Welcome to Lofsdalen

After another delicious breakfast at The Cheerful Pea, and a quick hello from the chickens, it was time to bid farewell to Ulrika and Christer. We promised to spread the word about their gorgeous little cabin – so if you want to stay somewhere unique in central Sweden, summer or winter, give them a call.

Dervla took us off the E4 motorway after just one junction, and we headed west. We stopped to refuel but after trying and failing to use the credit card pumps properly we had to admit ignorance and ask the cashier for help. She showed us how to display the instructions in English, and we had a chat about how the weather was apparently unseasonably poor for this time of year. We’d not come to Sweden expecting sunshine so it didn’t really matter to us that we’d gone from summer temperatures of 20 degrees C by the coast, to less than 10 degrees inland.

Within minutes we were the only car on the road for long stretches – definitely one of the joys of driving in Sweden. After three hours we reached Sveg. Unfortunately the guidebook wasn’t wrong when it said that there’s very little here other than a supermarket, and a giant wooden bear. Apparently this is to remind you that you’re entering bear territory. Just in case you’re likely to forget.


We had high hopes for lunch at the Thai restaurant but sadly it was closed. Wet and windy weather seems to have caused many touristy places to shut down, but the ICA supermarket had a plentiful supply of gluten free produce so we had a picnic in the car and stocked up for the rest of the trip.

After another hour of driving  west towards the border with Norway, we eventually reached Lofsdalen in the district of Harjedalen, and our base for the next 6 nights – an old cabin by the lake, built in 1938. With an open plan living, sleeping and cooking area, and a bathroom and hallway with underfloor heating, it served us perfectly.

Lofsdalen is largely a ski resort and so is very quiet in the summer, but they’ve built a series of mountain bike runs and are trying to encourage walkers to visit the area as the trails are fantastic. We even had access to our own rowing boat, but sadly weren’t strong enough to turn and lift it, so it stayed put. Instead we just enjoyed the views from the small little pebble beach, although not for long as the one negative of visiting Sweden’s lakes in the summer, is the mozzies. And there are lots of the little critters.

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As you can see from the picture below, Swedes take their breakfast VERY seriously. At 8.30am Ulrika and Christer presented two trays full of food at the cabin door. After porridge, a boiled egg, and fruit we could take no more however and admitted defeat. They certainly know how to treat their guests here at the Cheerful Pea.


Breakfast at The Cheerful Pea

After gently picking up and putting one of the five resident farm cats outside – he wouldn’t leave of his own accord, we packed our waterproofs and headed off for Hölick, a little village on the Hornslandet Peninsula. Dervla initially estimated that it would take 1.5 hours to get there, and kept telling us to turn off onto forest tracks rather than stay on the road, but by ignoring her we arrived within 50 minutes.

We parked up, made use of the slightly smelly pit toilet, before following the yellow nature reserve trail to the Hornslandsudden promontory, and back via the green trail which runs just above the magnificent and yet totally empty beaches. Despite the drizzle, we thoroughly enjoyed the walk and could appreciate the beauty of this place even in the rain. The landscape is unusual – boulder field covered with lichen and woodland, and feels almost other worldly. The coastline is dotted with wonderfully scenic beaches – perfect for wild swimming, as well as spotlessly clean barbecue areas. No rubbish, human waste, or graffiti in sight, unlike designated picnic spots in the UK.

Back in the village we stopped for lunch at Cafe Sjoboa. We couldn’t face another fish buffet so soon after yesterday’s magnificent feast at Trollharens Fisk, so instead both chose fried place served with boiled potatoes, tartar sauce and salad. They certainly know how to make the most of fish on the Bothnian coast.

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After a quick amble around the harbour, we headed back to the cabin to dry off and drink tea, before packing up ready for another onward trip tomorrow.


The Cheerful Pea

Full of fish after our buffet lunch at Trollharens Fisk, we headed back on to the E4 motorway and north to Hudiksvall. The plan was to stop off at the ICA supermarket just south of town to stock up for the next two days, but Dervla decided to do her usual by insisting that I do a u-turn. On  the motorway. With barriers between the two sets of traffic. So we missed the ICA, but purely by chance ended up ‘lost’ near a Lidl. It wasn’t the best stocked Lidl in the world, but we did manage to find an instant barbecue and some gluten free burgers.

Two miles out of Hudiksvall, or Hudi as we liked to call it, we found our cabin for the next two nights, on a working farm lovingly called ‘The Cheerful Pea’. Ulrika and Christer, the owners of the farm, are both from Hudi, and run an apple pressing company, as well as looking after their sheep. Fortunately they’re passionate about preserving the tranquility of the area and so there’ll only ever be the one cabin, but what a cabin it is. Sleeping 4, it comes complete with a kitchenette and shower/toilet room, and you get a wonderful view of the chicken coop, and the sheep being bought inside in the evenings. Some of the sheep were so friendly that they’d run over for cuddles on the way, a result of having been bottle fed as babbies, and knowing that humans like cuddling fluffy things.


Watching the sheep from the cabin

Watching the sheep from the cabin

Rich settled down to do the man v fire thing with the instant barbecue, the smell of which bought over one of the five cats – a gorgeous ginger female called Cucumber who liked to lie down and have her tummy tickled. The cabin comes complete with fly screens so you can still open the window without being eaten alive by mozzies. With darkness not fully descending here until gone 11pm, they come out in force on warm, breeze free evenings. They couldn’t bother us inside the cosy cabin though, and after making the most of the fantastic shower, and admiring the use of all things Ikea, we headed to bed.

