** SWEDEN 2013 - WEEKS 17~20 **
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CAMPING IN SWEDEN 2013 - Baltic Island of Öland, Kalmar, Karlskrona, Kristianstad, Åhus, Kivik, Stenshuvud National Park, SW coast of Skåne, Ystad, Falsterbo peninsula, Malmö, Öresund Bridge for return to Denmark and UK:
The island of Öland: at Kalmar we crossed the 6km long, high-arching toll-free bridge over the Kalmar Sound to the Baltic Island of Öland which was to be our home for the next 5 days (see left). The slender island is one long limestone plateau, scoured by the last Ice Age's retreating ice, leaving a unique geology and flora. Öland had been a royal hunting ground from the mid-16th century until 1801, ruled with scant regard for its native peasant farmers who were barred from chopping wood, hunting animals or selling their produce on the open market. Danish attacks added to the Ölanders' miseries, and a series of disastrous harvests in mid-19th century led to a quarter of the population emigrating to seek a new life in America. Wooden windmills dating from the 18th century still cover Öland, and as we drove northwards from the bridge towards the island's main town of Borgholm, we passed a number of these conserved by the roadside.
Borgholm Castle: the surviving ruins of Borgholm Slott (Castle) were silhouetted on the cliff tops as we approached the southern end of the town (see right). Construction of the original fortress was begun in the late 12th century by King Knut Eriksson, and when Gustav Vasa secured Swedish independence in 1523 he strengthened the huge castle to protect his new realm, and his sons prettified it as a Renaissance palace. In the mid-17th century Tessin the Elder further enlarged the royal palace, but by the 18th century the disused castle fell into ruins, finally being destroyed by fire in 1806. Today the roofless ruins still stand proudly atop the cliffs near to one of the Swedish royal family's summer residences, and we walked around the stark towers and redoubts among scrub-covered meadows (Photo 1 - The ruins of Borgholm Castle).
Wikegårds Camping overlooking the Baltic shore-line: in the northern outskirts of Borgholm we turned off to find the Bronze Age 3m high, 40m diameter burial mound of Blå Rör, tucked away in a sheep paddock, then continued north on Route 136 passing some of Öland's distinctive exposed limestone escarpments and the dry-stone walls criss-crossing the bare limestone plateau landscape. Reaching the village of Högby, we turned off onto a single-track lane leading across to the island's east coast to find tonight's campsite, Wikegårds Camping. Set on a 19th century croft-farm with the camping areas spread among the former pasture land, it was truly delightful place, but with a tragic history so typical of the desperately hard life endured by Öland's crofting families many of whom emigrated: the mother died early and the eldest daughter brought up her younger siblings while father worked the farm. The 5 younger children eventually emigrated and Alma the eldest daughter maintained the farm until she died in 1959, and the farm became a campsite in 1980. We were welcomed by the elderly lady owner who, speaking in limited English suggested we camp in the shelter of large juniper bushes from the brisk Öland wind, looking out to the Baltic shoreline; it was a truly magnificent spot. Dusk was now falling even earlier and by 8-30pm it was pitch dark; with the only lights being from an array of wind-farms out in the Baltic, the night sky was studded with a multitude of stars and the Milky Way clearly visible.
The gloomy cloud and drizzle had blown itself out over night and with a clear sky and bright sun we were able to sit out for breakfast looking out across the pastures enclosed by dry-stone walls to the distant shimmering Baltic (see above left). One of Öland's post-windmills stood by the farm gateway, and down at the Baltic shoreline we could gaze out across the calm seascape and spectacular Baltic sky (see right).
Öland's windmills: our exploration of the northern part of Öland began at Sandvik Kvarn (Mill), a preserved Dutch windmill built originally in 1856 in Småland, transported piecemeal and reassembled here in 1885 on a 2-storey sandstone base. It remained in use as a working mill until 1950 when it was converted to a café. Some 20 Dutch windmills still survive in Öland, with sails attached to a revolving cap, unlike post-mills where the mill-cabin and sails are turned manually into the wind on the post-pivot. The smaller post-mills would have served individual farms, whereas the bigger Dutch mills would have been operated by a miller as a toll mill with reimbursement made by farmers bringing their grain for grinding. Today we decided to treat ourselves at the mill to a traditional Öland lunch of Kroppkakor, potato dumplings filled with chopped pork and onion, and after lunch we clambered up the mill's rickety stairs to admire the intricacies of its wooden cog mechanism connecting the sails to the grinding wheels (see left).
We moved on to the nearby Knisa Mosse nature reserve, an area of coastal wetlands once used for cutting reeds and hay but now conserved, where a 500m stretch of path led from the parking area through an oak copse to a bird observation tower overlooking the marshes. Crossing the board-walk we found a beautiful patch of Grass of Parnassus flowers in the moist land (see right); we had seen this magnificent flower from way up in the Arctic right down to here in the very south of Scandinavia. Unfortunately there was little bird life to be seen on the marshes other than a lone grey heron fishing among the reeds.
Källa Gamla Kyrka (Old Church): Öland is noted for its medieval fortified churches and a little further south we turned off Route 136 to Föra village. The first wooden church here, built in the 11th century soon after the islanders' conversion to Christianity, was replaced by a sturdy stone church which doubled as a fortress-refuge for the local population at times of attack by raiders from across the Baltic. Further north at Källa, a single-track lane led down to the harbour where the huge barn-like structure of Källa Gamla Kyrka (Old Church) stood. This had been a place of worship from ancient times close to a pagan sacred well near to the east coast port which had long been one of the most important trading centres on Öland. With frequent attacks on the harbour by Baltic pirates, the stone church was built in the 12th century to double as a refuge with a further storey added later above the formerly barrel-vaulted nave, with defensive windows to resist attackers. When the new Källa church was built in the modern village in the 19th century, the church furnishings were transferred from the old church which fell into disuse and was conserved as a state monument. The elderly attendant showed us the church's features and told us of its history; without doubt this was the most impressive of the island's fortress-churches standing so starkly by the little harbour.
Neptuni Åkrar beach: after visiting another of the fortress-churches at Högby further north and the fishing harbour of Böda Hamn, we headed across through the pine forests which cover the island's north to find tonight's campsite, Tokenäs Camping set by another post-windmill on the NW coast (see above left). The following morning with a brisk wind blowing off the sea, we set off to explore the island's northern tip. Just north of the small harbour of Byxelkrok from where summer ferries cross to Oskarhamn on the mainland and to the Kalmar Sound islet of Blå Jungfrau, we reached the wide rubble-field of Neptuni Åkrar, a barren beach of wave-pounded rubble-banks above the flat slabs of bed-rock limestone along the waterline. The flat upper surface of the slabs was scored with linear Orthoceratite fossils, a marine cephalopod with external tubular shell. Labelled 'Neptune's Fields' by Linné after his 1741 visit, the 200m wide rubble embankments above the sea stretch for over 1km. Today the SW gale drove breakers crashing onto the shoreline of limestone slabs with the bright sun lighting the pounding surf and blue sea (see above right) (Photo 2 - Waves breaking onto Neptuni Åkrar beach). There was little plant life among the beach's barren rubble but what did grow here in abundance were the blue-purple-pink flowers of the spiky-leaved Viper's Bugloss (Photo 3 - Viper's Bugloss - Echium vulgare) and we were soon down on hands and knees photographing the curiously attractive flowers (see left). Not a native of Öland, the seeds are thought to have originated in a ship-load of gravel landed at Byxelkrok in 1934 which in the absence of competition spread along the barren limestone rubble of the Neptuni Åkrar beach.
Öland's northern tip and Trollskogen nature trail: northwards from here, we drove around a single-track lane leading to the Långe Erik lighthouse which guards Öland's northern tip (see right). The lane ended at Grankullaviken lagoon enclosed by the 2 arms which form the island's northern point. Cows plodged in the shallow waters along the shore-side meadow and cormorants perched out in the bay. A footbridge linked across to one of a series of islets almost closing off the mouth of the bay where the lighthouse rose above the trees. Around the far side of the bay, we turned off to walk the 4.5km nature trail around the Trollskogen peninsula. The way-marked path led across the peninsula's 0.5km width through forests of pine and venerable oaks out to the eastern coastline looking across the Baltic. Sheltered from the brisk SW wind, the sea was peaceful and lit by bright sunshine; with not a soul in sight, this was a truly beautiful setting. The path continued northwards along the pine-fringed shingle beach, reaching the wreck of the wooden schooner Swiks beached here in a storm in 1926 while sailing from Wismar back to the Ålands, leaving the wreck to moulder here ever since (see left). The ribbed carcass of the wooden boat stood on the shingle like a beached whale. The path turned inland from the beach through pine woods passing a gnarled oak said to be 100s year old and still thriving, and crossed back towards the eastern shore with the increasingly loud sound of wind-driven waves on this side; looking across the bay we could see the islets and lighthouse where we had been earlier. Re-entering the forest, we passed pine trees twisted into convoluted shapes by wild winds in this exposed area (see right) (Photo 4 - Wind contorted pines at Trollskogen), and turned back through shore-side woodland meadows to complete the circuit of the forest nature trail.
