Our last sunset in Norway
Back into Sweden on the E14, we thought it would be a busy dual carriageway but just a good main road that took us over the border and up high over the mountains and through the ski resorts. Whilst there aren’t many skiers around there are a surprising amount of holiday makers in the mountains, the scale of the resorts was much larger than anywhere else we had been, hundred upon hundred of chalets together with some very impressive hotels. A few ski lifts open taking walkers to the mountain tops but we resisted the urge to go up as low cloud was obscuring the views (my excuse and one I am sticking with).
Arriving in Jamtland our first attempt at a stopover was at a large ski hotel complex, one of those closed for the season but with a large poster saying feel free to stay for night, the showers and loos are unlocked and heated and leave some money in the letterbox! Only that it was right on the main road did we not – so close to home and yet such a difference in terms of trust and honesty.
We had our first couple of nights at Rista, a small dot miles away from anywhere or anything except the 50 metre wide and 14 metre deep waterfalls. The sound of the river and the falls drowned out pretty much any other noise. Incredible amounts of water and nearly as incredible the number of walkers that appeared out of the trees from early morning through till very late evening.
St. Olaf’s Pilgrims walking trail ran through the centre of the campsite , hence the amount of modern day pilgrims. We walked a section of the trail that followed the falls down stream, every so often someone had kindly left a wooden bench or small hut or a fire pit ready for the next set of walkers. No matter what is left out and where, it seems people are able to resist either removing things, spraying them with paint or just smashing things to pieces.
After a couple of nights listening to the falls we agreed to move to calmer water, just under an hour down the road at Mattmar on Lake Storsjon. The fifth largest lake in Sweden at 464 km2 and one of the more famous as it’s the only one reported to have a lake monster! First sighted in 1635 and known as Storjoodjuret it’s apparently still spotted on the odd occasion, warning signs abound on the edges to be careful :), we were and can report we didn’t see anything resembling a monster.
We found ourselves outside a café and a tractor museum, a small piece of land in front of a couple of fishing boats and £10 to stay over, as the sun was doing overtime we elected to stay for 24 hours – sadly when the sun went on a tea-break the mossies came out – feasted on my arm – and left me looking like a relief map of Sweden. Once everywhere had closed we were joined by another four motorhomes and spent a quiet evening watching a local seaplane take off and land on the lake in front of us, the odd fishing boat come and go and a couple of people fishing out on rowing boats.
Heading slowly South we have passed a few churches with a wooden bell tower outside which are common in Jamtland. Mostly built around 1736-1780 the towers are wooden and painted in the bright colours first used in the late 1880’s. Inside the church the pulpit had been painted in 1662 (the date painted on gave the year away), and next to it stood an ornate font – carved from a single log, crowned by a wooden pelican – being the symbol for Jesus in the region.
Our route down over the last few days has taken us as far at Ytterhogdal where we are parked up behind the Tourist Information office for the night. As seems to be the case at every stop in Sweden we are beside a lake, this one has a few small boats chasing around with the local teenagers towing tyres containing other teenagers. Despite the fact that the water temperature must be pretty cold this far North there are a good few in swimming, the radios are on loud so we may have stumbled onto the local night spot for late night water play!
Back in Sweden this seems like a very different country to the one we hopped through a few weeks ago heading into Norway. It feels very much like a wilderness, the main roads are long straight and wide, we have seen very little traffic of any sort over the last four days, what traffic we do see has at least five spot-lights and bull-bars. There are small communities dotted around where there are a few shops, a bank and a garage but very little else.
It is very hard not to notice how the Swedish people appear to have a pride in the places they live and keep them immaculately. Houses are freshly painted, lawns are always well mown, we haven’t seen any rubbish or tipping The other thing its been hard to miss is the size of the caravans here, not just big but often off the scale of caravans as we know them. The Swedish Kabe is king here in motorhomes and caravans – we have seen several of the size of the one below – they don’t do small here.
Not something you would want to meet on Trollstigen