Skåneleden - An 8-day Trek
Times are tough lately for everyone. The pandemic that is Covid-19 is real and seems to be coming thru with a second wave stronger than ever. I find myself in the crosshairs of this unprecedented virus more than ever but not directly as if I have the virus myself. With Sweden beginning to get hit with the second wave of outbreaks much like the rest of the world, tensions have risen and the population has become very weary of any kind of contact.
How does this relate to an 8-day hike along the Skåneleden trail in Sweden’s most southern region? Everything. With just a couple days notice that I would no longer be allowed to stay at the location I had been because of the risk of infection, I was seemingly on the verge of being without a home. I sent a rather urgent message out to one of my good friends and her husband in nearby Helsingborg explaining the situation and they offered to put me up for a few days while I tried to figure out what I was going to do. At the moment of receiving this news, I was in Gothenburg specifically for a job interview at Copperhill Mountain Lodge in the northern town of Åre. I had dinner plans set up with a friend I hadn’t seen since 2015 who gave me this great idea of doing part of the Skåneleden trail in order to kill some time before the weather turns nasty cold.
The extremely good news was that I got the job in Åre, but the season wouldn’t begin till December 17th. More than a whole month away still! How was I going to make this work? I messaged my new manager explaining the situation and she happily said I could move up anytime but the hotel is closed during the week.
Ideas began circulating in my head faster than ever. It was now November 6th and I still had to travel back to where my luggage was, I really wanted to see my friend again before heading north and I also would love to do some late season hiking. I decided to book my train to Åre for November 20th and kept with the initial plan of staying with her and her husband from the 8th till the 12th. That’s how this quite spontaneous 8-day venture became a reality and although a bit of stress would be an understatement, it managed to work itself out in the end.
DAY 1: ÖRKELLJUNGA to BJÄRABYGGET
This day started early; 5:15am to be exact. I could tell I was anxious about beginning the hike because I kept waking up every 15 minutes after 4am before deciding to just get up and get going. I made a bowl cereal for breakfast, grabbed my water reservoir out of the fridge and then headed to the bus stop around 6am. The first bus was just a quick one over to Helsingborg Central station where I would then switch over to the long distance bus heading to Örkelljunga. It took about an hour to get to my starting destination but as soon as I set foot off the bus, the hike had officially begun.
First thing I did was head over to the towns church. It wasn’t far off Skåneleden and figured it would make for a good official starting point. It was roughly 7:30am by this time and the sun would have just been rising if it wasn’t for the overcast skies. I was bundled up nicely with a balaclava, a base layer, a thermal layer and then my jacket. The first part of my hike was expectedly easy as I walked down a typical trail through the small town but before long I was in the forest and heading away from civilization.
Once I was in the forest, I walked along the river Pinnån that fed into nearby Hjälmsjön. The trail was quite muddy due to the daily rainfall that occurs this time of year but I was able to step my way around without any major issues. After crossing through a few different cow pastures, I ended up on a dock that offered a great viewpoint of the lake.
The next little while was mostly road walking with a few cars going by here and there. Just before I was about to head back into another forestry area, I saw the golden arches... McDonalds! I’m a real sucker for Sweden’s “Tasty Cheeseburger” but unfortunately (or fortunately) for me, it was still only 9:30 which meant there was no point stopping.
The next forestry patch was arguably my favourite of day 1. The bright green moss practically glowed before you and it was next to impossible to look away. The way the trees stood tall while you gazed up at the foliage was something out of a dreamland.
These mossy areas would come and go over the next while before eventually disappearing. I decided to take my first snack break along the shore of Lillsjön. All the autumn leaves pushed up on shore with the still reflection across the entire lake had a mystic feel to it much like the previous area. Time was of thee essence however and I still had a long way to. This was about the halfway mark of the day which meant I still had another 10km’s at least.
The next bit of hiking didn’t have much excitement aside from a couple small patches of the mossy green that I just couldn’t seem to get enough of. Eventually, I came within the borders of Åsljunga. It was just a small town yet again and I kept myself to the southwest navigating around their two little lakes, Åsljunasjön and Trollsjön.
For a moment, I had to walk along the side of the highway but don’t fret, there was more than enough room on the side for safety. While on the highway, I even noticed a moose crossing sign. Certainly didn’t expect them to be so far south in the country!
Before long, I was off the highway and going up my first real sense of elevation. Nothing too dramatic compared to the elevation differences of Australia’s Overland Track. As I reached the summit of Åsljungaklint, the view was worth the effort and small break.
It was just past noon now and with darkness looming around 4pm (16:00) these days, I knew I had to get a move on. The sun decides to actually show itself for a mere couple of minutes though which was eventful in its own way.