Byrums Raukar sea stacks: to complete our day in the northern part of Öland, we drove back over to the eastern coast to find Byrums Raukar, a series of sea stacks carved out of the soft coastal limestone bed-rock by wave and wind action (see below left) (Photo 5 - Byrums Raukar sea stacks). Today the SW gale drove huge white breakers onto the shore-line as we walked along the top of the continuous series of mini-stacks up to 5m high eroded from the soft shale-like limestone cliffs along the 1 km long stretch of coast. Looking westwards, the low sun cast a long silvery tail across the sea lighting the silhouetted grey limestone stacks. After our fulsome day of exploration around northern Öland, we returned for a second night at Tokenäs Camping and quickly settled in with the SW gale now blowing up a chill driving drizzle and the windmill silhouetted against the evening sky (Photo 6 - Tokenäs Camping post-windmill at sunset). The following morning we returned to the peacefulness of Wikegårds Camping for a day in camp, sheltered from the wind behind the juniper bushes and looking out at the spectacular cloud-scape over the Baltic.
Southern Öland's medieval fortress-churches: the following morning, after a pause along the lane to photograph the post windmill, we returned south through Borgholm to stock up with provisions at the ICA supermarket, and turned off across the width of the island. The lane running south down the east coast was a peaceful delight to drive, passing attractive villages and farms. Our first stop was at the village of Gärdslösa to visit Öland's best preserved medieval church with its sturdy former defensive tower and stepped west-end gable. In bright morning sunlight we took our photos of this beautiful church from under the trees in the carefully tended grave-yard (Photo 7 - Öland's best preserved medieval church at Gärdslösa). The interior was notable for its magnificent painted chancel arches (see right), restored 17th century wall paintings and decorated pulpit carved in the 17th century by Kalmar craftsmen. Thankfully the interior decoration had been spared Baroque or 19th century over-elaboration, allowing the glorious simplicity of medieval and 16~17th century artwork to speak for itself. In the west-end porch several runic graffiti had been uncovered in the plasterwork, one translating as 'Johann made me'. Gärdslösa was certainly a good start to today's ecclesiastical and historical tour of southern Öland, especially on such a sunny morning.
Ismantorp Iron Age ring-fortress: we turned inland past a series of preserved post-windmills at Himmelsberga (Photo 8 - Öland post-windmill) and along a side-lane reached the remains of the early Iron Age fortified ring-village (borg) of Ismantorp. A footpath led to an open space and ahead were the crumbling limestone walls and one of the 9 gates of the fortified village. Ismantorp is the oldest of a number of such fortifications on Öland, built in the early centuries AD not as a permanent settlement but as a fortified dwelling for a tribal chieftain and his garrison and place of security in times of external threat for those farming the surrounding area. The external ring-wall was solidly constructed of local limestone and well-preserved, in places 3m high, enclosing a huge area with stone foundation remains of some 90 dwellings (see left). The place was abandoned around 650 AD, and little more is known of its history. We entered the inner enclosed area through the gateway and clambered up onto the walls, marvelling at the scale of the borg and state of its preservation in the vast peacefulness of this wonderful historic setting. (Photo 9 - Ismantorp Iron Age ring-fortress).
Gråborg ring-fortress and medieval fortifications: 20kms south we turned off again on one of the main cross-island roads to find Gråborg, originally an even larger Iron Age ring fort built around 500 AD but later adapted with strengthened walls as a medieval fortification. A small chapel dedicated to St Knut was built nearby, and tax records show both the fortress and chapel were owned by Vadstena Abbey and used as a trading centre into the late medieval period; the fortress was used as late as 1677 in the wars against the Danes. A path led past the ruins of St Knut's chapel and over to the remains of the ring fort's surviving walls. A vaulted archway, part of the medieval fortifications led through the massive limestone walls (see right). Nothing of the Iron Age fortified settlement or later medieval military works survives today leaving just the vast open space enclosed by the circular walls. We clambered up atop the gateway admiring the massively thick structure of the walls over 4m high and carefully constructed to have survived so long. The effort and manpower needed to garner and dress the stone and construct the ring-fortification of this scale defied imagination. How often, we wondered, did the Iron Age chieftain who controlled these territories need to summon his peasant farming folk into the security of the walled enclosure in the face of external threat? (Photo 10 - Gråborg ring-fortress and medieval fortifications)
The 10th century Karlevi Runestone: over on the SW side of the island just south of Färjestaden, we followed signs down a side-lane towards the shore of the Kalmar Sound and located the Karlevi Runestone, a 1.4m high monument covered with runic script. Dated to the late 10th century at the time of transition from Norse paganism to Christianity, the Karlevi Runestone is unique in containing both a prose dedication and a stanza of Viking period Skaldic verse, and on the reverse side a later non-runic inscription with Christian reference. The stone marks the grave of the Danish chieftain Sibbi Fuldarssson, killed in battle around 985 AD, and was raised in dedication by his sons. The prose dedication records the commemoration to Sibbi, and the honorific verse which follows mentions a female Valkyrie deity Trud and reference to one of names of Odin; clearly Sibbi still clung to the pagan Æsir beliefs.
Resmo and Vickeby medieval churches: the next village south on Route 136 was Vickeby where the church dated back to the mid-12th century. As with other medieval Öland churches, the original foundation was strengthened with a sturdy defensive tower as protection against raiders from across the Baltic (see right). Just down the road Resmo church is one of Sweden's oldest surviving churches still in use. It began as a private foundation in the 11th century, endowed by a local wealthy landowner who stood to gain from his investment in the church from fees paid by parishioners for baptisms, weddings and funerals. Again the tower was strengthened as a defensive refuge, but the Danish invasions of 1677 wrought havoc with the decorations, treasures and archives of both Resmo and Vickeby churches plundered or destroyed.
Southern Öland's Stora Alvaret limestone plateau: we turned off to cross the Stora Alvaret, the vast, barren limestone plateau which covers the bulk of southern Öland; at 260km2 it is the largest such limestone expanse in Europe. The Alvar was formed by the retreating glaciers scouring the limestone deposits, and after Öland's emergence from the Baltic as the land rose at the end of the Ice Age, over the next millennia the bare limestone was overlaid by a thin mantle of soil, only 2cms at its thickest, by plant colonisation and wind-driven deposition. The term alvar is derived from this thin soil covering and in some places the limestone bed-rock is still entirely bare. The first humans crossed to colonise Öland while there was still a residual ice-bridge. During the Bronze and Iron Ages, farming developed on the Alvar which was used to graze animals. During the 18~19th centuries over-exploitation of the poor soil led to insufficient arable land to feed the increasing population, and many emigrated to seek a new life overseas leaving abandoned villages like Dröstorp. Today the barren plateau is criss-crossed by dry-stone walls and still used for livestock grazing. We crossed the width of the island over the barren Alvaret plain to the eastern coast, pausing to look out across this curious landscape (see left). It needed little to see how thin the top-soil layer was and in places the bare limestone showed through. Dry-stone walls stretched away in all directions, the plain covered in places with stunted scrub.
Seby prehistoric grave-fields and a peaceful night's camp at Gräsgårds Fiskehamn: we turned south on this lovely eastern coastal road and between the villages of Segestad and Seby reached our final visit of this long day's explorations: the prehistoric grave-fields which line the south-eastern ridge of Öland contain some 300 standing stones and grave-mounds from the early centuries AD through to the Viking period. The most prominent standing stones were at Seby where 2 large monoliths marked a series of stone-settings (Photo 11 - Seby early Iron Age grave fields). A further km south a 3m high 11th century runestone stood by the road side with the inscription Ingjald, Näf and Sven erected this stone as a memorial to their father Rodmar (see right). Our planned campsite for tonight at the Ottenby Vandrahem turned out to be a cheerless and over-expensive place brim-full of statics, but fortunately we had earlier noticed a straightforward little campsite close to Gräsgårds Fiskehamn where working boats were moored in the picturesque little fishing harbour (Photo 12 - Gräsgårds Fiskehamn) and cormorants perched on the rocks drying their outstretched wings. We exchanged a few words in basic Swedish with one of the fishermen at the quay who gladly agreed to us camping at this peaceful and charactersome place; facilities were basic but at 110kr/night with power from a socket covered by a fishing crate, what could be better; and we settled in to enjoy the last warmth of the evening sun. It was another dark night with the Milky Way stretching across a star-filled sky.
Långe Jan lighthouse and Ottenby bird reserve at Öland's southernmost tip: a gloriously pink dawn lit the eastern sky over the Baltic leading to a warm, sunny morning, and we sat out for breakfast looking across to the little fishing harbour, cheered by a peaceful night's camp in this charming sitting. We turned off at Ottenby along a single-track lane leading across the treeless, bleak sheep pastures of what had once been a royal hunting estate, to the Långe Jan lighthouse and bird observation station at Öland's southernmost tip. Migrating birds in their 1000s cross Öland on their incredible journeys and are trapped in nets at the Ottenby observation station, ringed and sent on their way, and at the Naturum we learned more about bird migration patterns. We walked out past the enormous base of the lighthouse to the shore-line at the island's tip where the shallow waters of the immediate foreshore were filled with birds (see left) (Photo 13 - Cormorants and Mute Swans off Ottenby): cormorants perched on rocks comically splashing their wings; mute swans glided around serenely, remaining indifferently aloof to the squawking gulls; a few mallard and grebes paddled around busily. And further out a line of basking bulky, hump-backed Harbour Seals made low, contented bellowing sounds to one another. and sleek Grey Seals swam around in the shallows. We stood for an hour happily watching these displays through our binoculars across the bay by the lighthouse (see right). Further back from the Ottenby bird reserve at the lighthouse we walked over to another early Iron Age burial ground marked by 2 huge monoliths, the Kungsstenarna (King's Stones). The limestone standing stones and flat slabs were covered with clearly visible Orthoceratite fossils (see below right).
