19 May 2015 – riding the High Coast of Sweden

I think I’m now roughly on the same line of latitude as the bottom of Iceland, having pedalled nearly 1000 miles from the Northernmost point of Europe in 2 weeks; no wonder my legs are aching tonight. Nordkapp seems like quite a long time ago, and the scenery has certainly changed. The frozen lakes and snow have given way to pine forest, and clear blue water glittering in the sunshine.

Sunshine on the lake at Mosjon Camping

Sunshine on the lake at Mosjon Camping

I was chatting to the campsite owner this evening and he reminded me that I’m still in northern Sweden really, having pedalled to the Snibbens Campsite near Ramvik; Harnosand is the nearest big town. This country really is very long! I think I’m only about 300 miles from Stockholm, depending on to what degree I avoid the E04, so definitely getting there.

Leaving Mosjon, clouds about making it chilly

Leaving Mosjon, clouds about making it chilly

Here’s a link to today’s ride; 120km down the High Coast, which lived up to its name as far as hills go:

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/779203970

It took me 7.5hrs of pedalling, with climbs totalling 1,355 metres; this could again be why my legs, and especially my knees for some reason, are aching. And my hands, did I mention my hands? And my arms. In fact most things.

It rained overnight, quite hard. You hear these things in a tent, in fact you can hear anything and everything in the immediate vicinity pretty well. There was one particular bird that didn’t shut up all night, flying around the lake tweeting constantly; not tweeting as in Twitter, but twittering as in squawking, if you see what I mean, or hear what I’m saying, or something. It didn’t keep me awake long but it was definitely a flying varmint! I was consequently a bit slow setting off this morning, not leaving until getting on for 10.00.

I initially joined the E04, having little choice in the matter, and rode to Ornskaldsvic, a medium sized pleasant town.

Ornskaldvic, looking at it from the South

Ornskaldvic, looking at it from the South

On the way in I almost literally bumped into another cycle tourer, Tomak (sp?) from Germany, who has cycled up from near Hamburg, and intends to travel around the whole Baltic coastline before returning home. He mentioned Estonia, somewhere quite a few cycle tourers have spoken about lately; sounds like a place to add to the list to visit. We both took a break to exchange tips on the routes ahead. Tomak told me he’s been following the black cycle route signs, which I’ve only seen a few of so far, but apparently get more frequent. These take you on routes that avoid the busy main roads, like the E04, but add on a lot of kilometres as a consequence; so more pleasant riding but will add on a lot of time. It was good to meet another tourer; we’re a scarce breed up here at this time of year. We wished each other luck before pedalling off in opposite directions.

Blossom out in Orsnkaldsvik

Blossom out in Orsnkaldsvik

Leaving Ornskaldsvik I passed a rather incongruous sight; the Bishops Arms, down by the docks, maybe pubs will be increasing in frequency now. If so beer could be back on the menu; abstinence is over-rated.

The Bishop's Arms, Ornskaldvic

The Bishop’s Arms, Ornskaldvic

Ornskaldsvic docks

Ornskaldsvic docks

I left the E04 after Ornskaldsvik, taking quieter roads for a bit. In fact I reckon I spent at least 50% of today’s ride off E04, which although introduced more hills and distance, was a welcome relief. I saw this sign riding up out of the town; not sure what it was about.

Cycling sign out of Ornskaldsvik

Cycling sign out of Ornskaldsvik

The side roads are so much quieter, and the scenery was lovely to cycle through, if a little taxing on the legs.

Pausing to admire the view near Ornskaldsvik

Pausing to admire the view near Ornskaldsvik

I compensated for tired legs by eating lots of Haribos. These were a staple on my Bike around Britain tour, and I’m pleased to report they sell them in even more varieties in Europe; great for topping up your energy levels.

Ski slope without the snow

Ski slope without the snow

As I cycled along winding roads, up and down hills, passing lakes and glimpses of the Baltic, I saw much wildlife. A fox regarded me suspiciously as I rode past, before dashing into the undergrowth. I can also report Sweden has hedgehogs and badgers, although I only know this because I’ve seen them squashed on the road, sadly.

