Söderåsen is a ridge (more precisely, a horst) in Scania in southern Sweden. On Söderåsen can you find Scania’s highest point: 212 m above sea level. It is intersected by several fissure valleys. The ridge extends from the village Röstanga in the southeast to the small town Åstorp in northwest. Söderåsen National Park is 30 km east of Helsingborg.
The Söderåsen National Park (Swedish: Söderåsens nationalpark) is a designated area of about 16 km². Söderåsen national Park was established in 2001 in Klippan and Svalöv locals. It ranges from Skäralids ravine in the north to the south Nackarpsdalen.
The basic geological layout is approximately 150 million years old. There are few indications that people lived here permanently before the middle ages, when small time farmers moved in. The terrain makes both agriculture and forestry difficult, but parts of Söderåsen still houses some small-time farms (mostly livestock). Forestry was never widespread, but some areas were planted with red spruce which is fast-growing and was believed to be more economically attractive for forest owners, but is a tree not native to this area. Since 2001, when the national park was established, planting of red spruce has largely stopped and some areas with red spruce are being replanted with beech and other naturally occurring trees.
The landscape is rugged with deep ravines and prominent hilltops. Most is covered with beech forest dotted with other types of trees. Some open areas hold small-scale livestock farms. In some places the walls of ravines are very steep with scree at the bottom - here it can be both extremely dangerous and damaging to the nature to attempt climbing!
Flora and fauna
The vegetation is dominated by old-growth beech forest intermingled with other broad-leaf trees and small pockets of conifers. Both beech and oak grow to great height, and some of Sweden's tallest broad-leaf trees grow here with heights in excess of 40 m. Dead tree is left to rot except in very few cases where it may pose an immediate danger to the public, and even along the official paths it may be necessary to pass some huge, old trunk lying as it fell.
The ravines often are humid in the bottom which makes a good habitat for a number of rare ferns, mosses and liverworts. Söderåsen has a high diversity of mosses and liverworts, and houses a number of species which in Sweden are found only here and very few other places near by. Take extra care not to damage mosses and liverworts, which may look all the same, but are not.
The abundance of rotting tree also makes the ideal habitat for a great number of fungi, and the ideal home for a large number of beetles.
Söderåsen is part of the Tornquist-zone group of ridges which in Scania forms the border between the mild sub-Atlantic climate of Denmark and Northern Germany, and the colder boreal zone predominant in Sweden, Finland and Norway. Rain, mist and fogs are common and may appear and disappear rapidly. Temperature may also change quite a bit from day to day depending on which climatic zone has local dominance, and while the hilltops could be hot and sunny the ravine bottoms can be cold and moist, especially in the morning. Generally the weather is gentle but hard to predict; make sure to dress in layers if walking longer distances.
The easiest is to get in by car, while walking or cycling are also possible. Söderåsen is passed by the long-distance path Skåneleden. The Söderåsen area in general borders on the small town Åstorp which has a railway station. The National Park is however not near any station, but is accessible by bus.
There are three important entry points:
- Skäralid Naturum Information Centre which also features a restaurant (for access to Skäralid and the national park in general)
- Röstånga Tourist Information (for access to Odensjöen and the national park in general)
- Klåveröd Café and Hostel (for access to the Klåveröd Strövområde)
Fees and permits
Access to the area and to the national park is free. Fees apply in some cases for parking, using shelters and toilets but most is free. Fishing may require special permits. Hunting is popular in Sweden, but regulated by strict laws and by local regulations. In Sweden you are never allowed to carry any kind of shooting weapon without a special permit, and failure to observe Swedish law in this case may incur severe fines, permanent confiscation of the weapon and possible imprisonment, as the carrying of a weapon without permit is considered a criminal offence.
A few forest roads leads to parking places and trailheads inside the national park, but in general the only possible way to get around inside the national park is by foot! The Söderåsen area in general is crossed by a few minor roads accessible by car or bicycle. Buses connect towns in the surrounding areas with villages inside the area and important sights and trailheads, but service is infrequent, and getting from one point inside Söderåsen area to another is virtually impossible by bus.
The National Park and the various "Strövområden" have clearly marked trails which are generally well kept.
- 1 Skäralid (Park at the Naturum which is clearly marked with signs, then walk from the parking lot.). Skäralid is an up to 100 m deep and 7 km long ravine, although only the first 4 km are walkable. It starts at the Skäralid lake and Skäralid Naturum Information Centre where there is also a parking lot and a restaurant. Walking is relatively easy as the more difficult sections are covered with boardwalks.
- 2 Kopparhatten (from the main carpark follow the signs towards Kopparhatten, it is accessible by car and it is possible to park at the top). At 200 m (660 ft) above sea level, it is the highest point in Söderåsens national park and offers fantastic views.
- 3 Odensjön Lake (park at Röstånga Tourist information, walk down the stairs and follow the broad gravel road). Odensjön is a lake inside what is believed to be a volcanic crater. The crater rim stands 30 m above the lake which in itself is 20m deep.
- 4 Klåveröd Strövområde. Klåveröd Strövområde is a nature reserve of less protection than the national park area. Still has clearly marked trails. Includes "Skorstensdalen" (litarally "Chimney Valley") with strange rock formations, and the Tranerödsmossen raised bog where can be found both cranberry and the elusive cloudberry as well as many other interesting plants. In the bog stay on the paths!
- 5 Klöva Hallar (drive to the crossing between M1816 (from Ljungbyhed) and M1818 (from Klippan) near the small hamlet Klintarp; drive up M1818 opposite direction from Klippan). Another deep and very impressive ravine, but less known and less visited. Access to the ravine bottom is difficult and requires waterproof, sturdy footwear. However there are several paths along the top of the ravine and several good viewpoints.
Röstånga is the main "hub" for access to Söderåsen, but it's not a big place. There is a supermarket, a service station a few shops and several places to eat and sleep (including the ones listed for Röstånga below. There's also a Tourist Information. Many places have seasonal opening hours, typical open almost all days in summer, weekends in spring and autumn and may be completely closed in winter.
- 1 Skäralids restaurang. A fine restaurant with varying opening hours - check before arrival. Reservation may be necessary.
- 2 Söderåsens vandrarhem. Hostel in Röstånga which also has a restaurant.
- 3 Röstånga gästgivaregard. Hotel.
- 4 [formerly dead link] "Stationen" Röstånga. Evening dinner and restaurant.
- 5 Klåveröds vandrarhem. Hostel with café in the middle of Söderåsen (in the Klåveröd Strövområde).
- 6 Lotta på Åsen. Café.
Never attempt to climb the screes at the base of the slopes, it is extremely dangerous. You may easily stumble on the rocks, or - far worse - start a rockslide which may be lethal.