Gettlinge prehistoric burial grounds and return to the mainland: we drove back along the south-western side of the island overlooking the Kalmar Sound, and some 15 kms north reached the village of Gettlinge. A low ridge, the residue of a raised beach formed by post-glacial land uplift, ran north~south between the coastal strip and western fringe of the Stora Alvaret limestone plateau, and would have been the only place with soil layers thick enough for human burials and creation of burial mounds. As a result, one of Öland's largest prehistoric burial grounds extends for some 2 kms along this ridge covering the period from 1,000 BC to 1,000 AD, with Bronze Age burial mounds, Iron Age standing stones and stone ship-settings from the Viking period. Just south of the modern village, we reached the most prominent grave fields with the close cropped turf emphasising the standing stones when lit by the low western sun. At the northern end the stone outline of the Gettlinge ship-setting survived with the entrance to the grave field marked by 2 large monoliths, making a perfect picture lit by the late afternoon sun with a 19th century post-windmill and modern wind farm as background (see left). It was time now to be leaving Öland after such a fruitful 5 days, and after topping up our provisions at the supermarket at Färjestaden, we re-crossed the high 6km bridge with the western sun streaking across the Sound and the silhouette of Kalmar Castle visible on the mainland shore. The busy evening traffic as we entered the outskirts of Kalmar came as a culture shock after Öland's rural solitude. Our satnav guided us through residential areas of the city to reach Stensö Camping where a locked reception presented a total non-welcome; this was a miserable campsite with impossibly sloping ground, and while the outside world enjoyed bright evening sunshine, Stensö camping areas were dank, gloomy and cheerless, under the heavy shade of pine and oak trees. Their web site ironically boasted of facilities last upgraded in 1998 and it showed! limited, antiquated and grubby would be kindest description. We should stay one night and move on after our visit to the historic city of Kalmar tomorrow.
Kalmar's historic castle and city: morning traffic was light as we drove into Kalmar and found parking by the railway station It was a beautiful morning with early autumn sunshine lighting the façade of the castle set on its small island directly opposite. The original town of Kalmar developed in the shadow of the castle which had been built in the 12th century and fully fortified by King Magnus Ladulås a century later to defend Sweden's SW coast. It was at Kalmar Castle in 1397 that Queen Margareta instigated the Union of Kalmar which merged the thrones of Norway, Denmark and Sweden into one realm. But such was the antipathy between Swedes and Danes that the Union was a fragile arrangement. Kalmar Castle was in the front line of confrontation, and managed to remain unscathed despite being subjected to 11 sieges as the 2 states rivalled for power. When Gustav Vasa secured Sweden's independence in 1523, he strengthened Kalmar Castle's fortifications further to protect the new kingdom, while his degenerate sons Erik and Johann chose the wall-paper to convert the Slott into a luxuriously appointed Renaissance palace. The interior remains intact today as one of Scandinavia's finest palaces of the period. The old town of Kalmar close to the castle was destroyed by fire in the 1640s, and Kalmar was moved to the nearby island of Kvarnholmen and rebuilt with Baroque precision by Tessin the Elder in 1660 as a model grid-plan with the domkyrka (cathedral) at its centre. Being vulnerable to Danish attack during the Scanian Wars of the 1670s, the town's island was surrounded by fortification walls. The modern city has expanded inland but overall Kalmar remains small with a population of around 60,000.
Kalmar Länsmusem exhibiting remains from the 17th century warship Kronan: we crossed to the delightful rose gardens along the waters edge looking across at the elegant turreted outline of Kalmar Slott from under the trees with the morning sunlight gleaming on the fortifications (see above right). This was a delightfully memorable spot to sit and eat our sandwich lunch gazing across the water to the castle where the Union of Kalmar had been signed 600 years ago (Photo 14 - Lunch at Kalmar Castle). From here we ambled through the town past the fortification walls and guest harbour; in the distance the Öland bridge arched across the Sound as a freighter from Kalmar's commercial docks passed beneath. Around at the Tullhamnen, the harbour-side was dominated by a 19th century red brick former steam mill now refurbished as the Kalmar Länsmusem, our next port of call. The museum's permanent displays exhibit remains recovered from the 17th century Swedish warship Kronan sunk in a naval engagement with a Danish fleet 6 kms off the SW coast of Öland in 1676. The wreck of Kronan was located in 1980 by underwater archaeologist Anders Franzén, who earlier had discovered the site of the Vasa. Investigation of the 26m deep sea bed in the Baltic's clear waters immediately revealed a whole section of the vessel's port side, and subsequent years of underwater archaeology has systematically produced more than 25,000 artefacts ranging from the ship's huge bronze cannons down to human skeletal remains, Kronan's ornate wooden sculptures, a treasure trove of gold and silver coins, personal effects, clothing, pewter plates and flasks. Exploration of the wreck site still continues and there are aspirations one day to recover and restore the wooden remains of the ship as with Vasa which we had seen in Stockholm (see log of our visit to the Vasa Museum).
Sinking of the warship Kronan in 1676: Kronan had been built in Stockholm's Skeppsholmen navy yard in 1665~68, designed by an English ship-wright Francis Sheldon, and unlike the bulky rounded keeled Vasa, Kronan had a deeper draft, V-shaped hull and less lofty stern. At that time she was the largest and most heavily armed warship afloat, twice the size of the Vasa with an armament of 126 cannons (compared with Vasa's 64) over 3 decks, and a crew of 550 officers and men and marine complement of 300 soldiers. Kronan was commanded by Admiral of the Fleet Lorenz Creutz, personally appointed by the young Swedish King Karl XI. Creutz was a wealthy and well-placed aristocrat, an administrator with just one week's naval experience! The Swedish navy had already suffered catastrophic losses in the early stages of the Scanian War due to poorly maintained warships, ill-trained crews, incompetent seamanship and poor discipline by its aristocratic officers who had little naval experience. Creutz set sail from Stockholm early in 1676 with 60 heavily armed men-of-war, and orders from the king to find and destroy the Danish fleet which some weeks before had landed a force on Gotland. Leading the fleet aboard his flagship Kronan, Creutz was already in contention with his other commanders who led the accompanying squadrons. In late May Kronan showed her overwhelming firepower in a successful action against the Danes, but the battle also revealed weaknesses of discipline with fellow commanders showing disregard for their commander-in-chief's authority, near-mutinous discord, and evident lack of confidence in his competence to lead the fleet. By 31 May the Swedish fleet was off the SW coast of Öland trailed by the Danish fleet, with a gusty gale blowing which scattered the vessels. This time, discord and rivalry among the commanders led to disaster: on the morning of 1 June while Kronan attempted to avoid action in the blustery conditions, Admiral Uggla ordered his ship to alter course to face the Danes; Creutz tried to countermand the order but was obliged to follow suit. There was discord among Kronan's officers about increasing or decreasing sail as Kronan tacked in the blustery wind. It was clear that the Vasa disaster of 40 years earlier was still a vivid memory since Creutz did at least order all the cannon ports closed to avoid shipping water as she turned. But in the swell the crew could not withdraw Kronan's cannons; a gust of wind caused her to heave over and she began shipping water through the still open cannon ports. A lantern ignited the gunpowder magazine and a mighty explosion ripped Kronan apart. She sank with the loss of 800 lives including Creutz. Kronan's design was tried and tested and the ship was far more stable than Vasa had ever been. But again the human factor of incompetent leadership and discord and poor decision-taking among the officers was a major factor in a second disastrous loss of a major vessel of the Swedish navy with all her costly armaments in 40 years.
Our visit to the Kronan Museum: the Kalmar Länsmusem's ground floor displayed some of the Kronan's bronze cannons recovered from the wreck site, enormous guns the heaviest weighing over 5 tons with a range of up to 2kms ( see above right and left). The main exhibition opened with a cleverly conceived diorama of the wreck site with English language explanatory commentary, followed by video describing the naval action and Kronan's dramatic sinking, the wreck's discovery and underwater archaeology to recover materials from the wreck site. The subsequent series of displays, all well-presented with multi-lingual texts, gave fulsome explanation of Kronan's scale and armaments, and moving human detail about the crew and life in 17th century Sweden from osteology studies of skeletal remains recovered from the wreck. Alongside displays of artefacts such as personal effects, table-ware and clothing, a reconstruction of the gun-deck showed conditions on board a 17th century warship (see right); perhaps most impressive was the treasure trove of gold and silver coins recovered from the wreck site with ducats and tholars from around Europe and even the middle east (see left); much of the treasure is believed to have been amassed by Creutz himself though why he risked his fortune in the vagaries of a naval battle was not explained. The final film outlined the vision of a future raising of Kronan's wooden remains, their conservation and display in a purpose-built museum just like Vasa. All in all, the Kalmar Länsmusem's displays on Kronan were truly admirable, and although as yet having no actual ship remains as its centrepiece, the museum certainly ranked with Stockholm's Vasa Museum, with all the recovered artefacts giving such a memorable insight into life in Sweden's 17th century great power period.
