Weather wise, the Swedish summer is still far from over, but at the Our Culture Camp, most of us are now returning to work after a long and very hot semester. This became one of those summers where we all remained “here” instead of vagabond trips to other parts of the world. Maybe thats an age thing? You get to the point where you’re too stubborn and tired to jump on a plane soon as summer arrives. It could also have to do with the fact that few places can match a sunny Scandinavia when the North truly delivers. It makes much more sense to flee the country when its cold, wet and pitch black.
So, we decided to embark on a day trip and catch as much as possible in one day, without dying of a cardiac arrest caused by the heat. We wanted water, history, proper forests and meadows, all packaged in “one walk” and therefore settled for Adelsö, an island 45-55 min outside of Stockholm… but with zero “city infrastructure” in sight.
"The history of Adelsö began with the Stone Age. Adelsö at that time consisted of small islands which emerged from the sea at the end of the Ice Age. Mälaren, a freshwater lake, did not yet exist, so the skerries that were to become Adelsö lay beneath the Baltic Sea. Fishing, bird- and seal-hunting created the foundation for the life of the people living there. Graves from the early and late Stone Age exist, but most of the grave sites date from the Iron Age, mostly the Viking Age.
There are also two ancient hillforts (fornborgar) on Adelsö; one of them, situated on Skansberget near Stenby, is unusually well-preserved. Adelsö, earlier called Alsnö or Alsnu reflects the importance of the area during the Viking Age. The King’s House (Kungsgården) was next to Hovgården and the monarch ruled over the nearby Viking city of Birka.
This is also the site of Kungshögarna at Hovgården. Kungs means king or royal and högarna, from the Old Norse word haugr, means mound or barrow. During the latter part of the 12th century, a Christian church was built next to Hovgården. Birger Jarl’s sons built Alsnö hus, a splendid castle where King Magnus I in 1279 assembled the Meeting of Alsnö. At that meeting, the Ordinance of Alsnö was established, introducing the privileges of the Swedish nobility. During the Middle Ages, Alsnö hus was used as a summer palace for kings and governors but later fell into ruin. What remains of the castle and several graves near Hovgården was excavated during archeological digs conducted between 1916 and 1926.”
We arrived with the small ferry at noon, parked at the local “pub/pizzeria/take away” (think the exact opposite of a classic pub) – Adelsö Krog, and started our little adventure right away.
The ramble/walk we chose was comfy and sweet – 1.7 km with a cool mix of exactly everything we wanted. Just after a few km of deep dark woods we came up on a hill with about 20-25 graves from the early iron age. Even though, only small barrows covered in grass remain, you could still feel the presence of history and the folks that lived here a long long time ago.
A few kind souls had put a few tree benches up on the hill, so it was the perfect place for some rest, coffee or maybe even a couple of bottled beauties.
Our march continued, down a farmers valley and then back into a new big black forest. Left right, left right, left right… and the Our Culture boys covered in flies. Yes flies. There were no mosquitos in sight, but fucking hundreds of flies… drawn to the fresh wax of a Barbour Tarras bag (its camouflage didn’t help).
Eventually the trail went upwards to the coolest look-out tower (in wood) I’ve ever seen. Simple but also a real beaut from a picky architectural point of view. It felt like the Twilight zone from the top of the tower. You could see miles and miles of forests and Mälaren (Swedens third biggest lake)… but not a suburb or part of Stockholm in sight. Its like the creators of this thing built it so that only nature could be seen – which was all good with us.
The sight of water, made us long after just that so we made our way down to Mälaren as fast as we could for a swim and a snack. Couple of amateur sailor couples greeted us with snaps, beer and coffee from their boats. Cool folks in their 60s living life to the fullest and enjoying everything that Swedish summer can offer.
The water of Mälaren was warm and sweet. Flies were gone, and so was all the dirt and sweat from the woods after a couple of swims. We bathed, ate, drank water, bathed some more… and left after an hour or two, waving our new senior sailor friends good bye.
We had most of our hard walking behind us which was good since the heat (and weeks of beer and 100% relaxation) was taking its toll.
The circlular route had turned us around, and we were once again walking through cool small forests with Mälaren on our right side. We had hoped for more wild life than bloody flies, and just as we thought that we were out of luck – a eagle hunting for rats appeared in the blue sky. It greeted us, and we returned the call – by making what we thought were “hello eagle sounds”. You can laugh all you want, but wouldn’t you do the same if the king of the skies flew over and said hello to you?
Some more walking back to Adelsö Krog and the late afternoon had arrived. We were glad and surprised to find out that the small establishment representing the island had their own beer. A bloomy golden thing, perfect for killing the thirst after a long day of summer rambling.
We have said this before, living where we live – it would be a sin not trying to experience as much as possible of nature – as often as possible. There was a time in our youth when we didn’t see the point in it, because we were too busy wasting time. I’m so glad “that time” is over.
Forests, mountains, lakes and seas – here we come.