Some dramatic rock faces - there's a via ferrata at this one

Some dramatic rock faces – there’s a via ferrata at this one

The Hoga Kusten (High Coast) has lots of interesting places that would be good to come back and  visit over a few days. There’s a centre in the park in the above picture, where you can climb a Via Ferrata; I haven’t done one of those in years, and would love to again. I might see if I can do a bit of climbing when I get down to southern France, where I hope to visit a few old friends from when I lived in Marseille.

Blue waters of the Hoga Kusten

Blue waters of the Hoga Kusten

Back on the nature front; I saw some of those Emus again, although I’m not pretty sure they’re not Emus but White Storks. They’re really big, and a couple flew off as I rode by – enormous wingspan. I spotted a Swallow too, or it might have been a House Martin. Now I’m cycling a long way, however these birds can give me a run for my money, migrating over 10,000km from Africa.

Break by a lake, more Haribo power required for hills

Break by a lake, more Haribo power required for hills

Here are a few more photos from my ride along the back roads away from the E04.

Sadly no beavers to report; I kept an eye out for them as they’re supposed to live in these parts, but they must of all been hiding from Lobster.

The alternative route meant I covered more kilometres than I expected to. One advantage of the E04 is it does get you down the coast quickly, relatively speaking, but you can miss a lot if you stay on it all the time. Saying that several of the sections I rode on today were quite nice, with a wide hard shoulder; it’s just the constant lorries which get annoying, and their buffeting.

I passed under the E04 and pedalled up to a town called Klockestrand, then crossed the high bridge over the River Angerman; think that’s what it’s called. It’s a really wide river, and it was a long way down from the bridge.

Crossing the river Angerman

Crossing the river Angerman

There were actually two bridges to get over this river, the second being a bit further on over another section of it, and even higher. The campsite owner later told me this is the old bridge, and there’s a newer one on the E04 you can cycle over, but there’s no cycle path so you take your life into your own hands; glad I went the way I did.

Made it over both bridges, phew, and first day I haven't had to wear a coat!

Made it over both bridges, phew, and first day I haven’t had to wear a coat!

Feeling tired I stopped at a service station for a hot dog, and bought some Pringles for extra calories, before completing the final stretch down to a campsite near Ramvik – Snibbens campsite. The owner was out walking his dog as I pedalled down to reception; the 2 year old labrador greeted me enthusiastically, finally a dog that doesn’t bark at cyclists.

Snibbens campsite - lakeside view

Snibbens campsite – lakeside view

I can recommend Snibbens campsite. It’s a lovely peaceful spot, next to a lake, with friendly owners who live on site. I had a great chat with the owner about my ride, and about northern Sweden. One of the things he mentioned shows how people have the same concerns all across northern Europe; immigration. On my cycle down I’ve been noticing a lot of people begging outside shops, on the street and probably living rough. He said that this is a relatively new thing, only having started in the last few years as more people move to Sweden from eastern Europe and beyond. We both agreed it’s a sad thing to see so many people living rough, probably having come here seeking a better life, or escaping something worse at home. It would be good to do more to help them, but it would be better perhaps if the problem could be fixed at source, so people don’t feel they have no alternative but to move to wealthier countries, and then find themselves homeless and penniless. It will be interesting to see how this varies as I progress through Europe; I know it’s the same in France.

Snibbens panorama

Snibbens panorama

Being the only camper on site I had use of the communal room to myself for the evening – a chance to chill out after a hard day’s ride, and look at my maps. I need to work out where I’m going after Stockholm, and how to get over into Denmark.

Double thumbs up to a hard won day

Double thumbs up to a hard won day

Off to just South of Sundsvall tomorrow, if all goes according to plan. Hopefully I’ll be in Stockholm Sunday or Monday.

5 thoughts on “19 May 2015 – riding the High Coast of Sweden

  1. Richard pink

    Only seven miles! Iff you can! Good luck.! A getting huge withdrawal systems reading a bout it all! Hope you get a chance to see Stockholm.Its a wonderful cycle friendly city! The Appeligo is fantastic.

    Like

    Reply

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