My father is the one who inspired me to take up cycling. Every year, we took a trip to a popular cycling destination. We traveled to Mallorca, Girona, and Flanders. This year, we chose bikepacking the Banvallsleden in Sweden.
Perhaps you recall the family bikepacking journey down Denmark’s Haervejen last year. A few weeks ago it was time for our yearly father-son trip. Time to explore Sweden’s finest gravel roads, grill sausages on open fire, and sleep in wind shelters overlooking picturesque lakes.
Gravel cycling in Halen, Olofström
The course we designed was divided into roughly two stages. In the first section I wanted to show dad one of my favorite spots: The Halen region is a 700-hectare nature reserve located between Skane and Blekinge. The numerous inland lakes west of Olofström are a graveling and bikepacking paradise.
We mapped out a ride on komoot. Starting in Sölvesborg the route zigzags its way around countless lakes.With the gravel roads constantly winding up and down. After 80 k’s the Wahoo showed an elevation gain of almost 1.500 meters. Pretty hilly for an area that most people call flat. As two Dutch, we know flatter. At the end of the day we were rewarded with an amazing wind shelter. Time to fire up the barbecue.
Resupply for bikepacking
We had some difficulty crawling out of our comfortable sleeping bags after a cold and clear night. But, as soon as the sun began to rise, the temperature started to go up as well. The fact that the nearest bakery was only 15 kilometers away also encouraged us to get out of bed. And, well, the views with the first light touching the trees in the background of the lake certainly helped. And coffee and pastries in prospect, obviously.
Bikepacking the Banvallsleden
After several shots of espresso, it was time to embark on the second stage of the journey: the Banvallsleden. This gorgeous route follows the former railway lines that linked Karlshamn and Halmstad. It is approximately 240 kilometers long and passes through nearly 40 former railway stations. Highlights are the straight gravel roads that lead to some of the most magnificent landscape in Southern Sweden: the wetlands of Åsnens Nationalpark.
We were riding on old train tracks and like an express train ourselves. Halfway through the day we already passed the only wind shelter. A little too early to stop, so we choose to continue. Our only chance of a sleeping place was a hotel in Grimslöv. But tourist season in Sweden apparently hadn’t started yet in April. The hotel was closed. But after a mere phone call a friendly woman showed up to open the hotel, just for us.
Hotel on the Banvallsleden
I heard some spooky noises during the night. But it might also just have been my (snoring) dad. Who can tell? The next morning, a private breakfast was already prepared when we started to wake up. The weather was nice and sunny. And for the very first time in 2022 I was able to drop my leg warmers.
In Ljungby we bought the longest Subway sandwich we could fit in our frame bags. The sandwiches were so big, it lasted us through both the first and second lunch. Ljungby is also the place if you’re looking for your daily caffeine fix. Here you can find a few nice coffee shops. Yes, you got it right. We’re quite coffee addicts.
Impressions bikepacking the Banvallsleden
One of the prettiest sections of the route is at Piksborg. From both sides of the old railway bridge you have an epic view. Not long after we got a little lost. Don’t ask why, but we rode past an old saw mill twice and lost almost an hour. Because of the delay we had to rush to Lidhult. The supermarket was about to close, and we had to buy grillkorv – Swedish for grilled sausage. From here it was another 10 kilometers to the wind shelter. And it did not disappoint. The wooden cabin was located on the edge of Årshultsmyren, and the view during sunset was stunning.
Gravel in Simlångsdalen
The last day was a relatively easy one. We rode back to the supermarket in Lidhult for breakfast. After a cup of co.. You get it, right? The last part of the route went through Simlångsdalen. The abundant nature here feels like real wilderness. The straight gravel tracks cross through endless forests. And the best thing, from here it’s all downhill to the finish line. It’s only between 1 or 2%, but still.
If you are looking for an easygoing bikepacking route in Sweden, the Banvallsleden is your pick. Effortless navigation with signs along the way, easy logistics, and not too remote with plenty of accommodations.
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