That seemed to be a big ol’ tease because less than an hour later I was putting on my rain gear. It wasn’t a massive downpour by any means but enough to get wet. The worst part was that I had just begun the final stretch towards the campsite and it just so happened to be over a giant bog.
The rain had made the planks especially slippery and although I didn’t fall in, I had a few slips that had my heart skip a beat or two. This really felt like moose territory now and I thought for sure I may get to see one as the evening got closer.
Eventually, I made it to Bjärabygget Lägerplats where I set up camp and began making myself a little fire. There was a couple dry logs that I was able to make some kindling out of and get a decent fire going while I cooked my first dehydrated meal of the trip, chicken tikka masala. With the plan to get up early again, I let the fire die out by 6pm (18:00) and turned into the tent for the night.
DAY 2: BJÄRABYGGET to KOARP
The first night couldn’t have went better. I awoke only once at 9:30pm (21:30) before sleeping thru till the morning. I was actually so comfortable nestled into my sleeping bag that I could have easily have stayed put if it wasn’t for the 17km’s that lies ahead...
By 7:30am, I decided it was time to get going with the day. Everything was wet from the moisture and condensation but that’s exactly why I had set my tent up in the shelter. I did a bit of morning stretches and split a couple of dry logs that I had put next to my tent in the shelter in order to warm up.
Soon enough I had my backpack on and began the next segment of Skåneleden. I came across an old 1/2 mile marker from 1764 which was really neat to see! These aren’t your typical miles either. They stand for a Swedish mile which is equivalent to 10 kilometers. Could you imagine if the imperial systematic mile was that easy to convert?!
Shortly thereafter, I began passing through private lands but the great thing about Sweden is their law called Allemansrätten which basically allows you to do so freely as long as you respect the land on which you roam.
Various parts of today’s segment was muddy but the weather was the complete opposite. The sun lit my way from the very beginning! The most magical part of the day came around 9:30am as I was walking down a road that had the brilliant green moss forests on either side. That’s not the reason that made it so fantastic though... Initially, I began taking photos of the leading road into the sunlight but moments later, the sun was sending incredible light rays through the trees. It was straight out of a movie!
I spent quite a bit of time jumping through the moss (probably more time than I should have) but eventually, all good things must come to an end. Most of today’s hike took place along different backroads which gave you a great sense of the Swedish country life. I don’t know how far I was from the nearest towns but I can imagine life being a lot different out here.
There was plenty of forest floors blanketed in autumn leaves which gave a stunning display of the season, but the downside was that you couldn’t see the muddy patches all too well. Much like a hidden trap that you always had to be weary about.
As I worked my way through the hills, I came upon Snibe Stuga. Legend has it that a couple of giants use to live in this collapsed cave back in the day and would often throw giant boulders at the nearby churches whenever they would play their bells. You can still see some of the boulders laying around before the face of the cave collapsed trapping the giants inside.
I decided to have a bit of lunch just after Snibe Stuga at a little stream. This is where I was able to test out my new Katadyn BeFree 1.0L filter and I must say, I’m impressed! It turned some other wise dirty stream water into drinkable H20. A protien bar later and it was time to make the push for the campsite.
Along one path in particular was a few different animal prints with one looking like a wolf (I’m assuming it was a dog) and then another that I would presume is a deer? Not really sure...
This 16.4km hike was seemingly a lot longer than expected so I decided to take a look at my maps and see where I was at. Hmmm, I’ve already done 16km’s and still have approximately 3.2km’s to go... Either the sign was wrong or I’ve created an extra 3 kilometers by taking photos. Haha I can probably take credit on that one myself.
I came upon the Hallands Län sign and knew I was close to the Koarp campsite. The sun was just reaching its golden hour glow as I was passing another kuh gegend and I couldn’t pass down the opportunity to shoot a cow in this wonderful light.
By 3:10pm (15:10) I had reached the campsite but I was shocked to find that it was right off the side of the road and there was three cars parked in the parking lot. There was no people around however, so I got my tent all set up and then proceeded to cut up some firewood.
I was able to get a solid fire going this time compared to yesterday’s and chose to cook my dinner (Sweet n Sour Pork) over the fire and brew myself a cup of coffee. After I had finished eating, I got the fire burning strong once again just as a couple of Polish folk made their way to the campsite.
I got to know Asha and Raphael (his real name is something different but I forget how to spell it) really quick thanks to their two dogs attacking the cats that had been keeping me company while I cooked.
It was great to get to know them and learn that they’re also living in Sweden now. Their two pups Boris and Nalla were quite the cuties as well! Even with the dogs, one stubborn kitten refused to leave the campsite and began using my tent as a climbing gym... I had to resort to some drastic measures. I lifted the kitten up and brought him over to the fire, and... Set him down to keep warm while I rigged a tarp over my tent so he couldn’t climb it. You didn’t think I was going to throw him in the fire did you?
