Western Götaland

The weather has changed – we’ve had quite a bit of rain over the last few days and the temperature has dropped too. We’ve been lucky though – most of the rain has fallen at night and we’ve managed to dodge the showers in the daytimes.

Tuesday was one of the damp days. After driving to the island of Tjörn (connected to the mainland by a bridge) we decided to save our tourist dollar for the next day (when drier weather was forecast) and headed straight to our overnight stop at Kyrkesund.

Signage here told us that many places in this area are named after St Olaf (who we came across on our last trip to Scandinavia at Trondheim and Stiklstad in Norway, where he was killed in battle in 1030). Apparently, Olaf and his brother agreed to decide who should be King of Norway by means of a boat race up this coast (as you do). God caused a rock to split and Kyrkesund (a handy short cut) to open up to help Olaf. Four trolls on the shore (presumably uncontrollable by God?) tried to stop him though. Olaf cursed them and they turned into four stone beacons. Here are two of them (the others are close by but they refused to all fit into one photo!):

On Wednesday we visited nearby Pilane Sculpture Park. We were attracted here by an iron age burial ground containing 7 stone circles, 6 standing stones, 10 mounds, and 57 circular stone settings:

Sweden’s National Property Board (SFV) took on responsibility for the site in 2015. I suppose I can see the benefit of the sculpture park thing – the car park was full and by lunchtime, there were people queuing to pay £12 each to go in – iron age burial sites on their own don’t generally attract that kind of footfall….

… and so it came to pass that Mark spent a happy couple of hours looking at art…. Many different nationalities were represented among the artists. We both picked out a 2016 sculpture called “Anna” by a Spanish artist as the most impressive. It certainly dominated the surrounding landscape:

Some of the other sculptures were quite cute. “Dancing Clog Girls” by British artist Laura Ford inspired Mark to demonstrate his clog dancing skills:

She had another sculpture there consisting of three separate figures. “Are they playing hide and seek or are they squawking?” asked Mark. The title “Silent Howlers” explained (though it wasn’t translated into Swedish so those of other nationalities may have remained confused):

There were some sculptures whose names meant absolutely nothing to us. For example, an American artist had three sculptures displayed, two in bronze and one in Carrara marble. Apart from the colour, they all looked the same to me…..

This one is called “Taking Risks” (the similar masterpieces in bronze are “ascent” and “illusion”. Erm… right… ok… Criminal waste of a nice piece of Carrara marble if you ask me…..

Then there were the “I could’ve done that” sculptures (and when Mark and I start saying that, it’s time to worry!). I caught Mark wandering round this one (and the one behind, by the same British artist) reciting the bits and pieces he’d need from Screwfix – strainer mesh, pop riveter…..

As for me, I reckoned I was up to this one. A pile of blobs in slightly different colours, then put faces on them…

All good stuff! That’s our fill of modern arty stuff for 2019!

Back on the mainland, we drove on to the town of Fjällbacka, further up the coast. It’s a really attractive (but touristy) place, with cute wooden houses and a marina. There’s a great big rock (“Vetteberget”) in the middle of the town that you can climb for a good view:

On the way up the rock, we passed through the Kungsklyftan (“King’s cleft”?!)…. named following a royal visit in the late 19th century:

Fjällbacka is famous for the author Camilla Läckberg (whose Fjällbacka murder mysteries I haven’t yet read but will when we get home) and Ingrid Bergman, who spent many summers in the area:

We spent Wednesday evening on a very quiet car park on the outskirts of Fjällbacka before driving up to the Vitlycke museum at Tanum on Thursday morning. The Tanum UNESCO World Heritage Area covers 45 square kilometres packed with Bronze Age rock art. The free museum at the Vitlycke site was good, after which we had a look at their bronze age farm.

Reconstructed early bronze age longhouse:

Mark checking out the sacrificial bog in the woods:

We visited the four main visitor sites (which have parking, board walks and information boards).


Litsleby – where we saw the 2.3 metre tall “spear god”:

We spent Thursday night at Litsleby after visiting the site. Initially we were on our own, but by bedtime the car park was full of vans plus one young German couple on the grass verge in an impressively small tent….



From Tanum, we detoured south and then east – for two reasons really. Firstly, the last LPG in Sweden was in this direction, and secondly, we still had too much alcohol on board to legally cross the border (Norway has very strict limits on how much you can bring in).

After a quiet night on a free car park next to a marina just south of Uddevalla, we topped up with LPG, fettled SOK at a service area on the main road, and turned back north. Our next stop was at Håverud on the Dalsland Canal. The canal was completed in the 1860s. Of its total length of 250km, only 12km is “excavated” canal as we know it; the rest is a series of lakes. At Håverud, we saw an unusual aqueduct – 33.5 metres long and constructed using sheet metal joined with 33,000 rivets (none of the original rivets has yet been replaced….):

We were lucky – a tourist boat came along soon after we arrived, so we got to watch it negotiate the aqueduct and a series of locks:

The Dalsland Canal would be a great place for a boating holiday….

Finally, we stopped to look at the Högsbyn roack carvings this afternoon – more bronze age rock art!

We’re now parked up with a number of other vans at a lovely car park near Grums on the north-western edge of Lake Vänern. It’s raining again – but that’s not a problem now that we’re tucked up in SOK for the night.

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