Sunday, 3 October 2010

Back to Nature at Kolarbyn

Trees 2

After losing to Sweden at football, then England manager, Graham Taylor, famously put the Swedish victory down to the fact that Swedes “tend to be of an outdoor pursuit". He rightly got ridiculed by the British press and earned the nickname Turnip Taylor as a result! But ever a true word has been said in jest. England lost because Sweden played better, but he was right that Swedes love being outside. And when you get a taste for how stunning the countryside and coastline is, you understand why.

With this in mind, when Cowie arrived for a Swedish weekend with Edwin and Anna, I hatched a slightly insane plan that involved 900km of driving and a weekend of no running water, toilets or electricity! But what we lost in creature comforts we more than made up in tranquility and memories that will last a lifetime thanks to the enchanted forest and mysterious lake at Kolarbyn. It’s a former charcoal making forest that now operates as the “world’s most primitive hotel” where you sleep in log cabins and explore the forest in search of moose, bears, mushrooms, wolves and fairies.

After a 5 hour drive from Gothenburg, towards Stockholm, through biblical rain showers we arrived at Kolarbyn in a spotlight of sunshine and a breath of virginally pure air. The roads leading towards the clearing made me feel like the Stig and would have made Jeremy Clarkson feel like he’d broken down and gone straight to motorists’ heaven.

When Andreas, our super charming host/ranger, showed us around the clearing we were so excited that all we could do was exchange grins and stifled gasps of wonder. It was like a cross between Hansel and Gretel, Narnia and Lord of the Rings, except without the evil monsters lurking behind every tree. Our moss covered, log cabins were as primitive as the website has suggested. But that isn’t to say they weren’t the cosiest hotel rooms I’ve ever seen. Each one was fitted with a log fireplace and two benches to sleep on with a sheepskin for a mattress.

An essay about our weekend won’t do it justice. So I’ll let the photos and a few brief captions do the job instead…

Anna impact 2

We kicked off by chopping our wood for the night and soon discovered that Anna had been born to be a lumberjack...

Edwin axe 2

she put Edwin's use of a lady axe to shame.

Cowie giggle

Meanwhile Cowie got the giggles...

Watch out Cowie 3

which set Anna off into a fearsome rage!

Me axe 2

And I almost took my leg off with an enthusiastic swing!

Jesper 2

Our huts were like mini hobbit houses...

Mud cabin

with grass, moss, weeds...

Mushrooms growing out of hut

and mushrooms growing out of the roof.

Team rowing

After lighting our fires in our cabins we headed to the lake and rowed across to the floating sauna armed with logs, firelighters, matches, swimming costumes and a box of white wine.

Floating sauna

Whilst we waited for the sauna to heat up we tucked into ice cold white wine whilst watching the sun set over our lake.

Dusk lake view

It was one of the most perfect experiences I've ever had and only got better and better. After three quarters of an hour we stripped off and hopped in the sauna which was now roasting hot. After half an hour of blissfully relaxing heat we braced ourselves and dived into the chilly lake. I swear at that moment we were the four happiest people in the whole world.

Meatballs 2

We made our way back to the camp and tucked into a hearty Swedish supper of pickled herring, crisp bread and meatballs.

Cabin inside

And then returned to our toasty cabins good night's sleep.

Fire place

We had a rustic breakfast of eggs, porridge and coffee gathered around yet another fire before heading off for an excursion in search of a moose.

Lychen and moss

But all we seemed to find was acres of lychen...

Loganberry

thousands of lingonberries...

Fly agaric

and dangerous mushrooms.

Team shot

But that didn't matter it the slightest. And I can safely say that the four of us had the best weekend we can all remember for a long time.

Kolarbyn is one of the most enchanting places I've ever been to and I can't recommend it to you enough. If you are staying for longer than one night you might want to treat yourself to a wolf howling tour, a beaver trail or a moose safari. But to be honest, just being at one with nature was good enough for us.

14 comments:

Wine Splodge said...

Jonathan I believe you're going native!
Looks just like Loch Lomond (ahem cough cough)... save for the absence of 'hunners' of pissed up neds threatening violence.

Dan Carpenter said...

Unbelievable. I love the cabin/hut rooms that you guys stayed in. Looks like it'd be fun to try to make a little primitive shelter like that...

gastrogeek said...

Looks utterly incredible! What an experience...

Baby Plioz said...

love inside the cabin, judging from the photos, I bet it's an amazing trip you guys had.

Simon said...

You must read "Frozen Moment" by Camilla Ceder. It is set in that landscape and in Gothenberg.

Jonathan said...

@Wine Splodge - Soooo native. Probably not a million miles away from being Scottish!

@Dan Carpenter - Glad you love the cabins. They are awesome.

@gastrogeek - Was great fun.

@Baby Piloz - Was so snug inside.

@Simon - Will read Frozen Moment when I get a chance. Thanks for the rec.

Anna Johnston said...

What an incredible experience, never knew anything like this existed. Love the little shelters with fireplace.

Jonathan said...

@Anna Johnston - It was such a treat to find it. I can't wait for my next hut experience.

The Intolerant Gourmet said...

Seriously, I want to be there now. It looks utterly heavenly - you will have to do a forest inspired dish next.

Jonathan said...

@The Intolerant Gourmet - You're absolutely right. I should write a foresty post... I'll put my thinking cap on.

Helen said...

Those cabins looks truly amazing!! I want a hobbit house! The mushrooms and everything, brilliant. What a magical place.

Jonathan said...

@Helen - Magical is the word. Very special place indeed.

Food Urchin said...

Wow Browners, this place looks and sounds amazing. I want to go and pretend to be a hobbit for a few days. I already have the hairy feet.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Looks like fab, healthy fun! Great write-up - very envious ;)

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