It feels a bit strange to write about a place from my childhood. My first 20 years were spent in the middle of the most beautiful of Sweden’s landscapes. The High Coast (Höga kusten). I jumped on rocks on the island of Trysunda by the Baltic Sea, I picked earth-scented chanterelles at the edge of the dark Skuleskogen and I went on school excursions along the Höga Kusten trail. There have been so many school excursions over the years and many fantastic places have been ruined by the memory of cold rain-filled hiking boots. One of the places that did not create pink fluffy memories is Slåttdalsskrevan in Skuleskogen National Park. The last time I hiked here was over 25 years ago. It was time to give the national park a second chance.
STAGE 1: ENTRANCE SOUTH TO SLÅTTDALSSKREVAN
Easy hike over wooden footbridges
Late summer offers sunny weather and perfect hiking temperatures. Our plan is to hike from Skuleskogens Entré Syd up to Slåttdalsskrevan , and then down to the coast via Tärnättvattnen and then back to Entré Syd via another hiking trail by the sea. A distance in total of about 7-8 kilometers, with partly quite steep ascent on the way up to the ravine.
The first kilometers after the parking lot take us over wooden footbridges through a thick forest of spruce. The trees are tall and the treetops barely let in any light. It is fabulously beautiful. Due to the fact that the hike is easy, we have time to look around and really enjoy all the sights.
On many of the spruce’s bare branches, lichen grows, which in some cases looks like well-grown Santa’s beard. It is the hanging – bearded long beard that thrives here in the moist spruce forest. A name that commits. Some long beards look almost like Spanish moss – the wild moss swaying in the wind in the trees of southern United States.
The first stretch up to Slåttdalsskrevan passes along the well-known Höga Kusten trail, a hiking trail that takes you all the way from Högakustenbron to Örnsköldsvik. A total distance of 130 km divided into sections, where it is relatively easy to select only one section for a day trip.
We pass several foreign hikers with camping equipment who will definitely not just visit the ravine during the day. It warms my heart to see that our unique nature is actually starting to have a reputation that extends beyond the neighboring villages.
The first cobblestone fields
Half the way towards Slåttdalsskrevan (a little unclear how far from Entré Syd, the hike went very fast on the wooden footbridges), we come to a large cobblestone field. A large meadow of round, smooth stones. Cobblestone fields are the remains of ancient beaches, when the sea went all the way up into the forest. I can not see the sea, no matter how much I stretch. The sea is many hundreds of meters away. Land uplift has been efficient here.
Skuleskogen National Park was not a national park when I was a child, but in 1984 Skuleskogen became Sweden’s 19th national park. I can not remember either parking lots, toilets or wooden footbridges here when I was a child, but one thing that has looked the same over the years is the cobblestone fields. The stones are covered by several hundred years old map lichen. Some rocks look almost like globes, where lichen has created lands and seas.
In the early 2000s, I remember reading that vandals had built stone figures out of cobblestones. I do not remember how the story ended, but there are no stone figures left here today. The liechen can continue to grow slowly in peace.
We reach a meadow. Or maybe it’s an overgrown bog? We continue to stumble on wooden footbridges, on our side cotton-like tall blades of grass and lots of red berries. If I remember correctly, it’s crowberry, but I’m not so keen on tasting. The only thing I’m sure about is that it’s definitely not lingonberry.
Steeper hiking over roots and rocks
The wooden footbridges end and a slightly more gnarled, root-filled and rocky path is taking over. A little less arranged. A little more wilderness. “As it should be ” when walking in the woods. Now we need to watch out where to put our feet and the hiking pace goes down a bit. It isn’t difficult to walk despite being warned that the trail would be “demanding”. But then the path begins to go uphill.
When it gets steep in Skuleskogen, it gets steep quickly. We are in the final sprint before Slåttdalsskrevan. It is rocky, steep and sometimes I need to use my hands to move on and not stumble and lose my balance. It is good to have hiking shoes for this part of the trail, because the stones are at times quite wobbly and sharp.
It might have been so the the summer heat and steep trail gave us a drop of sweat or two in the forehead. In fact, we slowed down quite a bit in this steep. However, it is not a long distance as it is so uphill, so most hikers can handle this trail.
At the top of the steep stone trail we’ve reached one of the Höga Kusten trail’s famous stones. The stone that is said to be wedged in place by an old Norse giant. Added in an attempt to stop strangers from coming to the secret Slåttdalsskrevan. Now we have almost reached Slåttdalsskrevan.
STAGE 2: THROUGH SLÅTTDALSSKREVAN TO TÄRNÄTTVATTNEN
Even though I’ve been here before, the view is just as impressive every time. This place looks like the mountain just decided to divide one day. As if a great wizard had stretched out his hands toward the sky and caused the earth to divide at his feet. It’s like standing in the Corinth Canal, minus all the water. Down in the crevice, the hikers look like small ants. The 30 meter high rock walls make me lose perspective.
But how was this rift formed? More than 1200 million years ago, magma erupted from the subsoil and once formed black granite (also called diabase) . For millions of years, the diabase was worn down, but the hard northern gray granite stood the test of time. The mountain that remained is today’s Slåttdalsskreva.
