Just east of Nynashamn lies the big island Uto. Despite the proximity to Stockholm, I had never been here before. Generally speaking, I have often found it a bit noisy to go out in the archipelago, mainly because of the stress of actually managing to find a parking space near the ferry but also because it is often crowded and large amounts of people on the boats. But with the heat pulsating in the air in town right now, it felt tempting to get out to the blowing warm winds in the archipelago. So said and done - last Sunday we went to Utö to hike the 1,5 mile round trip from Gruvbryggan to the top of the island and then back.
The ferry The Silver Arrow had this Sunday departure time 09:30 from Årsta bridge, so instead of a really long and oniony weekend breakfast, we instead got up at 06:30 and started fixing breakfast, lunch bag and packing. We had mentally set ourselves up for a calm and controlled morning without stress, but in retrospect we can state that we are probably not very good at getting up early in the morning. Rather, it turned out that we hysterically slipped out of the apartment and drove away with the hope that we would find parking very close to the ferry, because we would only have a quarter of an hour left to park+pay for parking+jump on the boat according to Google maps. Luckily, most Stockholmers seem to be about as tired in the morning as we are - so there were hardly any cars along Nynäsvägen. Once we arrived, we took a chance and went to the parking lot closest to the ferry - a bet that turned out to be a full pot. An airy and easily parked place appeared right at the entrance. So we pulled in and paid for the parking with the EasyPark app (if you don't have it - download it and set it up in advance! So convenient!). 10 minutes before departure we were on board the boat. It was almost so well timed that you would have thought we had planned it that way.
The boat trip took 40 minutes through a calm and sunny archipelago, before we arrived at Gruvbryggan on northwestern Utö. The weather was absolutely perfect, not too hot and not too cold. Shorts and t-shirt was undoubtedly a perfect outfit. Quite unusual to be able to go out in the archipelago with so few clothes in May, the sea usually cools the winds until well after midsummer. Swimwear was also packed by the braver hikers in the group. I probably hadn't even given swimwear a thought myself. My temperature limit is sacred – I don't swim below 25 degrees.
On with the backpacks and forward with the pdf that we found Utö's tourist page. It was warned that the hike along parts of the trail could be perceived as tough, but we thought that it probably more applied to those with a pram or who have difficulty walking. No problem for us! But how wrong we were.
First stop was Children's Bath on the northwest coast. The pdf was well described and it wasn't hard to find here. The road went along one of the island's major roads, past large pastures and nice little red houses. Everywhere smelled strongly of lilac and the seeds of the dandelions flew in the wind like little mosquitoes with navigation problems. Only a few hundred meters from the harbor, calmness also set in. Not a human in sight but ourselves.
Children's bath was almost like coming to Greece. White, fine-grained sand sparkled against a turquoise sea. The younger, more thirsty hikers went and felt the water. It would probably be possible to take a swim. I felt the water. Definitely not 25 degrees. More like 10. A moment later, a brave soul had dipped. It was not me.
The children began to wonder if it wasn't lunch yet already at 10:45. We who had barely started walking the 15 kilometers!
According to the directions, the hiking trail would be excellent with yellow/blue markings from the Children's Bath - and we quickly found the first tree. The trail also looked nice, how tough could this be. Nuuuuuuu here we go!!!
The first part of the hiking trail was along a nice forest path, with the sea visible on our left. Sometimes the path went on the rocks by the sea, over a wooden plank or up a rock. But the path narrowed and somewhere when we are standing in the middle of the blueberry rice we realize that basically there is no longer a path. There were only blueberry bushes and blue-yellow markings on the trees. For once, the description of the hiking trail was correct. This wasn't dancing on roses, it was more trampling on blueberry rice. I found myself thinking that it's lucky the kids are so big, they darted like little mountain goats between rocks and roots.
The hike did not go quickly, it was not difficult to calculate that we would not make it around the 15 kilometers in the planned time. As we approached lunchtime, we finally came through the coniferous forest to a road at the top of the northern part of the island. We had reached the end of the road. Luckily, the end of the road was at a scenic cliff, so we spread out our blankets among the wild chives and picked out the food sack in the blazing sun. The warmest May in living memory. Taste it together with a tomato/mozzarella baguette.
We often plan to make two stops when we hike. A first lunch stop and then a coffee stop with sweets. The kids have something to look forward to (buns) and we adults have something to look forward to (coffee). So when lunch was eaten it was time to think about where we should go now. Enough because it was charming to pulsate around in blueberry rice, but it was tempting to continue the hike on slightly better paths. So we started walking south on the "big" road towards Södra Sandvik. According to the map, there would be a slightly larger walkway down to the eastern side of the island.
The road went through the cute little village Hook, a village with more lilac bushes than houses. The red little cottages were almost overgrown with lilacs and it didn't look like anyone had been here for a while. The pastures were filled with green and lush grass, but we saw no sheep, cows or horses. They may not have been allowed to go out for summer grazing yet. The birches after the road looked a bit tired, however, the heat makes it difficult for the water-thirsty plants.
Arrived at the exit road to South Sandvik it was quickly established that the road in front of us was a solid path, very easy to walk and wide. Hallelujah! Lucky we didn't choose the alternative blueberry trail, then we probably wouldn't have arrived yet. Arriving at the cliffs, we settled down on a smooth rock to a fresh sea breeze and the sound of rocking bluefin. Life isn't so stupid these days. The coffee thermos went up, buns and cakes as well. Why does coffee in a thermos always taste so much better than in a coffee cup? The kids jumped on the rocks and there was dust in the plur, floss danced on top of the rocks and trudged on powder dry seaweed so it crackled.
Neither of us had thought much about when the boat would go back, but when we did we realized we had 45 minutes before the boat left. We would walk 2,5 km, pack the picnic and make it to the boat. It could work. So it was a quick march towards the boat. You could almost call it a power walk. When Silverpilen opened the door for travelers, we slipped into the queue. It wasn't quite the hike we had imagined, but it was probably a total of 7-8 km of pure archipelago idyll. Not at all so stupid on a normal Sunday in May!
How do I get to Utö?
There are boats, among other things, from central Stockholm and from Årsta havsbad's jetty. We went on the direct boat The Silver Arrow with Waxholm company from Årsta havsbad, which takes 40 minutes to Gruvbryggan. It also stops at several places on the island. At Årsta havsbad's jetty there are several parking lots, if you can't find a place in the nearest parking lot it can be a bit of a walk, so preferably don't have such a tight schedule as we had... NOTE: The easiest way to pay for parking is with the "Easy Park" app on your mobile , so download it and set up credit cards and other things before you get here to save time.
Have you been here? What did you think of the destination?
Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 55 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel blog Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.