Following the coast further around SE Sweden to Knäbäckshusen beach & the town of Simrishamn, with a stormy overnight stop in Skillinge.
We were awakened early in our quiet Gyllebo lake swim-spot parking by a large group of kids undertaking what looked like an orienteering initiation, and thought it was best to move on so as not to be in their way. We packed up and headed off, intending to move only a handful of miles between stops, looking in at all local walks and beaches. We stopped first at a small car-park where we could walk into a nature reserve, but the walk was only 1.5km and led only to a picnic spot, so we decided it was hardly worth booting up for. The day was looking much brighter, with an open blue sky and no wind, so instead we thought our time would be better spent in search of a beach to lounge on.
To reach Knäbäckshusen beach we walked through an entire relocated village, comprised of 17 houses that had been removed in totality from a newly formed military zone to make way for their firing range, and plonked down by the sea 15km away. The 17th century houses were all quite different construction styles, timber, brick and render, but equally picture-postcard perfect, like a tiny Suffolk hamlet. Their gardens were well-tended, replete with flowers and decorative plants, bounded by neatly painted picket fences. The end of the path leading to the beach was decorated by a large midsummers floral heart, long past its best now, but must have been a colourful delight in the early summer.
We passed a small chapel, its cobbled floor lined inside with simple timber benches and white-washed walls. Above, a continuous timber wall-plate supported many smooth stones taken from the beach, marked up with names of visitors or pilgrims passing through. This tiny chapel was one of many stops on The Pilgrim Way- Skåne Blekinge, itself a small part of the incredible trek leading from the northern reaches of Norway all the way to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. Each chapel or church on the vast route are said to be like pearls on a rosary, all rather insignificant individually, but together forming something greater. We had day-walked a part of the route near Palas de Rei, but it was difficult to comprehend the dedication, or guilt, that could drive someone to walk all the way there from the northern wilds of Norway.
The beach below looked spectacular. It had a border of smooth, rounded stones with a band of white sand leading into the water. Overhanging trees cast areas of light, dappled shade on small portions of the white sand, while other gnarled trees lay supine, their branches whitened by sun and waves. We walked along the sands a while, marvelling at the easy, simple beauty of the stretch of coast and how fortunate we were to be able to enjoy it all to ourselves. We found our place to relax and we settled in, laying down our towels. We lazed, read and played, getting up for the occasional easy skinny dip in the chilly sea water to cool off. The air was only around 19 degs but lying in the direct sun on the warmed sands we felt tropically hot. The setting on the white sands with clear lapping waves framed by blue skies was simply exceptional, as good as any Caribbean island could offer.
A few more dips and a few more hours of lazing on the sands kept us busy. Nicky did a little pilates and this inspired me to do a few press-ups, but we soon exhausted ourselves and got back to simple, easy lazing again. Only two squawking swans, dipping and diving in the water near us, disturbed our blissful silence. Around 1pm we began to lose the sun from our playful east-facing beach, lost behind the tall trees lining the bank behind us, so we sadly called an end to our beach time, packed up and wandered back to Benny. We were very happy to have had a wonderfully lazy morning in the sun on such a beautiful and deserted beach. This was one of those special moments you always remember.
We ate a quick lunch in Benny then drove another few miles to the next place of interest. Only a short drive away we reached the narrow streets of the village of Vik and parked up on the water’s edge. This long stretch of cracked sandstone coast, worn into tooth-like fissures by weather and time, was speckled with yellow lichen and many small sea pools. We bounced along, up and down the jagged, broken rocks as we made our way to the Prästens Badkar, the Priest’s Bathtub. This turned out to be a flower-like circular arrangement that was formed in the coastal rocks, likely by a sand volcano that lay on the seabed in the Cambrian period, over 500 million years ago. A visiting priest was once said to have bathed in the geological feature after a long journey, hence the name. We found it interesting but rather small and, after our beautiful sunny morning beach time, not especially inviting for a comfortable dip.
From here we visited the main town of Simrishamn for a short while, walking the streets lined with hopeful but empty restaurants, it easy to imagine them loud and busy in the height of summer. A quick visit to the tourist office allowed us to pick up a few maps for upcoming areas. We walked to the main square, passing the central red-brick Simrishamn church and its adjacent buildings. A further wander through the nearby pretty streets and along the side of the marina completed our whistle-stop tour of the region’s main town. There was an aire at the marina, but it was a simple car-park and relatively expensive, so we decided to move on out of town and find a quieter spot.
We drove a few more miles then parked up to overnight on cobbles in the town of Skillinge, in a free parking area at the marina. One cup of tea after stopping we watched the skies turn quickly from blue to cloudy to dark grey clouds to pouring rain in a few short minutes, glad to have made our parking spot in time for the deluge. With this change of fortune in the weather we quickly re-planned our evening and decided to immediately open the wine we had picked up in Simrishamn’s System Bolaget and settled in to watch the burgeoning storm overhead. It was difficult to comprehend that this was still the same day that we had lounged in the sun and swam naked on a stunning Caribbean-quality beach, but that’s motorhoming for you – the art of ever-changing fortunes and horizons.