Rödlöga is the further island in the archipelago that can be reached by public transport, its also tiny and without running electricity so its a bit more relaxed than some of the other islands in the archipelago. My plan was to camp on the south east corner which was the least populated and spend a night. As I was only going for a night I took my pop up grill (BBQ) and a few Coronas as I had the pack space for luxuries!
Rödlöga BBQ by the water.
Again I was very thankful that my tent was self supported as I ended up camped on a granite shelf six feet from the shore line. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds as the sea state in the archipelago is very calm and the tidal range is tiny. My campsite also had the advantage of being ringed by wild strawberries, so I spent quite a bit of time harvesting those during my stay.
Freshwater pool on Rödlöga.
Sadly the clouds didn’t behave and I didn’t quite get the sunset pictures I’d been hoping for. I did get a few interesting shots of the shore line and even a few abstract panning shots too. In the morning I tried making some long exposure self portraits on the shore line, although with the sea being so calm I really didn’t get the effect I’d been hoping for!
In the morning I chose to walk back through the woods on an alternate path to the boat instead of back tracking to the path I’d taken the day before. This lead to a bit of a magical mystery tour as the woods prevented navigation by landmarks and the island is so small that there isn’ allot of detail on the map either!
Long exposure self portrait.
Thankfully the island is tiny so its hard to be disoriented for any length of time, so I still made it to the jetty in plenty of time for the boat back to Stockholm.
Having just acquired a real hiking bag (Osprey Aether, 60l) to replace my trusty climbing pack (Lowe Pro, 45l) for camping trips I was keen to try two nights out in the archipelago now I had the carrying capacity for it. Most of the pack weight when camping in the archipelago actually tends to be water, as you can’t drink the water you find in the archipelago so you have to carry it in yourself!
Utö campsite inside the firing range.
For this trip I chose the islands of Utö and Ålö in the southern archipelago, Utö is another military island with a large portion of it taken up by various firing ranges. My plan was to camp at the tip of the peninsula in the firing range, this isn’t as crazy as it sounds as the range is only closed to the public when its in use. The walk from the boat was pleasant enough and to get to my chosen camping location I had to again follow a compass bearing off the path through the woods to hit the point.
The campsite was even rougher ground than I expected, with the only flat ground I could find being a granite shelf! Thankfully my tent is self supported so I could pitch it on the shelf and weigh it down with rocks. My biggest concern was making sure I’d throughly swept the spent bullet casings and links from where I was pitching the tent as they were pretty sharp and would have probably cut the tent bottom even through the extra groundsheet I’d brought with me.
Utö morning mist.
This campsite proved to be very peaceful despite its normal martial purpose and I got a few good shots during the evening and then the next morning in the light fog. I started the next day with a swim as it was quite hot, I had to resort to the traditional Scottish approach of jumping in as otherwise I was going to chicken out due to the cool water.
After the swim and some breakfast it was time for the walk south to Ålö, I did stop at the big sandy beaches on the south east side of Ålö for a break. After the break I walked to the big beach at the south east of Ålö, I managed to overshot the beach when trying to skirt it the east and popped up in the nudist end by accident!
Ålö abstract I
After swiftly extracting myself to the normal part of the beach I found it was too crowded for my tastes! So after some internal debate I shouldered my pack and wandered up the east coast of Ålö looking for a new campsite. I got lucky and found a nice little cove with an official campfire pit (Ålö is a nature reserve so fires are only allowed in designated spots).
Ålö abstract II.
The cove itself was a bit too dark to easily photograph (too much dynamic range) but the rocks on the shore where a great place to take some abstract panning shots and a few self portraits of my shadow..
My second wild camping trip was on Midsummer to the northern archipelago to a little point near the village of Gradsvik. On the satellite image I thought my campsite was a little beach but it turned out to be sand coloured rock instead! Another unexpected factor was the proximity to the village meant the speed boat traffic was significantly higher than I expected, so not quite the solitude I’d hoped for.
Gardsvik shoreline felt more like a lake than the sea.
