If there’s one thing I absolutely have to do whenever I visit Sweden, it’s to go ‘grilling’. The Swedish countryside is dotted with wind shelters; small open-fronted log cabin-like shelters with fireplaces in front. The wind shelters are often close to water or nestled deep inside the forest and, for me, cooking over the open fire gives a real sense of being outdoors in the Swedish wilderness. The shelters are even stocked with wood, ready for visitors to light a fire!
The windshelters I have used most often are in Färnebofjärdens National Park. The park is quite small but holds a landscape of wide rivers, lakes and dense forest, holding a rich variety of wildlife. While on trips to the Park, I’ve seen so much nature of the northern lands with the birds being particularly evident including cranes, owls, and white-tailed eagles. Walk a few metres into the forest and you’re bound to find signs of elk too and if you want a bit of pudding, there’s always the blueberries and lingon (cow berries) at this time of year.
My grilling trip during my recent visit to Sweden was in the National Park and at a wind shelter at the edge of a set of rapids. It was a lovely, warm summer’s midday, with the sounds of the rushing water and the crackling fire accompanied by the smells of the forest, wood smoke and cooking sausages.
However, Sweden in the summer isn’t all sun and beauty; there are some smaller creatures that take a great liking for me, particularly my blood, and this trip left me with a very swollen ankle when I returned home.
I could spend hours sat at any fireside but there’s something special about grilling at a windshelter in the Swedish wilderness and I would happily spend days at one, maybe with a spot of fishing too (although I’m a complete novice at catching fish!). Over the years, I have visited the shelters in the height off summer, in the bright colours of autumn and deep in the cold, snowy winter – it doesn’t matter what the season is, I always have to pay a visit!
I’m sure the shelters could catch on in the UK but I think there are many people here who don’t have the same sense of a shared countryside that the Swedes seem to have and the shelters wouldn’t last long. Then again, there’s a belief that the vast majority of people won’t walk more than 100m from their car, so if the shelters were put half a mile from the road or car park, maybe they would last longer and be a reward the the more adventurous.