It is special to write about a place where you grew up. It both obliges, amazes and surprises. My childhood years were spent in the middle of the most beautiful of Sweden's beautiful landscapes. I jumped on the rocks on the island of Trysunda by the sparkling waters of the Baltic Sea, I picked earth-scented chanterelles at the edge of the dark Skule Forest and I hiked on school trips along the High Coast Trail. There have been many school trips over the years and many fantastic places have been ruined by the memory of cold rain-soaked hiking boots and wet loaf sandwiches. One of the places that I didn't have such wonderful memories of after a forced school walk, is Slåttdalsskrevan. The last time I hiked here was over 25 years ago. It was simply time to give Slåttdalsskrevan another chance.
Stage 1: South entrance to Slåttdalsskrevan
Easy hike over wooden slats
We are incredibly lucky with the weather. Late summer offers sun and dry lands and perfect hiking temperatures. The plan is to hike in Skuleskogen's Entrance South up to Slåttdalsskrevan, and then down towards the coast via Tärnätsvatnen and then back to Entrance South via another hiking trail by the sea. A total distance of approximately 7-8 kilometres, with partly a rather steep climb on the way up to the gorge.
The first kilometers after the parking lot take us over wood chips through a thick forest of spruce. The trees are tall and treeskronorna hardly lets in any light. It is fabulously beautiful. Thanks to the fact that the hike is easy, we have time to look around and really enjoy all the magic.
Lichen grows on many of the bare branches of the firs, which in some cases look like well-grown Santa's beards. It's a hangover long beard which thrives here in the moist spruce forest. A name that obliges. Some longbeards look almost like Spanish moss—the wild moss that sways in the wind in the trees of the southern United States.
The first stretch up to Slåttdalsskrevan runs along the well-known The Höga Kusten trail, a hiking trail that takes you all the way from Högakustenbron to Örnsköldsvik. A total distance of 13 miles, although it is relatively easy to select only a partial distance for a day trip.
We pass several foreign hikers with camping equipment who are definitely not just going to visit the krevan for the day. It warms my heart to see that our unique nature is actually starting to gain a reputation that extends beyond Örnsköldsvik's neighboring villages.
The first cobblestone fields
After about half the distance up towards Slåttdalsskrevan (a bit unclear how far from Entré Syd, the hike went very quickly on the wooden poles), we come to a large cobblestone field. A large rock meadow of round, smooth stones. The cobblestone fields are the remains of ancient beaches, when the sea went all the way up into the forest. I can't see the sea, no matter how much I stretch. The sea is many hundreds of meters away. The land elevation has been effective here.
Skuleskogen National Park was not a national park when I was a child, but only in 1984 was Skuleskogen protected and became Sweden's 19th national park. I can't remember parking lots, toilets or wood chips in "my" time, but one thing that has looked the same over the years is the cobblestone fields. The stones are covered in centuries-old lichen. Some rocks look almost like globes, where the lichen has created lands and seas.
In the early 2000s, I remember reading about vandals building stone figures from the clapper stones. I don't remember how the story ended, but there are no stone figures left here today. The map lichen is allowed to continue to grow slowly in peace.
We come to a meadow. Or is it perhaps an overgrown bog? We continue to trudge on wood shavings, cotton-like tall blades of grass and masses of red berries grow on our side. If I remember correctly, it's crowberry, but I'm not too keen on tasting it. The only thing I'm sure of is that it's definitely not lingonberry.
Steeper hike over roots and rocks
The wooden pegs now end and a slightly more gnarled, root-filled and rocky path takes over. A little less arranged. A little more Norrland. "As it should be” when walking in the forest. Now we need to be careful where we put our feet and the walking pace slows down a bit. It is not a difficult hike, even though it was warned that the trail would be "demanding". It is somewhere now that 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's rocky, steep and at times I have to use my hands to get up. Not to climb, but to get up without tripping and losing my balance. It is incredibly nice to have stable shoes for this part, because the stones are quite mobile and sharp in places.
It may be that the summer heat and the exertion of this steep passage gave us a drop or two of sweat on our foreheads. In fact, we slowed down quite a bit on this steep. However, it is not a long distance as it is this hilly, so the vast majority of hikers can handle this climb. If you don't have pain in your knee trails or back, that is, because then it can be a little more difficult.
At the top of the steep stone path, we come to one of the Höga Kusten trail's famous rock formations. The stone that appears to have been wedged in place by an Old Norse giant. Placed there in an attempt to stop strangers from coming to the secret Slåttdalsskrevan. Because now there is not far left. Unbeknownst to us, we are almost at the crossroads now.
Stage 2: Through Slåttdalsskrevan to Tärnättvattnen
Even though I've been here before, the view is just as impressive every time. It feels like one day the mountain just decided to split. As if a great sorcerer stretched out his hands to the sky and caused the earth to violently split at his feet. It's like standing in the Corinth Canal, minus all the water. Down in the crevasse, small ants wander to people. The 30 meter high rock walls make me lose perspective.