Kalmar Baroque Cathedral and medieval Castle: in the warm afternoon sunshine, we walked Kalmar's grid of streets into the vast open space of the cobbled Stortorget where suddenly the enormous Baroque ochre splendour of the Domkyrka appeared before us, looking more like a bauble-decked 17th century palace than a cathedral (see right) (Photo 15 - Kalmar's Baroque Cathedral). Tessin modelled his design for the new city's cathedral on Baroque churches he had seen in Rome. On the opposite corner of the square, the Rådhus, also designed by Tessin, paled into insignificance in comparison with the Domkyrka though in its way no less splendid. Inside, the cathedral was indeed a palace of Baroque extravaganza with an enormous and unsightly (no other word is apt) altar piece backed by a painting showing the Deposition graphically detailing the dead Christ being hauled by ropes down from the cross by men on ladders. Equally obscene was the over-ornate pulpit topped by a triple-decker confection of gnome-like sleeping soldiers overlooking a gilded figure of Christ. In contrast with all the Baroque exuberance, the walls were painted in refrained plain cream and covered with huge coats of arms of aristocratic families. Before leaving Kalmar, we walked down to the Castle and across the reconstructed drawbridge where Gustav Vasa's bold coat of arms in limestone relief decorated the panel over the gateway. The view from the high outer ramparts gave an full impression of the scale of Vasa's fortifications, and a line of cannons stood in readiness to repel renewed Danish attacks (see left).
A delightful welcome at Dalskärs Camping: it was now time to leave the delightful town of Kalmar after our memorable visit and set off on the E22 motorway down the Småland coast heading for Dalskärs Camping which we had found in the Swedish Camping Association listing; the owner had responded helpfully to our telephone enquiry and stayed open to welcome us personally with our late arrival. The camping areas were spread around reed-fringed lagoons by the guest-harbour and weary after a long day, we settled into a delightful spot lit by warm evening sunshine by the water's edge; the blessed St Serendipity had come to our aid yet again in finding us such a welcoming, well-appointed and wonderfully placed campsite, a perfect spot for tomorrow's day in camp. After a chill night, the sun rose mistily across the water in a perfectly clear sky (Photo 16 - Early morning mist at Dalskärs Camping); it was a beautiful autumn morning for breakfast outside beside our reed-fringed lagoon (see right). In such a memorably beautiful setting in perfect weather, we enjoyed a restful and productive day in camp (Photo 17 - Reed-fringed lagoons at Dalskärs Camping): a final load of laundry was washed using Dalskärs' high standard facilities, we completed more writing and read up on the next phase of our travels through Skåne, enjoyed the campsite's home made bread, and watched a neighbouring grey heron soaring around and fishing in the reed-beds (Photo 18 - Grey Heron in lagoon reeds at Dalskärs Camping); and to conclude such a splendid day's camping, we cooked supper of Swedish köttbular (meatballs) in a creamy lingonberry sauce as the evening grew autumnally chill and misty.
Karlskrona naval port: it's always an indication of a good campsite when you are sorry to be leaving, and the next day we did indeed regret having to leave Dalskärs Camping. After a pause at Blomlöfs Rökeri (fish smoke-house) at Brömsebro village for their renowned smoked salmon fillets, we continued on to Karlskrona. After the military disasters of the 1675~79 Scanian Wars and loss of the Kronan resulting in the Danish near re-occupation of Skåne, it was clear that an ice-free naval base was needed in Southern Sweden if the continued Danish threat was to be resisted and Swedish control of the Baltic maintained. In 1789 therefore, King Karl XI selected the island of Trossö as the site of the new naval port of Karlskrona, protected from attack by an archipelago of encircling off-shore islands. Tessin the Younger, along with military engineers laid out the dockyards, harbour, fortifications and civilian town, all modelled on Baroque design principles; within 30 years the city with its fortified naval base, shipyards and civilian town were fully developed under the direction of Admiral-General Count Hans Wachtmeister as master-engineer. Very much the Pompey of Sweden, Karlskrona remains today Sweden's foremost naval base with significant parts of Trossö and the outer islands off-limits as a military zone, and uniformed Naval personnel seen about the city streets (see right) (Photo 19 - Sailors Ahoy! at Karlskrona naval port).
Our visit to Karlskrona: our stanav guided us over the now almost unnoticeable causeway linking across onto what was at the city's foundation Trossö Island, and we parked near the centre to walk through to the vast open space of Stortorget. At the eastern end of the city square, we entered Fredriks kyrkan, the church designed in 1697 by Tessin the Younger in Italianate style with vast Baroque proportions and imposing towers. Shortage of funds delayed building and the church was not consecrated until 1744. In the 1790 fire which devastated Karlskrona, much of the church's upper parts were destroyed and rebuilding took until 1806 when the church was named after the then reigning Fredrik I. The interior was light and airy with an ornate Baroque pulpit, dark ungainly altar array, grandiose organ and acres of box-pews. The main west door led out onto the church steps which overlooked the grand open space of Storporget. On the far side, the domed circular Baroque Trefaldighets kyrkan (Holy Trinity Church), designed by Tessin for the town's German citizens, was modelled on the Pantheon, but unfortunately locked today. In the square's centre a bronze statue of Karl XI, Karlskrona's founder, stood surrounded by market stalls where we sat for our sandwiches (see above left) (Photo 20 - Karlskrona market square). A remarkably restrained anti-NATO demonstration was being held at the far end of the square in front of the Rådhus. Down through the gardens of Amiralitets-torget past the apricot-coloured bell-tower built in 1699 as a clock for civilian dockyard workers, we reached the main Guardhouse at the entrance to the protected military zone of the naval base beyond. Razor-wire topped walls and armed sentries formed an impregnable barrier to further intrusion into the dockyard. Down past official-looking naval buildings in Vallgatan, a side lane ended at the four-square wooden church of Amiralitets-kyrkan Ulrica Pia; built in 1685 for the newly established naval base and named after Karl XI's queen-consort Ulrica Eleonora, the cruciform-shaped church seats a congregation of 4,000 (see right). Outside by the church steps, the wooden statue of Old Rosenbom stood waiting to attract tourists' coins for his poor-box (see left): the original Mats Rosenbom was a shipyard worker who fell on hard times when fever killed his 6 children and left him and his wife too ill to work; reduced to beggary, and drunk on New Year Eve 1717, he offended a wealthy ship's figurehead carver by failing to raise his hat in thanks for a few öre; struck over the head, he froze to death in overnight snow on the church steps. Next morning the wood carver found his body and in remorse carved the statute of Rosenbom which now stands where he died. It's a good yarn to entertain the tourists who have to raise his hat to drop money in his box.
We continued down to the Aurora Bastion, part of the early 18th century fortifications, and peered through the security gates at Kungsbron where royal visitors to the dockyard are piped ashore. Around the waterfront we reached the bridge over to the island of Stumholmen which was used by the Swedish Navy and Naval Air Squadron until 1980. Karlskrona Maritime Museum is now housed in one of the former dockyard buildings, but rather than pay to view a collection of figureheads and models, we walked around the quays past the moored ships. Back on the main island, we continued around the waterfront to investigate current naval vessels open to public view this weekend as part of a NATO exercise taking place at Karlskrona; this was the reason for the demo up in city square. One of the ships was a curiously angular Swedish Navy corvette, shaped like Stealth aircraft to avoid radar detection; one of the crew gave us the low down on the ship which we photographed along with Swedish military police who were too busy snapping one another to give regard to their duties of guarding the ship (see right).
Up over the crown of Trossö past Stortorget, we ambled down to Fisketorget on the western side of the island where, since the only fish to be seen today were those in the basket of the fishwife's statue, we stopped for an ice cream. After a quick visit to the rocky islet of Stakholmen, a sunbathing spot for local youngsters, we crossed to Björkholmen, once an impoverished area of wooden houses for civilian dockyard workers and now yuppified as twee, roses-round-the-door properties for BMW owners. Quite entertainingly incongruous however was the sight at the far end of this des-res area where we came face to face with the 6m high formidable obstacle of the Dockyard Wall (capital D, capital W); it was like positioning a group of up-market homes in the shadow of Wormwood Scrubs high security nick! Built in the 18~19th century to divide the naval base from the civilian town and keep prying eyes from the naval security zone, the Dockyard Wall still forms an impenetrable barrier. We followed the wall around, at one point peering curiously through a security gate at the mysteries beyond. Returning to the town, the market stalls at Stortorget and anti-NATO demo had all packed up and gone home, replaced by a Turkish burger bar, immigrant mums with their buggies, and young matelots chatting up the local totties; Karl XI's statue looked down contemptuously across his Baroque elegance, and we returned to the camper to find tonight's campsite.
Our plan had been to stay at the local campsite set on Dragsö Island on the western side of the archipelago, but having crossed the bridges linking the islands, we were faced with the horrendous spectacle of caravans crammed in like sardines and a seething mass of screaming holiday-makers; and despite the over-crowding, most of the service buildings were closed, it now supposedly being out-of-season; this was a total No-No even for one night! A quick consultation of the Swedish Camping Association listing identified several other sites along the coast, but on a sunny weekend these were all likely to be as bad. One inland campsite stood out, and a phone call produced a welcoming response; although the last thing we needed was a further hour's drive after a wearying day, we set off along the motorway into the low western sun, eventually reaching Långgasjönäs Camping deep in the Blekinge Län countryside. With dusk coming on we thankfully settled in.
