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Category: Exploring Sweden & Days Out in Sweden (Page 1 of 2)

Ales Stones – A Megalithic Monument

The last stop on our day’s adventure to Skåne, was Ales Stones.  This is an acient monument that dates back to the Iron Age.  Ales Stones is made up of 59 huge stones, that are placed in a 67 metre long outline of a ship.  They are located in a beautiful setting, 32 metres above sea level, overlooking the Baltic Sea and Österlen’s hilly landscape.  The vista is amazing once you have completed the climb up to the monument.  It is Sweden’s best preserved ship tumulus and was built around 1400 years ago.

This was our last stop of a long and exciting day.  The children were tired, but it still did not stop them competing against each other to get to the top.  The weather was now starting to get very windy and more chilly, so I think they were spurred on by the need to keep warm!  The walk up was not too long, but very steep, and the views back down to the harbour as we climbed up were nothing short of stunning.  As is so often the case here in Sweden there was no charge for the privilege of seeing this wonderful piece of history, and no barriers either.  This meant that once we had reached the top, the children could touch, feel, and move in amongst the large boulders, really gaining a sense of perspective of how big it all was.  There are sheep and cattle grazing in amongst the monument too, adding a sense of calm and tranquillity to the area.  I realise perhaps these monuments in Sweden are not as busy as some back in the UK (I think we all know of a similar one I am referring to), but to not have to pay extortionate entry fees, and to be able to wander freely amongst the monument whilst respecting it, is a very lovely thing.

So what are Ales Stones?  Some think it is a burial monument, while others think they were an astronomical clock.  They are placed so that the sun sets on the northwestern stone in the summer, and the sunrises on the exact opposite stone in the winter.  They are erected in a ship formation (67m long and 19m wide at the widest point), and it is believed to originate from the early Iron Age (500-1000 AD).  The views from the top were also stunning, and very large!

It was such a lovely place to be, so it was a shame it felt like we were in a bit of a rush.  However, the wind was really picking up, and temperatures were starting to fall quite quickly, and the children were tired after a lovely, but long day in the outdoors and fresh air (not to mention a LOT of walking/running).  So we descended down with the eldest having to get a piggy back from Dadda, as a stumble made her shed tears of tiredness, and got back to the car.  We strapped everyone in, and started the 2.5 hour journey back home through the Swedish countryside.  It was very quiet from the trio, and Dadda and I were left to admire the Swedish landscape.  Another time, it would be nice to dawdle at the top, and then enjoy the fresh fish restaurants at the bottom, but I think that is more a summer experience!!

Ales Stones, Ales Stenar, Iron Age Sweden, Sweden Monument, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Stenshuvuds National Park – A Biodiversity Gem

Stenshuvuds National Park, Sweden National Parks, Sweden www.mammasschool.co.ukStenshuvuds National Park is an area in southern Sweden that brings together many different natural environments within quite a small area.  Stenshuvud is actually a hill located in a relatively flat area of Sweden, so the views from the top are magnificent. It faces the Baltic Sea.  The Stenshuvuds National Park contains forest, meadows, open heath land, swamps, and beaches…you can’t get many more forms of environment in one area!!  With the rich diverse environments, also comes a rich and diverse array of animal and plant life.  Close to the top are the remains of a 5th or 6th century fortress (which we didn’t visit this time round).

We arrived at Stenshuvuds National Park with the aim of taking a nice afternoon hike in a loop, taking in as many of the different environments as possible.  We started out in the forest, with a boardwalk over the more swampy areas.  The children loved trying to balance along the edges, and being the first real warmish day of spring, we were able to ditch the hats and over trousers, and enjoy the freedom of just being in thick jumpers and coats!

Once we had emerged from the wooded area, there was an open slope down to the wide and open stretch of beautiful white sandy beach.  This area of Sweden is known for amber washing up ashore, so we were on a treasure hunt immediately!  The rocks and stones were so beautiful.  Many different colours and patterns, and soon the children were collecting them and stowing half of Sweden away in their pockets.  They had a lot of favourite ones, and there were some tough decisions to be made about which few could come home with us, after they had lugged them a good way along the beach!  Unfortunately we didn’t manage to locate any amber, but we did enjoy the stunning beach, its views, and the windiest part of the walk.  The boys loved racing the waves in and out, standing on the verge of the water and then running backwards before the next wave could soak their feet:-)

After the beach it was up through the heath land and admiring the views on the way up, as well as the few hardy flowers that had been brave and already opened.  Then it was back into the forest again to head towards the car.  It was so nice to finally feel we were out in spring sunshine and the walk had amazing views.  A truly beautiful place, and as the park describes themselves “a biodiversity gem”.

