Hiking around Lizard Point today, Britain’s most southerly point.

Today was the first truly sunny day we’ve had all week, and after a week of clouds and rain we were quite unprepared for this. We didn’t even think to pack swimming clothes for the kids, and only realized our mistake when we got to Kynance Cove and saw all the bathers there. (Plus, last time we were here 15 years ago it was April, so in my mind I never connected the beaches here with bathing.) Adrian splashed around in his underwear, but Ingrid was rather disappointed.

We haven’t had much luck with lunch spots during our walks here, but today’s was beautiful. (The first one was in a thistly corner of a weedy meadow; the second one was similar but with added rain.) Today we found a sunny little nook among the rocks overlooking another beach. Quite close to the path in reality, but with the exposure it felt like we were on top of the world.

I’ve really been enjoying English sandwiches we’ve had for lunch (cheese ploughman’s! egg and tomato!) and the luscious yogurts with flavours one can only dream of in Sweden (gooseberry! rhubarb!).


After yesterday’s sightseeing, we went for a walk today, at Bodmin moor. The Cheesewring draws the biggest crowds, but I found the other, similar pile of rocks next to the Cheesewring more pleasing to the eye. But I guess it’s less exciting since it looks somewhat less ready to topple.

Even more interesting than any of the rock formations were the dozens of old, abandoned mining buildings dotted around the landscape. All still standing and looking strong (albeit roofless), over a hundred years after they were abandoned. I wish I could have seen each and every one of them up close.

Today also turned out rainy. Not so much that it really bothered us, except during lunch and snack breaks. Sandwiches get soggy when it rains on them. And once we got down from the moor, “wet” also meant “muddy”. Very muddy. Ideally we’d all have had rubber boots for this walk, but there’s a limit to how much you can pack for a one-week trip… So we came home with thoroughly sodden feet.



Rocky beaches and coves is what Cornwall is all about, for me. Carnewas beach and the Bedruthan Steps are probably the most spectacular example. A steep and narrow, winding staircase takes you all the way down from the clifftop to the beach. At low tide, it’s a lovely sandy beach where you can poke at mussel colonies and stranded jellyfish. At high tide, the beach is under several metres of water, and so is the bottom of the stairs.

Two views of the same beach, taken 4 hours apart:


Every summer during our trip to Estonia, we visit an adventure park. It’s become a tradition alsmot, and it’s one of the activities we all look forward to the most. There is one park in Tartu (smaller but very conveniently located) and another one in Otepää (larger, more exciting). We went to Otepää this time.

Last year Ingrid was just a few centimetres short of the height limit for some of the routes in Otepää and she has been really crossing her fingers that she would be tall enough this time. And she was, barely! The last two routes (out of five) were physically quite challenging for her.

But not psychologically. She wasn’t afraid of the heights at all, not even at the final piece de resistance where we saw grown people sitting for minutes, near tears, building up their courage to make the jump. (It’s literally a leap of faith across a wide gap, holding on to a rope, aiming for the safety net on the other side. Not like in this photo where you glide across along a wire, but a free swing.)

We made porridge in the morning and then hiked back to the car. Saw two grass snakes in the lake and one slow worm on the path.

I took a nap in the afternoon to catch up on lost sleep.


With Ingrid off for several days of scout camp and Eric working even though it’s weekend, Adrian and I went on a mini-hike of our own. He appreciates camping much more than the actual walking part, so we did much camping and not very much walking at all.

I picked Lake Trehörningen (“Lake Triangle”) in the Paradiset nature reserve. True to its name, Paradiset is a lovely place, and the walking here is very pretty. The Sörmlandsleden trail passes through there and I walked here in January and even passed the same lake, but I didn’t recognize it at all – the forest looked so different now without snow, and I came from the other direction as well.

Initially we were going to sleep in a tent, but as I was packing I realized that my pack would end up quite big and heavy. The lake isn’t far from the parking lot, only about a kilometre and a half, and I wouldn’t have any real trouble carrying it all, but I would enjoy the hike more with a smaller pack… so I skipped the tent and we slept in a shelter instead.

I really like the Swedish hiking shelters. I didn’t photograph the one where we stayed this time, but it was just like the shelter the kids climbed on near Skottvång. The bare fact that they exist is great. They are open to anyone, free of charge, whole and clean and well kept, and usually in a pretty location as well. In nature reserves there’s often a supply of firewood nearby as well.

