Sunday, 15 February 2009
Along the Skåneleden: Åsljunga to Båstad
It was winter break in Denmark so it was time to put on my hiking shoes and head to Sweden to explore more of the Kust till Kustleden. This time it was to be the section from Åsljunga to Båstad. Åsljunga is a small hamlet located in the norther section of Skåne whilst Båstad is located on the shores of Laholmsbukten and is the location for the Swedish Open Tennis tournament and the Swedish Tennis Hall of Fame
Traveling from Denmark by train and then bus to Åsljunga I alighted where the trail crosses the “Gamle E4”. I was quickly walking on the snow covered footpaths out of Åsljunga. Initially I followed the roads before climbing steeply onto a foot trail which meanders through the forest providing a view point to the south towards Örkelljunga before returning to a developed area. Leaving the developed area the trail enters one of the many “mossen” (moor) traversed on the trip often there are boardwalks which are not necessary when the ground is frozen. The boardwalk followed a power line before diverting past a farm and then to Bjärabygget a shelter and home for the first night. Bjärabygget is located on the side of a forestry road and water is available from a pump that worked even when covered in snow and the air temperature hovered around zero, however, with minimal space for a tent I set my bed up in the shelter.
You may be interested in what I use when sleeping in the shelters, which whilst protecting you from the rain are very cold places in winter. The arrangement I used this trip was a Nunatak Arc Specialist sleeping quilt with an Epic outer fabric, a BPL.com Torsolite sleeping mat in conjunction with a Gossamer Gear Nightlight, which has been extended to a full length mat. I find this combination provides excellent insulation for the torso the sleeping quilt provides warmth for minimum weight especially when combined with a down hoody jacket. What would I change? Nothing, but there are times when a lightweight bivy sack such as my (BPL Vapor) would be useful for extra protection when the rain, or snow, is being blown into the front of the shelter.
The next morning I awoke to a little more snow and a colder wind, I was aware that the forecast expected snow/rain later in the day and I was determined that I would be at the next shelter place before it snowed. I spent the day following others foot steps, that is wherever I walked some one had been before maybe a day ago or more, however, I never saw another person. The days walk began with passing through the northern extremities of Stora Ömosse which provided an interesting contrast to the pine forests. Of interest was the raised mounds which appeared to indicate cultivation at some stage. Having crossed the mossen and Route 24 the trail returned to the pine forests and small forestry roads through a number of hamlets before swinging south into the forest on a marked foot trail to Snibe Stue (the homes of the giants Snibe and his wife Kitta) a high point of 194 meter (higher than anything in Denmark). Leaving this high point the trail drops to cross a stream which provided some of the clearest water for the whole walk before climbing back to Naturreservat which once again provided a stark contrast to the surrounding pine plantations. Passing through several small settlements and then the outskirts of Stavershult before returning to the forests and forestry trails I arrived at the hamlet of Koarp, from here it is a short walk to the Koarp shelter. There are 2 shelters as well as a large parking lot as this is also the southern terminus of the Hallandsleden. The Hallandsleden is a 380 km trail which heads north to Kungsbacka.
I awoke the following morning to more snow with continuing snowfalls, frozen shoes and socks. Today was going to be a day of snow whether it be on the ground or falling from the trees or the sky.
The days walk begun by following the road past Koarpshus before branching onto a foot trail that skirts Koarpsmosse then passing by Vallåsan Nature Reserve much of this part of the walk involved foot trails which required careful navigation as the snow covered ground made it difficult at time to locate the trail. That is, not only should the walker have good map reading and navigation skills, the ability to locate trails buried in snow can add to the navigational challenges. Ultimately the trail leads you to Hindbärabygget and Kockabygget. It was between these two homesteads that I found a nice sheltered spot to take a rest from the wind driven snow. At Kockabygget a foot water pump is provided for walkers, however when it is buried in snow it appear that it does not work. After leaving Kockabygget the trail climbs towards Högalteknall, a 226 meter hill, and perhaps the highest point on the trail. Foot trails and and minor forestry trails lead you through Kajemossen before returning you to the forestry roads which you will follow to Brammarp shelter located 500 m from the busy E6 motorway.