Kristianstad and a boat-trip in the Vattenriket wetlands: our plan had been for a leisurely drive this morning to Kristianstad to book a bird-watching boat-trip on the Vattenriket wetlands for tomorrow. But on telephoning to enquire, we learnt that the only available tour along the Helge å river was this afternoon; suddenly a relaxed day hotted up as we hurried down the motorway to reach Kristianstad in time for today's boat trip. We arrived with 10 minutes to spare to find the boat landing stage. The Helge å is Skåne's longest river which rises in Småland and flows for 190kms through the flat lowlands and lakes around Kristianstad to the coast at Hanöbuken Bay; the natural outlet of the river is at Åhus, but in 1775 an artificial channel was cut to drain the lower marshes. The shallow river is usually just 1m above sea level but in high Spring tides can rise to over 2m, and gales from the SE can blow salty water and sea fish up into the river. The Vattenriket wetlands and marshes of the Helge å river now form a UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its rich vegetation and extensive bird life. The sun was bright with brisk SE gale blowing as the boat set off down-river to approach the reed-lined river's entry into the Hammarsjön lake. With the wind whipping up a swell, there was little bird-life to be seen, and the boatman began a lengthy social history of the flatlands largely in Swedish. The boat returned up-stream passing flat lowland riverside meadows and although we were able to see some birds of prey (kestrels, ospreys, marsh harrier), it was an expensive and disappointing outing (Photo 21 - Kristianstad from Helge å river). By the time we got back to the mooring, rain was beginning and we drove out to find tonight's campsite Charlottsborgs Vandrahem and Camping 3 kms west of the town. Out of season the hostel's warden was only present in the morning, but the campsite was open and we settled in one of the lawned parkland pitches sheltered by hedges.
Charlottsborgs Vandrahem and Camping: the following morning we booked in with the warden and were given access codes for the facilities. We asked about buses along the nearby main road into Kristianstad: yes, #2 bus ran into town; no, you can't buy tickets on the bus; where from then? from the bus station in town; how do you get into town to buy tickets? you catch the bus! And so it went on - Swedish common sense had finally broken down! Thankfully when we walked over to the bus stop, the bus driver was more understanding; he let us aboard and, on arrival at the bus station in the centre, pointed out the ticket office for our return tickets. We spent the whole day practising correct pronunciation of Kristianstad; what looked self-evident was in fact pronounced locally as Kri-SHAN-sta.
Christian IV's 1614 founding of Kristianstad: Kristianstad was founded in 1614 by King Christian IV of Denmark. The youthful Gustav II Adolfus had assumed the Swedish throne in 1610 and one of his first acts was to conclude peace with Denmark in 1613 recognising Denmark's control of the Skåne region of SW Sweden. To reinforce Danish control of Skåne, Christian IV built the fortress-town of Kristianstad which was protected by the marshlands of the Helge å river. The town within its fortress walls was laid out in model Renaissance form with elegantly proportioned squares, a broad grid of streets, and fine buildings, the grandest of which was the glorious Renaissance church of Trefaldighets (Holy Trinity) kyrkan. But Danish rule lasted only for 44 years: Gustav II Adolfus harried Skåne, and his successor Karl X forced the defeated Danes to accept the terms of the 1658 Treaty of Roskilde which finally conceded Skåne back to Sweden. Many of Christian IV's grandly ambitious buildings in Kristianstad were left unfinished when the Swedes took over the fortress-town, including Holy Trinity Church whose elegant spire never reached its intended place but finished up decorating Copenhagen Stock Exchange instead. Christian IV's emblem, C4, ironically however still emblazons the town's coat of arms (see above left). The town remained small during the subsequent centuries, but 19th century demolition of the confining fortress walls enabled the growing industrial town to extend beyond into what was formerly the wetlands. Grand Parisian-style boulevards were created in the late 19th century, and although the town centre still retains many of its original Renaissance buildings, these have been sullied by sordidly dull concrete blocks of 1960~70s infills.
Our visit to Kristianstad: with our return bus tickets now assured, we began our visit to Kristianstad at the church which originally was built between the river-side city-wall, now the railway station, and Stora torg market-place, on a diagonal to the town's formal grid-plan layout to ensure its chancel faced east (see left). The church's 7 lofty, decorated gable ends were modelled on those at Frederiksborg Castle at Hillerød in Zealand, Denmark which houses the collection of Danish royal portraits (see log of our 2007 visit). The church at Kristianstad was consecrated on Holy Trinity Day (8 June) 1628. The church's vaulted ceiling was supported by 12 slender granite pillars with light streaming in through 26 plain glass windows (see above right). The most striking feature however were the 61 high carved wooden pew-ends each one different, some having heraldic motifs. The west end was dominated by the magnificent 1630 gilded Renaissance organ. Around the church both inside and out tombstones were set against the walls, with one macabre stone bearing the Grim Reaper and hour-class symbolising human mortality. The north and south walls were decorated with wealthy families' epitaphia memorials. One from 1661 commemorating the Lavesen family was particularly moving, set up by the wife in memory of her husband who had died at the age of 42; they had been married for 15 years and had 11 children; the monument's central painting showed the whole family with all 11 children, 5 of whom were crowned with garlands symbolising their deaths in infancy (see right) (Photo 22 - Lavesen family memorial, Kristianstad). The text records the hope that the family would 'Joyfully meet again at the resurrection of the righteous'. Of all the large churches visited in Sweden, this was probably the most beautiful.
From the church we crossed the river on a wooden footbridge to the wood-faced building out in the reed-covered marshes which houses the Vattenriket Naturum where the staff gave us more details of the wetlands nature reserve. Of particular interest was the 6kms Linnérunden nature trail around the wetlands; had we known of this yesterday, this would have given a far more rewarding means of exploring the Vattenriket wetlands and seeing the birdlife than the over-commercialised boat trip. Back over to the town, we walked through the English-style gardens of Tivoli Park. The parkland and avenues of horse chestnut trees were delightful with the 1906 art nouveau theatre at the park's centre (see left). But the sky was becoming threatening dark now with the forecast rain on its way as we crossed Västra Boulevarden to walk back through the grid of streets to Stortorget. But when we reached what ought to have been the elegant centre of Christian IV's Renaissance town, the entire heart and soul of this charming town had been ripped out; the whole of the square, the surrounding streets and boulevards, and access to the Rådhus was in total devastation, being upgraded in readiness for the 2014 400th anniversary celebrations of the town's foundation (see right). Behind the 1920s twin buildings of the Post Office and Savings Bank, the Regional Museum was closed today, a further disappointment. The building had been begun by Christian IV as a palace, but the 1658 re-occupation had interrupted construction and no more than the single-storey stables which now house the museum were completed. On the north side of the square, the 19th century Empire-style Store Kronohuset had been built as the HQ of the Wende Artillery Regiment and was topped with their motto 'Legibus et Armis', but the elegant building was now obscured by road works. We tried to gain access to the town hall to see Christian IV's bust but were prevented by the contractor's site official, and with rain now starting we took shelter behind the church. With the sky now dark and gloomy, we walked around for a cursory look at to the Bastion Konungen, a partial reconstruction of the Renaissance town redoubts complete with cannons. In pouring rain on a chill and gloomy late afternoon, there was little left now but to plodge back to the station to catch the bus back out to the campsite.
The small port of Åhus: from Kristianstad we headed south on Route 118 to the small town of Åhus down on the Skåne coast. Åhus developed as a trading settlement at the mouth of the Helge å river, fortified with a castle to protect the flourishing port as early as Knut the Great. The good times for Åhus came to an end in 1617 after Christian IV ordered the town's tradesman to move to newly founded Kristianstad further inland up the river, and Åhus lost its town status. Åhus enjoyed a new lease of life when the arrival of the railway in the late 19th century brought the development of new industries: the cigar factory rolled cigars from locally grown tobacco, and locally caught smoked eels became an export commodity. Åhus became a popular seaside bathing resort in the 20th century and the Absolut Vodka distillery began production here and is still a local prominent landmark now owned by the Pernod conglomerate. We walked along the quiet town street towards the Torget market square where the museum displayed archaeological finds telling Åhus' early history. The NW corner of the square was dominated by the red brick gabled tower of the Maria kyrka parts of which date from the 12th century extended over subsequent centuries (see left) (Photo 23 - Maria kyrka at Åhus). Inside, the irregular shape of the nave and 3 bulky pillars were evidence of the gradual process of extending the church. Its most prominent decorations were the 16~17th century beautifully carved and decorated wooden pulpit and altar retable. Having managed to escape Baroque and 19th century ornamentation, this was one of Southern Sweden's most beautiful churches. Across the square we walked along the riverside waterfront past the Absolut Vodka distillery with its distinctive red brick clock tower (see right); reportedly ½ million bottles of the evil stuff are produced here daily. The industrial harbour at the river's mouth was dominated by enormous grain silos and the smell of barley hung in the air.
The Kivik Kungagraven Bronze Age burial mound: Route 118 followed the coast westwards around the monotonous flatlands of the Helge å estuary whose various channels ambled through farmland down to the sea. But once we joined Route 9, the nature of the terrain changed drastically to rolling hilly countryside. We drove into the little fishing port of Kivik passing the field where the village's annual market is held each July, and just beyond reached our second visit for today, the Kivik Kungagraven (King's Grave), a huge Bronze Age burial mound dating from around 1,000 BC. The site had been exploited during the early 18th century as a quarrying source of building stone, until 1748 when local farmers dug into the stone-covered mound and discovered a cist-tomb lined with 10 stone slabs. Hoping for treasure, they continued digging but found nothing and were arrested for tomb-robbing. Quarrying continued but then it was discovered that the cyst-tomb slabs were covered with engraved petroglyphs. The site was excavated during the 1930s and 2 tombs were discovered but little in the way of remains, the tombs having been looted over the centuries. The tombs' stone tumulus was restored and a new artificial burial chamber created with an access tunnel cut into the side of the mound for modern-day visitors to see the surviving engraved upright slabs which had lined the original grave.
