Hälsingland a landscape full of folk tales, stories, rich cultural and natural heritage
Are you looking for a special treat? Discover hiking trail Sweden Hälsingland.
Hälsingland is on my list of places where I want to go. It is close to Stockholm but yet another world full of folk tales, stories, beautiful nature and Swedish countryside heritage. For thousands of years, people have been travelling from east to west through the mid- Sweden area of Hälsingland. It has been inhabited for 6 000 years by northmen, the Sami people and the Vikings. After the ice-age, this was where the land met the sea, sculpting a landscape of an archipelago of rocks and sand with over 2 000 islands, most of them unexploited. Going west, the soft and fertile valleys are framed by rolling blue mountains in the distance and deep forests.
This is why I was really happy when I got a message from Malin Åhman, a local entrepreneur looking for others with the same ideas on sustainable tourism, slow travelling and wellbeing. After a long conversation I felt that we are on the same journey towards re-framing and looking at tourism. A new mindset where we look to upcycle and give new meaning to how we go about things and a longing to take a break from modern travelling and everyday life.
Why Hälsingland according to a local?
Malin a keen traveller herself has travelled the world but is not back home in Hälsingland and explained
“I am back in my maternal grandmothers backyard. It feels like coming home on a deeper level. Familiar but still a lot of exploration to re-connect to the true magic of my “hembygd” (hembygd is a Swedish word for a persons native place or place of origin).
“Many visitors are surprised that only a couple of hours north of Stockholm, there is so much untouched nature- beautiful secluded lakes to stop by for a swim or hiking opportunities on clean forest paths with great camping spots. ” “We are a people proud of our traditions, the quality of the local foods and we love music! There are still hambo dancing and folk music festivals in the area. On several of our mythical spots, it is possible to hear storytellers tell the old tales. If you ask someone local where they go for vacation, they will look at you with a strange look in their eyes and say – Why go anywhere, when this is what we got nearby!?”, Malin says with a laugh. Most of the locals have their summer house within a 30 minutes drive or on one of the inhabited islands.
Connect with nature on a pilgrim walk in Hälsingland
One way to return to her roots and “hembygd” was to discover the old pilgrim tracks. These trails are full of interesting destinations and the stories.
Malin continues ” the slow and introspective walking of the pilgrims turned out to be an excellent way to wind down, find my way and my true self”
Take your time to become a pilgrim on your next holiday or break. You walk the lands slowly with the intention of connecting with the deeper self and the spiritual aspect of life, gives a different experience of the journey than travelling at a faster pace. A pilgrim takes the time to be inspired (in – spirit), by the sacred places and moments offered on the path. The tradition of pilgrimage spans across cultures and religions. During the walk you discover spots and sites that will connect you to the Swedish and European history. You will also have time to explore nature and if you lucky you might come a across one of the few “old-growth” forests left in Sweden, Ensjölokarnas nature reserve.
Geo sites that you should not miss
There are also some geo sites that are real gems that you should visit if you are looking to reconnect to yourself and find a site for introspection.. Malin recommends
” If you are looking for a special day full of introspection Avholmsberget – a small mountain ridge- outside Hudiksvall pop up into my head. It as a place where you can truly enjoy a beautiful the forest and get a short hike and perspective on life as you climb up the hill. The beautiful view at the cliff is mind-blowing”.
If you arrive in a motorhome she recommends you to find overnight parking or a campsite at “the Dellen water system” at Delsbo. The Dellen lakes system was created by a meteorite impact so it is a good place to dwell on changes and transformation.
Another nice place is the mountain Blacksåberget close to Hudiksvall. It is a mountain with a dramatic steep and offer scenic viewpoint . Blacksåsberget is situated nearby to the lake Harsatjärnen and the nature reserve Finnbrännans .From the new wind shelter at the top of the mountain, you have a fantastic view of the landscape all the way to the Bothnian Sea.
