Kloarbyn Eco-lodge - Skinnskatteberg, Sweden
One challenge running long distances in the US is that we need to find public land to run so we are not trespassing. On a vacation to Kauai, Hawaii I found it especially difficult to find places to run since many areas near where we stayed had large no trespassing signs on the dirt road access points. It was very frustrating since the areas themselves looked remote, were conveniently close by, and I think would have made cool runs.
I’ve worked a lot in Sweden and learned this challenge does not exist since they have “allemansrätten”, or Freedom to Roam. Wikipedia defines it as, “The freedom to roam, or “everyman’s right“, is the general public’s right to access certain public or privately owned land, lakes, and rivers for recreation and exercise. The right is sometimes called the right of public access to the wilderness or the “right to roam“.” I believe a similar provision to this in the United States would open up large amounts of land for access, but given our property rights viewpoint, is not something likely to happen. But if it did happen, as suggested in the book This Land Is Our Land: How We Lost the Right to Roam and How to Take It Back, then, “we would have an additional billion-and-a-half acres for countryside recreation: 614 million acres of grassland pasture, 408 million acres of cropland, approximately 444 million acres of privately own forest, and thousands of miles of river, lake, and ocean shorelines.”
I roamed one weekend in Sweden, but ended up spending the entire time in one place, enjoying the tranquility of the Kolarbyn Eco-lodge. Kolarbyn is known as “Sweden’s most primitive hotel” since there is no electricity or plumbing on site. Water comes from a natural spring and the rooms are earthen huts, modeled after the huts workers used who tended the fires to create charcoal. The lodge is also just a short walk to the town of Skinnskatteberg making it convenient to arrive by public transportation or to find a place to eat.
My weekend in Kolarbyn started with a train ride from Stockholm Central Station to Köping, Sweden (pronounced with an “s”, showping). From Köping I took a bus to Skinnskatteberg, but I asked the driver to drop me off on the side of the road and hiked into Kolarbyn. Upon my arrival at the reception desk, which itself was just a small wooden building, the manager checked me in. He took me on a brief tour of the complex, then we came back to the reservation desk to finish up the paperwork. Once done, he said that was it and to have a good weekend. I looked around and realized there were no cars in the parking lot other than his. He then told me I’d be the only person staying there for the weekend. Given it was November, and getting cold, I guess that is not too surprising.
I spent the rest of the weekend hiking around the area, chopping wood, reading, and tending fires to keep warm. I even used a wood-fired sauna for the first time. The sauna is located on the lake, it’s a floating sauna too! While it would have been easy to do, I didn’t take the cold water plunge as I really don’t like cold water. It was a very relaxing time and an experience I’d highly recommend to anyone who wants a unique hotel experience. I didn’t see a single person all weekend either, so you should be comfortable keeping yourself entertained if you go alone :)
To turn this trip into an ultrarunning destination weekend, there is a great choice close by. The Bruksleden Trail can be reached by a short run from the lodge, and it has a loop that is 38 miles (60k) long. A shorter run could also be had by having a taxi pick you up and take you to any point on the trail and running back to the lodge. The trail has minimal elevation change, and goes through dense forest with soft footing. The lodge also has details on a short hike on the Bruksleden, but an ultrarun is definitely possible in the summer months when there is extra daylight. And finally, the trail has a great page with their definition of allemansrätten.
The Bruksleden Trail would make a great ultrarunning destination, especially with a stay at the Kolarbyn Eco-lodge. If it’s here, or another place in Sweden where you find space to roam, I know you’ll enjoy every minute of it.