 

Kiviksgraven – A Bronze Age Monument

Kiviksgraven, kungagraven, bronze age grave, Skane bronze age www.mammasschool.co.ukOn our recent trip to Kivik, we decided to visit Kiviksgraven.  This is a large Bronze Age grave monument, and one of the most remarkable bronze age monuments in Sweden.  There is a very large cairn on the top of the ground, marking the grave’s location, that is 75m across.  Underneath there is a burial chamber, with a passage leading into it.  In the centre of this burial chamber are 8 slabs.  It had always been thought that an important person or king was buried in there.  In the early 1930’s there was archaeological work done inside the grave, and although they thought they had found the king’s remains, it turned out they were probably several teenagers buried in there throughout a period of 600 years.

The Kiviksgraven is situated where people had lived 6,000 years ago, living off what the forest and sea gave them.  Then 3,500 years ago, the place took on some sort of spiritual significance and the Kiviksgraven was built.  The stone slabs inside the grave are adorned with bronze age drawings of ships, horses, and people.  There are now a lot of other burial mounds and standing stones too in the area.  The Kiviksgraven was discovered when back in the 18th century workers started using the stones for construction purposes.  Whilst doing this 2 men fell down into the chamber and the grave was discovered.

We paid our 25 sek (£2.50) for each adult to enter (children were free) and headed on in.  We thought this was a bargain considering the expense going anywhere with all 5 of us usually entails.  Plus you could get right up to the stones, and look at them properly.  This is a lot nicer for children who are not much good at looking at stones from a distance!  The drawings were in really good condition and the whole tomb was a little surreal to be inside.  After visiting inside the tomb, we walked round the whole of the outside. We had some difficulty trying to keep the trio off the cairn as it resembled one giant fun play area in their eyes, but eventually they understood.

These monuments don’t take that long to visit, and after a 2 hour drive to get to it, we needed a little refreshment before we continued on our tour, so we headed inside to the very Swedish and very lovely wooden hut cafe.  The children also had a little play in the garden area.

This was such an amazing piece of history to see, and really well preserved.  It was lovely to be able to get so close to it as well 🙂

Sandhammeren Beach – The Carribean in Sweden!

Sandhammeren beach lies down in southern Sweden in Skåne, and is one of Sweden’s finest beaches.  The long stretches of white sand there can rival any Caribbean beach.  On our recent adventure into this part of Sweden, Sandhammeren beach was on our “to do” list, and we were not disappointed.  The beach stretches for miles and miles and miles, the sand is white and soft, the sea is blue and clear (and cold in late April!), and there are the most amazing sand dunes as the back drop to this fantastic landscape.

As As soon as we released the trio from the car they ran straight for the dunes, and were racing up and down them for ages, giving Dadda and I ample time to take in the gorgeous view and use a leisurely pace to head towards the beach.  The children were just running and running.  The huge expanse of dunes, meant total freedom for further than they could have stamina for (a perfect win for parents!).  Once we caught up with them, we headed onto the beach.  Here the sand was so white, soft, and beautiful.  We were there on a windy late April day, but in the summer the sea will be a lot calmer and warmer for swimming in.  Today the children were happy just to chase the waves, and again run, run, run enjoying the freedom.  We didn’t meet another soul along Sandhammeren beach, and could see either way along the beach for miles.  Our little lady seemed to favour playing down on the shore line, enjoying splashing, running in and out of the waves, and writing her name in footprints on the sand.  It wasn’t long before the wellies were discarded in favour of bare feet as the waves had gone in over the top anyway.  Where we used to live in the UK we had a shingle beach, and whilst she was always to be found barefoot (the best way to be), it was always with an uncomfortable hobble.  So, to say she enjoyed sinking her feet into the soft sand is an understatement.  After a long winter of being all wrapped up in hats, coats, gloves, and second pairs of trousers, I think we all felt a sense of freedom with the shedding of the layers!

Meanwhile the mini men seemed to favour the dunes immediately behind us, running up and down them, before finally persuading Dadda to leap off them (he doesn’t need much persuading!!).  They had so much fun going up and down, and in an out of the grasses.