We had some early birthday cake around the fire and then Asha made chocolate bananas. I could have easily lost track of time but thanks to it being dark by 4:30pm (16:30), what felt like a late night meant I was still in bed by 8pm (20:00).
DAY 3: KOARP to BRAMMARP
My alarm went off at 6:45am this morning which was ideal to get me a head start on the day. 17km’s is what separates me from my next camp near Brammarp and without knowing what the trail is going to be like, I wanted to make sure I had more than enough time before nightfall.
While I was packing up all my gear, I had some hot water boiling for a quick breakfast that consisted of fruits and oats. Thinking about the day ahead, I remember something funny that happened the night before with Asha. Do you know anyone who’s eaten a pack of the oxygen packets that keeps moisture out of bags? I almost did! The dark can fool a lot of people but luckily she realized it didn’t look quite like the spices she’d been use to pouring in her dehydrated packets and then quickly asked if we thought it would be alright to eat. We strongly agreed it probably wouldn’t be good and then a quick google check confirmed that.
Anyways, I brushed my teeth quickly and used the handy toilet that the shelters have on sight before heading out. Both Asha and Raphael were still asleep at this time but the dogs watched closely as I disappeared into the forest across the road.
The beginning was much muddier than I expected and set a standard throughout this segment of the trail. Only an hour into the hike and the clouds thought it would be a great time to give me a shower too. Not the start you hope for but you gotta make due with what you got.
Like with the past couple segments of Skåneleden, I found myself stepping out onto another logging road and pleasantly strolling down it with ease. About 5km’s in I came upon my first house and when I saw it, the sun had begun shining directly on it. I felt like it was just telling me that once you’re here, the rest of the day will be brighter and yes it was!
Much of today’s hike was along logging roads but every once in a while I’d meander through a couple of dense forests. The bright green moss made another return today and just like the previous times, I had to stop to take some photos. There was quite a bit of diverse scenery throughout the walk but often times it was difficult to look unless you wanted to step in a giant mudhole.
One thing I’ve begun to notice more of is the mushrooms that grow on the side of the trees. They’re huge! Speaking of mushrooms, I saw a couple today out picking just that along one of the trail cut off. I can’t say that I’m even a rookie in mushroom picking, so I’ll just stick to walking. It’s much safer that way...
I passed over a few different marsh areas but Åstarpemosse was quite fascinating. Apparently this one in particular is considered one of the most valuable in all of Sweden! There must be all kinds of life going on in there that one can’t even imagine.
When I exited another big forest patch, I came upon a group of hunters that were getting themselves ready for a score. Even the hunting dogs were out and about. Not to worry tho, they were all aiming the opposite direction of me. I tried to have a bit of a Swedish conversation with one of them but I’m pretty sure the only thing either of us understood was “Hey” and “Have a great day!”... That’s not a bad thing though as we went separate ways with a smile.
It was about an hour later when I came to the Brammarp intersection letting me know I had just over 4km’s to go until the next campsite. The sign also said there was a Nature Reserve halfway there so of course I’m going to check that out too.
The stroll down the roads were easy with some light traffic. Maybe a car or two on each road. Both myself and them would wave at one another with a smile as they went by. I get the feeling that they probably don’t see many people doing this trail at this time of the year.
Ekered Nature Reserve was a quick walk through but it allowed me to get off the road for a bit. One area of it was pretty interesting and I read that early documentation of the site dates back to the 1300’s. Pretty remarkable that we can look at a piece of history, even if it is only stone ruins today.
After exiting Ekered, I came to hands down the muddiest portion of my trek so far. It seemed to be a regular logging road at first, but that quickly changed as I had to scramble across sections from one rock to another. At one point, I carried branches with me and made my self a bridge over sections using my trekking pole as stability.
Eventually, I did end up on a logging road yet again that led me to where I’d be camping for the night. As per usual, nobody was around so I made it my home for the evening. Chili Con Carne was the dehydrated recipe tonight with a side of instant 3in1 cappucino.
This campsite was quite unique in the way that there was a river running gently beside it and the toilet was another 30 metres away. The one downfall was that there was no dry logs under shelter and with the heavy rain we had in the morning, everything nearby was damp. That gave me a good enough reason to get cozy in the tent, catch up on some studying (I realized from my exceptional conversation today that I need to), and then hit the hay early for there’s another full day ahead of me tomorrow.
DAY 4: BRAMMARP to BÅSTAD
Last night saw the heaviest rainfall of the trek and I was lucky to have a shelter keeping me dry. Mind you, I was sleeping inside a tent so I wouldn’t have gotten wet either way but I’m not a fan of dismantling a soggy tent first thing in the morning. I had a weird dream that a dingo had found the shelter and got cozy with me. I guess a piece of Australia hadn’t quite left my mind...
