Sweden

Swedish roads are smoother, straighter, wider and above all cheaper than Norwegian roads so we elected to travel as far north as we needed to go along the eastern Swedish coast. We set off immediately we disembarked which was early morning.DSC_6761-1(Photo courtesy of Mrs. S. Ansell)

We have travelled this route before and knew all about the “Beware of Moose!” signs along all the roads but have never previously seen a moose we were the more determined to keep an eye out for them.

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Much of the road network is fenced off to stop moose straying in to the path of vehicles and this sign warns that the fence ends at this point.   Still no sightings.

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Many other things caught our eye.  Lupins abound on the verges

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and a Swedish house overlooking one of the 97,000 Swedish lakes

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even a pair of cranes in the grass by the road.  But no Mooses!

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Bizarrely, even a squadron of fighter planes stuck on poles by the road.

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Courtesy of the Swedish Air Force

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A pair of  J35F – not the model of Saab you expect to find on the roadside even in Sweden.

Further along the road Sheila yelled out “Moose” and pulled over (safely of course) on to the verge.  We ran back to where she had seen an adult male moose in the forest but by the time we got there it was cleverly merging in to the undergrowth.

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The brown smudge in the middle is a near as I could get to photographing the moose.

By one camp site, just metres from our motorhome we did spot definite moose signs.

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Not fresh as they didn’t squash between thumb and finger but definitely a good sign.  Knowing that moose are mostly nocturnal we decided to wait fro dark.  MMMmmmm….  Several months perhaps at this latitude but we dressed up securely to foil the million or so mosquitos that night at 23:30 and went marching off in to the forest armed with trusty camera and 600mm lens.  June is the time of year when last years calves leave their mums and wander off in search of a life of their own.  I spotted two such calves moving as quietly as mice through the woods but they disappeared before they could be photographed or seen by Sheila. 

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Eventually Sheila spotted another walking directly towards us in amongst the foliage and in the dim light.  We assumed it would bolt immediately but it kept coming towards us enabling me to get a clear shot despite the poor conditions. I lot closer still and then seemed to notice us and walked away quite calmly.

WE were hugging the coast except where we skirted around Stockholm as we wanted to avoid another city centre. 

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We found a most welcoming town with free facilities for filling and emptying and free camping on the disused dockside beside this disused steam driven crane. 

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There were a number of beautifully preserved industrial features such as the steamship “Ophelia”, the smelting works (origin of the world famous “Swedish steel” and some winter transportation.

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There was enough room left for some old fashioned water power and some even more old fashioned manpower.

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They even had a little house on the millpond to check on the water level.

As we travelled further north it did get a little colder but the views got richer to compensate for that.  Reindeer wandered across the road with scant regard to vehicles or pedestrians. 

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We reached the Arctic Circle where a souvenir shop and associated car parks, monuments, billboards had just grown.  We watched other tourists climb up on the stone cairn and just had to have a go.

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A poignant reminder that travel here is a little more difficult in the winter than at midsummer.

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And up on the hills a further reminder of the conditions faced in the darker months.  It was just 3 degrees Celsius that afternoon.

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Above the Arctic Circle and heading west towards Narvik in Norway we came upon a tourist centre with much needed laundry facilities and  this gorge bringing the snowmelt down from the mountains to the lake.

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Over the mountain pass surrounded by snowcapped mountains is Norway.  Another blogging soon I promise.  We vowed as we crossed the border that we would come back and spend more time in Sweden soon as we both thoroughly enjoyed our time here.

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