Water from the Baltic sea at our right, dense green forests make way for open fields of cobble stone covered in pale green lichen. Once covered in a thick layer of ice, the Swedish High Coast is an archipelago, rising from the sea. Signs from the ice age are visible all around.
The central starting point of the High Coast
Having spent four days exploring the lovely city of Uppsala and its surroundings – learning everything there is to know about Swedish botanist Carl von Linné – we continued our journey north. We were anxious to spend some time alone again, amongst the trees. Our next destination would be the Swedish High Coast (Höga Kusten), located in Västernorrland county.
Near the south entrance of Skuleskogen national park, we discovered a parking lot (open for campervans to spend the night) that was actually a central starting point to discover the Unesco World Heritage site the High Coast. It had a bathroom, a latrin, and a fresh water tap to fill our water tank – all without charge! Though it wasn’t surrounded by woodland, it looked like a good place to spend the night.
Multiple hiking routes started here. There was a large information center explaining the background of the area and there were even some marked climbing routes to start here. Just a few meters from our van, an impressive mountain rose above the ground – the Skuleberget.
Climbing the mountain
Whilst doing some work in the early morning hours, we could hardly wait to start our climb up the Skuleberget. We just had to make our way to the top of that mountain before we entered the national park and explored the rest of the high coast.
Around 2pm we packed our bags and made our way to one of the maps that were put on display to figure out how to reach the top of Skuleberget. We could opt for the ski lift, walk on a dirt road, or hike on quite a rocky path. Those who felt particularly adventurous could go rock climbing with a company centered at the parking lot.
We opted for the rocky path as it allowed us to take a detour past a cave, the Kingsgrottan, halfway up! The path was incredibly steep as we had to ascend 156 meters within a distance of 550 meters. Luckily, the most difficult sections had stairs with a railing, so it was quite doable.
We wouldn’t recommend taking a large dog along however, especially if you’d like to visit the cave. Mojo had to be carried large parts of the trail as dogs can’t get up those stairs. We left Venus in our campervan (it doesn’t get too stuffy or hot, the MaxxAir fan and thick layers of cork insulation work wonders) and were glad that we only had one dog joining us on the trail!
Mojo ‘wrote’ a story about this day too – you can read all about her experiences here.
Some amazing views
As they say, the bigger the challenge, the higher the reward. That was certainly the case here on the Skuleberget. The views over the High Coast both at the top and near the cave were simply breathtaking.
The Skuleberget currently rises 295 meters above sea level. Though a mere 8500 years ago, a large part of the mountain was still submerged by water. During this time, the sea created the cave through erosion.
During our hike back down we took a simpler path, to have a change in scenery. Halfway down we accidentally took a right when we shouldn’t have. We ended up descending the mountain too far east and had to walk an extra 3 kilometers. We could easily find our way back home though, and were tired but satisfied!
Entering Skuleskogen National Park
The next day we decided to drive up to Skuleskogen, the national park located in the High Coast area. We knew the exit to Entré Syd was located fairly close to our parking lot (we’d seen it when driving up just two days earlier). We took a left and kept driving for ten minutes, approaching Entré Väst. Whoops… Well, we just had to drive back south to visit the other side of the park later on then, haha!
Side note: Just a few days ago today, we actually figured out that skogen means forest! We are surprised we didn’t figure that one out sooner, having read it so frequently during or time in Sweden.
Anyways, we reached the west entrance after a slow 30 minute drive on a rather bumpy and winding road. Grateful to find a calmer parking lot, we spent a few hours working and eating lunch.
Skuleskogen National Park does not have looped marked routes such as Tiveden and Tyresta have. Instead, signs share the direction and distance to the nearest sights to see. This gave us quite some freedom, but it also meant that if we wanted to end up back at the van the same day, we had to double back on the same path.
We scanned the map at the entrance and decided we would hike towards Långtjärnhällorna, past Långtjärnen lake, all the way east towards Norrsvedjebodarna. Walking up the path, we passed a family grilling their lunch in a fire pit using wood from a shed. We love that about the Swedish national parks and nature reserves. There are fire pits and small sheds with wood scattered around everywhere. Due to the extreme drought however, building a fire was prohibited in most places.
The hiking path at Entré Väst was relatively easy – a breeze compared to the climb up Skuleberget! Part of the path is even accessible to people in a wheelchair, with an amazing view over a lake from up high.
It was quite hot that day, 25 or so degrees with clear blue skies. We’d mostly hiked in dense forests during our time in Sweden. The openness of the area not only changed the scenery, but also made us realize how incredibly hot it had been for six weeks straight at that point.