I mistakenly left part of my rain cover undone which allowed wind to get inside much easier so the night itself felt colder than the previous but I was still quite comfortable. By 7am, the rain seemed to have stopped and figured it’d be a good time to get on with the day. The entire campsite was practically a puddle but there was enough high ground to navigate around.
The first 5km’s of the days trek was completely on paved roads which made it go by super quick. I was almost halfway to Båstad by 9am which made me start thinking of ways I could plan out my day differently. As usual tho, there is always a muddy section that tends to slow me down quite a bit. This time it was at Älemosse bog. If it wasn’t muddy patches I was carefully treading by, it was the seemingly icy planks I had to cross.
When I entered Älemosse, the sun had begun its usual 10am glow upon the trees that set a dreamlike state on the surrounding area. It was a pleasant distraction from the roads but once finished in Älemosse, the rest of the path to Båstad would be roadside.
As I came over a hill, I began to see the sea for the first time and the sun lit up the beaches. I stopped to take some photos and a lovely couple stopped to have a chat with me. Their son had been living in Dallas, Texas for quite some time and they visited frequently they said. We wished each other well and continued in opposite directions.
As I was walking along, there happened to be an old Flax Hut from the mid 1800’s that caught my eye. I spent some time examining the exterior and imaging what it could have looked like inside... Then I noticed a door. I could go inside! It was a bit creepy as I turned my phone light on and gave a little “Hej hej” before entering.
By this point in time, it was nearing noon and I decided I’d go into Båstad to get a few things for tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast at the local ICA (supermarket). There was one more little sight to see before getting to town. A small sign on the side of the road let me know the significance of what I thought was simply a rock wall like the many others I had passed before but in fact, three small stone mounds were burial grounds from over 3,000 years ago! Not only that, these burial mounds actually use to mark the exact boundary between Sweden and Denmark once upon a time.
I came down one final hill that led to the campsite I’d be staying at and noticed the firewood was at the bottom of another small hill and the shelter at the top... That should prove fun when the time comes.
I continued past with all my gear into town and was met with quite a lot of stares from students and locals probably wondering what the heck am I doing or thinking at this time of year. I ended up buying an assortment of nuts, a couple packets of noodles and two croissants for tomorrow’s breakfast. I eyed up the candies or in Swedish “Godis” but that’s been something I need to get better at avoiding and figure this “birthday trip” is a good place to start. I’m sure I’ll find something else that can replace it just as well!
Knut Jöns Café was my second destination upon entering Båstad as I was in dire need of a warm bite to eat and a coffee. For the first time in my trip, I was met with someone who couldn’t speak English and it was awesome! I really got to put my Swedish to practice and I guess it worked out because the coffee was on the house. The coffee was simple this time around, drip with a bit of milk and two sugars. The sandwich on the other hand was nicely put together with green peppers, advocado, mozzarella and some ham. There could have been a few other ingredients but those are the ones that stood out to me. It was here I decided to do some writing and let my phone charge using the power outlet next to the table.
This would be a good time to point out how I’ve been able to keep all my gear charged throughout Skåneleden. Using a Sony a7iii, a GoPro Hero 8 and my iPhone 7 plus can prove a bit difficult if you want to keep everything going but choosing when to use each of them is the balance I’ve needed to find. Let’s dive deeper into each of them:
*This next segment will be included as a separate blog for easy access.
How I keep my gear charged on long distance treks
This is the camera I use for let’s say important photos and cinematic videos. I have two Sony batteries for the a7iii and they are wonderful! Already about halfway through my trek (8 Days on Skåneleden) and I’ve only used about 3/4 of one battery shooting both photos and video. Safe to say, these aren’t a worry.
GoPro Hero 8:
The GoPro is typically my quick access vlogging camera and various timelapse and/or quick wide angle photos. Since I only have one battery for the GoPro, this one is a bit more temperamental. GoPro battteries are infamous for dying in the cold and even when the temperature is just below 10° it still seems to eat the battery quick and than dying out around 50% charge. Instead of keeping the GoPro at my waist like I do on most hikes, I’ve found that by keeping it in my pants side pocket the battery stays warm and charged dramatically longer. This technique uses approximately 30% of the battery life per day.
iPhone 7 Plus:
First off, I know I’m a bit behind on the iPhone game and my battery proves that by only running at 78% capacity now. This is the most useful of the three however as it stores my offline maps, and access to the outside world if needed. This is also what I use 95% of the time for my Instagram stories and behind the scenes type shots. Due to the limited battery life of this, I tend to have it in Airplane Mode around the clock and in my other pants pocket to keep warm. I turn my Airplane Mode off three times a day; Morning, Noon and Evening just to check for any important emails and/or messages from family. This is of course if I’m not in an area without reception. This allows my battery to last from 8am to 5pm (17:00).
