We are lucky enough to live in southern Sweden. Blekinge, our part of Sweden, has an archipelago made up of 1650 islands, skerries, and islets. With the great transport system of archipelago boats, and county buses (we moved from the UK where buses were a little hit and miss!!), exploring the archipelago is very easy. We started exploring our archipelago a little last spring and summer, but this year, with a little more research, we are going to go on a journey of discovery. We will explore the archipelago looking at the background, how to get there, what to see and do, where to eat, and where to stay for each place we visit. We would like to take you with us on this adventure via the blog, and you never know you may well find yourself booking a trip to discover this small part of the world 🙂 Enjoy the adventure with us….sixth up is the island of Hanö.
Background Information About Hanö
Hanö used to be royal property of Sölvesborg Castle. There have been permanent residences on the island from around the mid 1800s. Hanö harbour is the heart of the island, and it used to be a typical fishing port. Now there is a shop and a restaurant. From 1810-1812, during the Napoleonic wars, it was a base for English Navy exercises, and there is now a graveyard there to 15 English seamen (only 2 are named though). British ships still come to pay their respects to the sailors, and a huge cross they have erected can been seen out at sea. There are a few legends about this island as well. One is about a lonely lady, another about a dragon. It is cited in some places as being the windiest place in Sweden (apart from the Swedish mountains), but on the positive side there are no mosquitoes….those of you who live here (or have visited us!), will know this is something of a relief!!
Our Adventure To Hanö
We were so lucky to be able to take Dadda out on this adventure with us, and it was a juicy one too. We were to catch a 10:00 ferry from Nogersund and it would take around 25 minutes to reach the island. We arrived early, as although it was not summer season yet, these ferries can get very busy, but it was not too bad. Mainly people heading out to summer homes for the day, or long weekend. It was a red day in Sweden, which happened to be a Thursday, a day off work for most. Then many people also take the next day off to make a long weekend out of it. We boarded the boat and settled in to watch everyone else board. We have caught a fair few archipelago boats now, but we have not quite seen this side to Swedish living before. I thought we looked over packed at a hiking day sack each, but I need not have worried! We sat waiting for our departure as people boarded with various small family pets in crates, a variety of dogs, plants to be planted in gardens in boxes and bags, luggage, food, firewood, and so on. One chappie even loaded on 10 bags of garden centre soil, scurrying backwards and forwards to his car. This is summer hut living on a remote island in Sweden and it was lovely to watch it going on around us. Finally, all animals and plants aboard, we set sail.
Once we arrived on Hanö we did have a vague plan. There were a few things we wanted to see, we also wanted to hike a little of the island, and make time for a campfire lunch complete with nature play time. So we headed off on one of the trails that was to lead us to Bönsäcken at the northern tip. This is a shingle spit that constantly moves and changes according to the wind and sea. However, legend has it that it is actually as a result of a lonely giantess who lived on the island trying to build a bridge. She collected rocks and stones in her apron, but she stumbled and they all fell out. It might have been a lovely spot for lunch if, firstly it was not 10:30 in the morning, or secondly another family had not just settled themselves there. There are so few people on the island at any one time, to suddenly have 8 in the same small location seemed very odd!! We admired it, and moved on.
Next up was a visit to the British cemetery…..read on to find out more about this place below. Needless to say, it was an appropriate place for us to visit with where we are from, and the children found it interesting. We also saw the grave of a family who had died from cholera.
We then continued along the trail up to the lighthouse. It was at this point we saw our first sighting of a few throughout the day, of fallow deer. There are around 300 on the island, and the children loved being able to see them in their natural habitat. We don’t usually see anything as we are so noisy as a unit, but after the first sighting the children were quiet and learnt they’d see more. They were rewarded too throughout the afternoon. We must have seen at least 20 in various sized groups. Once we got to the lighthouse, the children were getting very hungry so we headed off down the path to make lunch.
On the menu today were pizza wraps and fire cones. The fire cones tasted sooooooo good. The first time we had made them I had forgotten the tin foil so they were a little charred. But today, stuffed with marshmallows, chocolate, banana, and raspberries, they were perfect! The children played. They had a vast area to use for a nature playground. They climbed huge rocks and boulders, hid in trees, and wandered off into the valley with a huge sense of freedom away from us…..we generally had tabs on them, but playing on an island like this for children is perfect. They feel free, but from a distance we can allow them to go further, but at the same time keeping an eye on various hazards like the sea! After lunch we managed to locate the Drakmärket. This is the second legend of the island. Every night a dragon would travel 20km between Tjärö and Hanö in just 2 beats of its wings. However, when the lighthouse lit up for the first time, it resulted in blinding the dragon and it crashed, leaving a wing print on the rocks below the lighthouse.
That was the last of our “sights” before we hiked a little more to see some more of the island (complete with more deer spotting) and then head back for our return boat. We had spent 5 hours on the island, and although we hadn’t used the optimistically packed swimwear, we had really enjoyed our visit, There were 6 very tired little legs that were rewarded with huge ice creams once we got back to the mainland.
How To Get To Hanö
What To See And Do On Hanö
- Bönsäcken: A shingle spit into the sea and a lovely spot to paddle or have a picnic.
- English cemetery from the Napoleonic wars. It was the base for the English Navy exercises in the Baltic Sea between 1810-1812. 15 seamen are buried here. In 1973 a huge cross made from a ship’s mast was erected there and reads “HMS Plymouth 21st June 1973”. About 10m to the south there is a grave of a mother and her two children who died of cholera in 1834.
- Drakmärket: Where the dragon crash landed and left a wing mark on the rocks
- Lighthouse: This is 16m tall and built between 1904 and 1906. It was automated in 1980. It is one of the brightest lights in the Baltic Sea with an amazing range.
- Nature Reserve: The whole island is a nature reserve with mainly grass heaths to the north, and forest to the south. The north east part has a granite cliff with views. There are fallow deer that were introduced onto the island in 1956.
- Hiking trails: There are a few different trails around the island so you can pick a distance or area that suits you. Some are also suitable for wheelchairs.
Where To Eat On Hanö
- Restaurang Briggen: You need to check the website as its opening times are season dependent.
- Hanöborg: Again check the website before you visit to see if it is open or not as it depends on the season, but when it is you can eat fresh waffles, cream, and jam.
Where To Stay On Hanö
The youth hostel, Hanö Vandrarhemmet, is open all year round, it is the old school house. Pre-booking is recommended and you can get contact details from the island’s website. It is the island’s old school house.
Hanö was a beautiful island, with lots to explore and lots of nature to enjoy. We thoroughly enjoyed our day on this island, and the journey there was lovely too.