Västra Skagene, Vänern Lake, Sweden!August 17, 2017 in Sweden
Today we said goodbye to Norway and hello again to Sweden, where we plan to spend the next month. We were sad to leave the beautiful country that had become our favourite of the tour so far, but Sweden is by no means unscenic and it soon began to work charms on us, lifting our mood. The low lying land held so many accessible lakes barely hidden behind curtains of forest.
We'd been gradually running down our supplies of food in the extremely expensive Norway, so one of our first jobs was to visit a supermarket. A lesson constantly being reinforced as we travel, is how much our opinions are based on context. Coming from the UK, you wouldn't think food in Sweden was particularly cheap, but coming from Norway, we were elated to once again walk around the shop without feeling we were walking on eggshells (that we couldn't afford)!
The last time we were in Sweden we'd stayed next to Vättern; the 2nd largest lake. This time, Will had found a spot on the north shore of Vänern, the largest lake in Sweden and the EU. It is also the third largest lake in Europe with an area of 5,650 square kilometres. We approached it via the large town of Karlstad, but soon left the urban streets and came to a single track gravel road that wound round tall pines and past pretty wooden holiday homes. Reaching the lake, we saw a few small timber piers with wooden or plastic boats moored to them. To our relief we found a clearing large enough to park a few cars and the van at the end. It was a gorgeous glade, protected from the wind and waves by a headland, with an area specifically allocated for swimming. Lichens, berry bushes and heathers grew under the trees and tall green reeds swayed in the shallows. Vicky and Poppy paddled while Will got out the snorkel, fins and mask.
We stayed 2 nights so had plenty of time the following day to take the canoe out. The weather was just right; dry, not too hot and not too cold. We paddled over to a nearby uninhabited island, pulled the boat on shore and clambered up the slippy rocks to a spongy surface of deep light green lichen and heather, where we found a couple of large stones to perch on and have a picnic. We stayed well clear of the vast expanse of open water because the wind had whipped up whitecaps that we didn't want to mess with. Instead we explored the shoreline within our cove, protected by a few islands, a headland and some handy rocks. There were many wooden holiday chalets that looked as if they were owned by individuals as opposed to a rental company. Some had pipes pumping water from the lake and all had outdoor decking to sit and take in the fresh air and scenery. The area was obviously well used and lots of small boats were stationed on the rocks or in the reeds.
Will dropped Vicky back then spent a happy few hours fishing from the canoe without a single bite. Sweden does not require you to have a license to fish on its five largest lakes. In the evening the sun was casting a warm glow on the water and we both made use of the swimming area. It was a little chilly for Vicky to start with but once we acclimatised the water felt glorious. Afterwards, it was warm enough to lay out and air dry on the smooth rocks that had spent all day absorbing the sun's heat. Perfect!Read more