Walking Coast to Coast across Sweden

Walking Coast to Coast across Sweden

There are many ways to visit a new country but few as rewarding as walking across from coast to coast. Traveling by foot, you notice the little details that give a place its character. You take time to savour the slow changes in landscape and you see places you’d never visit by car or train or even bicycle.

Touching the sea at Sölvesborg in southern Sweden

Sweden, fortunately, is a narrow country, so walking right across from one coast to the other is very manageable. For the last five years Jörgen Johansson and his intrepid followers have been doing just that. I had a chance to join them for their first time on a completely new trail.

Sölvesborg train station
Our team (less Jörgen and a few others who were stuck on a delayed train!)

We wandered through peaceful quiet forests with sunlight gently dappling through. Much like my recent hike in Scotland, it was surprisingly hot but the forest provided cool shade that we all appreciated.

Southern Sweden is rich with peaceful forest

Sweden has a law that you can camp on private property for one night without prior permission (as long as you’re respectful, of course). That makes it a fantastic place for backpacking. You have so much freedom. With such unusually hot and dry weather, though, it made more sense for us to stay in the established campsites with their water pumps. On our second night, though, the pump was broken and we had no choice but to drink the acrid black lake water. Even after filtering it, I had my suspicions.

Happily unaware of impending intestinal doom

Sure enough, the following day I suddenly felt quite ill as soon as I went to bed. It was a rough night with a number of trips to the toilet. I didn’t realize until the next morning that nearly everyone was also sick.

Feeling exhausted from a sleepless night, most of our group decided to catch a bus into a nearby town. Jesper and I decided to push on but after four hours of painfully slow walking and not being able to eat anything, we hitched a ride from a very nice woman. Turns out she rescues a few hikers every year!

After a night of recovery

A night of good sleep in a hotel did wonders for our spirits (and insides) and we set off again the following afternoon.

Tunnel of green
A rather tranquil place to live
Camping in a farmer’s field

We passed through more earthy forests and cute little villages. One highlight was Verum Kyrka, a church originally built in the 11th century and where Agnetha Fältskog of ABBA fame was married. You’d think that would make the church a big tourist attraction but we had it all to ourselves.

The 11th century church, famous for two ABBA weddings

With the warm weather and such beautiful lakes at nearly every campsite, we went swimming at every opportunity. We were just careful not to accidentally drink any of the water!

Sweden is blessed with countless little lakes
Curious? Hungry?

I thought our group of adventurous walkers was quite commendable but I hadn’t expected one of the more widely read newspapers in Sweden to take notice. On our final night on the trail, a reporter met us at the campsite, particularly interested to know why the foreigners in the group had come to see Sweden by foot.

A newspaper reporter excitedly interviews our team

After nine days of walking, we made it back to the sea! There’s something special about finishing a long journey at the sea. It feels very natural, like a good conclusion to such a memorable walk.

After 9 days and some unexpected challenges, we make it to the sea
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England’s Coast-to-Coast Trail

England’s Coast-to-Coast Trail

Having recently taken part in the TGO Challenge, a walk across the Scottish highlands from the west coast to the North Sea, I got to reminiscing about another great coast-to-coast walk.

Back in the summer of 2012, Michael and I walked Wainwright’s coast-to-coast trail in northern England. It goes right from one side of the country to the other – from the North Sea, across 300 km of mountains, moors, and classic English countryside to the cliffs of the Irish sea. Here’s my journal and some photos from our adventure…

Usually, people walk the trail from west to east and stay in B&Bs along the route but we chose to go in reverse and to camp as much as we could. This let us save what we felt was the most beautiful (and difficult!) part for last.

We actually started 20km south of the usual ending point (Robin Hood's Bay), letting us enjoy an extra day of walking along misty sea-cliffs.
We actually started 20km south of the usual ending point (Robin Hood’s Bay), letting us enjoy an extra day of walking along misty sea-cliffs.
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