Lake Vättern is the second largest lake in Sweden at 738sqm (or 1,912km2 for those living in the 21st century) and is thought to be the largest body of potable water in the world – it is safe to drink directly from the lake at virtually any point.
Whether or not that is true, there is no doubt that the water is crystal clear and the lake is, you guessed it, absolutely beautiful. Stunning. Yes, possibly one of our favourite places. We spent a few days travelling up the eastern shore and in particular, through the Omberg Ekopark, a huge area of forest park run by the Swedish forestry service. There is a single track road running through it – fortunately one-way as it got very narrow in places – and a few parking spots. The rest is walking trails, inlets with swimming spots, picnic areas and viewpoints, trees and wildflowers.
The old girl (that’s Uller, not me) isn’t up to much walking these days, so we stuck to a couple of short walks. One took us to a tiny pebble beach, where D designed, built and launched Barry.
The walking trails are great – plenty of ‘earth closet’ style toilets (complete with toilet paper!), shelters and fire pits with wood provided and, of course, all the drinking water you could possibly need. They have something called Allesmansrätten here – the right to access nature. It means you can walk, cycle, ride, ski and camp anywhere except private gardens, within the immediate vicinity of a house or on land cultivated for agriculture, as long as you don’t disturb or destroy. Which means you can pitch a tent just about anywhere in the ekopark. You could lose yourself for weeks in a place like this – it took us 3 nights to cover the 12km or so because we just kept finding lovely places to stop.
We found some great spots to stay too, including the best overnight spot of all time. Not sure how the panorama photo will work on the blog, but here goes (click on it, or indeed any of the photos, to see a bigger version);
And another overnight spot;
We had a trip to Vadstena, a lovely town with a castle and moat marina. It also had very helpful people in the tourist office who helped us understand phone messages in Swedish, the pet shop who advised us on tick collars for Uller, and the pharmacy who advised us on tick deterrents for us – the ticks here can carry encephalitis and are not to be messed with.
We are now in Kapellskär, on the east coast, ready for our ferry to Finland tomorrow. After all our free nights in roadside rest stops and picnic areas, we’ve splurged on a campsite in a nature reserve – there is a limit to what you can wash and dry in a motorhome and a washing machine was called for. The campsite is lovely – surrounded by forest (as many things seem to be in Sweden) and spotlessly clean. It is nice to stay somewhere with no rules too – no signs in the kitchen telling you what you can and can’t use the sinks for, no list of regulations at reception. D mentioned it to the receptionist who replied ‘Yes, total anarchy, but it seems to work’.
If life in Sweden is the result of total anarchy, bring it on.