We walked the circumference of the 3.5m high stone-covered mound which spread for a diameter of 75m; the original tumulus may have been even higher prior to the quarrying. The winding access 'dromos' cut into the mound led to a stone-lintelled doorway which gave access to the inner chamber where the cyst-lining of upright slabs were set up to give an impression of the original grave. The petroglyphs had been partially coloured in with red paint to make them more visible. The most evident engravings showed figures playing lures and drums, a procession of cloak-wearing figures, 2 mysterious Ω symbols (see right), and most significantly another 2 horse chariot with 4-spoked wheels and a charioteer holding the reins (see left) (Photo 24 - 2 horse chariot and charioteer engraving), exactly as at Norrköping rock engravings and Mycenaean paintings from contemporary Bronze Age period. This was accompanied by a column of sword-carrying male figures perhaps representing a funeral procession. Other slabs bore geometric patterns, particularly 2 large sun symbols. We spent time in the gloom of the chamber photographing the petroglyphs and marvelling at this ancient artwork so remarkably preserved and so similar in format to other Bronze Age engravings we had seen.
Ängdala Vandrahem and Camping: after shopping for smoked fish at the Buhres fiske-rökeri on the quayside at Kivik harbour, we returned along Route 9 to find tonight's campsite, Ängdala Vandrahem and Camping. Reception was closed at this time of year but a telephone call brought a welcoming response from the owner; we should make ourselves at home and she would call round tomorrow. We had the site virtually to ourselves and pitched over by the far corner of the camping area which spread across the gently sloping hillside. Ängdala was a lovely peaceful site and we were looking forward to our 3 nights here with a day in camp after tomorrow's walking in the Stenshuvud National Park on the Skåne coast just beyond Kivik. After a wet night, we woke to a clearing sky and were just washing up when a red kite with its distinctive tawny-brown colouring and forked tail soared high over the neighbouring meadows. We later learnt that red kites are commonly seen over the rolling open hills of the Österlen coast.
The Stenshuvud National Park: the Stenshuvud National Park is a tiny 3kms long area of prominent wooded coastal headland 97m at its highest point dropping steeply on its seaward side with heathland and cattle-grazed meadows to the south. The northern hill is covered with broad-leafed woodland, mainly beach, hornbeam, oak and sycamore. Having secured a footpath map at the Naturum, we set off on the way-marked route onto the main hill for what was going to be a relaxed 2km walk. In such a woodland setting with the smell of fallen autumnal beech leaves filling the air, we could have been in an English county. Up the gently sloping path with sunlight filtering down through the beech trees, we crossed the remains of an Iron Age fort and soon emerged onto the hill's treeless southern high point (södra huvud). The path continued through juniper bushes and brambles onto the eastern high point from where glorious distant views looked out across the southern sweep of beaches around Hanöbukten Bay (see left). A little further and we reached another viewpoint on the brink of the rocky precipice dropping 90m to the shore below with a further stunning vista out across the blue Baltic and the Danish island of Bornholm just visible on the horizon (Photo 25 - Baltic coast-line from Stenshuvud National Park). Across through hill-top scrub onto the northern high point, the view stretched along the northwards coast of Hanöbukten Bay with the hill dropping sheer into a wooded valley. Back down through the beech woods, a path led down to 18th century shacks on the Baltic shore still used by eel fishermen. Along the shoreline with a gentle surf lapping over our boots, the wooded headland of Stenshuvud stood out clearly with its beeches' autumnal colours catching the sunlight (see right). All around Kivik apple orchards fill every field and cottage garden, the trees at this time of year laden with red, rosy apples, and on the way back to camp we called in at Kiviks Musteri, a family-run cider and apple-juice producer and farm shop, to sample their produce.
Around the Österlen coast to Dag Hammarskjöld's Backåkra farmstead: in misty autumn sunshine we continued around the Österlen coast, passing more apple and plum orchards, into the port of Simrishamn from where ferries sail to Bornholm. On a sunny autumn weekend Swedish visitors milled around the port and main street. After a pause to eat our sandwich lunch at the fishing harbour of Skillinge, we followed the minor Östra Kust vägen which winds faithfully along the coast, and turned off to Sandhammaren beach. Set at the angle where Skåne's southern coastline swings NE, this glorious stretch of white sandy wild strand would be heaving with holiday-makers in the height of summer, but thankfully in mid-September it was almost deserted. Signs warned of the dangerous currents which wind and tide sweep around just off-shore. Just west of here along the lane we turned off again to find the Backåkra farmstead bought by Dag Hammarskjöld as a summer retreat. Set amid rolling heathland close to the Hagestad Nature Reserve, the farmhouse and surrounding meadowland was willed by Hammarskjöld to the Swedish Touring Association (STF) of which he was vice-president, as a meeting place for cultural activities. After his tragic death in 1961, the farm was set up by STF as a museum to Hammarskjöld's life and work and many of the works of art collected by him were gathered there. To STF's embarrassment however this not-for-profits organisation has found itself strapped for cash, and last year was forced to close the Backåkra.
Born in 1905 to a wealthy family (his father was Swedish PM from 1914~17), Hammarskjöld was educated at Uppsala and Cambridge and followed a political career. In 1953 he was elected to the post of UN Secretary General, the 2nd holder of the post since the UN's foundation in 1946, and re-elected for a second term in 1958. His approach to settling world problems was determined but 'quiet diplomacy', and during the 1956 Suez Crisis, he instituted UN peace-keeping forces. While on a mission to former Belgian Congo in 1961 attempting to re-integrate the breakaway mineral-rich province of Katanga to the Congo's elected Lumumba government, the plane in which he was travelling mysteriously crashed killing all on board. The cause of the crash has never been resolved but neither has foul play been ruled out. A recent BBC report detailed pressure for the UN to re-open its enquiries into Hammarskjöld's death, alleging that mining interests who stood to loose if Katanga was re-integrated into Congo were involved and that the plane had been shot down; it was also alleged that US and British security agencies had previously withheld knowledge of radio messages from the plane's pilot saying they were being attacked. Perhaps after 60 years, the shady dealings behind Hammarskjöld's tragic death will come to light. In the meantime, this peaceful farmstead left by the post-war diplomat in the care of the STF remains closed; and no one seems bothered. A bust of the UN Secretary General stands beside the now-locked and deserted farmhouse (see right).
The Hagestad Nature Reserve: a lane leads from the farmstead down to the Hagestad Nature Reserve, an area of pine, beech and oak woodlands standing behind beautiful white sand beaches along the southern Skåne coast, where during the 19th century 1000s of trees were planted to bind the sandy soil. Coastal sand continues to be eroded by wind and current, blown eastwards reducing land area here and piling up on Sandhammaren beach further round where the coast swings northwards. A path led through beech-woods, where Lily of the Valley were covered with autumn orange berries (in the early summer this would be a haven of sweetly scented flowers), to the dunes backing the beach, with tall grasses outlined against the soft afternoon sunlight. We crossed the fine sandy beach to stand by the Baltic waterline (see left).
Löderups Strandbad Camping: the only campsite along the southern Skåne coast remaining open this late in year was Löderups Strandbad Camping and we had grave reservation from its name that it would be static-filled and perhaps over-crowded even on a September weekend; we had no choice but to try it and turned off on a side-lane down to the coast. We were greeted at reception by a seemingly gruff elderly gent; 150kr a night he responded with a shrug. The campsite was indeed filled with static caravans but generally empty and people with trailers were busy with end-of-season demolition of decking, fencing and garden gnomes. We found a space recently vacated by a removed static immediately by the shore-side looking straight out over the Baltic and, with some hesitation about the sand, settled in with a gentle surf lapping the beach below us. Darkness fell suddenly at 8-00pm and we enjoyed the final barbecue of the trip with the light of a half-moon gleaming across the water (see left).
A wet day in camp overlooking the stormy Baltic: the weather changed drastically overnight and we woke to a gloomily overcast sky and brisk SW wind driving misty drizzle into the doorway and the sand outside sodden from overnight rain. In such unpromising weather, there was little option but to take a rest day today in this glorious shore-side spot, but with the wind off the sea having swung round 90° from yesterday, the first thing was to bring George's nose round into the wind to stop rain driving in to the slider. In contrast with yesterday afternoon, the sea was now leadenly grey with huge, wind-driven breakers pounding onto the shore and the air filled with its roaring sound and salty tang of spray. It was best to be gazing out at the thrilling sight of this savage sea from within the snug warmth of the camper as rain lashed the front. Gulls flitted over the waves gourging themselves with beakfuls of elvers in the turbulent shallow waters (Photo 26 - Gulls scooping elvers from surf at Löderups beach). The rain eased but the vigorous SW wind continued to blow driving a huge surf onto the shore. Later in the afternoon the rain finally stopped and sky brightened over the still sullen grey sea, with a breezy sun lighting this magnificent seascape with white breakers crashing onto the beach below (see above right) (Photo 27 - Wind-driven breakers at Löderups beach).
The medieval port of Ystad: the gusty SW gale buffeted George all night and was still blowing this morning driving rain into the doorway and taking 2 of us to lower the roof. We settled up our 2 days' rent and reserved our space for a return later after our visit to Ystad. Around the coast through bedraggled farming countryside, we joined Route 9 into Ystad and parked opposite the railway station and port. Wearing waterproofs against the driving rain, we set of on our tour of what in fine weather would have been a charming medieval market town. Ystad began life as a Baltic herring fishing port-village in the early 12th century and the herring trade remained a major local industry for centuries. In the mid-13th century the town's Maria kyrkan was built and in 1267 Danish Grey Friars founded the monastery. In the 14th century such was Ystad's wealth that the port joined the Hanseatic League. The monastery was closed by the 1532 Reformation, and in 1569 Ystad was attacked by Swedes during the years of warfare over Skåne, but the port survived and continued to flourish. As the herring industry declined, the export trade of cattle to North Germany increased in importance. By the time Skåne became Swedish in 1658 Ystad had reached a population of 2,000 and a regular post-boat service to Stralsund began. The trading port increased in size and wealthy merchants built imposing houses in the town. With the arrival of the railway, Ystad became a popular seaside resort and the port continued to bring prosperity to the town. There are still major ferry links to Świnoujście in Northern Poland and to Bornholm, and Henning Mankell's Wallander detective novels are set around Ystad.