Now you know how I operate in keeping the battery usage to a minimum but that won’t be enough to keep everything charged for eight days straight. I’m carrying with me on this specific hike (8 Days on Skåneleden), all three of my DJI Mavic 2 batteries that have an adapter that charges via USB. These little batteries (although a bit heavy) offer quite a punch and one of them alone can charge my iPhone 7 Plus nearly 8 times. One last thing to point out is due to both the GoPro and iPhone being downright draining in the cold, I have a little spot in my sleeping bag that keeps them warm throughout the night.
The café began closing up shop around 2pm (14:00) so I thanked the lovely lady who helped me and headed back to the campsite. I tried to see a couple different things around the town but it began to rain and thought it would be best to get situated in the shelter before getting caught in it.
Once I was back at the campsite, the rain had let off and I got all setup. This was my favourite location yet and I knew I had to take advantage of it so I began chopping as much wood as I could and got the fire going straight away. Only a few minutes later it began to rain again... I was determined to fight water with fire however and I came up victorious!
As the sun set in the distance, the streetlights of the town shined bright. I honestly think I had the best spot in the whole town for the night. If this ends up being the highlight of my trip, I’m 100% okay with that! Like the first night, I decided to pack a few dry logs and kindling inside the shelter for the next person that camps out here. My last minute decision to buy an axes worth it!
By 8pm (20:00) I had decided it was time to turn in for the night. I cleaned up and made everything easy to get come morning then hopped inside the tent.
DAY 5: BÅSTAD to HOVS HALLAR
This day started out fantastic. I awoke off the high from the previous night at 6:30am and immediately packed up all my gear, refilled my water and headed out. There was a few different sites around Båstad that I wanted to see before heading back into the nature reserves.
The first one ended up being one of the ones I tried to see yesterday but went down the wrong street. I just happened to walk by it and the corner of my eye caught it. It was a giant burial mound from thousands of years ago called Klinkehög. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all but this one was rather big and had never been excavated.
From there, I headed down towards the coastline where I’d pass by the calm harbour and to the beach. It was still blue hour in the morning at this time so the lights on the bathhouse were still illuminated which made for some great photographs. Then I noticed some old cannons up on the nearby ridge but they looked ancient. Turns out they are the original cannons used back in 1788 when the Russians tried to invade!
It was time to go see the town church and by now the sun was just coming out. On the way to the church I ended up passing by the tennis courts where they hold the Nordic Cup which was neat as I’ve never seen such a high end court before. After the church I went down Ludwig Nobel Allé where they hold the yearly Nobel Prize award before making my way along the coast back into nature.
All of the walking so far was on your typical sidewalk which made it a breeze. I could tell I had a good pace going but then came the elevation. This section was the only section of my itinerary that was marked “difficult” and I believe it. In all honesty though, I prefer the uphill more than the muddy sections I had been dealing with the previous days.
The forest itself was much like the others with bare trees and the ground covered in autumn leaves. A few times I had to go up and over the barbed wire fencing but at least the mud was minimal.
This where the day drastically changed... The sun said goodbye and the rain began to come down consistently. All I could do was keep up my current pace and look forward to the shelter to come. My aim was to get to Knösen which was roughly 13km’s from the shelter I stayed at the night before in Båstad but because of the great timing I had been making, I arrived there at only 11:20am. There was no way I could spend the rest of my day just twiddling my thumbs so I thought it would be best to push towards the next campsite which was another 10km’s down the coast.
I also didn’t see a shelter area at Knösen to use as a little lunch break so I just put my head down went over the ridge and kept on going. Knösen is also one of the highest points in the Skåne region which would typically offer you a wide view out over the bay area on a sunny day. My view wasn’t so majestic...
The mud was back and it was back with a vengeance this time. Not only am I get pissed down on from above but I now have to be extra careful with every step. My pace that I had set through the first 13km’s was taking a serious hit. I began to wonder if I’d even make it to Torekov before night fall if the path kept like this.
In an hour, I made it just over 2km’s but the good news is I ended up at a hotel/restaurant. Since I looked like a rat out of water by this time I headed in for a coffee to rethink my strategy. The server Paulina was super helpful in accommodating me and since I was so comfy I decided this would be a good time to treat myself to a proper birthday lunch. I went with the traditional Swedish potatoe pancakes... Raggmunk. Trust me on this one, it tastes a hell of a lot better than it sounds! It came topped with a sweet jam and bacon. Yummy!
