Springtime Lake Vättern

Nature wakes up – is there a better place to be than in a kayak silently paddling listening to and observing the birds? We launched at Medevi Brygga – an old steam boat landing stage – and paddled one of our favorite tours – along the islands Gopön, Grepaträdet and Gopön. The temperature is rising in the end of May, the water is still a bit cold and we are alone in the archipelago. The northern part of Lake Vättern has an archipelago which a lot of islands and it is perfect for kayaking as there are few people around.

  • Lake Vättern, Sweden
    Southbound

It’s a crispy, clear morning – almost no wind. We paddle between the mainland and the three islands that give shelter from west winds. Suddenly a Eurasian Hobby appeared flying just over our heads. It breeds on one of the islands.

  • Marvellous landing site
    A sheltered sandy beach

After a refreshing morning swim we enjoy our herb tea and sandwiches. The rock is nice and warm and we are in good company of gulls, terns, mergansers, geese and a lot of singing birds on the island.

  • Lake Vättern Horizon, Sweden
    Horizon

Eventually the osprey shows up. For some years a couple has had its nest with successful breeding and we are anxious to know what will happen this year. Sadly the nest by our launching point Medevi Brygga is abandoned.

  • Lake Vättern
    Southbound again - now on the west side of Gopön

It was a perfect day to paddle west of the islands towards open water and admire the rough rocks.

  • Lake Vättern archipelago, Sweden
    Sound between the islands

We are fortunate to live in a country with so many lakes and a long sea shore line. The right of public access is unique in our country and gives many opportunities for outdoor life.

Medevi is situated close to the northern part of Lake Vättern between Motala and Askersund.

Springtime in Bohuslän Archipelago

Bright sunshine and almost no wind tempted us to visit the nearby nature reserve Ulön Dannemark by kayak. A wonderful day in May gave us astonishing experience of blue sky, blue sea and lots of plants in blossom. The air was full of sounds from different birds that just had arrived. Spring is in the air!

  • Sea kayaking , Ulön-Dannemark Nature reserve
    Crossing the fairway towards the nature reserve

We went ashore on a sandy beach for a walk on the island. The shell shingle beds were studded with thousands of cowslips. You could even feel the smell of them by walking around.

  • Sea skagerakk
    Perfect day for sailing

The path meandered in the little valley and took us to the far west of the island where we met the open sea. Impressing!

  • Sand bank connection between the two islands, Ulön and Dannemark
    The sandy beach which connects the former islands Ulön and Dannemark

Sheep are grazing in the nature reserve to keep the landscape open. Perfect gardeners.

  • Ulön-Dannemark Nature reserve
    Another beach - filled with oyster shells

We launched again and rounded the island to find a new sheltered beach. This part of the island invited us to another walk with new views.

  • Granite gravel's poorest breeding ground
    Sea Thrift can grow in very nutrient poor conditions

By the campfire we had a nice meal and a perfect end of the day.

  • Campfire in the archipelago
    Soon time to leave the paradise

In a slight tail wind we headed back to our starting point Rådalen Heestrand – a miniature little settling of boathouses and a great place to start a short or a longer kayaking adventure.

Hiking in nature reserves – Part 1, Brurmossen

We really enjoy being outdoors anywhere in wild. Our focus for our guests has so far been kayaking and nordic skating, but now we are expanding and want to offer guided hiking trips in different environments. We find unspoiled, quiet areas from deep old forests to marsh land, lakes and old cultivated places. Every habitat has its own “personality” with its own birdlife, animals and plants.

  • Information board
    Entrance to Brurmossen Nature Reserve

The Brurmossen area is located in the border of counties Dalsland and Värmland. The reserve consists of marsh forests, rocky mountain impediment with pines and open marshes and moss fields. The area has a great value because it has been untouched for a long time.

  • Solitude dead trees can remain upright for hundreds of years
    Old and dead but still upright

The old trees host a great variation of lichens and polypores. The great amount of beard lichens indicates clean air.

  • Spruce weakened by ants' attack.
    Fallen pine tree as a result of Carpenter ants and Black Woodpckers

We ramble in a huge, green “cathedral”. There is no sound of human activity. Only the wind, the birds and in between a total silence. A perfect location for “Forest bathing”.

