Sweden 2020 part VIII - Härjedalen, Medelpad and Dalarna


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August 10th 2020
Published: December 20th 2020
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ReindeerReindeerReindeer

Reindeer seen on Nipfjället Mountain

A blog entry with animals that actually or supposedly don't exist and with a tree that has existed like forever



In the time line of our vacation this blog entry has become a bit of an anomaly. We have here collected photos from a few early days of the trip and the very last ones. We arranged things that way to help us make the blogs a bit more interesting and readable. At least that is what we aimed for. Probably we failed spectacularly. Anyway, here is our eighth blog entry from our vacation in Sweden and in it we cover what we saw in the districts Härjedalen, Medelpad and Dalarna.



Sundsvall

All along the Swedish east coast north of Stockholm there are towns and cities that mainly exists because they served as ports for shipping goods, such as wood or mining ore, that came on road, by rail or on the rivers from the inland. Sundsvall is one of those towns.

Much of Sundsvall was destroyed in a fire in the year 1888. To prevent that from happening again the city council decided that when rebuilding the town they should do so using material
NipgubbenNipgubbenNipgubben

Nipgubben is a character who urges visitors to be careful and attentive in the mountains
that can't catch fire. They choose stone. Today Sundsvall city centre is dominated by unusually grand stone buildings. That's why Sundsvall is also known as Stone Town.

Time for the first animal that doesn't exist - Dragons: Sundsvall has Dragons as a mascot or a symbol of the town. A bit like New York City has the Statue of Liberty. That is why they have cute little Dragon sculptures scattered all over the town centre.

Time for the second animal that doesn't exist - Skvader: It might be argued that the Skvader also is a symbol for Sundsvall. This began in a restaurant in Sundsvall about a hundred years ago. A few friends sat at a table eating and drinking when one of them tells a weird story about how he once when he was hunting shot an animal that was half hare and half wood goose. This could have stopped here. Crazy stories told by men to other men when they all are drunk are normally forgotten pretty soon. Not this one though. This story started to get a life of its own. First someone commissioned an artist to draw a painting of the Skvader. After that
View near KlövsjöView near KlövsjöView near Klövsjö

View over Lännässjön as seen from Klövsjö Village
someone contacted a taxidermist who had a Skvader created. Today the Skvader has become rather famous, so famous that some people think that there once actually existed a Skvader. Today the painting and the work by the taxidermist are displayed in a museum in Sundsvall.



Timrå

Timrå is a small town north of Sundsvall. We only found one thing that we were interested in seeing in Timrå and that was Merlo Palace. It is privately owned and is not open for tourists. It is OK to visit the garden and see the palace from the outside. It was a bummer for us that it rained when we were there. We rushed around, snapped a few photos and then rushed back to the car again.



Gudmundstjärn

Prior to the 20th century the roads were of poor quality in northern Sweden. On top of that, distances were great and the country was sparsely populated. This led to there being farms and settlements that were pretty much isolated from the rest of the society. To visit a neighbour they might have to travel for half a day. And to visit a town could mean that
Klövsjö Village CemeteryKlövsjö Village CemeteryKlövsjö Village Cemetery

Memorial over villagers who died in the Spanish Flu a century ago
you had to travel for well over a day. Those settlements had to lead a life such that they didn't have to depend on others for their survival. Gudmundtjärn is one such settlement. It is well preserved, largely because it was inhabited up until the 1940-ies, and is today a museum.

We were told by some people we met that we should visit this place. We are glad that we met those people and they told us to go because it sure was worth visiting it.

By the way, Ake got inspired by the surroundings...




Åsarna

Åsarna is a really small place. Only about 240 people live here. Still it is the home of one of the most successful cross country skiing clubs in Sweden. We stopped there because we needed accommodation for a night. The club runs a hostel so it was a good place for us to spend the night.

By the way, Åsarna is a strong contender for the title The Village with the Most Medals in the Olympic Games per 1000 Inhabitants. Skiers from the club have taken a total of 19 medals in the Olympic Games. For
Fettjeåfallet WaterfallFettjeåfallet WaterfallFettjeåfallet Waterfall

Fettjeåfallet Waterfall is a small waterfall near Klövsjö Village
such a small village, that is a lot.

So who is the greatest cross country skier from Åsarna? It is a fierce competition between the following two:

=> Thomas Wassberg - 4 Olympic gold medals, 3 gold medals in the world championships. There is a statue of him in Åsarna.

=> Johan Olsson - 6 Olympic medals (2 gold), 8 medals in the world championships (2 golds). Also known for isolating himself in the weeks before championships torturing himself with brutal training in true Rocky Balboa style.



