In the early summer of the year 1030, the Norwegian Viking king Olav Haraldsson came ashore at Selånger, which at the time was the great harbour bay of northern Sweden. He had been in exile for a few years and from here at the Gulf of Bothnia, he began his journey towards Norway and to his death in Stiklestad on 29 July 1030. The St Olavsleden trail begins at the ruins of Selånger church, and according to lore, St Olav raised a copper-clad cross here with the words: “Land för stam i Jesu namn” (roughly: “Our country for our people, in the name of Jesus”).
The church in Selånger was built in the early 1100s and collapsed at the end of the 1800s. Today the ruin is a peaceful place for music and worship, and a pilgrim centre has been built next to it. Those arriving in Sundsvall by train can follow the trail signs for 10 km from the station to Selånger.
St. Olavsleden goes past Kungsnäs, once the site of an ancient royal farmstead. The road reaches the rolling farmlands of the Selånger valley, which has relics from the Iron age. At Påläng you take the road towards Västeråsen and a number of other medieval villages. The parish of Tuna extends across the Ljungan river valley, and in Vattjom you will find the first of the known St. Olav springs. A trail runs up to Torkarlsberget mountain and Tuna Hembygdsgård (folk museum) which has a collection of local buildings and a rune stone that has been moved to the site.
##A REFRESHING DIP
On the way to Stöde the route passes beautiful natural scenery on the southern side of the lake, with opportunities for bathing, before passing Loböle community centre. There is a sculpture of St. Olav in Stöde church, and next to Ljungan river there is a herb garden, which is a peaceful and fragrant spot for meditation. There is an outside swimming pool along the trail and a folk museum at the top of Huberget mountain. Baggnäsgården was formerly an inn where travellers could change horses – and still to this day two legged guests can stay and rest. The hike continues along the Ljunganåsen ridge.
After Viskan you pass Storboda walking through beautiful farming countryside. This is the birthplace of Magnus Huss, called Vildhussen after he emptied Ragunda lake when changing a log driving waterway. He also started up an ironworks in Torpshammar.
You will find the old steamboat “Ljungfrun af Torpshammar” here. Up until 1877 boats crossed Stöde lake and Torpssjön lake through the Ede canal and its locks. Goods were collected by trading farmers for onward transport to Jämtland and Härjedalen. When the pilgrim route passes Gimån you can see a concrete channel that was once used for log driving. In Klöstre there was said to have been an inn run by monks during the middle ages.
SWEDEN’S LONGEST WOODEN BRIDGE IN FRÄNSTA
Enjoy the view of Torpsjön lake by the folk museum in the village of Fränsta. Down by the lake you will find the beautiful Torp church containing a sculpture of St. Olav from the 1200s.
In Fränsta it is also worth visiting Vikbron bridge from 1888. It is 133 metres in length and the longest bridge of its kind in Sweden. The hike continues along the so called Kärleksstigen (“trail of love”), where there are several resting spots with wind shelters. The route then continues along the beautiful trail along Ljungan river reaching the mighty Byforsen bridge, where there is a beautiful wind shelter with a fireplace next to the dam.
By Ljungan river just outside of Ljungaverk you’ll find Hussborgs Mansion, a monumental stone building built at the beginning of the 1850s by Carl-Fredrik Huss, the nephew of Magnus Huss. After Ljungaverk you will reach Johannisberg, one of northern Sweden’s largest farm estates in the 1850s. At the border of Torp and Borgsjö there was once an execution block where the last execution was held in 1809. According to legend there used to be an inn in Sillre.
STAY A WHILE IN BORGSJÖ
There is plenty to see and do in Borgsjö. A stop at the St. Olav spring is a must. It is one of the most famous springs along the route, located at the foot of Bergåsen. Borgsjö church one of Sweden’s most beautiful rococo churches, built in 1771, has sculptures of St Olav. The clock tower is called “the king of Nordic wooden towers.” You can also visit the folk museum that has some 20 houses and other activities. In Borgsjö there is also a tourist office and Naturum, a restaurant and a beautiful camp site at Träporten beautifully located by Borgsjö lake.
WHOLE SECTION: 86 KM
Selånger – Matfors
Matfors – Stöde
Stöde – Fränsta
Fränsta – Borgsjö
MAPS AND ACCOMODATIONS ALONG ST. OLAVSLEDEN:
Ways to travel
Horse back riding
Farriers along this stage: