It was mid of January – time for skating on new frozen ice! We were awaiting new customers in three different groups to arrive from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The weather forecast for the coming 10 days showed a lot of snow coming from southwest. We thought our base in Bohuslän, on the Swedish west coast, should be a good place to start from. Close to the sea it might be less amount of snow falling. Because of that we started investigating nice tours around in the neighborhood.
We found magnificent black ice in Norway, just an hour drive from Heestrand – our base. In our direct area ice was in the state of beginning to freeze – not only lakes – also inner salt water fjords. In the inland we had different, wonderful lake systems to choose from. Sadly they were, for the moment, covered by some centimeters of dry snow – still skatable.
When the arriving date for our second group was there, the whole of Sweden was covered by snow, more or less. We couldn’t find any skatable ice! Where to go? Fortunately we had one more base, 300 km east of Heestrand. Medevi by Lake Vättern, the second biggest lake of Sweden. As it is a huge lake it wasn’t yet covered by skatable ice. Thanks Sweden is a great waterland! We found skatable ice in the surroundings of northern Vättern.
With the help of the skating network and weather reports we had four wonderful skating days in different environments. We started with two days of skating on small lakes in the surroundings of Lake Vättern. Lake Stråken – a “forest lake” with some mansions by the lake. Lake Tåkern – the well known bird lake – on the cultivated plain, surrounded with reeds. The third day we headed off west to lake Ymsen which invited us with stable ice. Back to Medevi in the evening where we made the decision to pack all our things and be ready for a check at lake Vättern before we headed to the west coast. On the fourth biggest island of Sweden – Orust – we had our final countdown, with safe ice on two small nice lakes. Refreshed by skating, fresh air and good company we said goodbye with nice memories for all of us.
In our region skatable ice just now is scarce, as lakes that are frozen are covered with snow or the lakes are not frozen at all. So today we headed towards Norway – not to far from Heestrand in Bohuslän. We had a magnificent sunrise and the day ended up to one of those lucky days with blue sky and almost no wind. Today we explored a new little lake – Kløsa – not very big but full of small islands and and we felt embraced by the surrounding landscape. The surface was not the best but very easy to skate on.
We found some frozen toads on the ice. Some say that during good conditions they can survive when the temperature rises. Let’s hope they are right. Even if we were on the ice at noon the January sun was low and gave long shadows. For lunch break we found the ideal sunny place with no wind.
The skating trip was about 10 km but we were eager to investigate some other lakes so we carried on. There by the side of the road was lake Isesjøen shining like a polished mirror.
The thickness was from 4 cm to 7 cm near the shore but open water in the middle. If the weather forecast is right – with a cold period and no snow – we soon will be very lucky! What a nice view to the afternoon coffee!
At eleven a clock a.m October 21st – six Norwegian see kayak beginners met up at Nordic EcoTours’ boat houses in Rådalen, Heestrand for instructions and planning of the tour. After basic instructions of kayaking vocabulary and how to paddle a see-kayak we launched for practical exercises in the calm bay. It worked very well from the beginning so we left the shallow waters and started our planned tour. One kayak guide in the lead and one in the the end of the kayakers. For security reasons we chose a double kayak as a follow kayak. Water temperature in late October is still reasonable high but of course , much cooler than in summer (today about 14 degrees Celsius).
We left the little village Heestrand (an old stonemason village) – in a cloudy and a bit rough autumn weather. With a strong tail wind we got a very good speed from start. The team met up very well acting like a tight an assembled group. Thanks to fast learning paddlers we could vary the trip a lot. After some kilometers we had our first stop – a sandy beach where we practised to get out “dry” from our kayaks. “The hardest thing about kayaking is to get in and out of the water without getting wet”. We had also time for some hot peppermint tea, some fig rolls, fruit and some snacks.