We walked up to Stortorget, which on a fine day would have been a pleasant market, but today with driving rain beginning again, we sought shelter in the Maria kyrkan which towered over the square. This was another truly beautiful medieval church with rich decorative features. The walls were covered with highly ornate 17th century commemorative sepulchral tablets set up by wealthy families, and at the west end 2 sets of box-pews segregated women awaiting 'Christian cleansing' after surviving childbirth; this barbaric tradition of 'Churching' women continued well into the 20th century! The Ystad Town Watchman continues to blow his horn from the church tower each evening every 15 minutes, just to let everyone know that all is well. By the time we emerged from the church the rain had eased for us to walk along Lilla Västergatan to photograph the 16th century half-timbered cottages (see above left) and stepped-gabled Latin School. Along Stora Östergatan main street, we called in at the System Bolaget for bottles of the local beer; the manager put up a brave defence of the Swedish government protected trading monopoly on alcohol. After viewing the 18th century half-timbered cottages in Väderägrand, we walked along Norrgatan to admire the beautifully restored 16th century Änglahuset with its carved, decorated beam-ends of its half-timbering. Just along a side street, the attractively restored red brick former Klostret (monastery) now doubles as parish church and museum (see above right).
We returned to Löderups Strandbad Camping and called in at reception to book; the elderly gent passed back the proffered 150kr notes saying 'Bonus!' Over the 3 days we had revised our opinion of him. With the weather now improved with even a hint of sun, it seemed a pity not to enjoy a a final night by the shore-side looking over the suf. That evening the setting sun and cloud-scape array produced a magnificent Big Sky panorama (see left) (Photo 28 - Sunset panorama at Löderups beach).
Iron Age stone ship-setting burial monument of Ales Stenar: despite our initial reservations, Löderups Strandbad Camping had served us well: its scruffy familiarity, magnificent shore-side setting with pounding surf, and charactersome owner had endeared themselves to us; but of course only at this late stage of the year when most of the usual summer occupants had long departed leaving the site in peace! With brighter sun and just a thin veil of cloud, we drove westwards around the coast road and turned off to the car park in Kåseberga fishing village. A path led past the cottages uphill to the sandy cliff-tops above the little harbour, leading to the flat-topped meadowland on the breezy hill top. Ahead we could see the Ales Stenar circle of megaliths silhouetted against the sky: 59 standing stones arranged in a 67m long ship-setting with larger bow and stern stones make up the megalithic monument which has been dated to the late Iron Age between 600~1,000 AD. The stones, each weighing over a ton, are not native to these parts and must have been transported here. Evidence of earlier Bronze Age burials beneath the stones suggests it had long been a sacred place of worship, assembly and memorial, and looking around the mysterious cliff-top and rolling coastal hills, you could understand why. Various bizarre theories have been advanced about the alignment of stones forming a solar calendar. Standing there on the cliff-top however in the soft, hazy sunlight, looking across the ship-setting with cattle grazing peacefully around the meadow, it was enough to acknowledge their timelessness and the beauty of the setting looking out across the Baltic. We took our photos both of the stones and along the line of sand cliffs stretching away westwards with the wind driving surf onto the beach below, and returned downhill to the little fishing harbour of Kåseberga nestled into the sheltered cove below. Here at the rökeri we bought more smoked fish for our final nights' suppers.
Smygehuk, Sweden's southernmost point: we continued westwards past Ystad along the shore-line hugging coast road through a continuous series of dreary holiday home settlements to reach Smygehamn and Smygehuk. This otherwise unnoteworthy marina enjoyed the distinction of being Sweden's southernmost point which in summer draws bus loads of tourists to what is a largely featureless part Skåne. We pulled in by the little harbour for a token visit and the sign-board announced: Smygehuk, Sveriges sydligaste udde - 55° 20' 13" N, 13° 21' 34" O, with distances London 991km, Stockholm 510km, Copenhagen 61km and Treriksröset 1572km, although had we taken a straw-poll of Swedes snapping away here before piling back into their tour-bus, doubtless not one would have known where the Three Countries Stone was and its significance! (see log of our 2012 visit to Treriksröset, Sweden's northernmost point) A far more impressive and personal touch was the stone set on the sea-wall inscribed Lisa 2013 - Treriksröset to Smyggehuk and an outline of her bicycle on which the unknown Lisa had ridden the 1572km from the northernmost to southernmost points of Sweden. With due admiration we photographed this record of her achievement (see left) and the magnificent surf crashing onto the rocks below lit by the now bright afternoon sun (see right) (Photo 29 - Smygehuk, Sweden's southernmost point).
Arrival at Trelleborg: a few kms west, we parked by the freight-yards of the port-town of Trelleborg, and consistent with our usual experience that the least assuming of places generally offer the most thorough and efficient standard of tourist information service, the lady in Trelleborg's TIC impressed us with her local knowledge, particularly providing details of Trelleborg's Viking era fortress. Trelleborg (pronounced Trelleboy) had for centuries been a prosperous Baltic herring fishing port, attracting merchants from Germany. Commercial rivalry with Malmö however resulted in the city's merchant status being revoked in 1619 by the Danish King. It became Swedish again in 1658 along with the rest of Skåne, but it was only in 1867 that Trelleborg regained its merchant city status. With the coming of the railways in the late 19th century, both port and industry expanded, so that today Trelleborg is the 2nd largest sea port in Sweden after Görteborg, with 10 million tons of freight passing through the port each year. It is also Sweden's principle ferry passenger link with Northern Europe with ferry links to Rostock, Travemünde, Lübeck and Sassnitz for both cars and freight lorries which began in 1909. It was in April 1917 that Lenin arrived at Trelleborg on the ferry from Sassnitz on his way back from exile to lead the Revolution in Russia.
Trelleborg's conserved Viking fortress: guided by the TIC lady's precise directions, we found the Viking era origins of Trelleborg tucked away in a residential area with a main road cutting through the remains of the once circular borg-fortress which dated from the time of King Harold Bluetooth around 980 AD and discovered in 1988. It was That Harold Bluetooth who united the Danish Viking Kingdom and converted it to Christianity as his record inscribed on his memorial runestone at Jelling in Jutland had told us (see log of our 2007 visit to the Jelling Stone). This was a time of consolidating the home kingdom rather than grand overseas expeditions of raids plundering treasures. It was also a time of defending the newly united Danish kingdom from neighbours both in the North and Germany, hence the need for ring-fortresses. The borg at Trelleborg shows all the characteristics of other ring-forts constructed by Harold Bluetooth in Sjæland and Jutland: built astride significant trade and communications land and marine routes, not for military occupation but for defending the consolidated kingdom, levying taxes and tolls and for guarding accumulated wealth. Each of the ring-forts covered a large area with gates at the cardinal quarters and enclosing significant numbers of long houses. We had visited 3 of Harold's identically arranged ring-fort at Trelleborg in Sjæland and at Fyrkat and Aggersborg in North Jutland. Little of these had survived except the circuit of earthworks which had originally formed the core of timber-palisade fortification walls. Here in Skåne Trelleborg in 1988, a quarter-segment of earthworks core had been discovered and excavated after 1,000 years. The rest were now buried under later medieval streets and buildings and a city street, Bryggaregatan, ran through the middle along the same direction as the Viking road. By the time of the 13th century when Trelleborg gained its city status, the Viking fortress had given its name to the place: Trelleborg (borg meaning fortress, and threlae meaning the timber poles which formed the outer palisade-cladding of the earthwork walls) had been buried and forgotten for over 200 years. The surviving quarter-segment of circular earthworks was reconstructed with their timber palisade cladding and one of the 4 gatehouses, giving a vivid impression of what the original Trelleborg fortress would have looked like: Harold Bluetooth's Trelleborg had risen from the ashes.
The small museum displaying the remains excavated from the site was now closed, but we walked across to the reconstructed quarter-segment of the ring-fortress. There in grassland set in the midst of modern city apartments was the realistic timber-clad palisade and gatehouse of Harold Bluetooth's Trelleborg (see above right); it was an imposing sight. Through the fortified gateway surrounding the now empty segment of space once occupied by longhouses, the inner face of the palisade was reinforced by the original massive earthwork embankment (Photo 30 - Reconstructed Viking age fortress at Trelleborg). We followed the walkway around the top of the palisade wall. It was the remains of the earthworks, after the timber palisade had long rotted away, that we had seen at the Danish ring-fortresses. And quite incongruously, traffic ran along the modern city street across the far side.