Klövsjö

Billed as "The most beautiful village in Sweden". Klövsjö is perched on a slope overlooking a serene lake. It truly is a very beautiful setting. So beautiful that it is worth going there just to see it. But strangely enough we weren't able to catch it in photos. So we can't show you how beautiful it actually is.



Tännäs

Time for an animal that supposedly doesn't exist in Sweden but still does - the Muskox: There is a very small herd of muskoxen near the village Tännäs in Härjedalen. Here comes the weird part: it is such a small herd that they might
Sundsvall Sundsvall Sundsvall

Much of Sundsvall was destroyed in a fire in the year 1888. To prevent that from happening again the city council decided that when rebuilding the town they should do so using material that can't catch fire.
become extinct in Sweden unless they are protected. However, the Swedish authorities don't recognise the muskox as a native animal so they don't really support the efforts that are being made to take care of the muskox. The protection of the population of muskox in Sweden is largely dependent on voluntary work and private sponsors.

One of the sponsors are the tourists that visit Tännäs and go and see the muskoxen in the fenced viewing area they have. So if you are in the region we can recommend a visit to Tännäs. Partly because it is fun to see muskoxen but also because you help preserving the animals. The wild muskox herd in the mountains should not be visited since it can get dangerous for both men and beast. The muskoxen are more happy when they are left alone than when people start hanging around where they live.



Fulufjället National Park

Apart from the nature experience, Fulufjället National Park is blessed with two sites that really draw people there, a high waterfall and a tree that has existed like forever.

Old Tjikko - a tree that is believed to be around 9,500 years old. Strictly
Building in Stone TownBuilding in Stone TownBuilding in Stone Town

They choose stone. Today Sundsvall city centre is dominated by unusually grand stone buildings. That's why Sundsvall is also known as Stone Town.
it is a 9,500 years old clonal tree. It means that the same root system has generated trees over and over again for almost 10 millenia, not that the actual tree is that old. Still, it is an impressive age. It ranks as the third oldest clonal tree in the world.

Njupeskär waterfall - the highest waterfall in Sweden. It is 93 meters high and easily accessible. To be honest, it's worth lies mainly in that it is the highest waterfall in Sweden. Trust us, there are many waterfalls out there far more spectacular than Njupeskär waterfall.



Älvdalen

Älvdalen is a small town in Dalarna that we have a special connection to. We usually go there once a year to run a long distance race. Well, this year the race was turned into a virtual race so we didn't get to go on our normal visit. Instead we made sure to make a stop there on our vacation. The advantage of going when it is not race day is that we got to do some sightseeing instead of running. Don't get us wrong, we like running. But we also like sightseeing.

=> Rotensugnet -
DragonDragonDragon

Sundsvall has Dragons as a mascot or a symbol of the town. A bit like New York City has the Statue of Liberty.
A small nature reserve north of Älvdalen. In the reserve there is a disused log flume from the days when timber was transported on the rivers.

=> Långö Liebruk - This site is probably best described as a ghost town. North of Älvdalen a small village grew up around a prosperous local business, a scythe factory. The village thrived and it even had its own school. But then the business went slower and eventually the company had to close. People were forced to move elsewhere to find jobs and the village eventually died. Today there are only two houses left standing. But they have put up a lot of photos and information so it is quite interesting to walk around and picture what the village used to look like.

=> The town Älvdalen itself is pretty and worth a quick stop.



Rättvik

We stopped in the town Rättvik because we needed a break in our journey. It is a town we have visited before so we knew of their biggest tourist attraction - the 628 meter long Rättvik Pier.



Öster Silvberg Mine

Öster Silvberg Mine is a defunct silver mine
DragonDragonDragon

That is why they have cute little Dragon sculptures scattered all over the town centre.
in Säter Municipality in Dalarna. This is a popular site among the local population mostly because the old mine is water filled and good for swimming. What makes swimming there more spectacular than in other places is that the water is green.

In a way it is strange that Östra Silvberg Mine is popular because strictly it is an industrial wasteland. When they mined the silver they also ended up with a lot of waste material. They simply dumped all of that in the nature around the mine and it looks quite awful today. Add to it that the water in the mine also might be a tiny bit toxic and you have a site that makes you think of Chernobyl or Bhopal rather than a place where you want to have a swim.



Säter Mental Hospital

Visiting a mental hospital and actually label it as a tourist site probably sounds odd. But Swedes visit Säter Mental Hospital for the same reason people visit Alcatraz. It is a well-known historical place for us. The main reason Swedes are well familiar with it is that it has a large clinic for forensic psychiatry.

The most
Skvader sculptureSkvader sculptureSkvader sculpture

It might be argued that the Skvader also is a symbol for Sundsvall.
well-known inmates they have had there are Sigvard Thurneman, leader of the Sala Gang in the 1930-ies, and Sture Bergwall, erroneously convicted of eight murders. We can strongly recommend the movie The Perfect Patient which tells the story of how two ambitious journalists uncovered that Sture Bergwall, then incarcerated in Säter and thought to be a serial killer, was in fact totally innocent.