The weather didn’t look to be clearing at all and Paulina mentioned that there is a new shelter built just next to the hotel if I didn’t feel like trekking the extra 8km’s. She also mentioned that she’d be working till 10:30pm (22:30) so if I wanted to come back and warm up, I’d be more than welcome!
It was nearing 2pm (14:00) by this time and I figured I’d go set up my tent and then try and get a few photos down by the water even if the weather was horrendous. The rain let off a bit, just enough to take some photos but that lasted perhaps 30 minutes before it began pouring once again. I was soaking wet once again but went back to the campsite to pass some time and prepare dinner.
The rain eventually died right off and I wasted no time getting a fire going in order to start drying all my clothes and socks. I’ve really been enjoying the whole process of starting a fire lately. By 8pm, I was all dried up and sorted again. It was time to enjoy the evening, so I headed back to the restaurant and got my self an extra strong rum & coke to celebrate everything that is positive. To my surprise, Paulina had told the cook my story and they surprised me with a bunch of delicious treats and some salmon pie to go along with it! I stayed until close getting to know both of them before retiring into the tent once again.
DAY 6: HOVS HALLAR to GRYTSKÄR
This is the day that the whole hike had been encompassed around. November 18th. The day I’ve officially went 31 full circles around the sun. With the extra effort yesterday, I set myself up for a relaxing birthday day stroll. Just 8km now separated me at Hovs Hallar with my next campsite in Torekov.
I began the morning slow with no real hurry by making some breakfast oats and a coffee. While the latter was cooling, I set off to get one last glimpse of the mighty rock formations out front of the restaurant.
The weather had forecasted for overcast skies throughout the day which I’ll take over rainy drizzles any day. I set out about 8:30am crossing pastures and dodging a ridiculous amount of cow dung. Let me tell you, the smell of sea salt, fish and the cow’s business is not something to write home about... Yet, here I am kinda doing just that.
The first place of “excitement” we’ll call it was at Horrebro Hamn which was a cute little harbour with a bunch of little fishing shacks along the dock. I spent some time here but noticed my camera lens was a bit wet... There must just be some moisture in the air due to the cloud cover.
I carried on a ways which brought me to an old bunker. I had passed a lot of these bunkers over time, and although they are all sealed off from anyone accessing them, this one stood out to me. The tree growing near the side gave it character and it overlooked the Horrebro Harbour in the distance.
Perhaps only a kilometer later and I was met with another quite remarkable sight. The ground went from grass to rocks which took my eyes down to the ground. When I looked right after a moment, I noticed this massive rock burial ground. That led me to pull a 180 to see what else could be behind me... Another seven burial mounds! This ended up being my first break place for the day.
The rest of the trek was pretty bland until I got to the first view point of Torekov off in the distance. A few minutes later I was checking out the shelter I’d be staying in for the night, but seeing as it was only noon I may as well go get a coffee and check out the town. Or so I thought...
Torekov was dead. Seriously, it felt like a ghost town with the only place open being the tourist information center. The creepiest part about it all was how cute the town was with its cobblestone streets and budding harbour yet it was lifeless this time of year.
I did take the time to see a couple different sights in town but mind you, it was raining so I only took short quick glimpses. The first was the foundations of the old Torekov church that use to stand in the centre of town. The story goes that a young lady was sent to sea to drown by her wicked stepmother but than washed up on shore atop a giant boulder where a blind man found her. He buried her in this same area, and miraculously, recovered his sight. In her honour, he constructed the church but it later burned to the ground in a tragic fire.
With no chance of a coffee in the end, I thought maybe I should push on to the next campsite. I contemplated that idea for a bit then decided I’ll just stay the night in Torekov like I had planned.
I walked back to the shelter only to find that a group of older woman were having a little get together. They suggested that I go and check out the area or stick around but my first thought was, okay... This is the sign I needed to push towards the next campsite so I put on my rain pants and started the fastest pace I had in me without actually running.
With two hours until darkness and roughly three hours of hiking, it’s going to be an interesting evening. I did my best to still take some photos of the sights all the while trying not to slow down. When hiking, I typically aim for a 3km/hour pace which includes a relaxed pace and time for photographs/video. This instance, I was keeping a 5km/hour pace so you can just imagine how I looked. Ever see those speed walkers on the side of the road? Now, imagine one of them with an 18kg backpack on!
The first place of interest that I past was yet another burial mound called Dagshög. This one was massive tho! Turns out that it’s in fact the biggest in all of Skåne. Legend has it that the Viking King Dag and his men are buried here after a long hard fought battle was lost on these very shores.
The next interesting place wasn’t much further and was the ruins of a 19th century quarry known as Dagshög Quarry. Many of the stone foundations were still intact but the quarry itself had been abandoned since the early 20th century.
