12 Snogeholm - Ystad
Degree of difficulty
Small roads carry you through the lake kingdom of Snogeholm, a bird-watching mecca nestled along the southeast side of the Romeleåsen Ridge. The area along the trail is infused with Viking legends and tales of black magic, and your journey ends at the best-preserved medieval town in Sweden.
In Snogeholm Recreation Area, you find a mix of forest, grazed pastures and ponds teeming with life, including the moor frog, the European common frog, the European and fire-bellied toads, and even the European tree frog. The decaying interiors of ancient oaks are home to rare beetles, which in turn draws the bats who love to eat them. Your chances of spotting deer are high, and the entire area is a bird-watching mecca. In addition to different species of wild geese, you can often spot white-tailed and golden eagles. You can also visit Landskapslaboratoriet (The Landscape Laboratory), a project designed to increase forest biodiversity while simultaneously balancing human needs for an area.
The trail gains some height as you pass Ellestadsjön Lake. In the early 1990s, a few cormorants nested here on the lake’s islands. A few years later there were 400-500 pairs. Cormorants are phenomenal fishers, and they all but eradicated whitefish from the lake. Additionally, their highly caustic waste kills the trees in which it nests. The cormorants have moved on, but it will take time for the lake and islands to recover. The oak trees in the foreground are more successful. These ancient, slow-growing giants have achieved incredible girth, the largest with a diameter of nearly 7 metres.
At Krageholmssjön Lake, the landscape opens up and you can see the island of Lybeck, with its unusual vegetation, a result of the French gardens planted here in the 1700s. Now a nature reserve and bird sanctuary, it can only be appreciated from a distance as access is prohibited year-round.
Snogeholm Castle is young – built in the 1870s. But from there you can see the island of Hägerholmen where a medieval fortress once stood, owned by Archbishop Absalon and later the knight Krognos. Snogeholm slowly evolved into an estate with its own little community, including houses for the agricultural workers and other employees, a blacksmith and brick works all of which are preserved. The large deciduous woodlands, grazed pastures, tree-lined roads and ancient oaks are all remains of the estate. Amongst the bushes, you can find the remains of Munkesjö, dating back to the monks who fished, farmed and studied here.
In Krageholmssjön Lake is the island of Lybeck, where legend has it a fortress once stood, belonging to Thorkel Snog and his wife Krage. Thorkel had been on many Viking raiding expeditions and amassed a great fortune which he stored in his cellars. The story goes that visiting minstrels, disappointed by his lack of hospitality, cursed him with a song about fire and death, whereupon lightning struck and the fortress burned to the ground. The Krageholm estate, including the present castle and lake environ have their beginnings in the Viking era and there are rune stones in the area.
The town of Ystad was founded around the year 1200. With its cobblestones and medieval buildings lining an irregular network of streets, it is one of the most well-preserved medieval towns in Sweden. Ystad’s Santa Maria Church, one of Skåne’s oldest brick churches, also dates to the 1200s. More recently, the town has achieved international recognition as the setting for the well-known detective series by Swedish author Henning Mankell, about the fictional Police Inspector Kurt Wallander.
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