  • Alluring lake through the woods
    Forest lake in the distance

On a little rock next to the tarn we had a nice stop for our packed lunch. The woodland lake named “Särkspännet” was there like a golden eye of the forest. We wondered about the name. The translation is an old kind of brooch – just the shape it is. Who named it and when?

  • 11 km hiking trail in an unspoiled nature in Dalsland west Sweden
    Soft and easy trail

Tracks and droppings of wolves, moose and squirrels show that we are not the only ones who have been here.

  • Marshland environment and old virgin forest around and in between
    Mere in the bog

The beginning of April is a wonderful month when nature awakens bit by bit. The life in the anthill above ground level awakens by the warm rays of the sun. The ants have spent the winter several metres below ground level.

  • By the campfire
    Warm and cosy

Is there a better ending of a forest walk than to start a camp fire, grill some sausages and listen to the enormous choir of birds singing in the April evening?

Three days’ skating in Finnskogen

The warm winter with no skatable ice in “our regions” – southern part of Sweden – brought us further north with our Canadian Skating Friend. The region “Tiomilaskogen” between county Värmland and Dalarna felt like a coincidence – skating in the tracks of Finnish people. Our last skating trip was to Finland and this is the region to where the Finns emigrated in the beginning of the 17th century. There was famine in Finland and our king Karl IX offered land in this part of Sweden which was totally inhabited. Nowadays the journey from Finland to this region is less than a day and night. It took a couple of years for our immigrants to reach their new settlements.

Lake Knon

  • Inviting and hopeful
  • Difficult to get on shore
  • Admiring the giant boulders

All these lakes are parts of regulated water systems to extract electricity. It means that the water level differs a lot during the year (between 2 – 5 meters). The eco system is affected in a negative way. Fish species that migrate can’t do it anymore because of the dams, tubes and locks. Earlier these lakes had lots of salmon, eel and trout. Nowadays you find pike, perch, roach, whitefish and different carps. The beavers can’t build their lodges by the lake because the water level fluctuates. Beavers mean a lot to biodiversity.

System Lake Lövsjöarna

  • Ready to skate in snow fall
  • Lots of edible lingon berries left
  • Finally the sun breaks through

Findings of Stone Age settlements at Nain indicate an early settlement. The Stone Age families depended on good access to trout, eel and salmon. This was probably also one of the reasons for choosing a place of residence for Finnish immigration in the 17th century. Per Hakkarainen came to Nain around 1635 from Savolaks in Finland. “From a distance he saw a lake and it was Lake Nain he had seen. He liked the surroundings. There on the west side it was very beautiful and he thought that in this lake there should be a lot of fish … “.

Lake Naren/Nain

  • Leaving early, - 8 C
  • Morning has broken
  • Today's rock painting is "art photo" - leave nothing but a shadow
  • Up ridge

3 days, 3 skaters and 3 lakes in 3 different ice and weather conditions are invigorating and fills your soul and body with loads of energy!

Three National Parks in Finland – part II

Linnansaari National Park, in the heart of the Finnish Lake District, is an ideal place to spot rare lake seals and majestic ospreys. Right now the ospreys are in Africa but the seals are here. The waters of the park are dotted with lush green islands and rocky islets. The maze-like archipelago is ideal for nordic skating. Haukivesi is a part of the huge Lake Saima with a shore line of 14 850 km and about 13 710 islands. Our base for skating was Oravi, about 41 km north west of Savonlinna.

Our last day was spent in Linnansaari National Park Archipelago – an absolute Grande Finale! Sunshine, black ice, no wind, wonderful nature, peaceful, vast areas of shining smooth ice and traces from ringed seals in the ice. The only people we met on our 42 km tour was one fisherman on his way to his nets and one ice skater – our hostess at Oravi Village.

  • Planning the day - just before sunrise
  • Frozen wind shaped snow in the ice

Our first break was at the old settlement by the island Linnansaari. We enjoyed the sunshine and the well kept area – an inviting open museum. At Linnansaari Croft traditional slash-and-burn farming practises are preserved.

  • Linnansaari croft - first break
  • The last family at Linnansaari croft. They lived here until 1962.

After the break we headed north in the fairy tale landscape – following the best ice. Just like heaven!