But how was this rock crevasse formed? Over 1200 million years ago, magma erupted from the subsurface and formed here once of black granite (also called diabase). Over millions of years, the diabase was worn down, but the hard Nordingra granite stood the test of time. The mountain that remained is today's Slåttdalsskreva.
A staircase takes us down into the crevasse. The bottom of the gorge is covered with large boulders. There are no wood shavings here. We take over with balance, will and a feeling of balancing on the bottom of the world. It echoes. It rustles. It rattles. Every sound down here is amplified. We pass by boulders that have clearly fallen from the smooth walls of the ravine. It is even possible to see where the last races have been. It probably happened as recently as ten thousand years or so.
Down towards the sea
On the other side of Slåttdalsskrevan we meet the sea and the beautiful landscape of the High Coast. The cliffs, the high islands, the barren forest and the calm. Now it's going downhill. The hike is easy and goes over smooth rocks. The trail is marked by painted dots on the stones which are not difficult to see.
We haven't had lunch yet and are thinking about whether we should stop here on the cliff or continue to Tärnättvatnen. We decide to have a go, as the stomach is not rumbling enough yet.
It is not difficult to know when you arrive at Tärnättvattnen. There are plenty of people here at the little red cabin. Many people camp here, others stop to take a dip. We take out the coffee and our sandwiches and settle down on a bench at a barbecue place. The Norrland sun is a little hot on the cheeks. Some children dip their feet in the lake skeptically. “Look a fish!” one of them yells, before giggling they run back to their parents.
Stage 3: Tärnättvatnen back to Entrance South via Näskebodarna
Easy to get lost over the rocks
It's time to start walking back to Entré Syd. Our plan is to take the path by the burial mound to Näskebodarna to drink our last drops of coffee there on the sandy beach, but it turned out to be a little more difficult than we thought.
We leave the Höga Kusten trail and walk along the smaller hiking trails on the map. However, the trail is as well marked as before, with blue markings on every other stone and tree. We can admit that our map is not particularly detailed, the only thing we understand is that the path should split at a burial mound. The left trail would take us to Näskebodarna, the right would take us to the coastal trail. So we trudge down the cliffs. Suddenly we are standing by the sea. We had passed the road junction without noticing it. We are a kilometer too far south.
You just have to bite the bullet and walk the extra two kilometers round trip to get to Näskebodarna. The hiking trail here by the sea is both smooth and easy to walk, it is quick to backtrack along the coastal trail. Great with mistakes that don't have any other consequence than a few more hiking steps.
Toes in the warm sand at Näskebodarna
The grill is on and smoking a little, as good as a fire can do on a hot summer's day. The shoes come off, the coffee thermos comes forward. Even some small dry butter cookies must have gone with them in the rucksack. The very best cookies if you ask me. Näskebodarna was once an important outpost for the sturgeon fishermen, now it is a place where there is plenty of space for camping on a lovely beach.
A family is sunbathing on the beach next to us. A boat docks at the jetty. There is rarely any crowding on the beaches here on the High Coast.
We start packing up for the last leg. The backpacks weigh nothing now. A liter of coffee and two liters of water weighed a little more on the way up.
The hiking trail by the sea goes a bit into the forest and is somewhat wilder than the forest on the way up to Slåttdalsskrevan. We had read about Kälsviken - a beautiful sandy beach 1 kilometer before Entré Syd. A good last stop before we get back in the car.
Loveviken – the ant paradise
The hiking trail opens up and a pristine sandy beach stretches out at our feet. Completely empty of people. Clear and long shallow water. "What a little paradise!” I have time to think. Then my legs start to sting. I look down at my feet. The ground is absolutely crawling with big red ants, or rather - not only the ground is crawling with ants - but also my legs. It will be a spontaneous tap dance that would have made Chaplin jealous. No wonder the beach is empty after all.
The hiking trail gets wider and wider. The last bit is an old road. The steep climbing wall on the way up to Slåttdalsskrevan feels distant. Think how good it is sometimes to defy your old 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 get to Slåttdalsskrevan?
Skuleskogen National Park is located 50 miles north of Stockholm, or 4,5 miles south of Örnsköldsvik. It is easy to find the South Entrance, 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.
Who is the hike to Slåttdalsskrevan suitable for?
I classify the hike as medium difficulty, mainly because of the steep section just before Slåttdalsskrevan. However, with good shoes, most people can do the hike without problems.
For those who want to do a shorter hike, you can choose to hike up to Slåttdalsskrevan and then turn back to the parking lot over Slåttdalsberget for the sake of the view. If you have already seen the views from the top of Skuleberget, I would recommend skipping Slåttdalsberget and hiking a little further on the trail we took instead. The views are beautiful no matter which way you go, 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 Skuleskogens National Park
- High coast tourism
- Information about Slåttdalsskrevan on the page High Coast
Want to read more of my travel tips? do not forget to like Rucksack on Facebook!
Do you want to read more from the High Coast?
At the smooth bathing cliffs at Skagsudde is the fishing location Skeppsmalen. Here in the north of the High Coast...August 16
Along the Höga Kusten trail, the strange Balestjärnen is located high up on the Balesudden cliff. A unique…10th April 2020