Häckeberga Circular Trail

Beautiful ruins of a mill, a legendary castle, Skåne’s only 16th century church, and a modern airport. The Häckeberga Circular Trail outside of Genarp east of Malmö puts both beautiful natural scenery and exciting cultural history on display. You walk across dry hillsides full of flowers, past wet marshes, and in the shade cast by the deciduous trees.

Photo: Mickael Tannus

Where? Genarp-Häckeberga-Genarp Length: 25 km Difficulty: Moderate

This hike follows Skåneleden Trail’s sub-trail SL2, Nord till Sydleden Trail sections 15 and 15A. You travel from the areas around Häckeberga Castle and past Malmö Airport before making your way back through the nature reserve south of Lake Häckeberga. Start your hike at Allmänningen east of Genarp. To get here, take the bus to the Genarp busstationen bus stop and hike east along the road Heckebergavägen.

Genarp is a very old site. 25 Stone Age settlements have been found in the area, and there is also a burial mound from the Bronze Age. Don’t forget to take a look at Skåne’s only 16th century church – a tall and stately brick church built on the initiative of Marshal of the Realm Hak Holgersen Ulfstand of the Häckeberga Estate.

The magnificent exterior of the church reflects the nobility’s importance in the area. For example, Freeman Tönnes Wrangel rests under a high obelisk in the cemetery. Genarp is also known for its association with author Lars Norén, who spent his childhood here when his parent ran the hotel called Genarps Järnvägshotell. There was a railway connection with Malmö here between 1894 and 1948.

In the past, a large part of Romeleåsen Ridge was pasture. Nowadays, a significant part of it has been planted and is dominated by spruces. Häckeberga Pastureland, called Allmänningen, is a nature reserve created to protect the pastures of the area. They are rich in fragrant flowers, such as pasque flowers (Pulsatilla vulgaris) and cowslips (Primula veris).

The ruins of Häckeberga Mill at Höje Stream in the western part of Allmänningen is a lovely place to have a picnic or just wander around and explore. The beautiful rocky flume runs a long distance along the stream, and time seems to stand still in the lush surroundings. Genarp residents call the ruins Vannmöllan, and the mill is mentioned in writing for the first time in 1624 under the name Hieckebierig Mölle.

The mill had probably been at that site a long time before this since it was referred to as old even in the 1700s. The mill also served as a farm, with a home, stables, barn and mill building. The mill itself consisted of three floors made of brick on a greystone foundation. It had three mills and two crushers.

Not far from the courtyard, there are traces of a well-worn route called Gängesvägen, Bedevägen or Karl XI:s väg. The “road” was created by all the traffic to and from the mill, and when cattle were moved back and forth between Genarp and the outlying land at Romeleåsen Ridge. Improvements were made to the road at the end of the 1600s when it served as a marching route between Lund and Ystad during the war with Denmark.

The road Gängesvägen is about 40 metres wide and is lined with stone fences on both sides for a stretch spanning about a thousand metres. The name Gängesvägen may be related to the Swedish word for the stone fences, while the name Bedevägen may come from its use as a route to take animals to pasture. If you look closely, you can see traces of depressions in the ground that sometimes split into three or four parallel lines – when the tracks became too deep, they had to be redirected.

After the ruins of the mill, you hike southwest along the Skåneleden Trail at the edge of the Risen nature reserve with its open pastureland. You continue through a classic estate landscape that is part of Häckeberga. The area has a wealth of wildlife, so don’t be surprised if you see the dark back of a fallow deer, hear the call of a red deer, or catch a glimpse of the white backside of a roe deer. During your hike in this enchanting environment, you can wonder at the wild boar tracks in the field or enjoy the birds of prey as they swoop through the air.

Häckeberga Castle was designed by Helgo Zetterwall and built between 1873 and 1875. Today, it serves as a hotel and conference facility. The site was formerly home to at Renaissance castle from the 1530s that was erected by Danish Council member Holger Gregersen Ulfstand. Large parts of the castle were destroyed during the Scanian war between Sweden and Denmark.

As with many other castles, there are ghost stories linked to Häckeberga. Holger Gregersen Ulfstand was said to be considered a threat to Danish King Christian III and was therefore beheaded in Copenhagen. After his death, his wife Helle is said to become so heartbroken that she drowned herself in a pond out in the woods. Some say they have seen Ulfstand riding the grounds with his head under his arm, while others claim to have seen his wife dressed in dripping-wet clothes near the pond.

A long time later, Danish soldiers can to the site when the Danish brigade staked their tents on the grounds of Häckeberga in the spring of 1945. 3,900 men were scattered in the woods around the lake, prepared to return to Denmark and clean things up after the German occupation. Today, there is a memorial plaque on the garden wall in front of the castle which, in translation, states “Thanks to Sweden. The Danish Brigade – Danforce – headquarters April-May 1945”.

As you approach Glamberga, don’t be startled if a plane suddenly thunders overhead. From here, it is not long to Malmö Airport, or Malmö Sturup flygplats as it was called up until 2007. The airport replaced Bulltofta in Malmö and was inaugurated in December 1972. Prior to this, the village of Sturup was levelled to the ground, and some seventy farms were demolished and burned.

Although there is a campsite at Glamberga, you will continue east and pass the Degebergahus nature reserve with its hilly landscape covered in deciduous trees. It is home to lush beech forests and many fallen and decaying wooden giants – home to millions of little bugs. Some of the trees in the fields are over 200 years old. The reserve also has an alder forest, an oak forest, and a stand of sycamore maple.

After Degebergahus, the nature reserve follows Husarahagen, one of Skåne’s most valuable deciduous forests. The name came about in the 1800s, when the Hussars’ horses were put out to summer pasture among the trees. The deciduous forest has been at the site for a very long time, creating great conditions for high biodiversity. The nature reserve is home to several red-listed (i.e. endangered) species such as lichens and insects. Examples of these include the lichen Pyrenula nitida and the cardinal click beetle (Ampedus rufipennis).

As you continue north, you pass the outskirts of the Dörröds Fälad nature reserve, with its open views and lush hazel tree groves. One of the animals thriving here is the tree-climbing hazel dormouse. The Swedish word “fälad” comes from the Danish word “faelled” and means common. What you see are the remains of expansive common pasturelands from the 1600s. Area farmers drove their livestock here for grazing. As the number of grazing animals decreased, the plant life began to take over again. In the 1980s, it was once again cleared.

If you need a place to stay for the night, you can make a detour to the east to the Bilarp/Dörröd campsite, where the Skåneleden Trail spits into a three-way junction. If you continue north, you will come to the Kullatorpet rest hostel at another three-way junction. Kullatorpet Cottage, with its thatched roof, well and kerosene lamps, has been leased by the Swedish Tourist Association since 1940, and is run by volunteers. If you arrive when the main cottage is open, you can warm yourself at the fireplace and cook some food in the kitchen.

As you continue west towards Genarp, you pass the 120-metre-high cliff known as Järnhatten, where the age-old rocks of Romeleåsen Ridge are made up of iron gneiss. Eventually, you reach your starting point, the Allmänningen/Häckeberga campsite. In the past, the site was home to a farm with the same name. Today, all that is left is ruins. Don’t miss the breathtaking view of Häckeberga Pastureland.