Småland is water. Småland is forest. A province of blue and green tones that welcomes the wild person in you. Deep in the safe cocoon of the kayak you glide soundlessly through the water. Above you just sky and the occasional shade of a green branch. Småland offers you Värendsleden, a 120 kilometre water route with meandering rivers that spread out into lakes. Make the most of it.
The natural starting point for paddling along Värendsleden is as far upstream as possible. The route starts from the northernmost point of Lake Asasjön where the village of Asa has been for hundreds of years, in the most scenic of places. The landscape is open with the glittering blue Lake Asasjön at the bottom of a shallow valley. It’s not just paddlers who come to Asa. Asa Herrgård, with its fantastic restaurant and several historic sights, also attracts visitors.
Outlook tower and lock
The next lake is Tolgasjön. Down along the eastern shore, you can pick up your canoe and stretch your legs on a walk. Head for Nykullahöjden outlook tower and don’t forget to take the map. From there, you can see the rest of your journey through Lake Skavenäsasjön and the locks in Åby. With a bit of luck, you will arrive at the locks at the same time as the steamer Thor to enjoy the spectacle of Sweden’s southernmost lock operating. You will of course carry your canoe past the lock.
Boulder ridges and warlike Smålanders
Lake Helgasjön now awaits and with it an adventure round every corner or behind every holm. Jägaregap, a boulder ridge and nature reserve, stretches across the narrowest point, and must be visited. Sit on the round stones with your back against a spruce and catch the sun on your nose for a while before the journey continues towards the historic ruined castle of Kronoberg where you can enjoy a nice coffee and contemplate how the warlike ancient Smålanders led by Nils Dacke rebelled against Gustav Vasa.
A roaring river and small quiet lakes
Now it’s time to secure the load. The next section is flowing and shallow, and incredibly beautiful. Glide along Helige River past Lake Bergkvarasjön and Lake Kråkesjön before you get to Gemla and Lake Gemlasjön. The paddling from here is more comfortable, as the river takes you via Lake Furen to the old works location Gransholm and past Os out onto the next big lake, Salen. A few kilometres south, you will reacquaint yourself with Helige River and soon reach Huseby Bruk where you can enjoy the summer café and some handicraft shopping.
Floating and fishing
Lake Åsnen stretches out beautifully in a north-south direction. End to end, the lake measures almost 30 kilometres and, like many Småland lakes, it is split into fjords with lots of islands. For hundreds of years, logs have been floated here and bog ore mined to feed the works around the lake. Buy a fishing permit and end your paddling adventure in this fish-rich lake by catching your own final lunch watched by the osprey.