Satisfied after the break, we continued in the strong east wind in shelter of big and rocky granite islands. After half a mile we changed direction southwards paddling through narrow passages in shelter from the wind to find a suitable landing site for our lunch. Along our trip we had a fantastic contact with the high surrounding mountains. We left the inner archipelago and headed towards the horizon.
After some kilometers we reached a wonderful site – the west side of Lilla Hamburgö/Jakobsö -for break and lunch. The sandy beach with seashells was surrounded by high mountains which sheltered us good for the gusty hard winds. Cold fallows reached us though on the beach. Soon we got a nice fire perfect for grilling our locally produced sausages. One of the paddlers immediately took the role as a barbeque master and fulfilled his duty with excellence. A potato salad, vegetables, fresh bread saturated us. The meal was completed by coffee boiled over the fire and home made apple muffins.
After a refreshing meal it was time to enter the kayaks again. Further and further out in the outer archipelago along the high granite cliffs and a spectacular view of the Skagerakk horizon in the west and “Saltskärs Käring” in the south.
Below the fabulous steep cliffs on the west end of Kiddö island – we shot a group photo of the clever kayak group. Very nice team to handle!
Back to Heestrand again after paddling through a shallow strait called “Grundsund”. The circle was closed and now met the very strong head wind. We crossed a sound and landed at “Karlsvik” (Hamburgö island) beach fora short break. With renewed powers we finally reached the starting point again. Thanks for good company and restoration and cleaning of kayaks!
In september the archipelago is quiet after bustling human activities in summertime. The sea is still warm and the water is fantastic transparent – almost no plankton disturbance. It’s really enjoyable gliding in the turquoise shallow waters over shell gravel bottoms looking for oysters. Last Saturday offered us a wonderful full day’s paddling.
The weather forecast predicted rain but after launching in drizzle we were happy even to have sunshine most of the day. In shelter and almost no wind we headed towards open sea. After many days of strong winds the swells were rolling in quite deep and wide. We played around some kilometers and then went in behind sheltering islands again.
Time to stretch our legs and have some hot peppermint tea, snacks and some fruit. Oyster shells and sea kale reminds us we are by the sea. All the flora and fauna is different in salt water than in fresh water lakes. We met a lot of young eiders searching food and on and off we met cormorants. Otherwise it was silent and peaceful.
We decided to head west, out to the open horizon. The beacon “Saltskärs käring” is always a nice excursion. It had been nice to have our lunch there but the sea was too rough so we made our way towards inner islands again.
The sea is full of herrings and mackerel and we passed a lot of boiling shoals.
After slipping between narrow sounds we found a sandy beach of our own. Perfect place for our camp fire and lunch – home made fish burgers with tsatsiki and coleslaw. After a nice meal and a good rest we finished with coffee boiled over the open fire.
After days of raining we also had a waterfall of our own. Strengthened by food and rest we made our last kilometers back home. This was a nice full day trip and we paddled 14 km – a very good distance as one of the participants was a total beginner!
September and October offers wonderful paddling. Welcome to join us!
In good wether conditions the east side of the peninsula Värmlandsnäs offers a magnificent view of blue skies and immense water horizons. Paddling close along the shore line over clear and drinkable water gives you a strong feeling of natures’ insatiable richness. During our 27 km long tour we found ourselves in total loneliness without any “disturbing” human impact. Leaving the little harbour village called Gaperhult we were in total desolation until we arrived our goal Stavik lighthouse where we met the civilization again.
After several km of following decidous and coniferous forest lowlands we landed for our first stop on a very beautiful sandy beach.
Cooking our lunch….
The further north we arrived, the more montainious the coast changed to. We passed deep forests and a few rocky islands and on a high rock a fortress shelter(frome the stone, iron or bronze age) was situated. The peninsula Värmlandsnäs is very rich of reminiscents from old ages. A scary sound could be heard from a cave in the mountain when the waves rolled in.
In the low evening light we reached our goal Stavik….
Lake Vänern is one of a kind – a paddlers dream. With its 22 000 islands and islets the lake has unique archipelagos with shallow waters in a wild and untamed environment – perfect for adventurous kayakers to explore.