A staircase takes us down into the crevice. The bottom of the crevice is covered with large boulders. There are no wooden footbridges here. We cross the crevice with a sense of balancing at the bottom of the world. It echoes. It rustles. It rattles. Every single sound down here is amplified. We pass rock blocks that have clearly fallen down from the smooth walls of the crevice. It probably happened as recently as ten thousand years or so.
Down towards the sea
On the other side of Slåttdalsskrevan, the sea and the beautiful landscape of the High Coast meet us. The cliffs, the high islands, the barren forest and the tranquility. Now it the hike starts to go downhill. The hike is simple and goes over smooth cliffs. The trail is marked by painted dots on the stones that are not difficult to see.
We have not eaten lunch yet and wonder whether we should stop up here on the cliff or continue to Tärnättvattnen. We decide to crunch, as the stomach is not cooing too bad yet.
It is easy to know when we’ve reached the lake Tärnättvattnen. Here by the little red cottage there are plenty of people. Many people camp here, others stop for a dip. We pour up our coffee and start to eat our sandwiches on a bench. The sun is burning on our cheeks. Some children skeptically dip their feet in the lake. “Look at a fish!” shouts one of them, before they giggle and run back to their parents again.
STAGE 3: TÄRNÄTTVATTNEN BACK TO ENTRÉ SYD VIA NÄSKEBODARNA
A bit lost
It’s time to start hiking back to Entrance South. Our plan is to take the path at the burial mound to Näskebodarna to drink our last drops of coffee there on the sandy beach, but the hike turned out to be a little longer than we thought.
We leave the Höga Kusten trail and continue to hike along one of the map’s smaller hiking trails. However, the trail is as well marked as before, with blue markings on every other stone and tree. We might admit that our map is not very detailed, but the left trail would take us to Näskebodarna, the right would take us to the coastal trail. So we begin the descent down the cliffs. Suddenly we are standing by the sea. We must have passed the crossroads without noticing it. We are at least one kilometer too far south.
All we can do is to walk the extra two kilometers round trip to get to Näskebodarna. The hiking trail here by the sea is both smooth and easy to hike, it doesn’t take long to go back along the coastal trail. Don’t we all love mistakes that do not bring any other consequence than a few more steps?
Toes in the warm sand at Näskebodarna
The bbq fire is on and the smoke smells as good as a fire can on a hot summer day. The shoes come off, the coffee thermos opens. We even seem to have brought some butter cookies. The most delicious cookies if you ask me. Näskebodarna was once an important outpost for herring fishermen, now it is a place where there is plenty of space to camp by a lovely beach.
A family is sunbathing on the beach next to us. A boat docks at the pier. There is very rarely crowded on the beaches here in the High Coast.
We start hiking back to the parking lot on our final stretch. The backpacks weigh nothing now. One liter of coffee and two liters of water weighed a little more on the way up.
The hiking trail by the sea passes few meters from shore and is partly wilder than the forest on the way up to Slåttdalsskrevan. We had read about the nice views in Kälsviken – a beautiful sandy beach one kilometer before Entrance South. A good last stop before we get in the car again.
Kälsviken – the bog paradise
The hiking trail opens up and a pristine sandy beach stretches out at our feet. Completely empty of people. Clear and shallow water. “ What a paradise! I have time to think. Then it starts itching on my legs. I look down at my feet. The ground is completely filled with large red ants, or it’s not only the ground that is crowded with ants – but also my legs. To get rid of the ants I have to do a tap dance that would make Chaplin jealous. No wonder the beach is empty.
The hiking trail is getting wider and wider. The last stretch is an old road. The steep climbing wall on the way up to Slåttdalsskrevan feels distant. Sometimes it is good to conquer your bad memories and give places a second chance. Life is too short not to give places (and people) a second chance, right?
HOW DO I FIND SLÅTTDALSSKREVAN?
Skuleskogen National Park is located 50 km north of Stockholm, or 4.5 km south of Örnsköldsvik. It is easy to find Entré Syd (South), it is well signposted from the E4. At the parking lot there are several fresh toilets and large information boards with useful information about the park.
Please note: The last summers the parking lot at Entré South has been full as early as 10 AM and many people have been forced to turn around and go to other places instead. Be here early (or late)!
WHO CAN HIKE TO SLÅTTDALSSKREVAN?
I would say the hike as moderately difficult, mainly due to the steep stretch just before Slåttdalsskrevan. With good shoes however, most people can do the hike without any problems.
For those who want to do a shorter hike, you can choose to hike up to Slåttdalsskrevan and then return to the parking lot over Slåttdalsberget for the view. If you have already seen the views up from the top of Skuleberget, I would recommend skipping Slåttdalsberget and hike the trail we hiked instead. The views are beautiful no matter which trail you walk, but the longer hike via Tärnättvattnen and the sea is really nice.
DO YOU WANT TO READ MORE?
- Skuleskogen National Park
- Map of hiking trails in Skuleskogen at Skuleskogen National Park
- High coast tourism
- Information about Slåttdalsskrevan on the page Höga Kusten
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