An action shot of Dadda and our little lady jumping off the dunes

We spent a good couple of hours just exploring this gorgeous beach, and shoes and pockets were filled with sand by the end of all the fun.  We headed back towards the car through the heath and scrub on the footpath, meandering our way a bit more chilled out by now.  Once we were back in the car park, the children had a quick obligatory tree climb and play on the rope swing, before climbing back into the car, with a little less energy than they got out of it with!!  We will definitely be returning to Sandhammeren beach during the summer to have some fun in the Swedish summer sun here, as we have totally fallen in love with the place!

Sandhammeren Beach, Skåne, Skane beach, Sweden beaches, white sand, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Two Tiny Hands

Kivik – The Apple Capital Of Sweden

Since moving to Sweden, I have started compiling lists of where to visit and what to see.  Somewhere not too far from us is the county of Skåne.  This county is known for its huge expanse of sandy beaches, its proliferation of apple blossom in the spring, and lovely old villages.  So, with far too much on my list to achieve in one day, we chose 5 things to do on a bright but chilly and windy spring day.  First up was the village of Kivik, but we will no doubt be returning many times to this lovely county to do more exploring!!

Kivik has an old part of the town near the harbour and seafront.  It has lovely old buildings and cobbled streets, and is very beautiful.  It has lots of unique little shops, restaurants, and cafes.  It is very early in the spring here, but we got a taste of how it would come alive in the summer months, and how people would be jostling for space at the fresh fish restaurants, and enjoying the sandy harbour area.  It also has one of Sweden’s oldest cinemas there, but we did not locate that.

The area around Kivik is also very renowned for its apple growing.  The climate seems to favour this fruit here, and Kivik is the centre of Swedish apple cultivation; the apple capital of Sweden.  In fact, there is so much going on, that the blossom season is a sight to see in its own right, and we had set out on our adventure aiming to see this.  A month ago when we visited the UK the blossom season was in full swing, and I thought we may have been OK visiting it here in Sweden now, but I think we were a little early, but only by a week or so.  Some of the trees had started and others were ready to burst open with blossom, and it hinted at the spectacle of what was to come.  It was still very pretty, but we were a little too early in May for our visit.

Kivik - The Apple Capital of Sweden, Visit Skane, Osterlen, apple blossom, sweden www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

3 Little Buttons

Happy Swedish Cows – Watching the Cows Leave the Barn After a Winter Inside.

Have you ever experienced around 60 cows all running, dancing, and jumping out of the barn after 6 months indoors over the winter??  It is an amazing spectacle to watch.  We went along on Easter Day to Kosläpp 2017 at Björketorps Gård for our first experience of this phenomenon.  The happy Swedish cows did not disappoint either.  We were stood around the perimeter of a field with many hundreds of other people, awaiting what is a traditional marker for the end of winter, and the start of spring, with the release of the happy Swedish cows from their barn after being indoors for the harsh 6 months of winter.  However, yesterday the temperatures dropped here, and we had snow.  There was still a smattering on the ground, and we did wonder if the cows would turn around and go straight back indoors!!

The calm before the storm….ready, steady……..

I have never seen a herd of female cows so active and lively!!  They were indeed very happy Swedish cows.  With the barn doors opening they raced down the length of the field running, jumping, and dancing around…they have had all winter to practise their routines after all 😉  I have never seen a cow jump, and it is a little amusing.  Not only were they jumping, but they were so feisty there was quite a lot of fight action going on too.  They would stare each other out and lock heads, and push to and fro.  Then there were other cows pawing the ground with their hooves, digging, as well as cows rubbing their noses along the ground (not unlike dogs when they find a smell they like), and one even rolling around the ground on its back (again not unlike a dog!).  Watching all these guys racing towards you (even with a small wire fence between you and them) is a little unsettling!

After a lot of excitement and mooing, we headed off to explore the rest of the working farm, which was opened up for us to mooch around.  It was so lovely, and a very open look into the workings, life, and smells of a dairy farm here in Sweden.  First of all we headed into the cows’ barn, to see their home over the winter.  The cows were free to wander in and out after their release into the field, so we saw some come into their private stable area for some food, others were being milked, and we got to see and smell life in the barn.  After that we headed over to see a 2 day old calf with his mummy, and then some older calves as well.  There were also pony rides to experience, tractor rides in a hay cart, food, ice creams (made with their own milk), and tractors to clamber all over.

