Camping in the wilderness pastures

Last Saturday we woke up, ate breakfast and said ‘what shall we do this weekend’? The weather looked good, so we decided on an impromptu cycle-camping tour. Finally, a chance to test out the bike camping tent I got for Xmas! We took our time packing up, then headed out to new-fave Karshamra for a late pizza lunch. Arriving a bit sweaty in bike shorts is the best way to enjoy it, even if the lace-and- seersucker folks who arrived in Range Rovers don’t know it (seriously tho, this place can get a bit bougie on a summer afternoon).

Pizzas done, we headed out with some intensity for the (free but infrequent) Skansundet ferry we took last year and rolled on a few minutes before departure. On the other side we took a more leisurely pace over farm roads and gravel paths Graham found in his new book. Our destination was one of 10 Royal Palaces in our region: Tullgarn slott. Tullgarn has a nice-looking cafe that was unfortunately closed by the time we got there but we toured the acres of fancy garden, orangeriet, and well-appointed swimming jetties.

Since we couldn’t tent on the castle lawn, we headed to Tullgarn Nature Reserve for a diner at a sea-front picnic table advertised as a park amenity. It wasn’t 100% clear if tenting was allowed; there were outhouses and tenting is generally allowed by allemansr├Ątten, but not in all nature reserves. We had a some adventures finding the “trail” to the waterfront, including pushing our bikes over an overgrown and gopher-holed field access alley. Once we got to the (heavy duty, electrified, FORESHADOWING) fence we let ourselves in and found the picnic table. Some nature reserves in Sweden are ‘pasture reserves’. Cattle and sheep have been pastured along so much of the inhabited land for so long that they are a part of the ecosystem: grass-fed ungulates trample down weeds by the water front and keep water access open to the shore, and this also separates the reeds with shorebird nests from the main shore, which the birds like. Cattle nip down the undergrowth in the fields but don’t eat tree saplings, so there are new oaks coming up in this pasture without a lot of competition.

Also noticed: much of the turf was ripped the hell up like it was rototilled. I have seen rooting pig signs before, and this was EXTREME and all over. I guess they really wanted those grubs! We saw some old dry cow pies, but also a couple of pig poops which prompted me to look up and find the cherry tree. We also found a hazel brake after following the rototiller path (hazelnuts too green to eat now, but the cherries were great!) Clearly we were in the backyard of vildsvin (wild boars), so we decided to take ‘bear precautions’. We cooked and ate far from the tent and stored our bags in a tree. I had a strobe lamp in the tent in case we needed to startle them away, but there was no sign of our neighbours when we tucked in at a luminous 9:30 PM. If I had been paying attention to the soundtrack, I would have picked up on the ominous, foreboding turn the music was taking. I slept until about midnight, and then… SNORTS! …and rustling around, and the stomping feet of something heavy… as heavy as Graham and me! Graham woke up too, and we spoke: ‘Are those vildsvin!?!?’ At this all the noises and movement stopped, kind of like singing frogs when you get too close. And like singing frogs, it started up again once we were still and did not seem to be a threat. It seems Graham was unperturbed and went back to sleep, but I listened for a while to the goings-on. They didn’t come to the tent, no direct encounters were made, and everyone came out fine. We even got an early-morning visit from the cows, who announced themselves at high volume. Because the pig visit was a memorable part of the trip but it was too dark for photos, below are some artist renditions based on the accounts of the (auditory) witnesses.

We woke up unscathed and mostly happy to have found this former castle orchard/current wild pasture. Makes sense that there would be all these orchard plants in walking distance of the castle. We also found loads and loads of heavily-laden raspberry canes, bending over fences and leaning on each other. None were stomped down or picked, so I guess pigs don’t like them? We enjoyed cherries and bowlsfull of raspberries with our breakfast, ample enough that we did not stop at Eldtomta for lunch as planned and instead rode on to Karshamra to get some fresh veggies.