Autumn in Sweden: clear skies, clear waters – part 4

Sweden’s western archipelago is a marvellous area for sea kayaking – a sparse, other-wordly landscape of granite rock islands floating on a quiet blue sea. The final activity of this year’s academy was a 2-day sea kayaking tour, taking us between some of the larger rock formations and camping wild overnight on our very own uninhabited island.

We started by Land Rover, bouncing along the narrow coastal roads heading north to a shallow beach where we would launch off to begin our trip. After the kayaks had been laid out on the sand, our head guide Ulrika got us together for some instruction on efficient paddling technique, some safety considerations and, most importantly, advice on how to enter and exit our kayaks without falling in!

Photo: J. Hermanson

Then the food and camping supplies were distributed and magically stowed away in the bowels of our boats before we took to the water, beginners in double kayaks and the more experienced paddlers taking singles.

An hour or so’s paddling brought us to our lunch stop, a smooth and gently sloping slice of rock with a wonderful view over the surrounding coastline. Once again we’d expected to be served camping rations, and once again we were pleasantly surprised, as Ulrika opened a series of bags and boxes to reveal a delicious selection of fresh tortillas, smoked mackerel and “skagen röra”, a kind of Swedish prawn cocktail.

Photo: J. Hermanson

Sea kayaking is eminently suitable for novices, but that’s not to say it doesn’t take some technique. As the afternoon wore on and we progressed further up the coast, passing small picturesque fishing villages, gliding between narrow sounds between the rocks, and watching cormorants and herons go about their business, our paddling became more efficient and our steering more accurate, and gradually we came to concentrate less and less on the act of kayaking and more and more on the beauty and tranquility of our surroundings. Even the occasional common seal popped its head above the water to say hello.

As dusk approached we came to our camping spot for the night, a small island deserted apart from a small cemetery dating back to the First World War. We were surprised and interested to find that the island was the final resting place of a well-known German poet, Gorsch Fock, who died in May 1916 in a great sea battle out in the Skagerack Sea, a battle which claimed the lives of 10,000 soldiers. It may sound spooky, but far from it – the island had a wonderful atmosphere of calm.

Photo: J. Hermanson

After pitching our tents, anchoring the guy ropes securely to prepare for the windy night that had been forecast, we broke out the stoves and began to make dinner. Ulrika once more had everything planned to perfection – bottles of red wine appeared mysteriously from her kayak and were set upon gratefully, and we were divided up into cooking teams and given a recipe sheet from which to prepare the best fish soup I’ve ever had, a local recipe from Bohuslän incorporating fresh shrimps, vegetables and chunks of succulent salmon steak.

Camping doesn’t get any better than this, a thought that was expressed frequently and with enthusiasm later in the evening as we collected around a roaring campfire fuelled by driftwood to reflect on the day’s adventures.

Photo: J. Hermanson

The windy conditions which had been promised arrived with a vengeance in the early hours, our tent sides flapping crazily and noisily in the darkness, and we awoke a little bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived the following morning. It was just a short paddle to our pick-up point and the trip was soon to be over, just a short taster of the possibilities this area has to offer for paddlers. Our mini-expedition may have been short, but the memories of paddling and camping in this beautiful region will last a lifetime!

Best regards

Bob from The Nature Travels Team

The area in which we were paddling features in our Sea Kayaking in Fjällbacka Archipelago experience. Just to the north of this region, we also offer Sea Kayaking in Koster Archipelago, a region shortly to be designated Sweden’s first Marine National Park.

Nature Travels also offers sea kayaking holidays in the eastern archipelago as well as guided and self-guided canoeing holidays in Sweden.

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