I followed my pattern from the previous trip of getting setup, having a brew then going for a swim (more of a wade this time, cold!) and then getting a camp fire going. After this I made dinner and waited to see what the light and sky would do, as it was overcast.
Gardsvik twilight waiting for the sky to clear.
The sky never really cleared up sadly but I did manage to get a few interesting pictures while I worked over the scenery around my campsite. The coastline was quite different from Musko instead of a rocky shoreline it looked much more like a lakeside, probably due to it being allot more sheltered.
I did manage to get a good self portrait with the campfire in the foreground and myself in the background. The most fun part was this was about 2330 at night, so it did should just how bright it can be here at night in the summer time!
For my first wild camping trip to the archipelago I chose a small beach on the southern side of the island of Musko in the southern archipelago. Until recently Musko was a military island (parts of it still are) so its relatively sparsely populated compared to the other islands in the archipelago.
Musko campsite & coffee break.
My selection process involved looking over my two archipelago maps (North & South) for sparsely populated areas that look interesting. Once I found a potential location I’d then find it on google maps and take a look at the satellite view to get more of an idea what it was like.
Musko Dusk I.
In this instance I lucked out first time and got a nice sandy beach to myself for the whole time I was there! The beach was about a 6km walk from the bus spot through the island interior. For the final approach it was a case of following a compass bearing through the woods between to small hills to the beach itself.
Musko Dusk II.
The weather was sunny and hot so after setting up my tent and brewing a coffee I managed to convince myself to go for a swim to cool off. Happily fires are allowed when wild camping in most of Sweden and being on a beach meant no shortage of fire wood so I entertained myself while waiting for dusk by making a camp fire.
Playing with fire while waiting for blue hour.
The camp fire provided some self portrait opportunities which was interesting as I don’t normally have people or fire in my landscape shots, this provided an interesting new challenge. It turns out that finding a natural non-goofy looking pose is quite hard, especially if you have to run backwards and forwards setting the camera timer!
Musko Blue Hour.
Finally it was blue hour and I could get stuck into getting some landscape shots of the coastline and the little rocky islands situated just offshore.
For my first test of my newly acquired camping gear I decided to go to an actual campsite. My reasoning was that I’d likely have to have not thought of something I’d need, so an campsite was likely to be able to make up whatever I was missing.
The campsite I chose was Finnhamn an island in the Stockholm archipelago which was recommended by my friend Andrew. The campsite itself wasn’t on the water front which was slightly disappointing but it was close enough and the facilities were excellant.
Finnhamn’s little harbour.
I stayed for two nights and discovered numerous items I hadn’t thought of including needing: a way to make coffee, a stronger spork (my plastic one broke!) and insect repellant. The tent itself preformed fine both nights, even in the rain and my sleeping bag was more than warm enough!
Finnhamn’s shoreline, typical of the archipelago.
Wandering the waterline of the island gave me some decent photographs and the odd self portrait too. The little island pub did a good ‘pytt i penna’ (Swedish dish) served with a good brown ale for my Saturday dinner, so it wasn’t all roughing it!
Field in the middle of Finnhamn.
All in all it was a good first test of my equipment and gave me the confidence to try wild camping on my next trip!
In his new book Alastair Humphreys a renewed British adventurer explains his concept of micro adventures: adventures for the rest of us. I found this concept of short, cheap and local adventures e.g. camping out under the stars on the local hill to be a most inspiring idea. Adventures don’t have to be epic trips to remote places!
While people have been going for micro adventures long before Alastair came up with the term for it, having a term or label for the activity makes it a bit easier to explain to others. Most of the book is given over to examples adventures that Al and others have been on and is great inspiration for your own trips.
The final chapters of the book discuss common equipment like bivi bags, shelters, stoves and bags. He also includes some camping recipes that he’s used in his adventures earlier in the book.
This is the first book I’ve bought on paper for a while and I’ve also bought it for my brother who as the father of two small boys so I figured this would be good inspiration!!