Hälsingland, Sweden

Sweden is a spectacular country renowned for its natural beauty and quality of life.  The natural scenery is diverse:  high mountains, deep forests, wide flowing rivers, a long and varied coast, archipelagos and lakes (97,500 to be exact).

Hälsingland is in central Sweden, about 300Km from Stockholm.  You don’t find much written about Hälsingland in English (although there is plenty in Swedish!).  You are more likely to find information on its neighbours Gästrikland, Dalarna and Härjedalen.  Perhaps it is because the Swedes like to keep a few places for themselves and Hälsingland is a hidden gem.  It is exceptionally rich in cultural heritage, traditions, folklore and music and within its borders has vast expanses of exceptionally beautiful forests, mountains, lakes, flowering upland meadows and a gorgeous coastline.  The summers here are magnificent with just over 19 hours of sunlight per day, whilst the winter is mild compared to that in north of the country and the skiing excellent.

Hudiksvall is the main city in the region; it is also the oldest, founded in 1582. It is a pleasant town that sits on the coast and in its heyday was a wealthy trading and fishing centre, the heritage of which is still visible today.  At the harbour you will still find four of the old style fish storehouses, which were all built in late 1800.  Continue around to Fiskarstan and Möljen and you will see the beautifully conserved traditional red fishermen’s cottages with their brightly painted doors.  The town has a small museum, a beautiful church and lovely gardens.  Hudiskvall is a great place to arrange fishing trips, cruises around the archipelago or a sailing trip along the coast. There are lots of lovely restaurants and cafes in the town, especially down by the water but one of our favourite places to “fika” is Tewes Konditori on Storgatan, it’s away from the crowds and does the best cinnamon bun and dammsugare in town.

Hälsingland offers plenty of variety and a quick look on the internet provides information about the main towns, the adventure tours, wild life viewing trips (bears, wolves, elks, beavers etc), the wolf hotel and winter activities.  Our aim here is to give you something slightly different, starting at the coast and slowly working inland towards the west of the region, we have carefully selected a few hidden gems that characterise the area.

The Coast

About 15km east of the Hudiskvall is the Hornslandet peninsula, it is a managed nature reserve with forest, marsh, sandy beaches and picturesque fishing villages; it is idyllic.  Hölick (www.holick.se/en/) is a good place to base yourself and from here you can enjoy different walking trails, great sandy beaches and brilliant boat trips.  The village of Kuggörarna is unbelievably picturesque; if you are planning to spend a few days sailing up and down the Swedish coast this is a real gem to harbour for the night and well worth a visit even if you are not staying on the peninsula.

The Lakes

About 25km from Hudkisvall is Dellenbygden.  The area is loosely centred around two large lakes the Norrdellen (81 km ²) and the Sördellen (50 km ²) and the lake communities of Delsbo, Bjuråker and Norrbo.  These two lakes are the source of many myths and legends and the local communities are known for their music, crafts and folklore.  During the summer there are several festivals, people flock to them to buy and sell arts and crafts, and enjoy traditional food, dance and music.  You will see people in the traditional Swedish costumes and demonstrations of old style craftsmanship and other traditional practices.

The area is also well known for its unspoilt nature particularly the blue mountain range, the high summer meadows with their traditional herder’s cottages, the beautiful forest ponds, marshes with cloudberries and the large forests with mushrooms and blueberries.  Some of the best views and walks can be found around Avholmsberget, Gulåsen, Blacksåsberget, Josefsberget and Öråstornet, the local tourist office will be able to provide directions and maps.  Don’t miss the beautiful high meadow cottages with their traditional grazing grounds and fencing, there are several lovely walks that start at the Dellen lake and go up through the forests to the meadows.  The longer Kolarstigen trail, which starts in Sörgimma and finishes 27km later at Hallbo, passes through some of the prettiest upland meadows.

A rather different way to see the countryside is to take a trip on the old Dellen Railway using the traditional hand-pumped trolleys, take a picnic along to enjoy on route.  For more information on about the Railbike Tours on the Dellen Line and to booking call +46 (0)653 16460.

