The Garden Of SwEden

We left Denmark and headed north through Sweden- a new country for us all. As we entered the country it was shocking how different it was from Denmark just next door. The houses were more spread out and were all of the traditional timber variety, most were painted red but there was yellow, blue and green as well- a beauty rather than a flaw in the surrounding vast never-ending forests. Our first stop was a place in the middle of nowhere called Unnaryd, or so it seemed after encountering no cars in hours, yet when we arrived dozens of cars were parked by the lake-side along with a fair share of motorhomes. The crowds were not here for the beauty of nature, nor the peace but for the famous fish restaurant which also served eels. We stayed here for a couple of nights fishing (trying to), swimming and ‘admiring’ the eel farms. A storm followed one evening and lightning struck the water and seemed to send dozens of electric bolts swimming underneath it’s surface towards shore, all highlighted by the specks of sideways rain. It was dramatic for sure, but somehow made the stay all the more worthwhile.

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Even further North we drove to the second largest lake in Sweden, Vättern, which appeared more like an ocean. The small town(urban) Hästholmen -situated in the county Ödeshög- had much to offer for it’s size and it’s lack of popularity which was strange considering it used to have a monastery, a castle and was very popular.

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We were allowed to park on the marina for only £12 (which included showers!)

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with quick access to a small beach, a clear swimming lake, perfect for swimming (once you got past the cold) as well as ancient rock carvings. Here, there are just over 140 rock carvings, including ships, axes and animals; dating back to the early Bronze age.

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As we sat there not for the first time imagining what hidden secrets lie within the past, a storm began to brew, stirring the stillness and transforming the peaceful landscape to an intense beauty.

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After two storms one after another were finally rewarded with the perfect evening.

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Not far from Hästholmen is situated the Rök Runestone which features the longest known runic inscriptions in stone; marking the beginning of the history of Swedish literature. With this in mind it was strange to find it placed under a beaten down shack in the middle of nowhere outside the church Rök.

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We stayed for free on the nature reserve of Täkern which was supposedly a bird reserve yet none were seen but for a heron and a stray bird of prey- the park itself was undoubtedly beautiful nonetheless.

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Driving further East still we stayed at Norsholm on the Göta canal. The canal stretches 120 miles (190 km) and links a number of lakes and rivers from coast to coast. The campsite itself lay right beside the canal therefore allowing us easy access to cycling on easy terrain alongside the canal in beautiful Swedish countryside.

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A flutter of white butterflies streamed along the paths like snow drops, circling us as we cycled on viewing the swarming birds of prey above.

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