Hiking trail Sweden Hälsingland-walk with a guide
Would you love to walk in the forest, but prefer a guide? Malin Åhman lives in the area. She grew up with a close connection to nature. She spent her childhood on an old-fashioned self-sustained farm and can tell you many stories.
“I like to show my guests local nature spots and local lifestyle and traditions that I carry with me from my forefathers”, says Malin
Malin would take you on a journey in time from the Ice Age to the Middle Ages.
” We start on a mountain ridge where you can see what it looked like when there was a sea and hike over shack embankments and a marsh full of cloudberries. We continue walking to a medieval church from the 13th century. If you want to continue, we go on day two and discover how Sweden changed through different influences. I will take your on a trip from the 19th century, to the post war “funkis” era to the present”.
(The word Funkis is an abbreviation of the Swedish word “functionalism” and refers to a modernist design concept that emerged after the first World War. This is an era when everything from architecture and town planning, to fashion and diet started to take form)
The theme of Malin´s guided wars is the Scandinavian lifestyle where the relationship with nature is at the center.
Malin is also the author of PILGRIM; Puzzle of Symbols and PILGRIM; The Sacred Journey , a true story od a spiritual quest on the Pilgrim roads in Sweden .
World heritage decorated farmhouse on your hiking trail Sweden Hälsingland
The little red Swedish cottages built with pine tree are well known over the world. The origin of Swedish design can be discovered in the old homes of the farmers in this area. In Hälsingland you can find farmsteads with are protected asUNESCO world heritage sites.
Erik-Anders gården is one of the decorated farmhouses of Hälsingland. The farmhouses represent prosperity. The farmers built them in a historical context in which fishing and farming were abundant. Festivities and culture were a central part of life in the local village. The characteristics of the painted walls are well restored and the buildings are open for visits. At Erik-Anders gården you can accomdation hotelrooms, a cafe/lunch restaurant and enjoy music events
Fun fact: The farmers who wanted to brag about their prosperity built a big extra house on their farm. The aim was to be able to organise get-togethers and parties. By that time, the tax system was connected to the number of windows of a house. The more windows, the more you wanted to show that you are so rich that you can pay lots of tax!”
Hike to a Fäbovall- a Summer Grazing farm
From the beginning, the cattle was kept in the wild to graze the lands. Then the farmhouses set up fences were to protect the gardens from becoming the next favourite chew for the cows.
Summertime, the cattle keepers, often farm maids, retreated to the summer site, where the cows would enjoy the shade and exercise of the forest, while grazing freely. From June until the end of August or mid September, the farm people stay on the summer farms. Their task was to take care of the sites and milk the cows. They also carried out small-scale production of cheese and butter.
To communicate between the sites, the keepers would sing, a song that could be heard from mountain to mountain. Every summer people in Hälsingland celebrate the Fäbod week. During this week you can learn more about the Fäbod lifestyle. The Fäbovall sites welcome visitors to learn more about how how to make cheese, butter or to listen to the stories or the songs from the past
Archipelago of Hälsingland a real treat
Another great option on your Hälsingland trip is to go to one of the many islands. Sweden is a country with many archipelagos. The one in Hälsingland seem to be less known by the larger Swedish public. Here suggestions for a one-day hike to get to know the beautiful coastline called the Virgin Coast (Jungfrukusten).
Malin is keen on sailing and can tell you all about the Söderhamn’s islands; Enskär, Klacksörarna or Storjungfrun. She is especially keen on the untouched nature in the Storjungfrun reserve, the largest island in the Söderhamn archipelago.
The sailing ports are beautiful and also a testament to the life style of the people of Hälsingland, says Malin
Pilgrim tracks in Sweden
Pilgrimages are part of a common European as well as Swedish history. All over Europe you can walk the same roads as people did in the Middle Ages. In Sweden the interest for pilgrimages is on the increase. Different organisations and projects have over the years cleared and marked the old paths. In addition, you can find pilgrimage centers. On your way you can find old churches. For more information please see Malin books as well as a map of the different pilgrim paths in Sweden as well as an online resource with maps and information