Cycling Southern Sweden
I’ve been looking forward to cycling through the Scandinavian countries since we planned the tour. Sweden and Finland have a ‘everyman’s right’ to camp where you like (within reason). So whilst food is more expensive, as long as we can find somewhere to wild camp, we don’t have to spend any money on campsites.
My third bicycle touring top tip that has come in incredibly useful in Sweden is:
‘Touring Tip 3: European churches and graveyards (nearly) always have water’
Whilst ‘everyman’s right’ is great, it’s not much use mid-summer when most water sources are mosquito HQ. And so it is definitely worth finding a church with an unused grassy corner hidden away. I’ve camped near ten plus churches/graveyards this holiday and have yet to be kicked out.
So far, Swedish churches have been beautiful and the taps plentiful.
From Helsingborg we cycled straight towards Sölvesborg where we plan to rejoin the coast and follow it north towards Stockholm. Our route took us past Wrams Gunnarstorp Castle. We were trying to find a small lane that linked up two roads and ended up getting caught up inside the estate boundary. We cycled all over the castle grounds and couldn’t figure out where to go, in the end deciding to cycle out of the front gate and join the larger road.
There were numerous signs around the castle warning that it is closed due to an ‘outbreak’, though what it was I don’t know. It may have been a deterrent for would be trespassers.
This church almost looks drawn onto the landscape, it’s Bräkne-Hoby Kyrka.
We were cycling late one evening and passed a church on the outskirts of a small town, in a lawn area off to one side was an empty gazebo. We saw it and thought ‘should we’?
“You know what happens when we camp in public places Thomas! The inevitable happens and someone turns up to find us in their way.”I argue.
“But look at it, it has grass growing up the side. It’s obviously been there a while, I doubt they’re going to come and take it down the one day we decide to sleep in it. Plus it has a public toilet next door.”
“Ok, fair point. I’m tired anyway, lets stay here.”
And that is how we slept in a church gazebo. Incidentally, the toilet also had a plug socket, but it had the door locking mechanism plugged into it. So to charge a phone we had to unplug the door and prop open the door to ensure that it didn’t close and lock us out/the phone in. You can probably see where this is going… I went in there and didn’t realise Thomas had plugged his phone in and closed the door behind me. Locking his phone in with no way to get it out. We tried to open the door but in the end gave up and decided to figure it out in the morning.
Fortunately touring tip 2 kicked in and after a restful nights sleep we were woken up by… a group of Swedish teenagers taking down the gazebo with us still inside. They spoke a little English and said hello, not seeming bothered at all to find some English cycle tourers in their gazebo. They also unlocked the toilet, so we waited until they were all looking the other direction and nipped in to grab the phone. All in all, it worked out very well!
Near Ljungbyholm we camped beside a large river in a beech wood. We walked along it hoping to find somewhere in the sun away from mosquitoes, when what do we find… A football pitch! It was overgrown so we decided to camp along one edge to catch the morning sun.
After pitching the tent we went for a swim in the river. It was incredibly deep with a strong undercurrent, holding onto a branch and staying still resulted in my legs being swept horizontal.
For breakfast we had yogurt and three berry muesli, all picked by us.
Cherries we commonly find alongside the road, raspberries near the deep river and bilberries up the rocky valleyside we were camped in.
We occasionally cycle past fields of flowers, clover is planted to put nutrients back into the soil for the following year. By far the best was this one, with a multitude of flowers mixed in and a traditional Swedish red barn in the background.
A lot of the cycling in Sweden was through miles upon miles of woods. At times they seemed a never ending mass of brown and green. Having spent a month cycling in Ireland, I am of the firm opinion that moving on to different countries is important on long tours, as too much of one thing can become tiresome. Especially if all you can see is trees.
On that thread, we decided to abandon the mainland for a time and cycle around the island of Gotland.
The cycle tour so far:
England – Cornwall to Wales
Ireland – Winding Westwards
Ireland – Starting the Wild Atlantic Way
Ireland – The Wild Atlantic
Ireland – Causeway Coastal Route
England – Stopover in the Peaks
Netherlands – Bicycle touring through the Netherlands
Germany – Hamburg and Lübeck
Denmark – Reaching the Baltic Sea
Denmark – Exploring Copenhagen
Sweden – Cycling Southern Sweden