Kayaking at Fyrudden - Häradsskär

Kajakpaddling vid Fyrudden – Häradsskär

Häradsskär is the last outpost of the wide Östgöta archipelago in the south. Here you meet the open sea with an endless horizon from the bare rocks where the Heidenstam lighthouse from 1863 guides sailors on their way towards the coast. It can be a bit of an adventure to just get here by kayak. You can spend the night in one of the cottages on the island if you book in advance or bring your own tent.

Start and finish: Fyrudden, a fishing harbor outside Valdemarsvik; alternatively Eköns camping with kayak rental just south of Fyrudden.

Length: 22 km round trip

Difficulty level: Medium on the border of difficult. The last 3 kilometers out to Häradsskär go over open water exposed to the elements.

The tour offers: Finskuren archipelago, Sandö lighthouse at the fairway into the archipelago, lagoon, open sea, old pilot station and Heidenstam lighthouse on Häradsskär.

Kayak rental: Ostkusten kayak, Kustcamp Ekön, Gryt. www.ostkustenkajak.se; telephone: 073-0410388

My paddle trip

From Fyrudden's harbour, I cross the open bay straight east towards Kättilö, one of the year-round inhabited islands in this part of the archipelago. I follow the west coast of the island south down to the southernmost cape, Bådudden. Here I glimpse open sea to the south between Kviholmen and Lilla Barnsö. It is late afternoon and with a warming sun behind me, I have decided to do an evening paddle to Häradsskär to feel the open sea and enjoy the beautiful sunset at sea. Today's wave play reinforced by the afternoon sea breeze still gives a somewhat bumpy ride when lee is not offered behind islands and skerries. But north of Barnsö it is lee. I come out in the outer fairway into the archipelago from the south. Only a few late sailors disturb the stillness of the otherwise fairly busy waterway. Sandö lighthouse shows the entry from the south and here is open sea to starboard. After Vässlingsö I quickly paddle into Alsundet and turn right into the lagoon which is surrounded by Lisselfjärd and Ekholmen in the south and Långholmen in the north. This is a popular spot for boaters but right now it's quiet and peaceful. No boats in sight. It's getting dark when I set course straight for Häradsskär over open water. Now the waves have subsided. It is quiet and still. A fantastic pink evening light rests over the water. The lighthouse and pilot lookout on Häradsskär stand out sharply against the horizon three kilometers further out to sea. I go ashore in the small harbor on the western side of Häradskär. A good alternative to go ashore is otherwise in the strait between Häradskär and Stångskär. It is best then to come from the north as the southern entrance is on the verge of being too shallow to pass. On Stångskär, below the lighthouse staff's old residences, there is a level grass surface to land on. The view from the cliffs over the sea is almost magical in the late evening light reflected in the tower window of the pilot lookout. The lighthouse actually consists of two islands, Häradskär and Stångskär, connected to each other via a span. But I don't have time to explore this further this time. I re-enter the kayak after a short food break and start the return journey the same way I came. Now on the way back the water is completely still. The dark silhouettes of the islands are reflected in the water and the remaining shadows are getting longer. However, Sandö lighthouse at the trail into the archipelago from the south stands out well. It gets almost dark before I arrive at Barnsö, where I pitch the dome tent on a rock on the south-west side of the island where I previously spent the night many years ago.

The next morning offers sunshine and light winds. The open bay Flisdjupet in the south is calm, the lake rises in heavy gentle swells. There are no problems to launch. I follow the south side of the row of islands that demarcate the dense archipelago to the north against the open sea to the south. The rocky southern beaches of Kviholmen and Skrakholmen are passed on the starboard side. Diagonally astern, I can make out the silhouette of the lighthouse and the radar mast on Häradskär in the backlight. I cross the Flisörännan over to Ekön's camping and swimming area, where I disembark next to the kayak rental. I take a quick bath at the pontoon just outside and cook some soup in the galley before crawling back into the cockpit. I paddle through Flisörännan to the north. Here, the inland waterway runs along the coast, so boat traffic can sometimes be lively. Now it's calm, only a few pleasure boats pass at a leisurely pace. In front of me now lies the port of Fyrudden. I round the pier and paddle in from the north to the ramp on the north side of the port complex. No other boats interfere here. I go ashore and pull the canoe up so that it is not in the way.

History of the area

Häradskär and Stångskär form their own small archipelago at the far end of the ocean belt. Now there are no permanent residents left, but there have been people here for hundreds of years. Already in the early Middle Ages, fishermen stayed here seasonally. In 1697, it was determined that Häradsskär would have a fixed lot. In 1775, seven pilot families lived on the island. On Stångskär there was an early pole mark in the form of a tall pole with a white barrel at the top. The pole mark is already mentioned in the 17th century and has given the island its name. In 1745 it was replaced by båk, then considered the most beautiful in the country. In 1863, the beacon was replaced by an iron Heidenstam lighthouse and thus the lighthouse staff moved out to Stångskär and the population thus increased further. In the years 1888-1935, so many people lived here that a school was needed. In 1960, the lighthouse was electrified and thus required no manning. Pilotage continued until 1968. The lighthouse is a so-called mooring lighthouse, from the sea, with the help of the lighthouse's character, you should be able to find your position safely and moor the coast and the waterways closest to the coast. Other types of lighthouses are led beacons and single beacons. The islands were fortified during World War II and the Cold War. Nowadays this has been removed or demolished. A modern fifty meter high radar mast remains, however, which belongs to the defence.