Across and across, from coast to coast and from ridge to ridge. Skåneleden stretches over 100 kilometers through six sub-trails all over Scania. Here, you pass with easy steps over everything from white sandy beaches to rugged skin-raising hills and dirt roads over golden meadows. Hike for a weekend or hike for a whole week. Or just take a short lunchtime walk. The Skåneleden has something for most ages and interests.
One of the newest stages on the Skåneleden is the partial trail SL6 Water Kingdom, which in 2023, when it is completely finished, will go from Bökestad near Blekinge's border to Drakamöllan's moors. Last year (2020), four of the new stages were inaugurated, of which one of the stretches is Åhus-Nyehusen.
The aspen around the Skåneleden
The 16 kilometer long stretch between Åhus and Nyehusen runs over a peculiar landscape of rugged sand dunes, pine forest and dazzling white beaches. For those of you who think that 16 kilometers of single track feels a bit far to walk back and forth from Åhus, there is the option of going on a circular walk on the Skåneleden around the Äspet nature reserve instead. A circular walk of approximately 7 kilometers that is well suited for an afternoon walk with a thermos of coffee in the spring sun. A hike that suited us perfectly between a lovely lunch and an afternoon coffee.
The Skåneleden passes conveniently enough through central Åhus, so we start our hike on SL6 at the Äspet bridge over Helgeå. Once you've crossed the bridge, choose whether you want to go clockwise or counter-clockwise, then just follow the signs. We choose to go clockwise and get a lovely view of Åhus and Äspet's beautiful houses before we arrive at Äspet's nature reserve.
Äspet's nature reserve stretches over Äspet's most north-eastern parts towards Hanö Bay. In front of us, a mixed forest spreads out, with a predominance of pine. The forest is reminiscent of the coniferous forests of the Norrland coast, with its barren and lichen-covered ground and tall pines.
Once upon a time, large oak forests grew here on the coast, but in the Middle Ages, oak wood and farmland were needed for the growing population. The trees became fewer and fewer and finally there were no roots left to hold the soil - or rather the sand. In order to stop the sand from flying away and settling on nearby fields, they therefore started planting pine trees in the area. The pines thrived and flourished and laid the foundation for the pine forests that we have today along the coast of northeastern Scania.
The path takes us through a larch-rich pine forest, which is flamboyantly green with moss despite the young spring. In the trees, autumn crackling yellow leaves still hang on the branches. A reminder that the seasons are short here in Scania. Autumn barely has time to pass before spring is here.
The whole of Äspet is criss-crossed by walking paths, but we are heading towards Äspet's northernmost coast along the Skåneleden. It is well signposted with "SL6" signs and the walk is flat and easy. In the area there are plenty of rare insects, which thrive in the old dark trees in the sunny landscape. Maybe that's why we see felled trees lying on the side of the path. A preparation to give the beetles new homes in the future.
Korran bird lagoon
We are approaching the sea and the lagoon Korran at the mouth of Helge ås. Here, among reeds and small grass-covered islands, the water is shallow. A perfect place for migrating birds that need to stop for a while to rest and eat before a long flight across the Baltic Sea. Today the lagoon is only half full of waders and ducks of all kinds, but during late summer the activity picks up. Both by visiting birds and bird watchers.
The hiking trail continues along the edge of the lagoon, surrounded by cattle yards. I would have liked to have gone a little closer to the lagoon to be able to see the birds a little better, but from March 15 to September 30, trespassing is prohibited at the lagoon. The nesting birds need to be left alone. A bit further down the path, however, there is a bird tower, so we walk there and sit down for a while.
It's times like this that I wish I had brought really good binoculars with me, because it's only the very closest birds that we can guess what species it is. The sun is peeking out a little more in the unpredictable April weather and it's very soothing to sit here and watch the birds fly in, eat a bit and then head north. Maybe this is exactly the allure of bird watching? To calmly observe the bird world and not know what surprises the day will offer?
The path continues along the edge of the wetland, through a meadow landscape of deciduous trees and swaying blades of grass. We pass one of the area's few benches. A place made for a cup of coffee and even more bird watching. The cranes have come to the lake Pulken only a few kilometers from here, but no cranes please to show themselves here on Äspet today no matter how much we scout. We'll probably just have to go to Pulken tomorrow if we want to see some cranes.
The Ål coast
In the sea here outside Äspet, seaweed grows in the sandy and rocky seabed closest to the shore, but a little further out from land, eelgrass spreads out like a thick lawn. Eelgrass beds act as the ocean's nursery and provide protection for fry and smaller fish. Perhaps it is because of the eelgrass that the eel chooses to pass by the Åhus coast on its journey back to the Sargasso Sea? Eel fishing has been part of the Scanian culture since the Middle Ages and there are still a handful of fishermen who are licensed to fishing for eels here outside Åhus. The "Ål coast" with its eel fishing stretches from Äspet in the north to just south of Knäbäckshusen at Stenshuvud. When you walk south along the Skåneleden, you pass several eel huts, with their special drying racks for the homma (eel nets).
We arrive at Snickarhaken's car park and outdoor museum Äspet. Here at the outdoor museum, we can read about Åhu's swimming history, life in the sea out here, shipwrecks and eel fishing.
After walking through pine forest and across wetlands, we arrive at a white, fine-grained beach. Although seaweed is thick on the shore today, it's easy to imagine a sunny day in July here. A picnic basket, a sunset and toes in the warm sand. This is a slightly wilder beach compared to the popular Täppet just north of Åhus. You won't find an ice cream kiosk here, but there is at least a toilet.
The beach at Äspet stretches kilometer after kilometer to the south, but the weather is changeable and it is starting to blow up. We decide to take a different path back to Åhus and turn around and not go all the way around the residential area in Äspet as planned. We had passed a yellow-white path at the westernmost parts of the Curtain, so we turn back and turn back into the forest to take shelter from the storm. To yet another new landscape.
If it was flat and mixed forest in the northern parts of Äspet, we now enter an undulating landscape of sand dunes and proud pines. A landscape of deep sand waves, covered with moss and mint green lichen. This may be the most beautiful part of Äspet, with the hilly undulating landscape and the evergreen moss with tufts of brittle heather. Perhaps the landscape was made even a little more dramatic by the fact that there was a heavy hailstorm upon us, with large hailstones bouncing over the paths while the sun cautiously peeked out. If someone had shown me a picture from here, I would never have guessed that the picture would have been taken in Scania.
Back in Åhus
Although due to the weather it was a marginally shorter hike than we originally intended, we got to see more of Äspet's beautiful nature when we chose to turn around and not walk through the residential area back to Åhus. There were sand dunes, sandy beaches and a bird lagoon - a really lovely little hike!
The hike around Äspet is suitable for anyone who wants to experience the unique character of the area, with the bonus of being able to finish with a dip in the sea from a dazzling white sandy beach. The path is easy to walk and is also suitable for prams with slightly larger wheels. Bird life can be seen all year round, but there are most flying visitors during the late summer.
Keep in mind that there are no services in the area (except toilets) and that there are very few trash cans.
Do you want to read more about Skåneleden and Äspet?
- Vattenriket's side of Äspet
- Skåneleden SL6 – Åhus to Nyehusen
- The County Administrative Board's page about Äspet
- Nature conservation association about Äspet
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