Just after two o’clock on a perfect summer’s day at the end of June, you step off the Inland Railway in Sorsele. You have 24 hours to do something exciting in a place you’ve never visited. The only thing you you’ve done beforehand is book accommodation at Sorsele River Hotel. But what will you do?
Afternoon: The railway station houses the Inland Railway Museum and has information for visitors, plus a shop and a café. The café Hook and Cup also has SUP boards and fatbikes for rent. You have a latte macciato and a ‘Sorsele Sandwich’ – this one with wild-caught, salted Arctic charr and cloudberries – and formulate a plan. It’s warm and lovely. Perhaps you’ll start with some stand-up paddling on the national river, Vindelälven – the Vindel River. You rent a board and agree to bring it back before the place closes. Taking the board under your arm, you walk over to the river. You’re hoping the water won’t be too chilly. Before the afternoon is over, you’ll know the answer to this.
Dinner: You have time to return your rented board and exchange it for a fatbike before checking in to Sorsele River Hotel. You reserve dinner for 8 pm. With a glass in your hand, you sit down on the veranda and look out across the Vindel River. There are cows grazing along the bank on the other side and the summer evening is peaceful. Other accommodation options in the village are Pensionatet Holmen, Sorsele Camping and Hook and Cup.
Evening: Because it’s a beautiful evening and the village seems easy to navigate based on Google Maps, you leave your rented bike locked up and take an evening stroll. The first bridge brings you to the island part of the village known as Holmen. Continuing for some 500 metres takes you past the church and across the church bridge to the south side of the river. Along this road on Holmen, Strandvägen, you’ll find the village shops and services: supermarkets Konsum and Ica, the off-licence, and outdoor shops like Eldmark and Lidéns. There’s also a shop selling locally produced skin products from Ljung of Lapland. After the bridge and near the beautiful forest graveyard there is a system of trapping pits where you can see evidence of 6,000 years of human activity in the area, and the path that winds its way through the high pine trees is perfect for contemplation in the quiet night. You head back. Tomorrow is another day.
Skiing, Sámi culture, hunting, fishing – ask a local what’s best with Sorsele, and their answers will be influenced by the immediate nearness to Vindel River and the mountains. The mountain area Vindelfjällen is home to one of the largest protected areas in Europe, and the southernmost part of the world-famous trail Kungsleden.
I Sorsele municipality you’ll find the villages Ammarnäs and Gargnäs. According to some people, the mountain village of Ammarnäs is where the road ends, alluding to Route 363 going along the river Vindelälven to the coast. But, depending on who you’re asking, it could also be where everything starts – such as the river, the road, or the adventure in the mountains.
Gargnäs is in the woodlands, about 50 kilometres from Sorsele. This is where you’ll find reminders of the log driving days of northern Sweden – from relics in the streams to cycle- and walking routes. The open farming landscapes, the streams and creeks, the forests and the lakes that are in this area makes for an array of activities. Canoeing, fly fishing or sports fishing, skiing along the river, dog sledding and riding to name a few.
Have a chat with the local tourist information for more insights, visitvindelalven.nu
Curious about living in Sorsele?
Check out portal.sorsele.se
Early morning: You get up before there’s even breakfast to be had. You feel very awake this morning and the rented fatbike is calling for attention. But you leave it for the moment and don your trail-running shoes instead. Just behind the health centre, along route 363 and once you’ve passed a small bridge, you can jump across a ditch and start running along a marvellous forest path known as ‘Flåset’ locally, but you’ll find it under its official name Skibbikkeleden. The trail goes past the excursion point Benstampen at the Idbäcken Nature Reserve, among other things. If you’re up for it, the trail goes on for 10 km. But your stamina can only handle 7.5 km this morning, before returning to the hotel breakfast buffet.
Morning: Now it’s time to take the bike for a spin. You could opt for ‘Flåset’ again. If that’s your choice, what you do is continue to the old sawmill and head west on route 363, then take the gravel road to Skibbikudden. It’s an amazing sandy beach with space both for those who prefer to wear trunks, and those who prefer not to. Anyway, today you decide to bike the E45, northbound. Just after Norra Svergoträsk there is a path signposted as ‘Cykelsnöre’. This is how forest workers used to get to their workplace in the forest. Along bike paths, bike strings, or ‘famine strings’ as they were called. A long time before someone came up with the hype known as MTB on single tracks, they used to bike on fat tyres on this kind of forest tracks. This path heads into the old-growth forest reserve Skålliden.
Lunch: You get back for lunch and eat out on the veranda. It’s buffet-style and you help yourself to the classic Swedish fare. You’re thinking that if you had stayed for another 24 hours you would have had time to go to Ammarnäs and the mountains, or you could have learnt to master the SUP better, or perhaps spent a day on the fatbike going to the low mountain Nalovardo, or perhaps even tried to learn how to fly fish with Sorselefisket. They do say that right here is where the best fishing in Sweden is found.
Packing up: Before you return the fatbike and board the Inland Railway again you buy a couple of sandwiches from the Swiss bakery Princess. If you want a quality holiday, it’s important you don’t get hungry. At Hook and Cup you buy a caffe macchiato to go. Then your journey on the Inland Railway continues.