Brammarp shelter is nicely located over looking a small stream, which according to the Skåneleden website is situated in Spruce, which has now been cleared. Sadly however, some persons had decided to decorate many of the surrounding trees and signs using a paint ball gun which detracted from the otherwise pleasant surroundings. On the plus side the stream (Dövabäck) provide a lyrical accompaniment to the many large multi trailer lorries speeding down the E6, night the stream provided a soothing rhythm for sleeping and demonstrated the power of nature over man.
I awoke the next morning to a wonderful view out the front window of the shelter, though I wished some one had shut the window during the night to keep the drafts out.
The commencement of the days walk took me under the E6 motorway and onto a small trail which follows the deer fence on the western side of the E6. I was able to watch the cars and lorries fly past and I wondered if any of the drivers saw me what they would be wondering about a guy with a pack on walking in the snow, whilst I wondered where the lorries from many different countries were heading. Ultimately trail left the motorway and headed in land to the road where I noticed a small memorial with child’s toys on the side of the road and again wondered what had transpired which led to the construction of this makeshift memorial
Following the road for a short while the trail then turned inland onto a heathy area covered in 5 to 10 cm of snow providing a picturesque sight as as well a navigational challenge with markers few and far apart and the track not evident under the snow, however, with a little luck I was able to find my way across the heath and out into the forest on the other side. Much to my surprise after walking for about a km in the forest I came to the rear of large truck stop and road side cafe offering a large selection of foods etc. adjacent to the road side stop is the Hallandsås motell. This location would provide an alternative to sleeping in the shelter or at least the opportunity to get a big breakfast. However, I kept walking preferring to retain the outdoors experience for as long as possible.
After leaving the vicinity of the cafe I headed further inland to firstly meet up with another section of the Kust till Kustleden coming from Förslöv, after which the trail heads to the fascinating Ålemossen. Ålemossen is a large expanse of heath, low trees, swampy areas and animals. Perhaps the one greatest feature of the trip for me was number of different animal tracks in the snow, there were moose, deer, fox and others which I was not able to identify. These animal tracks were fresh and criss-crossed the track with one deer in particular having a clear sense of the location of the trail for I followed it for over kilometer and only lost the trail when I met two trail maintenance persons from Båstad Kommune. I had an interesting chat with them about the trail and how impressed I was with the facilities provided to walkers on the trail. They indicated that they were out measuring for the installation of more boardwalks, partly to encourage more visitors to the area as well as providing a conservation aspect. I was impressed with their enthusiasm for the trail as well as there willingness to be out when the temperature was around zero and the wind chill making it even colder.
Leaving the mossen the trail rejoins the road adjacent to the heath lands Ljunghed part of the remaining 2500 ha of what was 500 000 ha of heath land in Sweden. It was interesting read the sign on how man had maintained these heathlands over the centuries to ensure re growth but now little remained. The road takes through the small community of Lya and a pleasant surprise awaited me as I left Lya as I came over the rise there was Laholmsbukten (Laholm Bay) with magnificent views all the way to Halmsted, the sense of exhilaration at seeing the sea after many kilometers of forests and mossen. The view of the sea along with the biting wind, accompanied me for the remainder of the journey, providing me with the inspiration and energy to keep walking. The final descent into Båstad is via Korröd shelter which overlooks Båstad. There are facilities at the shelter (including firewood) however, there is no water. Having had a relaxing lunch in the weak sunshine I then departed the shelter and the forest to return to the realities of our modern day life. But I will be back to continue my tour of the trails in Sweden.
In summary this trip provided a range of natural beauties including forests, farmland, mossen, heath moors and views of the sea as well as surround country side. A walk that is worth doing at any time of the year, I can recommend it.
Epilogue, throughout the walk my mind often wandered back to the land of my birth, Australia, and in particular my home town of Melbourne where there had been such a tragic loss of life in the recent bushfires reminding me once again that you may leave the place of your birth, but it never leaves you.