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Trollharens Fisk

Fortunately in Sweden, very soft double mattresses are overlain by thin single mattresses, which you can then lay on the floor to create a firmer surface. Fabulous for those of us with dodgy backs.

Down for the hotel breakfast at 9am, to witness mayhem! The Swedes seem to take their first meal of the day very seriously, and the Scandic Gavle West offered the biggest breakfast buffet  we’ve ever seen. In a nutshell, you could pretty much have whatever you wanted. How many hotels anywhere in the world automatically offer a selection of gluten free breads and crispbreads for instance? After edging our way through the crowd we eventually managed to emerge with a plate of food each, and find our way back to the table without squashing small children along the way.

Swedes drink coffee rather than tea and so I had to partake to ensure maintenance of base caffeine levels. They’re also very partial to lingonberry jam, fruit flavored water, and waffles; and don’t mind children running amok whilst they eat. We both like little people, but I’m not sure we could cope with this level of ‘busyness’ at breakfast every day.

After checking out we headed north on the E4 to a beautiful little hamlet by the sea called Trollharen. Rich had done his homework and found a renowned fishmonger and restaurant here, called not surprisingly ‘Trollharens Fisk’, so we parked up and went for a stroll along the seafront, to work up an appetite for lunch. This part of Sweden is called ‘The Maiden Coast’, is very picturesque, and yet not on the tourist trail and so you won’t find the hordes.

We paid 200 SK for our fish buffet lunch, and proceeded to try and select at least one of everything from each counter. We failed to achieve this even after round two. The food is stunning, and you’re unlikely to find such a wide selection of fish dishes anywhere else in Sweden. It’s obviously much loved by the locals and Swedes in the know, but well worth a diversion if you are anywhere in the vicinity. In short, if you like fish, go to Sweden. It’s fishy heaven.

Meeting Scarlett

Despite the 3.30am start I felt surprisingly perky, although neither of us could face breakfast until we were through airport security, and firmly ensconed on seats in Heathrow Terminal 5’s ‘Giraffe’ restaurant. Fortunately they offer alternatives to a fry-up, and I thoroughly enjoyed my fruit and yoghurt with gluten free granola.

The flight became a little turbulent as we drew closer to Sweden, but having sat through flights to and from Isafjordur in Iceland, and Barra in the Outer Hebrides, this journey didn’t bring on that slightly panicky feeling, although Rich did start softly singing “Ship’s going down!” to try and freak me out.

At Arlanda airport we caught the ‘Beta’ bus to the Avis car hire office, and were very kindly given a free upgrade from a Toyota Yaris style car, to a big estate car. Fortunately I’ve driven big cars in the past, although I did get in the drivers seat and think “oh sh*t” when it dawned on me that it had been a while since I’d changed gears using my right hand, and that I would keep having to scrabble around for the hand break. By the end of that first trip though – 80 miles to Gavle, I’d started to get used to the car’s quirks – by now nicknamed Scarlett in honour of Scarlett Johanssen. It helps that most Swedes are very considerate drivers, and don’t try and push you aside like they do in the UK, or make rude gestures because you refuse to go over the speed limit on roads where children live and play.

This was our first stay at a Scandic hotel, and certainly won’t be our last. Scandic Gavle West is located just off the E4 motorway a few miles out of Gavle, and felt, not surprisingly, typically scandi with it’s friendly staff and quirky design features. Unlike most UK motorway hotels you can even open the window more than an inch, and there’s a swimming pool in the basement, so after Rich had had a nap we made our way down to the pool and quickly discovered that the Swedish way seems to be to shower, sauna, shower again, and then swim. In the UK the pool temperature would be considered cool, but here it means that you can quickly cool down after a sauna, and probably that fewer germs congregate.

Clever recycling bin - Scandi style

Clever recycling bin – Scandi style

After a few sauna-shower-pool sessions we then headed up to the restaurant, and were very impressed that the set meal starter came with caviar – a first for both of us! Steak, salad and fried potatoes were followed by chocolate trifle for Rich, and strawberry panacotta for me, before we called it a night. Less than twelve hours in Sweden and we already felt right at home.

Pucka packa’s

Dervla, hubby and me have just returned from Sweden, where I celebrated a ‘special birthday’. I’ll be reporting on our adventures soon.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of a one day old baby alpaca wearing it’s red coat. We arrived at central Sweden’s only alpaca farm – Norrängens Alpaca, on his birthday, and stayed there to celebrate mine.



Laverbread is a Welsh ‘delicacy’. It’s basically seaweed mush, and despite having tried it many years ago and not enjoyed it, I felt I ought to try it again. This morning we had a tin with bacon for breakfast. And yep, it still tastes awful, but at least it’ll make good compost!

We made today a rest day. Rich was shattered, and I’m supposed to be learning how to take it easy sometimes, so we stayed in the vicinity of the cabin, making the most of the now empty camping area to explore the ‘big pond’.


On the way back to ‘our pond’ I saw this poor creature – an injured buzzard. We alerted Amy and Dee who then tried contacting local raptor experts to see if someone could come out and help, but unfortunately, what with it being the Easter week, no one was around. We kept a close eye on the bird, and felt quite optimistic once it had managed to drag itself out of the water, but sadly, by the following morning it had passed away.


To celebrate our final evening at the cabin, Rich lit the campfire as well as the hot tub and wood burning stove. What is it about men and fire? I’m banned from even touching the barbecue. Unfortunately, a certain someone got carried away with his fire making duties and managed to heat the hot tub to 48 degrees C. Given that my limit is 39 degrees, I felt just a tad annoyed that I’d been denied a final dip. Fortunately, as it was still a balmy 36 degrees the following morning I donned the bikini and jumped in at 7am. I could get used to living like this.