Canoeing, wild camping, sea kayaking, orienteering, endangered species and a lobster safari – we only had a few days, but somehow managed to find time for all these things on a recent visit to the glittering coastline and stunning autumn forests of Dalsland and Bohuslän in western Sweden, just a couple of hours from the beautiful city of Gothenburg.
The occasion was this year’s Outdoor Academy of Sweden, an annual event bringing together tour operators, equipment retailers and journalists from all over Europe to explore the endless possibilities of the Swedish outdoors and test some Scandinavian-made outdoor clothing and equipment along the way.
The adventure began on Tuesday with a coach transfer from Gothenburg’s Landvetter airport. Although Gothenburg is Sweden’s second city and Landvetter its main airport, it’s a surprisingly relaxing and pleasant place, a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Heathrow we had left just two hours before.
By late September in western Sweden the forests are in the full glory of autumn, and we drove through a stunning landscape of reds and yellows up into the county of Dalsland. After the equipment handout, it was time to pitch camp for the night under a clear sky peppered with stars in the silence of the forest for our first night under canvas.
After breakfast around the camp fire next morning we took to the water in collapsible Ally canoes. It was the first time I had used a packable canoe and I was amazed and their lightness and flexibility. As we set off through the morning mist, negotiating low hanging branches and steering our way around fallen trees, the sun cast shafts of light through the thick forest and it felt more like a trip through the Amazon than western Europe.
A few hours later we emerged from a tunnel of trees and paddled out into a great wide lake, the sun shining brightly in a cloudless sky and surrounded on all sides by shimmering clear water ringed by dense forests of birch and oak. Making our way through the twists and turns of the river, squeezing under bridges and drifting past huge patchworks of spider webs in the foliage had been terrific fun, and now the tranquility of paddling quietly across the lake bathed in autumn sunshine offered another kind of outdoor experience – a real tonic for the soul.
Some time later we reached our goal for the morning, a nature reserve on the opposite shore of the lake, where it was time to break out the camping stoves, hunt around for the ever-elusive penknife in the backpack, and get down to the serious business of making lunch!
(continues next week)
Bob from the Nature Travels team
Nature Travels offers a wide range of self-guided canoe holidays in western Sweden from 4 to 14 days, suitable for friends, families and groups. Both wilderness canoe tours and rural canoe routes are available, and all experiences include wild camping. For details, please see www.naturetravels.co.uk/category-water.htm