Mostly Nordic EcoTours start their 1- 4 day guided kayaking tours from Ekenäs – the south end of the peninsula Värmlandsnäs, Säffle community. Here you find the biggest archipelagos of lake Vänern – Millesvik and Lurö. Hundreds of uninhabited islands will welcome you in an unspoiled environment.
The horizon can be seen in east and west direction. Southwards the archipelago is waiting with its islands and islets. It’s an amazing freshwater world to explore and also to discover its beauty.
The weather can change dramatically in a very short time, from no waves at all to one meter high waves in half an hour, out in the open waters.
Skilled instructors will guide you the safest track protected by islands. We adapt the tour to the groups ability and interest.
Time for lunch after some hours paddling passing unnumbered islands with spectacular names such as “Tyskland” (Germany), Hökön “(The Hawk island”) and “Hammaren” (the Hammer).
Long time ago in the early 18th and 19th century som people lived here all year long. They were fishing and farming and some were working as lighthouse keepers. You will also find an old boat station at Aspholmen, service station in olden days for small ships that were loaded with cargo. Today it’s a little harbour adapted for tourists.
On the east side of the island you can visit the remains of an old church. The monks’ pilgrims route passed here in the Middle ages.They came from the south side of lake Vänern, from monasteries (eg Varnhem) on their way to Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim. .
Happy kayakers after a day in the nature reserve Lurö Skärgård (archipelago)
Krokstad Manor park lies beautifully along the old Vikings route by river Byälven. 19 persons from UMV Coating System AB met up for an adventurous kayaking trip. For most of them it was their first time to test a See Kayak.
Before launching we had to do some basic settings in the kayaks. Then a short “dry” lesson on shore about how to paddle and discussions about safety off shore.
Birgitta is giving some advice how to move/paddle safely together in a group. After a while we could start paddling with one instructor in the lead and one backing up the group from behind.
The guided tour followed gently down the stream to the turning point – a little island covered with trees. Then up stream behind a bigger island in a reed canal with a lot of singing birds around. We saw a lot of beaver tracks such as felled aspen trees and beaver paths on the shoreline.
Thank’s for good company! You learned very well in a very short time!
The first of June delivered extra good weather conditions for our premiere kayak course at Duse Udde lake Vänern. Five young men from Herrgårdsgymnasiet with their PE teacher made our day. After introduction about the kayak, canoeing and saftey on water we were ready to launch.
After some practise in the bay the guys felt comfortable to leave for a trip close to the shoreline.
Gentle paddling across the mouth of river Byälven, close to the reeds and rocks. After a while we had a nice break for snacks.
From sheltered waters we headed to more open waters. The group tested paddling in different wave and wind conditions. They developed their skills and began to act like a homogene group.
Time for lunch break! After the rest it was time to test the floats as we decided to make an open water crossing back to the starting point.
After 5 hours training the group had tested the basic tecniques of paddling and did very well. Thank you for nice company!
Lake Vänern is a huge, unique lake resembling the ocean with its sea like character with bare cliffs and islets and a free horizon without land in sight. With its 22 000 islands, islets and skerries it is the largest sweet water archipelago in northern Europe.
There are shallow inlets and bays rich in fish, sandy beaches, islands and shores with interesting flora and fauna.
No wonder a lot of birds thrive here. More than 30 000 gulls and terns are found here. The most common bird of preys are marsh harriers, ospreys and hobbies but in the areas we paddle the white tailed eagle is common. Imagine sitting in the kayak with the eagle above you in the sky or sitting by the camp fire in the evening watching and listening to the magic sounds of the loons.
A whole summer awaits us on lake Vänern. From the middle of June to the end of August we are ready to Search Explore and Discover! Are you ready to join us? Our Kayaking Base Camp is situated at Duse Udde camping Säffle and we also operate from Krokstad Mansion Säffle.