The Österlencirkeln Trail inland in southeastern Skåne offers a wide variety of experiences for the senses. You follow the bubbling Verkeån River in varying terrain, walk along lonely forest paths where the houses are few and far between, as well as past interesting cultural delights like the alum works, Hallamölla mill and the old homestead Agusastugan. The hike ends with a walk through the vast heathland in the Drakamöllan Nature Reserve.
Where? Torparebron-Verkasjön-Agusa-Torparebron Length: 34 km. Difficulty: Moderate
The Österlencirkeln Circular Trail on SL4 Österlenleden Trail takes you from Torparebron at Brösarp, past Verkasjön Lake and back again. Get off the bus at the Torparebron bus stop, go past the parking lot in the west, and start your hike towards the southwest. Please note that three sections of the Skåneleden Trail meet here. Choose the one in the direction of the alum works (“Alunbruket”).
Vantalänganis an old, grey barn from the 1800s that now serves as a rest hostel. The roomy building is named after a man from Vantaröd who went by the name Vanten and lived in the barn up until about 1900. In addition to plenty of room for tents, the site has several newly-build wind shelters.
After a walk along the Verkeån River that takes you up and down the hills, you reach Hallamölla – the home of the highest single waterfall in Skåne. Hallamölla Mill dates back to the 1200s and is mentioned in writing for the first time in 1491. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was a popular general store here.
The birdlife around the falls is lively, with grey wagtails (Motacilla cinerea), kingfishers (Alcedo atthis) and white-throated dippers (Cinclus cinclus). Lichens and mosses thrive in the constantly moist air, and the salmon make their way upstream to play. Take your time exploring the surroundings, and feel free to take a walk over the bridge leading past the falls. Take a seat at one of the tables next to the mill, eat your packed lunch, and listen to the waterfall – it’s never quiet here.
Eventually, you reach Verkasjön Lake, well hidden among lush greenery, and originally an old peat that supplied the nearby alum works with fuel. Today, it is a favourite of recreational fishermen, with perch, pike and rainbow trout just waiting to be caught.
You have now reached a historic site in this part of Skåne. The alum works at Andrarum was founded in 1637, and was in operation up through 1929. The alum was used for purposes such as tanning hides and as a disinfectant. In the 1700s, Countess Christina Piper of Christinehof Castle made the alum works one of the biggest industries in the Nordic region.
The site still has traces of its industrial past, for example the boiler building, grain magazine and alum pit. If you look at the ground, you can see pieces of alum shale spread out. On an elevation northeast of the alum works, there was previously a courthouse, with pillory and jail cells.
If you would like to take a detour, you can hike to Christinehof Castle, which was built in 1741 in memory of Christina Piper’s husband, field marshal Carl Piper. The castle is open to visitors, and is situated in an ecopark with large wetland areas and leafy paths. There is also a popular coffee shop in the area.
Back on the trail, you pass the flax kiln in Bredabäck with its beautiful stone arch built into a hill. A flax kiln was used by villagers in the past to dry and prepare their flax. They were situated away from the villages by law since fires could start in the kilns when the flax dried and sparks could spread to the straw roofs in the village.
After hiking along the lush forest paths and curvy gravel roads, you come to the esker known as Jären, which is the largest glacier-formed ridge in eastern Skåne. During your walk on the ridge, you can feast your eyes on beech forests, heaths and meadows. Jären terminates in a 200-hectare wildlife enclosure south of Agusa, where you can see both red deer and wild boar.
After Hörröd, you hike through a juniper field, continue along gravel roads and forest paths, and then eventually reach Drakamöllan Nature Reserve, with its dazzling, beautiful heathland. In Sweden, you can only find landscape like this on Öland and Gotland’s Alvar. The hills are covered in purple when the heather blooms, and a wealth of butterflies flock here during the warm months of the year.
The landscape in Drakamöllan Nature Reserve was formed with the inland glacier began receding after the last ice age. The nature reserve gets its name from the 17th century Drakamöllan farm situated near the base of a lighthouse. It was named in writing for the first time in 1610, when it was referred to as Dragemölle. The farm is said to have been named after the miller Draike, who ran one of the mills along Julebodaån River.
After passing through the sandy and hilly moraine landscape at Maglehems Ora, you will reach Torparbron, where you can hop back on the bus.