  • Wonderful meeting - discussing the ice with our hostess at Saimaa Holiday Lakeland Resorts
  • Looking for the perfect lunch stop

Linnansaari National Park provides a protected home for the endangered Saima Ringed seal. It is prohibited to visit many islands and islets where the seals live. We were lucky to find different traces of seals on the ice.

  • The ospreys and the ringed seals are symbols for the park
  • Black and white
  • Another sign from the ringed seal - a breathing hole

Epilogue

When we arrived to Oravi the ice conditions for skating were poor. We had spring ice, which means weak and hazardous ice. Too long period with temperatures above zero. We had a try the first day but had to leave at the east shore of Linnansaari main island because the ice was too dangerous. Following morning the temperature was above zero with strong winds.

We had a strengthening head wind with lots of water on the ice. During the day the water disappeared and offered us a wonderful surface. In the evening the temperature decreased and we could skate again on fresh, dry ice.

  • "Another brick in the wall"

Three National Parks in Finland – part 1

“The Country of the Thousand Lakes” attracted us to skate on the immense water areas. Out of Finland’s 40 national parks we chose 3 which – after investigating ice and weather conditions – were suitable for our skating adventure. North and Southern Savolax with Konnevesi and Kolovesi National Parks were first in turn.

Southern Konnevesi National Park

  • The park was inviting with its many islands
  • Winter trail on ice
  • Shifts in grey - a little snow on the surface

Kolovesi National Park

  • Icy road leading to Kirkkoranta - Kolovesi National Park
  • Strong tail wind - about 10 m/s
  • We had to struggle in the strong head wind
  • What a joy following the shore line in tail wind

Satellite showed us black ice

Northern county Värmland and Dalarna was covered with snow in the end of November. Some lakes hiding black ice. We were waiting new lakes to freeze as the temperature was below zero and the weather forecast promised really cold weather. By studying the satellite we headed to lake Tisjön, Dalarna the 1st of December. Were we right in our expectation?

  • Amazing sunrise

  • Giant boulder hiding among the pine trees

  • Beautiful contrast between frosty birches and the black ice

  • What a window/mirror!

  • Morning trip following the shore line

Sattelite picture:

https://apps.sentinel-hub.com/eo-browser/?lat=60.9218&lng=12.8890&zoom=12&time=2019-11-30&preset=IW-DV-VV-DECIBEL-GAMMA0&datasource=Sentinel-1%20AWS%20(S1-AWS-IW-VVVH)

Video:

https://youtu.be/uz6txfmNqxs

Nordic Kayaking Inspiration – Finland

After som hectic weeks with guests from abroad we were ready for another new exploring adventure. This time we were heading east to our neighbour country Finland. It has been a dream for many years getting to know and to paddle in the “Country of the Thousand Lakes”. We didn’t have much time, but time enough to realise that there are lakes enough for a life time. An eldorado for kayakers. We just spotted the right time for nature showing up in its “Golden costume”. Our destination was huge Lake Saima.

  • Some of the millions and millions of Silver Birches
  • Leaving Oravi Canal for Haukivesi
  • Camp fire
  • End of the day on Haukivesi

We arrived to and left Finland in sparkling autumn colours. What a visit!

We will be back for sure – and then for a longer trip.

Where to start next time?

Nordic kayaking inspiration – Norway

Nordic EcoTours has its main geographical area from Lake Vättern to Lake Vänern and onwards westbound to Skagerrak. This summer we wanted to extend “our territory” and explore new water systems. In July we headed to Lake Sølen, Rendalsfjällen in Norway – a place we have visited before, both winter and summer. A place that we love. Lake Sølen has a circumference for about 65 km with a few islands in the south west and south of the lake. This time our departure point was close to Fiskevollen, Norway’s oldest inland fishing village, which is situated in the north part of the lake. West of the lake the massive Midtre Sølen with three summits rises – its highest peak is 1755 meters above sea level.

  • On our way to Fiskevollen

  • Kayaking in blue waves

  • Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) protecting her chicks
  • Summit 1755 meters above sea level

The Sølen area is a magical location for kayaking, fishing and hiking. A place where you relax, recover and replenish your energy. We are willing to join you in an outstanding experience.

A magic area in Hedmark, Norway.