Gårdlösaleden is one of the trails on east coast of Skåne, Österlen. The 12 km loop can be easily taken in one day, in a matter of fact – couple of hours with short breaks is enough. The hike begins in a cozy village of Smedstorp near the train station. Let’s go!
First kilometre is fairly uneventful – I need to walk out of the built-up area first. I take the gravel road that takes me trough pastures. First stop – remains of a stone ship called Alnabjär Skeppssättning (3) are up on a hill. Since it’s missing most of the stones I choose to skip it and head for the “main course” just 1 km away – three stone formations from Iron Age hidden away in a thicket.
Stones rest on a hill; from here I have a view over surrounding corn fields. There is two stone ships and one overgrown stone circle, domarring (4). A bit northwest from here there’s Silverflickans grav (5) – an Iron Age grave of a young women buried along with silver artifacts. Plants growing here are quite suggestive – elder and hawthorn are both the guardians of the Otherworld, while fireweed is a symbol of rebirth.
After enjoying my time with the stones I’m back on the route. Along the main trail there are remains of two limestone quarries – Kalvahagens stenbrott and Stora stenbrottet (6 & 7).
Soon the landscape changes as I enter the small forest with a stream running through. There’s a tiny waterfall too! A couple of meters from the wooden bridge there is a humongous lime kiln (8). Lime used to be transported here from quarries down the road, burned in order to lose weight and turn white, and extinguished with water from the stream.
As I’m out of the forest area, I cross the main road and enter the Listarumsåsen Nature Reserve. It’s so beautiful and quiet. I’m all alone here, just what I was craving for. The trail goes through the whole length of reserve, forest changes along the way – one time there is only spruce, then beeches start to dominate and it gets denser and darker. I pass a peat extraction site from the beginning of XX century (9).
There is also a peculiar Oak growing along the way, marked by a helpful hiker. Why does it stand on two legs is a mystery. Maybe it’s a tree giant, or maybe the hole is a portal to the Otherworld?
After quite some time I finally emerge from the woods. For the next 3 km the trail will lead through fields and pastures, which gives me the opportunity to focus on medicinal plant growing along the way. The abundance of the black mullein and meadowsweet sweeps me from my feet. Next July I’ll definitely come here to pick them for my herbarium, since I can’t locate them in my neighborhood. But there are also plenty of habitats of musk mallow, thistle, burdock, tansy, wild geranium, chicory, wild thyme, St. John’s wort, and I’ve spotted at least one with angelica.
The last stop on a map is Ljungavången Nature Reserve (10) which is a home to rare frog species called onion frog. Since the possibility of meeting one is close to none I decide to head for the train station.
Around the 10th kilometre I enter a small foresty area with, well, a weird theme. Here Santa Claus gnomes are everywhere. Trees are adorned with Christmas decorations, but all of them feature only Jultomten. Not gonna lie this really creeps me out at first, but then I start to get really curious. But so far I didn’t find any compelling backstory to this.
Since I’m late for my train back home, I take a coffee in a local shop and brush off all the bugs that crept on me along the way. I’m tired but my mind is at peace again. It was a good day.
You can find more photos from this hike in my Flickr album.