There are at least three on the shores of Lake Trehörningen. We aimed for the one that I thought was “just far enough” and had the nicest views. When we got there, we found a father with his two sons there, but the shelter was just large enough to fit all five of us. We didn’t exactly become best friends but it was nice to have a bit of company, especially for the kids. The boys showed us where to find tadpoles; the dad offered Adrian “stick bread”. I didn’t offer anyone anything.

I swam in the lake; the lake was small so the surface water was pleasantly warm. The shore was stony and steep so Adrian could only go a few steps in.

Unfortunately I always sleep like crap when I’m hiking or camping. The combination of a hard sleeping surface (even though I have an inflatable mattress), the constriction of the sleeping bag, light, noise, and unfamiliar environment means that I wake up countless times during the night. At some point during the night a large buzzing insect (either a wasp or a bumblebee) found its way into the shelter and circled it several times, inside and out. Later, when it was getting light (so maybe around 3 in the morning) two gulls landed next to the fire pit and started squawking loudly at each other. They kept at it so long that I woke up enough to start considering getting out of the sleeping bag so I could throw pine cones at them, but at that point they finally left.


We skipped the traditional national day picnic and replaced it with a sausage grilling hike around lake Källtorpssjön near Hellasgården.

It was a beautiful day for walking – warm and sunny without being too hot. We walked mostly through the usual Swedish rocky pine forest, with the occasional beautiful clifftop view of the whole lake. The trail was nice and varied, following the edge of the lake at times and getting deep in between trees at other times, and had just the right amount of ups and downs to remain interesting. The parts nearest the parking lots were relatively crowded, but there were fewer people further away, on the other side of the lake.

The trail’s only shortcoming was a lack of suitable picnic spots. Finally by early afternoon we were so hungry that we set up our picnic and grill right next to the path. I have a love-hate relationship with single-use aluminium grills: they seem so incredibly wasteful, but at the same time they are so incredibly convenient. And the grilling is an absolutely essential part of a hike for the kids, almost the whole point of it.

The kids had packed binoculars and were amazed at how much closer things seemed when looking through those. The binoculars also allowed us to spy on follow the progress of a swimmer who swam all the way across the lake to one of the islets and then back, towing a very visible red buoy which made him/her easy to spot.


I went to a nature photo event this morning. Calling it “morning” is generous, really – we met up at 3:00, before sunrise. We photographed for a couple of hours, had breakfast, and then photographed some more.

The subject for the entire event was flowing water. You know, the long exposure photos that make water silky smooth so that even the most ordinary waterfall will look magical. This is normally not my style at all (silky? magical?) but hey, getting out of your comfort zone is the only way to learn.

The scene we were photographing at Nyfors was, to my eyes, not inherently scenic – a pretty mundane rapids rather than a picturesque waterfall. Some clumps of grass, plenty of rocks, tree branches caught between them… I found it quite challenging to find interesting photos there.

Our instructor’s advice tended towards the traditional – for example, the rule of thirds, and to create depth by including some foreground, mid-ground and background elements. I tried, I really did! But all the photos I got using that approach just came out totally boring. Too cluttered on one hand, and at the same time devoid of anything interesting.

What worked for me instead was to get closer, to simplify and pare away. The more photos I took, the more minimal and abstract they became.




Another day on my own, and with decent weather. I thought of hiking at first, but I needed to be back in time for Adrian’s swim school, and I didn’t have the use of the car, so I could only do something shortish or relatively local.

But: I did have my bike, so I went cycling instead. Tired of the local nature reserves – Judarskogen, Grimsta, Järvafältet – and inspired by a cycle trail description I found online, I decided to cycle all the way to the other side of town, to Saltsjöbaden.

(In the end Adrian came down with a stomach bug so the family returned home not long after I left, and Adrian did not go to swim school, but I found that out too late.)


I’m normally not hungry first thing in the morning, and I saw no point in hanging around at home while waiting for my appetite to appear. So I packed a simple breakfast and cycled away, and had breakfast in the little park beneath the City Hall. Hundreds of tourists were swarming around the City Hall itself, but not many were interested in the little park, so I almost felt like I was there on my own, as long as I kept facing the right direction.