From here on, the air was a constant mist making me consistently wipe my glasses like a windshield wiper. While trying my best to avoid the muddy areas by rock hopping, I realized I had eyes on me. The local cows had gathered quite close and were probably wondering what a weird human that is. I just moo’d and continued on...
The sun set just before 4pm (16:00) and I had about 25 minutes before all out darkness took over. I did my best to keep up my stellar pace before reaching a crossroads sign letting me know I only had 3.3km’s to go to the Grytskär shelter. With no more natural light, it was time to get the headlamp out and a quick protein bar as I completely skipped lunch whilst in a hurry.
At this moment, there was someone walking towards me and we said hello. He asked where I was heading and told me there was an unofficial shelter nearby that he brings his grandchildren to during the summer if I didn’t want to walk the 3km’s. I thought that could be good, especially with darkness now in full effect. The gentleman showed me the way and we got to know each other a little bit. He was a retired priest for the Swedish church and at one point was responsible for half the Swedish churches abroad!
We got to the summer camp shelter in about 5 minutes which was right on the beach. It was actually a really great spot but the only issue was that there was no firewood. I thanked the man for showing me this little gem and we wished each other a pleasant night. I took the time to lift my legs up on the dry picnic table in the shelter, eat my protein bar and think about what I should do.
After a few minutes of pondering the idea, I decided I’ve already went this far, I may as well complete the adventure. I went onto the beach and started to make my way south only to come to a small river. No big deal, a bit of a running start and I made it over easily. Then came the second river... This one was quite a bit wider but niether were deep or running very fast. I didn’t feel like trying to set a new long distance jumping record today so I opted to go up over the sand dune where I found a glorious road leading to a bridge over the river. I was officially back on track now with only 2km’s to go!
The next kilometer was easy. A basic dirt road with a couple puddles here and there. The second kilometer is where things became interesting. The path I needed to follow was simply a work out footpath in the grass. Occasionally, I would see an orange marking letting me know I was still on the path but unlike in the daylight when I can see these markings from a distance, at night I had to rely completely on the path directly in front of me.
Needless to say, that remarkable pace I had set for myself earlier was well done and dusted by now. The biggest threat during the night was the landmines that have been placed around the cow pasture. By landmines, I mean the giant brown turds left behind and explode if and when you step in them. The scariest moment of my entire trip came when I walked over a small hill and all I could see was eight set of eyes just staring back at me. I froze in place looking like I just saw a ghost but then quickly realizing they were just the owners of the landmines I had been dodging, I gave them all a nice “moo moo” and carried on.
By 5:30 (17:30) I had made it to Grytskär and wasted no time in getting the fire started up. I cooked up a couscous & vegetables dehydrated meal I had been saving, and mixed it together with some almonds for a delicious birthday meal. At this point, I was only 3km’s from Vejbystrand and had enough reception to give my dad a call back home and then my friend Dana a quick video chat.
During Dana and I’s video chat, I went to show her around the site and was startled to see a WWII bunker just behind the shelter. The bizarre thing about it was that it was completely open! Out of the seemingly hundreds I’ve past, I’m finally able to go in one so of course, Dana naturally got to come with me.
After our call, I was completely drained from the days activities and fell asleep quicker than I ever have throughout the past 6 days.
DAY 7: VEJBYSTRAND
The night was fierce. A storm had brewed and the wind was the strongest I have yet to see. Thankfully it was coming from the south which allowed the wind shelter I was in to completely block it out. However, the sound seemed as though a tornado was nearby. I was still able to sleep quite well and woke up to the sun for the first time in days.
Knowing that I wouldn’t be doing much travelling today and would keep close in order to sleep at the same shelter again, I organized my wood inside. Kindling and small pieces to one side, while the other side would get the bigger logs. I then began to brew myself some coffee and enjoy the sun shining upon the sea off in the distance.
As I was beginning to take down my tent, I heard the ruffle of footsteps upon the stones and turned around. To my surprise, it was the man from last night that showed me the summer camp shelter. He wished me good morning and had explained that he woke up in the middle of the night wondering how I was making out. He went to the summer camp shelter first and didn’t see me so he continued another 3km’s to where I was with a bag of breakfast goodies. I had to get his name this time and he replied “Kristo”. It was an absolute pleasure to meet him and I thanked him for these wonderful gifts. Chia & Seasalt bread, light cheese, cottage cheese, blue cheese, a lemonade and even hot coffee! This was beyond anything I could have imagined happening on my first day as a 31 year old.
The wind was still stronger than ever this morning but it was time to get a move on. I finished packing up my gear, shot some photos of the bunker and enjoyed the last sip of coffee. I dressed warmer than usual to avoid the chilling cold that accompanies such a strong wind and began the 2km walk towards a charming little cafe called Lillaro Café.
