I hoped to explore more of the beautiful nature of Sweden and taking a train called Lennakatten seemed to be a nice way to do so, since it was advertised as “33 km long scenic historic railway through the Uppland”. There are several stops on the way from Uppsala to Faringe and I chose Länna, about 20 km west of Uppsala, to be my destination.
Prior to my trip I got a flyer in Swedish with brief descriptions of the stations as well as a timetable. It was not easy to decide where to go, since every single stop offered a restaurant or cafe, nice surroundings and most of them also great hiking opportunities. Description of Länna, apparently also spelled as Lenna, promised Vallon mill dating back to 1700’s which nowadays serves as a restaurant, possibility to walk to Fjällnora which was another train station, and natural and cultural experience. I might have mistranslated something, however the truth is that the village of Lenna and its surroundings did not come up to my expectations. For the first time, I found myself in situations when knowing at least some Swedish would be very useful. Just buying the ticket was not so easy at is usually is. That was all the criticism and let’s write about the strengths of the trip.
The best experience of the day and surely one of the best in my life was the ride by train, especially its stretch from Uppsala to Marielund, which was about half an hour long. This part of the journey was covered by very old steam train and I was enjoying it from the very first minute.
The presence of steam train at Uppsala Station, where I started my trip, was easy to recognize: something noisy, smelly and covered in smoke reached the platform shortly before 10am. Locomotive loaded with coal was followed by railway cars of different kinds, however none of them was similar to those used in 21th century.
I voluntarily got on the railway car of third class to make my travel as authentic as possible and it was a great choice. It was a wooden one and also its interior was done from wood: window frames, doors, seats, floor.
While taking such an old train, an old-fashioned ticket was necessary. When the conductor came to check my ticket, he used little pliers to make a little hole in it. In a train like this, it would be naive to expect screens, so ahead of each station, a conductor came announcing the next stop. He usually said quite a lot, however in Swedish, so I was glad to get the name of the station.
Although the carriage I chose was the last one, the ride was still pretty foggy and stinky because of the burning coal from time to time. Part of the experience was also the noisiness both of the locomotive and wagons as well as hardness of the wooden seats, and bumping up and down all the time.
Another nice thing about the train was the uniforms of conductors and especially kids looked very cute.
Working as a conductor on this train seemed to me as a perfect summer job. However, only until I realized what was the way to get from one wagon to another one:
On my way from Uppsala to Lenna, I had to change the train in Marielund. and it was a nice stop. Since it took them some time to get everything prepared for train going in the opposite direction and than for my train, I could look around, take some pictures and moreover witness throwing the railroad switches. Marielund was a nice place, where people were setting some kind of flea-market, and there were also cafe and wooden theater.
The station of Marielund. On the left “my” 3rd class carriage, on the right newer train going to Uppsala, further back quite old railwayman’s house:
Finally, it was time to hop on the next train and keep going more to the west, deeper into the woods. Although the second train was a steam one as well, it had to be much newer. The locomotive was painted in green and the wagons looked better, too.
It took about 20 more minutes until an old conductor showed up shouting: “Lenna! Nästa station – Lenna!”
A railwayman’s house like this welcomed me at my destination:
… however, the station itself was not so nice.
The flyer I had, as well as Lennakatten’s website, promised the old Vallon mill to be here and I was determined to check first of all. However, there was no signpost pointing in the right direction. Why not to take the main road, well – rather the main path? This led my to an old house and as I figured out later, it was also one of few that were not wooden.
Right in front of, there it was the building, which I came to see. The restaurant part of the advertisement was completely true, however you would not guess it used to be a mill. The only evidence for that might have been the dry steam bed.
The opening hours of Länna Bruk Restaurant shall be the proof of loneliness of the village with barely 700 inhabitants: Mon-Sat from 4pm, Sun from 1pm.Becoming convinced there was hardly anything left from the original mill building, I gave a try to the hiking part of the advertisement.
This was an experience! Within few minutes I was somewhere in wild Swedish forest, surrounded by huge trees, large stones and high horsetails. Although I planned to truly experience the beautiful nature of Sweden, getting lost in a dark forest was not exactly the kind of experience I was hoping for. Therefore, I decided to keep on the main path, without taking any turnings. Even this simple strategy allowed me to see and try so much: huge horsetails, climbing up the hills, taking a fragile wooden footbridge, fear of bear showing up suddenly, reaching shores of a large lake. And mosquito bites. This little insects were much more annoying than I could ever imagine. Although I killed lots of then, they were the winners: in only an hour they managed to make me a present of 12 bites, making it a bite every fifth minute. Well, twelve is number of bites I could either feel itching or see, and I have a suspicion I got even more of them.
As soon as mosquitoes forced me to leave the forest I returned to the village in a hope for finding something interesting there. Does not every village have at least a church? Lenna apparently did not have any, but still I discovered some interesting buildings.
Probably a factory, however the building also had a free bathroom (I tried it) and a wine cellar of the restaurant nearby (I saw a waiter carrying bottles of wine).
A house called Petersburg and according to number of mailboxes, several families shared it.
A local library, which could be found in a building looking too much as an apartment house. I wonder whether there was an office in one of the apartments and than several books saved in the basement.
At around 2pm I felt like I had enough of Lenna.
Although I planned to return by steam train, after all I decided to get on an earlier one. This train was an orange train I had seen in Marielund before and even though it was not a steam train, it was still quite an experience to take it. Thanks to this train, my “travel in time” continued eve more forward. These wagons were already quite comfortable, yet I appreciate I do not have to commute to school with this one.
This train was doing faster than the old one and I was back in Uppsala in bit less than an hour. On the way back, it stopped at Marielund for some time, but I did not have to change this time.
Although I have doubts Lenna is the best destination you can go to, it is surely worth taking the train. The biggest experience to me where the ride itself, particularly with the steam train sitting in a wooden carriage, as well as the opportunity to travel through Swedish nature: vast woods and field with scattered red houses.