The route onwards to Saltsjöbaden was pleasant enough but not very exciting. Saltsjöbaden itself had some interesting sights, including two old wooden open air bath houses.

I was feeling hungry again and thought I’d treat myself to a decadent brunch at Grand Hotel Saltsjöbaden – but this place had apparently not understood the br in brunch and only started serving theirs at 12, at which point it’s a lunch and not a brunch in my opinion. I wasn’t interested in hanging around for another half an hour, so no brunch today. Just a simple soup lunch in a local café instead.

After Saltsjöbaden and Solsidan, the trail left built-up areas behind and went mostly through forest for a while. It also got close to the rocky seaside at times, which I liked. I had been hoping to get many more views of the sea, so when I finally got some views here I stopped for a long photo break.

After the forested areas, the way back home felt like doing my daily commute. Even the Tranebergsbron bridge was there like a dear old friend.


This trip was part experiment to figure out a suitable length for future day trips on bike.

I cycled about 75 km in total and felt that I could have done more. When I am out hiking, I tend to start feeling my legs after about 20 km or so. Cycling is a milder way of moving, and as long as the road is flattish and I don’t push myself, I feel I can keep going almost endlessly. (Which is probably far from true, really.) But I wasn’t feeling particularly cocky on the uphill parts at the end.

Hiking, I base my plans on an average pace of 3 km per hour including all breaks, and I’m never too far off. Cycling, my speed varied massively: from barely above walking pace on the twisty little forest paths, to “whoo this is nice” going downhill on straight, wide, empty asphalt roads. All in all I was out for nine hours, but I’m not sure if I can generalize all of this to any kind of average at all. I took longer meal breaks than I usually do on my hikes. And of course I cannot take photos while I’m cycling, or even look around as freely as I can when I’m walking, so I had to stop whenever I wanted to do that.

The whole family joined me for a walk along a circular route based on Sörmlandsleden, stage 15:2 and part of 15, between the old mine at Skottvång and lake Marviken.


The weather was cloudy and cool but otherwise fine. We saw blue anemones everywhere. The white ones were just starting to bloom, but they were camouflaged since their flowers only open in sunshine. I also saw a very early marsh marigold.

 

The kids did not enjoy the actual walking part too much, which was pretty much as expected. Luckily there was stuff for them to do and to look at.

At the beginning and end of the trail, near Skottvång, there were numerous works of art in the forest along the trail – odd constructions, plastic plants in unexpected places, funny road signs (pointing towards “tree”, “path”, “air”, “water”, “berries” etc), coffee cups hanging on trees, a modern rune stone, etc.

We stopped for lunch at a picnic spot just off lake Marviken, roughly at the halfway point, and made a fire to heat and cook our food.

There was no firewood at the picnic spot, but there was no shortage of dry branches in the forest nearby. I guess not many people had stopped there recently. The fireplace was a small one and we had no proper tools with us to cut the branches to size. I couldn’t find my camping knife when packing so I only had a little pocket knife with me, but that turned out to be enough for whittling down the thicker branches until I could snap them in two.


Our standard campfire food is “hike bombs”, a recipe I learned from Ingrid’s scout hikes: foil packages containing diced pre-cooked potatoes, vegetables etc. Easy to prepare, easy to pack, quick to cook, and delicious. Our version consists of potatoes, salmon, and broccoli. For dessert, we had “hike bananas”, which is also a traditional outdoor recipe in Sweden: bananas, slit and stuffed with pieces of chocolate, and then grilled.


Both kids enjoyed poking in the fire and putting on more branches, but Adrian was quite cautious about getting close to it. Somehow he nevertheless managed to get soot marks on his forehead, which Ingrid then turned into a war painting.


After lunch we passed and climbed a viewing tower. The tower was more fun than the viewing – the surrounding area is quite flat and all we could see was forest, looking the same in all directions.

 

The walk back felt shorter than the way out, because we made slingshots for the kids. Shooting and looking for projectiles kept them happily occupied almost all the way to the car.

We only had pieces of ordinary sewing elastic to work with, so the slingshots were neither powerful nor easy to use, but kids were happy as long as their stones flew a few metres. We’ll probably make new ones next time we’re out walking, so I’ll have to do some research to find a better material to use next time.