Upon arriving, I was met with a sign that said “Stängt”... Closed. I began realizing the implications that Covid-19 is producing here in Sweden. As an outsider looking in during the first outbreak back in March/April, one believed the country continued to function as normal while other countries simply locked down, but this is certainly not the case. Although there are technically no laws in place that prohibits one to continue functioning as normal, with major spikes in cases happening daily; Swedes have taken it upon themselves to close up shop, stay inside and avoid any kind of contact. Even as I write this, I know for certain that Austria is currently undergoing their second full lockdown like the one they experienced in March.
Not to be deterred on a sunny day, I set my sights on Vejbystrand in hoping that maybe they’ll have a restaurant open. With another storm coming thru this afternoon, I was hoping to find shelter some place with a power outlet to continue writing my blog and do some more Swedish studies. I thought I would aim for the harbour area first to check it out while the weather was good but just like the previous café, everything was closed.
I began working my way to the town’s ICA when I saw I sign saying “Bibliotek”. That would be a perfect place! I walked in and felt the instant warmth that I forgotten could exist after being bellowed by the winds all morning. There was a comfy chair next to the fireplace with an outlet to the side. This is where I would find solace for the next few hours.
Just as expected, by noon the storm had begun but I couldn’t complain watching it through a window this time around. I put my phone and electronics on charge, grabbed a children’s book and relaxed.
Nearly three hours had gone since I entered the library and I was able to read my first three Swedish books. I may have had a little bit of dictionary work to get to know some new words and make full sense of the stories. It was time for me to get heading back to the Grytskär.
As I neared the harbour front to walk the coast back, I was gifted the one and only sunset of my trip. The sky was shimmering giving a sense of awe across the bay. I had to get some memories of this moment and then continued. The shelter was still about 40 minutes from the town, and I knew I had about 20 minutes once that sun set below the horizon before pitch blackness was upon me so I had a bit of an upbeat pace going yet again.
I came up to another WWII bunker (I’m telling you, there are hundreds out here) and this one was just too perfect of a shot not to take. I stopped, grabbed my camera and rapid fired before getting back up to speed. I should mention that I’m dealing with up to 75km/h headwinds while trying to back track to Grytskär which makes things a bit unpleasant.
I made it back and quickly got everything set up before I absolutely needed to use my headlamp. I managed to get a fire going while I ate dinner but with the fierce winds continuing to blow, I eventually chose to stay inside the tent where it would be warmer. I finished off my night eating some of the yummy treats Kristo had brought over in the morning and set my alarm for 6:30am.
DAY 8: GRYTSKÄR to ÄNGELHOLM
The night that just past had been the coldest of them all dropping below zero degrees for the first time. With the wind continuing to gust over 70km/h, my tent was in constant movement which made sleeping difficult. By 4:30am, it became quite peaceful but with a busy day ahead I only managed to sleep a few hours in total.
My alarm went off at 6:30am and I immediately began boiling water for a coffee while I packed up everything in the dark. There wasn’t many clouds in the sky at this time which meant I may get a decent sunrise. I had 16km’s ahead of me and my goal was to be in Ängelholm by noon in order to catch a bus.
I headed out and just as expected, the clouds lit up ever so colourful across the sky and made my morning pleasant. Early on, I came across a little stream that had not been there the day before. The weather proved to be just as bad as I had thought. I made a running jump to get across and landed safely on the other side.
After a few kilometers into the hike, an older gentleman with his dog stopped to have a little chat with me. Like many Swedes, he was happy to speak English. If he wasn’t than the conversation may have been a little boring. We chatted for a good twenty minutes before setting off.
The trail today was quite dull to be fair. If it wasn’t for the gorgeous weather (still only 6°), this would have been a straight walk through. Constantly next to the ocean with the sun shining in my face had me keeping a pretty relaxed pace and occasionally stopping for a break.
There was only one spot that proved a bit tricky as I hopped my way over some mud but other than that I was on a bicycle path the entire way. Many people were out jogging, or cycling today and it really felt like I have come back into civilization.
It took 4 hours to get from my little shelter at Grytskär to the Ängelholm train station and from there I caught my bus. In total I covered 162 kilometers over the past 8 days and had a birthday I’ll never forget but where this trip ends, another begins. I will now be transiting up to the northern part of Sweden over the next 24 hours!
Thank you all for reading about my experience on the Skåneleden trail and I hope you find motivation in it to do something similar. If you’re interested in seeing the video from the trip, you can follow the link below to my YouTube channel:
And if you’d like to follow along with my daily adventures, here are the best ways to do it:
Instagram -> @chasedavidson_
Facebook -> www.facebook.com/chasedavidsonphotography