We had a lovely day watching the happy Swedish cows see grass again after the winter, and will definitely be making this an annual tradition 🙂

Happy Swedish cows, cows out after winter, cows released in spring, kosläpp, sweden, living abroad www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Country Kids

Exploring-Adventuring Over to the Uninhabited Side of our Island

Exploring wild and rugged Sweden Swedish wildlife hiking in Sweden www.mammasschool.co.ukThe west side of our island is uninhabited.  We have been exploring and ventured around it, and have hiked most it.  However, the northern most tip on the west side has been inaccessible until now.  When we tried last time, back in the early winter, we ended up being halted due to high reeds we couldn’t push through, and sea water cutting us off.  However, I noticed on a walk last week on the eastern side of the island, that the reeds are now flattened, and the sea has retreated somewhat.  Having not lived here for long, I’m not sure if the reeds flattening are a natural occurrence (probably, with the snow and ice), or some sort of land management (unlikely over here as it is very remote and Sweden likes leaving things to nature!).  Also, we aren’t used to the fjords and the water levels and timetables yet.  So, it may be that this happens every spring.  The twins needed walking and exercising, and it was a beautiful day with the promise that spring was now finally on its way.  So, a perfect day for an adventure!

I packed up my two elk deterrents (my twins are so noisy when we are out walking, that we’ve no chance of seeing these shy creatures with them!), and we headed out for the morning.  The views are stunning, and the variety of bird life is amazing.  The boys quickly found things to do along the walk to make it more fun for them.  They climbed rocks and found pools of water to investigate.  The footpath ended long before we reached our destination, so we worked together to find the best routes over boulders, round bogs and through dense trees.

My trio have a habit of collecting an awful lot of things while we are out hiking, and today was no different.  We end up with a lot of sticks, stones, leaves and feathers, but we have recently started collecting animal bones too (oh nice, I hear you say?!).  This actually has its benefits for us.  We are now using our growing collection (4) to learn about the various animal skeletons, and how they differ.  On the down side, the work surface in my laundry room is turning into a skeletal nature display table!  Today was no different and there were 2 skulls as our treasure finds.

We had a great explore around this part of the island, before heading back, but deciding that we needed to bring our little lady and Dadda out here while the vegetation and water allowed us to hike round these parts.  I love taking the children out hiking in Sweden.  It really is very wild, isolated, and rugged.  Nature is left to its own devices, and whilst there may not be a cafe or pub en route, or even a footpath, it’s good to be so immersed in nature.

 

 

Aspö Adventure – Exploring Our Archipelago.

The beautiful island of Aspö is just over the water from our own little island, and we often look at it as we go on our hikes.  In the summer months there is a boat that can take foot passengers and cyclist, directly between the 2 islands.  However, unlike our island, it is cut off from the mainland, and can only be reached by ferry.  All year round there is a free car ferry that takes around 25 minutes, from Karlskrona (a 20 minute drive for us).  In the summer this is very popular.  There are a lot of ferries in the summertime, sailing between many more of the archipelago’s islands, making exploring the area a lot easier.  This one sails all year round, meaning that we could set out exploring the archipelago that we have moved to a little.  The forecast was sunny, with no wind, and temperatures just nudging into the plus!!  The adventure was on 🙂

The first part of our trip to Aspö was an adventure in itself for the children.  Driving the car onto the ferry, and then sitting in it for the crossing.  These types of ferries are very common across Scandinavia (it’s made up of so many islands!).  They go across fjords and either cut journey times (by making it unnecessary to drive all the way round the end of a fjord), or connect totally isolated islands, such as Aspö.  The children thought this was amazing fun, and sat and ate their packed lunches while enjoying the view out over the totally calm and flat fjord.

Aspö Adventure Exploring Sweden Island travel Sweden www.mammsschool.co.ukThe plan for our day on Aspö was to visit their castle first, and have a wander around that, and then head out on a hike.  The best way to explore Aspö is on foot or by bike.  Lots of countryside and not many roads, and only small ones at that.  We had packed our supper between 5 rucksacks, and we were planning to cook it on an open fire.  Drottningskär Citadel was built in the 17th Century, and is very unique in that it remains undamaged and unchanged, since it has never been attacked.  Its main purpose was, together with Kungsholm Fortress on an island opposite, to defend Karlskrona’s sea approach.  Karlskrona being the new home (back then) of the Swedish navy.  It is a beautiful place.  You can wander around all of it (for free), and there is also a very formal dining restaurant in part of it.  The children loved running through the long upstairs living quarters, going up and down the dark and wonky tunnelled steps to discover the different parts of the castle, and going round the ramparts at the top (with no railings we had a firm grasp of our fast moving, always tripping over each other twins!!).  It was lovely and peaceful, calming, and the views were stunning.

