Sweden – Walking the Northern Kungsleden

Hiking has always been a way for me to relax, get away from any stresses in life and see beautiful landscapes.

 

The Kungsleden is a national trail in Sweden and it means “The Kings trail”. It runs 440km through some of Sweden’s most stunning scenery, from the mountains of the far north to the lakes and forests of the southern reaches. The striking mountain sceneries of the world have always held a special place in my heart and the challenge of the Arctic circle lured me in. On a whim, I booked my flights to Kiruna from which I would have to take buses and a train to even reach the start.

Before I knew it, I was in Abisko standing at the small non-descript sign marking the northern start point of the trail.

 

Camping on the trail

 

Finding my way: The trail is marked by the occasional painted rock on the path (which isn’t always clear) so I would recommend buying a map at the start in Abisko, this helped me a lot.

 

Camping in Sweden is brilliant, this is due to a rule that all Scandinavian countries share but have different names for. In Sweden, it is called Allmansrätten, or “Every Man’s Right”. For those who are unfamiliar with the rule, it is the right of any person to camp out, in any area, as long as you are a reasonable distance from a property and do not destroy or disturb the environment.

 

The camping options varied for me, from comfortable wooded spots at the beginning and end, to the rocky spots higher into the mountains. On occasion, I would pay the small fee to camp near the small groups of huts that are along the trail to use their facilities but other times I camped away and alone. You may be worried about access to drinking water in this sort of environment, I know I brought chlorine tablets just in case. However, this was one of the most amazing aspects of the trip for me, drinking straight from the streams (as long as they aren’t blue glacial water). After hearing from people that I didn’t need the tablets I tried it once and it was incredibly fresh, cold and tasty.

A view of the mountains and a stream Northern Kungsleden
An amazing view from my tent at Sälka

At the end of my walk from Sälka to Singi after a sunny and relatively short walk I found the perfect spot. It was out of the valley so to catch a breeze, not strong enough to be scared for my tent’s strength (like in Sälka) but enough to keep the mozzies at bay. I was content and my boots had just come off. Then out of the blue, the warden of the hut came over to tell me to move my tent because it was too close to the helicopter landing site. Not particularly happy with this, I packed my tent and set off down the stream to an alternative pitching area. All seemed well until I stopped moving for a second. The mozzies descended, not like the swarms of midges you get in the UK, these were enormous blood drinking machines looking to suck me dry. If you can’t tell, my opinion on flying insects (and most insects in fact) is extremely low. This may become a reoccurring theme throughout this blog as it seems insects are everywhere, who knew? That evening was a balancing act of having enough of my arms outside to cook dinner but enough inside so I wouldn’t be scratching my entire body the next day.

 

In all camping was worth it, waking up with the light of the sun is something I love and without this I almost certainly wouldn’t have been the first one on the trail most mornings.

 

The Wildlife

 

Reindeer!!

 

Decided to exhaust all the Santa jokes in my mind instead of writing them onto here. You’re welcome. But anyway, reindeer are just roaming around on parts of the trail which was great. I have a level of resent for the animals though. How can you resent reindeer I hear you ask? Well, It started with a day’s walk of over 20km with some steep inclines, with a bag full of trail snack to keep me going. This full bag quickly became a small handful after I dropped nearly the entirety of the packet on the boggy floor and all I could think about was those reindeer eating my hard-earned nuts and raisins. I can tell you resentment came pretty fast.

A cloudy day in the mountains on the Kungsleden
A cloudy day in the mountains ft. Reindeer

Further into the walk, I started seeing these rodents scurrying beneath the walk ways that appear on parts of the trail to make for easier crossing of very rough or wet terrain. I was later told by some people on the trail that these were lemmings. These rodents are of course famous for their supposed group suicides which I’m not sure is the greatest claim to fame but it is one nevertheless.

Kungsleden walkway and mountains
Walking along the planked walkway, not a person in sight

Near the end of the trail for me, was a lodge in a beautiful valley where I could have my first shower in a week have a nice dinner not out of a packet but most importantly take a point back against the reindeers. Reindeer heart is surprisingly nice. Yep, heart. It may not be the most sought after part of an animal but it was just what I needed after my previous ordeal.

 

Final thoughts

 

Cutting tree trunks from the forest with a two person saw to fuel your evening sauna. Walking in places that are only accessible by helicopter, where the only sounds are your footfalls and the streams from the mountains. Meeting like-minded people along the way.

 

The Kungsleden was the perfect adventure into the wilderness.

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