The southern part of Sweden contains a number of walking trails over this past weekend we spent some time walking a part of the Österlenleden which initially follows the coast from Ystad in the south to north of Kivik where it turns inland and continues to Snogelholm where it meets up with the Nord till Sydleden (North South trail). The complete walk is 165 km in length and is divided into stages with accommodation suggestions, including tent and shelter sites, provided through out the walk.
We started at Ystad and headed east with the well formed gravel trail following the coast line towards Nybrostrand, the beautiful sandy beaches and the sunny weather made for a pleasant walk, the camping area at Nybrostarnd has all amenities and is a possible overnight stay location. After Nybrostrand there is an artillery range and if the warning flags are flying then a detour around the roads is required this route returns to the coastline at Hammar. After Hammar you arrive at Ales stener ( large stone Viking monument in the shape of a ship) these stones are of 1 to 3 meters in height, and are dated to about 600 AD. From here it is a short walk down to Kåsberga with its fish smokehouse and small shops. After leaving Kåsberga the trail continues along the coast to Löderups strandbad, firstly skirting the township before passing through Backåkra, the former home of UN Secretary General Dag Hammasköld, on our way to the camping site to the east of the township. This quaint campsite has all amenities and as it is adjacent to the nature reserve it provides idyllic surroundings with plenty of places to listen for birds and generally enjoy this quiet hamlet. The heads inland from the campsite and follows the northern boundary of Hagestads naturreservat and passes through lovely stands of forest with occasional glimpses of farmland, it was here that we cam across our first Swedish snake, certainly no where near as dangerous as those in Australia and elsewhere. However, there is an alternative route and that is to walk along the bench, the fine sand makes for easy walking and can be recommended as long as it is not too windy. Either way you ultimately come to Sandhammaren which is supposedly Swedens best sandy beach, according to the signs. The trail now follows the beach north passing many small hamlets before reaching Skillinge a larger village with shopping along with a fish smokehouse. Continuing along the coast you come to Simrishamn, one of the largest fishing ports in Sweden, it has a railway access to Malmo and Ystad. The trail now heads north towards the imposing Stenshuvuds National Park, Sweden’s southernmost national park and a truly beautiful place to visit. From the naturum it is a short climb to Stenshuvuds which provides commanding views of the surrounds and is the site of a fort which dates back to around 600 AD. Soon after leaving Stenshuvuds you arrive in the small fishing hamlet of Kivik with its modern fish smoke house as well as wonderful organic foods shop. Kivik is the site of the apple festival in late August. This was where our trip concluded, however, we will back. Detailed information on hiking trails in the Skane area can be found at www.skaneleden.se