Music and Festivals

Bjuråker is the largest festival, it is held annually at the local hembygdsgård, here you can see traditional costumes, dancing and craftsmanship demonstrations.  At Norrbo hembygdsgård there is an annual music event that attracts people from all over the country.  The Norrbo hembygdsgård is interesting in its own right; it is a small but fascinating open air museum in the village of Gammelsträng and the view over the lake provides a perfect backdrop for the traditional music events it hosts throughout the summer.  The “Music of the Dellen” music programme takes place for three weeks around mid-summer each year when concerts are held in the big farmhouses, hembygdsgård and mountain meadows that characterise the area.

General information on the region’s festivals:  http://www.hembygd.se

The Bjuråkers festival:   www.hembygd.se/bjuraker/

Music of the Dellen:  www.musikfestivaler.se/en/festival/musik-vid-dellen

 Inland

The countryside of Hälsingland is picture postcard pretty and once one leaves the larger towns the scenery gives way to gently undulating farmland dotted with traditional wooden houses and farmhouses painted in the classic dark red-brown with brightly contrasting white around the doors and window frames.  Moving further inland and away from the coast are some interested towns and villages.  The area was extremely wealthy during the late 18th and 19th century and this is reflected in the large and ornate houses, churches and farms.    Several of the more decorative farmhouses have been designated UNESCO World Heritage sites and are worth visiting.  The Hälsingegårdar farmhouses were built by important landowners and businessmen who wanted to show their strength, importance, wealth and independent from the rest of the country (http://halsingegardar.se/in-english/).  There is a small and useful visitors centre based at Stenegård at Järvsö, it is packed full of information about these farmhouses and the staff are incredibly helpful and always delighted to help you plan your trip or advice on which of the historic farmhouses allow guests to stay.

Stenegård at Järvsö (www.stenegard.com) is a fascinating place to visit in its own right.  Julius Brun, a wealthy pharmacist built this impressive house in 1856, with a pharmacy, medical centre and a model farm.  He also established a magnificent garden containing medicinal plants, herbs, vegetables and a collection of exotic plants.  The garden is still here today and it is as fascinating as it is beautiful.  The plants are organised according to their traditional medical use and labelled with their Latin and Swedish names, along with their present day and traditional use.  There are over 250 different herbs in the Herb Garden alone.  Stenegård offers a selection of things to do; it showcases traditional craftsmanship, contemporary art, and has a selection of crafts shops.  There is also a programme of daily activities including guided tours, workshops, music and theatrical performances.  In the summer you can go kayaking on the near-by river Ljusnan.

Then there is the fascinating Hälsingland Bortom Åa  that is also a UNESCO Heritage Site and near by the gorgeous Hamra National Park (click here for more information on these two hidden gems).

Finally to Vaxbo (www.vaxbolin.se), this is one of my favourite places.  Here a small team of 13 people, weave and sew the finest and most sought after linen in Sweden.  Traditionally flax linen was grown and milled here too and brought huge wealth to the region in the 18th and 19th century.  The old mill, flax sheds and traditional workshops in Trolldalen have been preserved and highlight the historic importance of flax and linen production to the area.  You can visit the factory and see linen being woven today and buy their beautifully designed products direct from the shop.  Cluster around the mill pond, a short walk from the shop, is a collection of small craft shops selling artisanal pottery, woodwork and baked products, a cafe and a fantastic restaurant (www.vaxbokrog.se/english.php).  I visit Hälsingland most summers and always make sure I find time to dine at Vaxbo krog;  the food is fantastic.  The menu is designed around local ingredients and the season and features traditional cooked Swedish classics with a very modern twist.  I recommend you book ahead; it has an excellent reputation and is much loved by both locals and visitors alike.

General information about Hälsingland can be found at the regional and local tourist offices try www.halsingland.se/en or www.visitsweden.com.  Further information about the Hälsingegårdar farmhouses can be found on this site, click here to go to the blog feature.

Hälsingland Tourism Ek Förening

Tel: +46 278 62 40 08

info@halsingland.se

http://www.halsingland.com

 

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