pains where I never thought I had muscles and there were indeed times when will power - and a little help from my team mates - picked me up and kept me going. The raw beauty of the Hardanger Vidda landscape was breathtaking and knowing that one was following the skisteps of true Norwegian heroes was quite a spiritual experience. The conviviality of the Norwegian dog sleigh team - Olav and Isaach - who shadowed us from a distance, greatly added to the enjoyment and authenticity of the trip. Perhaps I was particularly fortunate in finding myself part of a team that gelled together so well. On the other hand, I would expect that anyone who undertakes this trip would share a true sense of adventure and a deep appreciation of its historical context. Thank you for the opportunity to relive such a remarkable piece of Nordic history.  


Rated: 5/5

  7 of 7

  The course was excellant. Brian and Glyn are legends! The build up was just right with all the team hitting the right fitness levels for journey across the Vidda. The landscape will stay with me as will the passion of the said legends for their commitment and attention to detail. Awesome!!  


Rated: 5/5

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