Along the Away

a traveler's tales

As if Gotland doesn’t already have enough amazing sights – a 13th century town and ringwall, dramatic coastal rock formations and beautiful beaches – it’s got the underground covered too. The Lummelunda Caves (Lummelundagrottan) is one of the biggest in Sweden, measuring 4km long in the parts that have been investigated. The area above ground is a natural reserve with some really pretty foresttrails and buildings. We spent a couple of hours walking around the area, it is such a beautiful place to visit especially on such a gorgeous sunny day – Swedish summer is better in Gotland than the mainland :-)

We joined a tour group into the caves which was delivered in Swedish and English (thankfully!) There was a small group of us English speakers, so the guide addressed us first and then the Swedes. It was really comical how our small group would give a laugh at the jokes and then five minutes later the bigger Swedish crowd would roar with laughter – haha! Obviously all the jokes are given the same to each group.

The story of the discovery of the caves is amazing – in fact a movie has been made out of it. Three Swedish teenagers discovered the caves in 1948 just by being curious and one wiggling his way through a gap in the rock. Part of the tour includes watching a short documentary including interviews with the now adult discoverers. The two boys waiting on the outside were about to give up on the other when they finally heard him calling them to follow him in. This original entrance to the cave is not very accessible because the gap is too small for an adult to fit! That really says a lot about how intrepid these teens were, I wonder if the generations of today would be so brave? Now that it seems everything has been discovered and we can detect pretty much everything geographical from our satellites it kinda sucks the magical hope of possibilities from exploring your own backyard. Anyway, the caves have since generated massive amounts of revenue in various ways but these three guys never earned a cent. They told the world about the caves a few years after discovering it, having explored as much as they could (even after having grown to big to fit in the original entrance and finding another way in). I love stories like this, such curiosity and bravery!

The caves are magnificent as most are (there is something otherworldly about exploring somewhere that is usually hidden from view). Increasing the wonder of the experience was the plummet in temperature in the caves (about 8 degrees!) plus all the fairytale names for all the halls, stalactites, stalagmites and fossils. It was hard to take photos but we tried:

Back out into the sun and above ground again we walked our way back through the countryside and fields of flowers, so dreamy.

On our drive back to Visby we stopped at Lickershamn which is a little coastal spot with a pebble beach and an impressive rock formation atop the cliff at the end of the beach – it is the largest ‘rauk’ in Sweden and is called Jungfrun. A rauk is a sea stack which is a strange occurrence of the sea eroding the soft rock on a coastline leaving behind the hard limestone core.

We walked along the trails up to Jungfrun where I read a sign that gave a pretty sad story:

The legend behind the highest rauk in Gotland tells about a man named Likajr who placed his daughter, Öllegard, on the top of the rauk and challenged her boyfriend Helge, who was a slave, to climb up and get her. If he did, he would be allowed to marry her. Realizing that the young man, carrying Öllegard on his back down the cliff, was about to accomplish this task, Likajr fired an arrow into Helge’s head. Both the boy and the girl crashed into the sea and were never seen again.

We got back on the road, stopping on the way at an artist’s residence to look in the studio at view paintings and some beautiful pottery.

By the time we got back to Visby we had a quick potter about at home then went into the old town for dinner. We always pass these concrete sheep on our way – and all over Gotland actually! They’re pretty cute though – had to hop on for a pic :-)

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Sydney based, coastal dwelling. When I'm not at work I'm somewhere outdoors, or in the yoga studio, or at my local cafe, or pottering at home.

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