Silfhytteå Ironworks

Sometimes when we travel we come across interesting places completely by chance. Silfhytteå Ironworks is such a place. We were looking for a place to camp for the night and picked a road that led down to a lake. At the end of the road there was a lake, just like we expected, but there was also the remnants of an ironworks. Most of it is in ruins today but some buildings are still standing and it is possible to get an idea of what the place looked like.



Stjärnsund

Stjärnsund is another interesting place we came across completely by chance. We stopped in Stjärnsund only quarter of an hour after we left Silfhytteå Ironworks. We then still had plans to camp for the night but needed to buy something to
Skvader table gameSkvader table gameSkvader table game

A few friends sat at a table eating and drinking when one of them tells a weird story about how he once when he was hunting shot an animal that was half hare and half wood goose.
have for breakfast the next day. When we arrived at the store in the village we felt that something was different. After some looking around we found that there is, in lack for a better word, a thriving hippie community in Stjärnsund. Instead of camping we decided to stay the night in the hostel they are running.



Basically, this was the end of our journey. From Stjärnsund we travelled south. We stopped for a few hours visiting friends on the way. After that we drove down to Stockholm and back to our home.


Additional photos below
Photos: 42, Displayed: 30


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Skvader paintingSkvader painting
Skvader painting

First someone commissioned an artist to draw a painting of the Skvader.
Skvader made by a taxidermistSkvader made by a taxidermist
Skvader made by a taxidermist

After that someone contacted a taxidermist who had a Skvader created. Today the Skvader has become rather famous, so famous that some people think that there once actually existed a Skvader.
Merlo PalaceMerlo Palace
Merlo Palace

Merlo Palace is privately owned and is not open for tourists. It is OK to visit the garden and see the palace from the outside.
GudmundstjärnGudmundstjärn
Gudmundstjärn

Prior to the 20th century some farms and settlements were pretty much isolated from the rest of the society. Gudmundtjärn is one such settlement.
GudmundstjärnGudmundstjärn
Gudmundstjärn

Gudmundstjärn is well preserved, largely because it was inhabited up until the 1940-ies, and is today a museum.
GudmundstjärnGudmundstjärn
Gudmundstjärn

We were told by people we met that we should visit Gudmundstjärn. We are glad that we did because it sure was worth visiting.
Statue of Thomas WassbergStatue of Thomas Wassberg
Statue of Thomas Wassberg

The cross country skier Thomas Wassberg took four Olympic gold medals and three gold medals in the world championships.
Bridge in ÅsarnaBridge in Åsarna
Bridge in Åsarna

The largest masonry arch bridge in Sweden
TruckTruck
Truck

Disused truck
MuskoxMuskox
Muskox

Muskoxen can be seen near Tännäs


21st December 2020

I've enjoyed following your journey...
I hope to see some of Sweden within the next couple of years as I have ancestors from Uppsala.
22nd December 2020

Uppsala is worth visiting
If you decide to visit Sweden, please let us know. It would be great fun to meet you. Uppsala is definitely worth visiting. We have been thinking about spending an entire weekend there to explore. The Celsius temperature scale is named after an Uppsala professor by the way. Only an hour by train from Uppsala you have Stockholm where you could spend a week without seeing everything worth visiting. /Ake
22nd December 2020

Uppsala...
If it were up to me I would visit Norway, Sweden and Poland in 2022. I'm still negotiating with my wife! If it works out it would be great to meet you, if only for coffee!
26th December 2020
Gudmundstjärn

So much beauty
Every blog you publish makes us want to go to Sweden sooner than we were planning.
26th December 2020
Gudmundstjärn

Make sure to come in summer
Each season in Sweden has its own charm. However, some are more difficult to appreciate than others. The season that is easiest to love is summer. So if you are planning to come here, make sure to do so in summer for the best experience. /Ake
10th January 2021

Thanks for sharing!
11th January 2021

Maybe you remember that one
This is the blog entry I published by mistake and had to delete. Now finally you can read it. Hope you enjoy it. /Ake
2nd May 2021

Impressive
I'm very impressed with the amount of places you were able to fit into your journey around Sweden! I love the video running through the meadow - freedom! 🙂 And how great it is to be able to stumble upon unexpected places and sights on a trip - I like the idea of staying in a "hippie community" 🙂
2nd May 2021

It was a great trip
We had an awesome vacation last summer. In July we are heading up north in Sweden again. We then plan to drive past the area we visited now and go further north. I think that will be another awesome vacation. /Ake

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