A few days of swimming and splashing around in Lake Storsjön in rural Sweden, a short distance south west of Östersund.
Once we were finished with our 18km Åreskutan circular walk, we left Björnen and headed on east to the Baltic Sea coast. On the way we stopped off in several places in search of a service area to empty our grey-water. Every picnic area in Sweden has a place for emptying a WC cassette but we’ve not found many drive-over drains – even the paid campsites we stayed at didn’t have any. We had no luck in two different rastplats that both suggested they had all necessary services, but each in turn proved not to have a drive-over drain (or potable water).
We did find a now increasingly rare Lidl, where we could again stock up with cheap, plentiful food (but not wine). We mused on how other supermarkets manage to compete, as the Lidl prices are about 30% less than all the other locals. We continued on, through the town of Östersund where we had a brief look around then we proceeded to a nearby free aire in the region of Sunne, a small, gravel road by the side of a pristine, blue lake. We arrived in glorious sunshine with two other motorhomes already in residence and picked out a prime spot only a few metres from the water, overlooking a sheltered portion of Lake Storsjön.
It was a glorious spot, with a small stony beach in a sheltered cove and few picnic benches on the water’s edge. The sun lit up the still water and the flat stillness oozed calm. We thought about having a swim, but after our 18km walk we could only manage the energy to sit and stare at the wonderfully tranquil water and fully relax. The afternoon turned to evening and we had still not moved from the same serene spot. Instead we watched the slowly changing light over the water twinkle and glow in the low fish-made ripples of the lake – simply bliss.
The next morning all was exactly as we left it, still and serene. Although this was originally to be a simple overnight stop, we decided immediately to stay put for another night. This would allow us the opportunity to spend a full day swimming here, relaxing and enjoying the weather and this stretch of wonderful, inviting water. First we got suited and booted for a long morning swim, drawing the attention of our curious Dutch neighbours. We first crossed directly from our parking spot to a nearby sun-drenched meadow of cow parsley with an inviting picnic table and fire pit. It was only 180m or so across, so a gentle warm-up swim, after which we got out for few moments to look around.
The water in the lake was surprisingly shallow, with the bottom never out of view and only rarely out of reach. There were small mounds or aberrant rocks where we could stand up and have only our calves in the water, and we occasionally caught our hand on the bottom during front crawl strokes. The clear weather made avoidance of rocks easy, but it was still surprisingly shallow given the size of the lake.
We next swam across to a small island with four or five trees, around 500m from the meadow. We circled the island, stepping out onto it for a few photos, before edging around the nearby cove and following the coast back towards home. The shallow water had warmed up well and the hot sun baked us when we stood up out of the water; it was incredible not to have to rush or worry about feeling cold; we had all the time we wanted to play and explore; so we did.
We spent a large portion of the afternoon simply sitting in the sun as our kit, hung on nearby tree branches, dried. We read and watched, absorbing the view and the sun’s rays. Before dinner and feeling rather hot in the sun, we couldn’t escape the need for another cooling and very refreshing swim. This time we splashed and floated around just in shorts, the water temperature beautifully refreshing. We dried off and ate our dinner on the picnic benches in the ever-bright sun, feeling very glad that we had found this wonderful swim spot at the same time as the good weather had found us.
After dinner we had a short walk across the causeway to the opposite island, and through the forest to reach the same meadow we had swam across to earlier. Our Dutch neighbours waved enthusiastically to us from back at the aire as we visited the picnic spot for the second time. A young lady in red was wandering about in the meadow, examining plants, and we approached her for a chat. She was a local who, after a long day indoors, had canoed over to the meadow from her house across the lake to both relax and forage a little. She offered us a few tastes of the leaves she was picking and explained in impeccable English what each was. It was a wonderful chance encounter with a very open and enthusiastic host who was deeply passionate about her country, and local nature.
Around 10pm we walked along the near shore a short distance to make a few phone-calls home without disturbing the silence of others sitting around the aire. Whilst on a call to my mum, I turned around to find that my wife had suddenly disappeared, transformed into a small pile of discarded clothes and some nearby splashes in the water. A dark shadow out on the evening water was distinctly Nicky-shaped, her desire for another cooling dip was incontestable. I had to finish my phone-call, strip off and slip into the water to join my muse, becoming welcomingly enveloped in the cooling dark liquid.
One wonderful day, three very different swims, all wildly diverse but equally compelling and enjoyable for myriad of reasons. We lucked out with a chance alignment of situation and weather combining to create that picture-perfect day to remember.