Höga Kusten (High Coast)

Well, we’ve found out what the High Coast is all about and why it has UNESCO World Heritage status. Our guide book was slightly misleading when it said it was for the scenery…….

This is the area with the greatest amount of uplift of the Earth’s surface since the last ice age. The ice sheet here was about 3km deep, the weight of which significantly depressed the Earth’s crust below. Come the end of the ice age, the land boinged upwards like Zebedee on drugs, with a 500m uplift by the time the last of the ice had melted.

Since then, it’s risen another 286 metres, and continues to rise at a rate of about 8mm per year. It’s predicted that a land bridge across to Finland will appear in about 2500 years’ time (it wasn’t clear whether global warming was factored into that estimate, but still……). There’s lots to see if you know what to look for (we have to rely on signs pointing things out 😊): lakes that were once sea inlets cut off as the land rose, remnants of what would’ve been beaches high up on hillsides etc.

Our first stop was at Skuleskogen National Park, where we did a short walk and got an idea of the landscape.

A short distance further South, we came to Skuleberget, which is a hill that’s a popular walk. At the end of the last ice age, the summit poked up a mere 10m or so above sea level.

We’ve already come across this uplift in the land in a few places, for example at Alta, where all of the rock carvings started out near the shoreline, so the rising land means that the older carvings are now further up the hill than the more recent carvings.

When we were a bit further North near Ratan (where we did the free washing), we stopped to look at marks made on rocks by the sea shore to track how the land was rising over time. Here’s Mark looking at the mark made by the two famous Swedish scientists Carl von Linné (Carl Linnaeus) and Anders Celsius in 1749 whilst investigating the uplift of the land:

(the marks haven’t been painted in so we couldn’t get them to stand out on a ‘photo, which is why we didn’t mention them at the time….)

It seems that the aforementioned Carl von Linné came to Skuleberget in 1732. Here’s what he had to say about the steep way up:

“… an awfully steep and high mountain, called Skuleberget, which looked like a crypt…. we climbed up the cliffs, crawled, slid, and pulled ourselves forward… we grabbed one of the bushes.. which, if it had given way… would have been the end of our lives”

I just thought I’d mention that as it makes our little walk seem a bit more impressive! Nowadays you can do Via Ferrata up the steepest bit, which is presumably the near-death route taken by von Linné; either that or he was by no means a great adventurer (he was in his 20s when he visited). Alternatively you can just walk up. The path up was indeed steep, but the view from the top compensated:

The descent was down the back of the hill below a ski lift, then back round the bottom to Kampington, spotting a suitable location for an overnight stop on the way.

Mark spent much of the evening peering through binoculars at two beavers zipping around in the lake below. You might just make out a v-shaped wake in the water in the second pic:

The next morning we made use of the fanciest fettlings we’d ever seen back at the Skuleberget car park before heading off South. More stainless steel than a celebrity chef’s kitchen:

At the Southern end of the “official” High Coast, we pulled into a picnic area just before the High Coast Bridge, intending to take a ‘photo of said bridge before continuing.

The High Coast Bridge is a 1,867 metre long suspension bridge, completed in 1997. Its central span of 1,210 metres (which is apparently how suspension bridges are ranked; who’d have guessed?) makes it the 16th longest in the World (with many of the longer ones completed more recently in China). The UK’s Humber Bridge is number 8 at 1,410 metres and the Golden Gate Bridge is number 14 at 1,280 metres….

We were somewhat perturbed by a German tour bus parked up by the bridge:

“Krieg” means “war” and “www.krieg-reisen.de” is “www.war-tours.de”. Not really the best branding for a German tour bus travelling round Europe???. And what were they doing parked up next to a major bit of infrastructure??? We decided to move swiftly on…..

Our next stop was Härnösand, a bit further down the coast, which had the county museum and outdoors, the “second-biggest” open-air museum in Sweden. Both were a bit disappointing if we’re honest. The museum had clearly undergone extreme modernisation. It was visually appealing, but with the electronic displays (of the “ipad encased in a fancy stand” type) giving information in Swedish only, we didn’t really learn anything.

The open-air museum had some much larger buildings than the ones we’ve seen elsewhere, including the only town hall in any open-air museum in Sweden. You could only look at the outside of the vast majority of the buildings, though, which was a shame; most of the really interesting stuff is generally to be found inside….

One highlight for Mark was when he discovered that he WAS allowed to have a go in the skittle arcade:

We’ve spent the last two days down on the Hornslandet Peninsula. We had a day near Hölick and did the 7km wander round the local nature reserve. Mark clambered into a “cave”, we saw some sites of stone age settlements, beaches left stranded by the uplift of the land, and generally some pretty good scenery.

Today we visited the Eastern side of the peninsula and the cute village of Kuggörarna perched on a small island.

On the seaward side is a string of what we presume to be the village’s toilets:

There’s just a footpath thtough the village, so villagers have reserved spaces in the car park at the entrance to the village. Each parking space seemed to have a wheelbarrow – for carting home the supermarket shopping?

At the far end of the village is a stone labyrinth, thought to be have been a way for superstitious fishermen in centuries past to ensure good luck / a good catch. Funnily enough we had a fisherman on hand who could do with some help, so off he scampered:

As you can see from this diagram, there is no thought / skill at all required in this “labyrinth”; it’s just a matter of perseverance:

Eventually Mark reached the centre, then decided to take a short cut back out…. Not sure yet if that’ll invalidate his good fishing luck…..

We’re currently just under 300km from Stockholm (though we’re not planning on taking the fastest route to get there). It’s getting darker in the late evenings now, so much so that we’ve caught ourselves switching the odd light on, which seems very strange after all these weeks in the North. It’s getting harder to find free wild camping spots now that we’re getting into the more populated areas of Sweden; we’ll just have to see how we get on further South. We’re booked onto a campsite in Stockholm from 03 August (one of the very rare occasions we book ahead is when visiting cities) so we’ll be working to a vague schedule over the next week or so. It’s surprising how quickly you can get out of the habit of any kind of forward planning when touring around in a motorhome, and to be honest it feels a bit strange….

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