SELÅNGER – BORGSJÖ
St. Olav landed in Selånger, the main harbour at the time. From there he began his journey towards Stiklestad and Nidaros (the old name for Trondheim). The pilgrim trail starts at the ruins of Selånger church. Tradition has it that St. Olav raised a copper-clad cross there with the inscription “Land för stam i Jesu namn” (roughly: “A country for a tribe in Jesus’ name”).
The church dates from the early 12th century and fell into ruins in the 19th century. Today the ruins serve as a peaceful venue for music and services, and there are plans to build a pilgrimage centre beside it. Travellers arriving in Sundsvall by train can follow the route signs for 10 kilometers from Sundsvall station to Selånger. St. Olavsleden passes Kungsnäs, where there was once a royal estate. The route goes through Selånger valley in rural landscape with traces of Iron Age civilisation. In Påläng, the route turns off towards Västeråsen and several other Medieval villages. Tuna parish stretches through the Ljungan valley. The first St. Olav spring is on this part of the route, in Vattjom. The route has been modified and no longer passes along highway E14. Instead, you walk through picturesque landscape beside the lake, where you can take a refreshing dip. You then continue past Loböle community centre.
“If you lived in Stöde, you would be home now” says the classic sign that marks the area’s main town. There is a sculpture of St. Olav inside the church, and beside Ljungan river is a herb garden that makes a fragrant and peaceful meditation spot. There is an outdoor bathing facility along the route and a local heritage centre at the top of Huberget. Baggnäsgården was once an inn where travellers could change their horses. It still offers accommodation for today’s travellers.
After passing Viskan river, you walk past Storboda into beautiful rural countryside. Here is the old steamboat Ljungfrun af Torpshammar. Until 1877, boats travelled across lakes Stödesjön and Torpsjön through Ede canal, which had a series of locks. Where the route passes Gimån, you can see a concrete conduit used for log driving. Monks are reported to have offered accommodation for pilgrims in Klöstre in the Middle Ages. You can enjoy a wonderful view over lake Torpsjön from Fränsta local heritage centre. There is a 13th century sculpture of St. Olav in Torp church. You will see Vikbron, an impressive 133 metre long wooden bridge built in 1888, the longest bridge of its kind i Sweden. The route continues along Kärleksstigen (Lovers’ Lane), where there is a picnic area and a windbreak.
After Ljungaverk, you reach Johannisberg, one of northern Sweden’s largest country estates in the 1850s. A pillory once stood on the border between Torp and Borgsjö parishes, and the last execution was held there in 1809. The route passes Ö, the village with the shortest name in Sweden. Don’t forget to visit the St. Olav spring in Borgsjö at the foot of Bergåsen. There are sculptures of St. Olav in Borgsjö church, one of Sweden’s most beautiful Rococo churches. The church’s bell tower is known as “the king of Scandinavian wooden towers”. Pilgrims ending their journey in Borgsjö have good reason to remain there for some sightseeing.