Ljungens Camping Falsterbo, utterly inhospitable with graceless owner: we now had the 20km drive around to the Falsterbo peninsula to find our final campsite in Sweden and passing the trucks heading to and from Trelleborg's port, we turned off around the final stretch of southern coast. Crossing the canal which cuts through the peninsula at its narrowest point, we reached the outskirts of Falsterbo and Ljungens Camping where the most inhospitable non-welcome ever encountered greeted us. The reception was closed and a sign said to ring the bell; we did this, and waited ... and waited ... and waited. When the owner eventually bothered to respond, his manner was offensively surly: what did we want? to begin with, we wanted to be treated like customers, but it went on from bad to worse. Even out of season, the cost was 240kr/night including coins for showers; the extended rigmarole of booking in took for ever: did we have a camping card? of course; you'll need to pay a deposit for the facilities key-card - OK, and so it went on ... and on ... and on, when weary after a long day, all we wanted was settle in and camp! When we finally got in, the camping area was vast and characterless, but at least the pitches under birch trees were peaceful with just a few statics around the perimeter. But even an Advanced Course at Charm School could do nothing to modify the owner's utterly graceless manner, doubtless made complacent and indifferent to any customer awareness by the endless streams of holiday-makers who frequent this place in summer. It's a place never to return to.
Bird watching on the Falsterbo sand-spit: our plan was to spend our penultimate day bird watching down at the Falsterbo sand-spit at the tip of the peninsula. The Falsterbo headland is formed mainly of sand built up around ridges of moraine, with the sand-spits constantly changing shape and size as the sand is moved around by wind and sea currents (see right). For centuries it was barren treeless heathland with sand dunes, grazed meadows and marshes; today this open landscape is mixed with woodland, residential areas and gardens. It is estimated that an unbelievable 500 million birds migrate from Scandinavia every autumn following the west and south coasts of Sweden before crossing the Baltic, the first hazardous obstacle on their long journey south. Nabben, the SW tip of Falsterbo is therefore the last land that birds will reach before attempting the Baltic crossing. The shallow shores of the peninsula provide ideal feeding grounds as the migrating birds prepare for their journey south, and in late summer and autumn 100s thousands of birds cross the peninsula daily; the most spectacular are the migrating raptors sometimes seen soaring around in flocks over the heathland.
Leaving the campsite the next morning and unsure of where the Falsterbo bird observation station (select the 'Bird sites' tab at left of top strip menu) was, we wound a way through the maze of narrow streets eventually reaching a parking area by the golf course which spreads across the peninsula's tip; a pathway led across to the Nabben sand-spit and the defunct lighthouse which now houses the bird station. The hazy sun of earlier was now lost behind increasingly ominous cloud as we headed across the golf course to the lighthouse, keeping a careful look out for flying golf balls. The combined presence here of both golfers and twitchers, both odd species in their own ways, seemed an uncomfortable coincidence! The bird observation station was locked but TV monitors outside displayed information on recent bird sightings and numbers. But the approaching thunder head of cloud threatened a downpour and we hurried back to the camper before the storm hit. Having sat out the lashing rain, we kitted up with waterproofs and headed back across towards the sandbar beyond the lighthouse where cross-bills were chomping at cones in the pine trees with their eponymous crossed bills. With the rain starting again we headed out along the sandbar, seeing kestrels, honey buzzards, marsh harriers and ospreys soaring over the shallow lagoons on the outer side of the sand-spit. When we reached the far end, the gathered twitchers reluctantly made room for us amateurs under their partial rain-shelter and with the storm finally passed, we stood for an hour peering through our binoculars across the outer lagoons, seeing a lone avocet foraging for food in the shallows, lapwings, mute swans, and brent geese; along the enclosing sand-spit cormorants stood drying their wings and soaring in flocks low over the Öresund towards the Danish coast; a pair of grey herons stood with their heads tucked in after the rain. After our soaking out on the Falsterbo sandpsit, we returned for a reluctant second night at Ljungens Camping, the only site open here this late in the year, to dry all our wet kit; birch leaves were now falling in increasing numbers giving the ground a golden covering and the air that characteristic smell of autumn.
The Öresund Bridge and Turning Torso at Malmö: the our final day in Sweden, Sheila's birthday, brought us back to where we had begun 5 months ago at the Öresund Bridge, but before re-crossing to Denmark, we had first to visit Malmö. Before going into the city however, we planned to find the look-out point on the appropriately named Utsiktsvägen from where we had viewed the sweeping line of the beautiful Öresund-bro (see above left) on our first crossing of the bridge from Denmark in 2007 (see log of our first crossing of the Öresund Bridge in 2007). Those currently watching the BBC4 Swedish~Danish co-production of The Bridge will be familiar with views of the Öresund Bridge around Malmö (see left) (Photo 31 - The Öresund Bridge). From Falsterbo we joined the E6/E20 motorway to Malmö, turning westwards towards the bridge and taking the last exit in Sweden, and the minor road leading out to the Öresund shore-line on the swedish side. The parking area at the end of the lane gave the perfect vantage point looking out along the elegantly graceful curve of the bridge (Photo 32 - The Öresund Bridge viewed from the Swedish shore). Before going into the centre of Malmö, we needed to do final provisions shopping and recalled from 2007 a supermarket in the Västra Hamnen district close to Scandinavia's tallest skyscraper, the 190m high Turning Torso. This had been the area once dominated by the massive Kockums shipyards that brought Malmö prosperity during its 19th century industrial recovery from stagnation after the medieval herring industry declined and the city had sunk into obscurity after being cut off from Copenhagen by Swedish re-acquisition of Skåne in 1658. Today all the industry and shipyards are long gone, leaving a wasteland of dereliction and demolition which developers are slowly refilling with sordid modern dereliction of office and apartment blocks, vast car parks, and empty open nothingness of redevelopments which only exist on the drawing boards of designers lacking any aesthetic sense. Turning Torso over-towers it all as if to symbolise this 21st century renaissance.
We wound our way around into the former industrial area, and found the Maxi-ICA supermarket expecting to see marked change over the 6 years. The rapid pace of regeneration however had stalled: progress seemed little further forward since we had last been here in 2007. The demolished areas were still a wasteland of incomplete emptiness, the vast supermarket still being built exactly as remembered from 2007, and the air filled with the thumping of pile-drivers from a building site opposite; it was as if we had stepped into a time-warp where the last 6 years had stood still. Inside, the supermarket was in the same state of incompleteness exactly as in 2007 with sections partitioned off where builders were still working; the time-warp effect produced an oddly eerie sensation. Around the corner looking along Västra Varvagatan, there stood the overshadowing contorted skyscraper of Turning Torso, the 5 sides of its sleek citadel twisting through 90° over its height giving the tower of luxury apartments a curiously oblique perspective when viewed close up from street level. As in 2007 we took our photos using the plate-glass fronted office building opposite to create the perfect mirror reflections of Turning Torso (see above right) (Photo 33 - Turning Torso in Malmö).
Our visit to Malmö: fighting our way through the chaos of incomplete redevelopment, we managed to find street parking close to Malmö's city centre for our brief visit before finally leaving Sweden across the Bridge. The red-brick Gothic exterior of St Petri cathedral with its lofty spire looked Germanically forbidding, reflecting the influence of German herring merchants attracted to Malmö in the 14~15th century when the church was built. The interior walls had their beautiful medieval wall-paintings white-washed over by puritanical protestant vandalism at the time of the 1532 Reformation, the only the artwork to survive being in a small side-chapel. We walked around to the market square of Stortorget, laid out in the mid-16th century with some of the buildings of that period surviving, notably the ornate Rådhus and Lion Pharmacy (see above left). The square was presided over by a domineering equestrian statue of Karl X whose armies had crossed the frozen Öresund to threaten Copenhagen, resulting in the Swedish recovery of Skåne from Danish occupation by the 1658 Treaty of Roskilde. Round at Lilla Torget, the square was surrounded by crowded restaurant-terraces and attractive half-timbered houses. Having managed to change the last of our Swedish currency for Danish kroner, albeit at a disadvantaged exchange rate, it was time to extricate the camper from the narrow city-centre streets and head for the Bridge.
Farewell Sweden: clearing the late afternoon city traffic, we reached the E20 motorway and swung westwards onto the Bridge approaches, and just before the toll-booths, paused to record our mileage: we had driven 6,600 miles within Sweden. Driving into the western sun we rose up to the spectacular pylons of the bridge and at its apex re-crossed the frontier into Denmark (see left) (Photo 35 & 36 - Crossing Öresund Bridge - Farewell Sweden). Down the long sweep of causeway towards the artificial island of Peberholm, we entered the 3.5km tunnel (see right) to emerge into the late afternoon sunlight by Copenhagen airport for the return drive over to Esbjerg for the ferry back to UK and a winter of writing and catching up at home.
Our time in Sweden has given us unique experiences and opportunity for learning as our web travelogues will, we hope, show. This is still an enviably civilised country which has used the affluence generated in part by its WW2 neutrality and exploitation of its vast mineral wealth to good effect to create a society which was a delight to share during the 5 months we lived there. Having said that, Swedish society has had to face much change brought about by the financial stringencies of the 1990's, and today faces the combined challenges of the widening financial gulf between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' and of inequalities due to increased immigration. The result is that the egalitarian culture that has proverbially characterised Swedish society from 40 years of Social Democratic rule has begun to break down with increased expressions of overt of materialism. The traditional concept of lagom as an embodiment of Swedish social values, a term with no translatable equivalent in English the nearest sense being 'just enough' or 'moderate sufficiency', is perhaps beginning to feel less relevant. The cultural divide also between Southern and Northern Sweden perhaps should not have surprised us, with most Southern Swedes never having been 'north of Watford' (in their case Uppsala), having little knowledge of all the wonderful places we had visited in the sparsely populated north of their country. The recollection of these travels we shall long savour and, despite the social changes now being felt, will doubtless encourage us to revisit Sweden in future years.
In our final edition we shall present our customary review of all the many campsites used throughout Sweden.
Final edition with our review of campsites to be published in 2 weeks