Our fourth week started with the same dreary cold, wet and windy weather. Not overly wet but buffeting winds and chillingly cold with low clouds, sort of makes looking at the Lofotens a bit pointless. The weather was forecast to be similar for the next week or more, and annoyingly the UK is in a heatwave! Sadly, not been able to see Norway at its best due to the weather, but no point lingering just because. The larger forecast showed Sweden as being sunnier and warmer, so with reluctance as we’ve not seen the Lofotens at their best (still impressive) we headed east and exscaped Norway…
Crossing into Sweden was worrying simply – no checks/passport at all – which as Norway isn’t EU and Sweden is, I’d expected a few more checks. But regardless, simple and fast main road through (no other viable options). The landscape was also no longer Norwegian – there were snowcapped hills, and whilst the terrain was pretty with some great views – just totally different flora and aspect, more lakes and low hills in the distance.
There is, sod all in this neck of the woods though – literally nothing! Even the guidebook says there are miles and miles of nothing of any interest whatsoever lol. Bizarrely we noticed we were in Lapland where Santa lives. Now as we never planned to enter Sweden this far up, we hadn’t looked up the area. But yep, there were wild Reindeers on the road (and on the menu) but no snow.
The first town we hit was Kiruna where we stopped for
a nosey and to find an ATM. About the size of Melksham, but one of the biggest around the north! Not overly exciting, but enough to get bearings and point us to a lakeside/woodland space where we could stay for the night – just down the road from the world famous Ice Hotel. (Though, in late June, and no snow or ice to be seen).
We can’t moan, the weather is now as we’d hoped – warm, sunny, and best of all no gusty chilly winds! (Why couldn’t the Lofoten islands be like this!). We would say the roads are wide, fast, and smooth – though with lots of (well signed) cameras – but for a 20+km stretch there were roadworks Scandinavian style – e.g. no road at all and 10-15mph of shaking things to bits. ***** awful. That said we headed to the Muddus National Park, and “chose” a 10km drive up another dirt track to undertake some lovely hiking. Very quiet area, very few people, and lovely (long) walk in the pine forest with a couple of waterfalls. Topped off with the last ice-cream from our freezer, and a perfect wild-camping spot in a secluded pine forest next to the river. Lovely.
After a morning run, we had a good outdoor shower as the neighbours weren’t yet up. For those that think we rough it in our little van – they were sleeping in the boot of their 4×4 with no real facilities – and whilst we had a warm shower, they dipped in the freezing lake!
It would’ve been nice to stay there, but we headed SE towards Jävre on the coast that had been tipped to us, and all the way on quiet roads till we hit the E45 that was more like a motorway – and just not a fun drive. Jävre stop was nice to explore, with a beach, lighthouse and the like but it was heaving with motorhomes due to proximity to tourist resort of Piteå. So we escaped in the morning back inland and within a few meters of busy roads, back on to fast, wide but empty backroads – a lot more picturesque with random reindeers crossing blindly.
Lycksele was a nice place and good enough to stay, but we’d arrived too early and there wasn’t that much to explore. We did venture to the zoo (!) which had native Swedish animals and a few others, but slowly seeing
them all only took a couple of hours! Not exactly huge…. Se we headed to a quiet town of Åsele where we decided to wildcamp for the night and go out food in one of their 4 restaurants. Sadly, all were pizza places, and closed at 8pm – so at 7:55 we were lucky! Swedish food seems to be much more normally priced and the Pizzas were good.
In the morning, following more deserted roads (some no tarmac) we ended up at Björnlandets national park for a walk around – but the weather was a bit wet, and the park was full of mozzies. So we did a rather quick walk and got back soaked. Not great, but different. Very isolated!
Now with a load of soaked clothes, and shoes, and laundry being needed we headed to a motorhome parking area in Örnsköldsvik and were pleasantly surprised. Great facilities (showers, bathrooms, kitchen, restaurant), and 3hr use of washer/dryer for £4.50 – and great wifi! So managed to get all our chores done and some work. With the sun out we stayed a couple of nights – flat enough for good runs and a busy enough town to explore a bit.
It is the starting point of the Sweden “High Coast” route, and even has a ski-jump ramp in the town…. Brilliant place to stop and refresh.
The area south is the UNESCO Hoga Kusten (High Coast) – which is rugged and spectacular to see. We didn’t know about this till googling, but found Skuleskoggen national park which has some spectacular walks and views out to the coast. The cost is softer than Norway, but still a great “wow” – and as usual here, wildcamping in the forest is absolutely fine and beautiful.
So that ends week 4, introducing us to Sweden with lots of walking, and lots of driving through pine forests!
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