Sweden’s High Coast: an uplifting suffer

Since the ice age, a chain of islands in north Sweden has been emerging from the sea, generate a beautiful, if strange, wilderness for baby-walkers, campers and kayakers

From the sea shore, the path had been rising steadily up the hillside, twisting and changing through dense wood, when unexpectedly it opened up on to a immense clear of cobble-sized stones. I had wasted the previous hour sweating up the mountainside, yet it detected as if I were back on the coast, gazing across a rocky beach at low tide.

I wasnt too far wrong: this was in fact an ancient seabed, one of many ludicrous features of the Swedish High Coast in the Gulf of Bothnia, the topmost part of the Baltic Sea, 500 km north-east of Stockholm. Its a wild and primarily unsettled scenery of flat-topped mountains, dense evergreen forests, ponds and ducts that is, quite literally, on the rise.

Sweden delineate

During the most recent ice age, this region was humiliated by a 3km-thick layer of frost. But when this began to defrosted 9,600 years ago, the property began to rise in a process announced isostatic rebound. It has been growing at a rate of 8mm a year ever since, leading to an ever-evolving archipelago gradually emerging from the sea. It was proclaimed a Unesco world heritage site in 2000.

The High Coast is a world heritage site for its own unique estate and seascape and its distinct crimson granite stones. Picture: Friluftsbyn Hga Kusten/ imagebank.sweden.se

At the heart of the High Coast is Skuleskogen national park, a road-less wilderness that I was exploring on foot and by kayak over four periods. Leaving the stone study, a few miles from the high seas and the ballparks entering, the path resumed up to the summit of Slttdalsberget, a spot of glacier-scoured blood-red granite and a few gnarled trees. The archipelago extended into the interval islands from a few metres in size to much larger ones covered in thick forest.

Not far from the top, Slttdalsskrevan is a dark, forbidding 200 -metre-long crevasse that cleaves the mountain in two. Entering it felt like stepping on to a make from Lord of the Rings. Some bushes seen here are normally associated with alpine neighborhoods: theyre remainders from the cold span after the sparkler age. At the same occasion, the High Coast is where many species from the south achieve their northerly restriction, includes the rare whisker lichen that drapes itself on age-old spruces.

Klsviken bay. Image: Fredrik Lewander

My route was now following a short but drastic slouse of the High Coast Trail, a 127 km trek that runs right through the national park. Starting at the spectacular Hga Kusten suspension bridge( simulated partly on San Franciscos Golden Gate Bridge ), it travels over mountain and along coast to finish at rnskldsvik, the areas main city.

Dropping down the mountain, I arrived at Trnttvattnen, a tranquil freshwater reservoir, with a small rust-red hut at one culminate. “Thats one” of a number of unlocked shelters along the High Coast Trail, open to all on a first-come, first-served basis( theyre free and stacked with firewood for the stave, though theres no electricity or ranging sea ).

Next day, I left the trail and leader down to the shore( paths are signposted, but I was glad of a map, more ). All around were signals of the rising tract. In the interval what was like a small island was linked by a sliver of land. Locally born Jerry Engstrm, who runs the nearby FriluftsByn outdoor centre, afterwards told me he could remember this being two detached islands, merely 30 years ago.

A cabin at FriluftsByn

Meanwhile, negotiating the rough course across another stone arena, I called across big stacks of stones. Dating from the Bronze Age, these embankments were originally conjured over the dead along the shoreline, but are now 30 -5 0m above sea level.

Rather than a cosy room, my bottom was in a tent exactly spitting distance from the sea, at a small inlet announced Klsviken, one of the ballparks marked camping smudges. These are basic, and campers must raise tents and food; but each place comes with a shoot pit, sturdy wood store, an eco-loo and a water supply( often just a springtime ). Visitors can stay for up to three nights at each point, but wild camping is granted outside of the summer season.

To realize the High Coast amply, though, it needs to be viewed from the sea. So the next morning I assembled a two-day kayak expedition run by FriluftsByn( around 60 a daylight ). Closing our possessions into watertight lockers, we set off from the placid water of the creek and into the choppy Baltic, hugging the coastline where we could, paddling past cliffs that dashed into the sea, all the while straining to see if we could discern a countenance. Now and then marriage stop in a small creek and get the stave going for fika coffee and cakes.

Photograph: Richard Nelsson for the Guardian

Baggviken was our campsite for the nighttime, a lagoon-like natural conceal on Mjltn island. As well as the obligatory attack quarry, this discern rose with the bonus “of ones own”( free) sauna.

For the less intrepid sightseer, “theres” shuttles crisscrossing the domain during summer, extraditing tourists to islands such as Trysunda, voted Swedens prettiest, or Ulvn, with its well-preserved fishing villages.

Others come to sample the neighbourhood food and boozing. The High Coast is mentioned for its gin and whisky, but the real speciality is surstrmming fermented herring. Banned by several airlines on account of it being classified as an explosive, the smell from an open tin perceives strong enough to anaesthetise. Prepared and served on tunnbrd ( flatbread) and ideally eaten in the open air it is surprisingly tasty, as I detected when one of my fellow kayakers ceremoniously opened a tin. Neighbourhood restaurants too suffice it.

The compact nature of Skuleskogen national park signifies its easy to combine activities, be they diving, angling or climbing. The next day, after beaching the kayaks at the village of Docksta, it was only a short trek to the base of Skuleberget, the most important one flower in the area, at 286 metres.

The columnist on Via Ferrata Skuleberget

Theres a course up one line-up, and a ski-lift on another, but I opted to climb this towering represent of the High Coast by via ferrata a series of sword footholds and cables. Via Ferrata Skuleberget offers four routes up the vertical faces, past caves and overhangs, before situating climbers at the highest recorded shoreline in the field( from 36 ). It was a scary business, carrying my method up the ladders with nothing but air below, but once I loosen into the fact I was clipped into all the ironmongery, it felt like the most natural channel to climb a mountain.

Nothing could beat the vista from the summit restaurants balcony. Standing atop this former island, I marvelled again at the archipelago thats still rising from the sea.

The journey was provided by Visit Sweden.com and Scandinavian Outdoor Group . Skuleskogen is about 40 km from rnskldsvik Next Jet flights from Stockholm from 99 return . Studies 60 each direction

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