The hike was great though, despite the heat. Once we arrived at Norrsvedjebodarna, we enjoyed our afternoon snack (some clementines and two apples dipped in peanut butter) on a little bench. We wondered where we could find the stuga, a little hut destined for visitors to spend the night. Walking back we realized that the dark grass and ashes were leftovers of that stuga. We remembered reading that it had burned down just a few weeks earlier.
Arriving back at our home on wheels, we cooked dinner and were surprised to see other people arriving in their motorhomes when it was the evening already. Though it isn’t usually legal to park (and sleep in) a campervan within the bounds of a national park, Jordy did a little search online and found that you’re actually allowed to do so in Skuleskogen.
We decided to drive back to the south entrance. Guess what, the exit was opposite the parking lot we left that morning, haha. We parked in between some large RVs and went to sleep quite early.
Rise and shine
Our alarm went off at 6.30am. There was just a short moment of disagreement with ourselves for planning a hike this early, but our excitement to explore took over quickly. After a breakfast of overnight oats, we leashed the dogs, packed our bags, and set off.
The hike we planned was longer and more difficult than the day before, though we didn’t exactly realize just how long and difficult at the start!
Through dense forests we made our way along the coast in the direction of Näskebodarna – privately owned summer cottages on meadows. We clearly remember how many ants there were, they where everywhere. So we were happy to discover a secluded beach where the dogs could soak their itchy paws in cool water.
Paths became steeper as we headed west, the area more open. We took our first break (with some clementines again) on two boulders after having walked for a little over an hour. It was relatively cool because it was early still.
Making our way further north, trees became sparse and made room for massive cobble fields. It was so unique to see thousands of rounded rocks covered in various colors of lichen, stretched into the distance. We’d never seen something like this before. It’s just another piece of evidence that shows that the land we were standing on was not too long a go still below sea level.
We arrived at the northernmost point of our hike and had our second break (more clementines, and some apple with peanut butter again, we’re boring) at a lake called Tärnättvatten. Behind us was a stuga, a little hikers hut. Since the hut we hoped to check out the day before had burned down, we had a little peek inside. It was cosy, admittedly quite dirty and messy, but cosy. Books and glasses on a table, a massive fireplace on the opposite side where you can cook your dinner, and four beds at the back. It was perfect for a group of hikers to spend the night after talking around a campfire.
I assumed that the heaviest part of the hike was long behind us, but Jordy kept insisting that wasn’t the case. I was wrong (like I usually am in these situations). We climbed, and climbed, and climbed some more, turning around every few minutes to look back at the view with the lake below us.
A massive crevice
And then we saw it, the Slåttdalsskrevan. What an impressive sight. A mountain split in two, towering above us, and we were standing in between. We took our time taking pictures, partly because we could use that little break, but mainly because it was just breathtaking!
Stairs led us up to the top of the Slåttdalsberget. We enjoyed the view over the lake one last time, and make our way back down into Slåttdalen. There were many tourists here. We had to stop to let other people pass whilst trying to balance on pointy boulders. Our dogs were still hopping and skipping along like it was nothing. Whilst we were struggling a little, people kept asking why we’d taken our dogs along; ‘isn’t the path too difficult for your dogs?’.
We walked back to our van through Slåttdalen, another 5 kilometers through thick forests on wooden paths. Walking on these bouncy wooden beams was quite a relief after stumbling over rocks for hours.
We finally made our way back to the van at 12.30pm, it’d been an incredibly long hike. All four of us were exhausted!
Another vet visit
Sadly, we were not able to explore the area around Entré Nord the next day. We discovered red patches on both Mojo and Venus’ legs and tummies late in the afternoon. Knowing it was ringworm – a common fungal infection that can be found anywhere and is highly contagious to pets and people – we had to visit a veterinarian immediately. When we got to the nearest city we found that the vets’ offices (three!) were all closed for the following three days.
We started (and still are) treating them (and ourselves as a precautionary measure) with apple cider vinegar. It seems to be working very well, but we’re proceeding to use it for a few months to stay on the safe side. We’ll tell you all about our experiences with apple cider vinegar as a natural remedy for ringworm in a while!
Extra tips for the High Coast
Besides the hiking paths in Skuleskogen National Park, you can also embark upon The High Coast Hike. The path runs through the entire High Coast area. If we would’ve had a tent and gear with us, and Venus was at least a year old, we’d probably followed this path, too. The trail is over 130 km longs and takes you past all the amazing sights within the High Coast area.