After our castle visit, it was time to head off exploring the island on foot for a hike.  We decided to head through the forest on the north west side of the island.  The views, as usual, were stunning, and we walked 3km before emerging out onto a rocky view point overlooking the sea back towards our island one way, and Karlskrona city the other way.

Some thoughtful soul, had even placed tree stump stools, so you can sit and enjoy the view!  This was the mid point on our hike (the return leg would be going back along the way we came), so it was here I was hoping to find a fire pit, and I was not disappointed.  Dadda set about getting a fire going, while I sorted out the food. The supper menu was hot dogs, corn on the cobs, and tortilla chips, followed up by our fire cones (marshmallows, banana, and chocolate in waffle ice cream cones) and I had remembered the tin foil this time!!  We had taken flasks of hot squash and hot chocolate with us.  While we were cooking, the children had an abundance of trees to climb, and set about trying to conquer as many as they could.

The return leg of the hike was done a bit quicker, due to the fact that tummies were full, and also Dadda and I had our eyes on the clock, aware that if we missed the 6pm ferry we’d have an hour’s wait until the next one at 7pm, with three tired little people!  We’d had a really good adventure, and all three little people had loved it too.  We managed to catch the 6pm ferry and enjoyed the sun setting over the fjord while it sailed back.  I can’t wait for the summer season when more ferries start up and we get to explore more of our own archipelago.  The boat from our island will allow us to go for a cycling adventure over on Aspö too, which will be fun.

 

Aspö Explore Sweden www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Country Kids

Kreativum Science Centre Adventure

Kreativum science centre sweden curiosity home education learning science www.mammasschool.co.ukDadda had taken the day off work, so with everyone’s lurgy starting to abate, we needed an adventure that wasn’t too rigorous.  Kreativum Science Centre seemed perfect, being about 40km down the road from us.  I have written a previous post about this ( http://mammasschool.co.uk/education/science-and-spiders/ ) place back in January when we first visited.  We bought annual passes at that point for all 5 of us, but Dadda hadn’t been yet.  The centre is really good and has lots for children (and parents) of all ages to do.  This is why I purchased the annual passes, and after 2 visits, they have paid for themselves 🙂  Plus, I realised it would take several trips to the centre to have a go at everything!!

Today we spent 4.5 hours at Kreativum Science Centre.  It was so nice having Dadda there too.  Obviously I enjoy his company, but when we go to places all three children have a habit of all wanting to go in different directions at the same time!  So the extra pair of hands helped me, as well as allowing the children more freedom to indulge in wherever their interests took them.  On our last visit to the Kreativum Science Centre we did manage a lot, but there was so much we hadn’t done.  Today we went round a lot of those, including the bubble section which was a huge hit.  Other new sections that we tried were logging, giant Lego construction, boats, sound, motion, and puzzles.  We revisited some of our favourites from last time, such as the child-propelled little carts.  We have done a lot of the centre now, but we still have the whole outdoor part to do, so we will be heading back for a day in that part next time.  All three were so busy the whole time we were there.  They were intrigued, curious, and adventurous in wanting to try everything.  It really is the perfect place for them to be curious!!

Exploring Kvalmsö – A Snowy Hiking Adventure

I’ve been dying to head out to the island nature reserve of Kvalmsö since I read about it.  It’s another one only accessible by foot or boat, and has oak meadows, open pastures, flat rock, and beaches.  It’s quite a long hike for little legs (around 5km from the car and back), and so I planned to take some food to eat, cooked on the fire pit once we reached our half way point (details of that will be in another post!!).  So, with the snow falling gently but persistently all day, we decided it was as good a day as any to set off on our adventure to Kvalmsö 🙂

It is going to be so lovely to see how all these places change over the course of the seasons.  We walked over a very wide track, and a lovely bridge took us from the mainland onto the island.  From there we walked around the southern part of the island to make it to the nearest fire pit.  There is a lovely little cove there and I am already planning returning when it’s warm for a day’s adventure there splashing in the shallows and trying to catch mini beasts in the water, and again using the fire pit for our meals.

The children were tired after the walk there but pottered off to investigate every rock and tree, as their curiosity doesn’t stop their tired legs!  We all refuelled and after we packed up, were keen to get going to get some warmth back into our toes and fingers.

They did so well especially as it was the afternoon, so had already had a morning playing outside and in the snow already.  All three are now snuggled up in bed, safe in the knowledge that their hike for the week is done, and they have a few days to recover 😉 !!!!!

 

 

Exploring Kvalmsö - A snowy Hiking Adventure, hiking, sweden, exploring www.mammasschool.co.uk

Country Kids

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