Scania tour Skånerundan

Text by John Ney and Ingvar Larsson
When new homes were built and in the Klöxhult area in the early 1970s, local residents began discussing the possibilities for illuminated ski and running tracks in the area. Work started in 1978 and the 2.4 km illuminated track was officially inaugurated 28 September the same year.

The work was financed by what was then the Leisure Services Committee of the Municipality of Älmhult and by donations from the Lions Club, but it was also facilitated by voluntary contributions, electric plant and equipment from the power company Sydkraft's sports club, the local peat-cutting company Killebergs Torv and the sports club, Älmhultskorpen.

In 1984 the local orienteering club, OK Älme, erected a club-house adjacent to the track.

Over the years new tracks have been added, and in 1990 a "culture trail" was created along the 4.6 km Skånerundan track.

One of the real driving forces behind this work throughout the 25 years that the tracks have been in existence has been John Ney. Being a member of both Älmhultskorpen and Elmhults Sport Club, not many days have passed not seeing John out using or working on the tracks; more often than not in the company of Ingvar Larsson.

Here at the start and finishing line a stone has been erected to commemorate the origins of the tracks in 1978, and the fact that Älmhultskorpen has been responsible for keeping them in good condition ever since.

1. Samuel's croft (text by John Käll)
Here was once (late 18th to early 19th century) a crofter's holding, consisting of very small buildings. The living quarters measured a mere 9 x 7 cubits, (5 ½ x 4 meters). The barn and outhouses were also extremely small.

The occupants were, however, industrious farmers; the considerable number of stone piles that bound the area once cultivated with sweat, blood and tears using only primitive tools to make the land productive, is proof of this.

The buildings appear to have been abandoned already in the 1830s, but the fields has apparently been cultivated long after this. From the name of the place, it is reasonable to assume that the last occupant was called Samuel.

2. The cannon (text by Ingvar Larsson and John Ney)
A tornado-like hurricane cut a swathe through the Klöxhult recreation area on 29 January 2002. Approximately 600 cubic metres of mature trees, estimated to be around 70 years old were uprooted by the storm that devastated an area 12,800 square metres in size (1.2 hectares or approximately 3 acres).

Inevitably, some of the trees fell across the tracks and electricity lines, but fortunately there was no snow at the time, which facilitated the clearing-up operations in the wake of the storm. Even so, enormous amounts of muscle power, mechanical equipment and voluntary work were required to rehabilitate the forest, repair the electricity lines and make it possible to use the tracks again.

The largest tree that fell (a 130-year old spruce) was preserved to commemorate this work, and two logs were placed by the roots to transform the 36-metre giant into a "cultural installation" in the form of a cannon. The "cannon" stands on a slight mound in the midst of the clearing, and carries this engraving (in Swedish) among its roots:

"The cannon"
To commemorate the hurricane
29 January - 2002
3. Björkelund croft (text by John Käll)
This place has even been called Hjertssons torp after the Hjertensson family who were the last occupants. Anders-Johan, the father, was a carpenter and a builder. After his death, the buildings fell to ruins, and were pulled down around 1930. Some of the timber was used for a hen house in Froafälle.

Note the walled pit in the foundations, a small cellar was once approached from the kitchen by a trapdoor in the floor. The barn included a stable, walled with stone.
Remains of the dam can be seen behind the foundations of the barn – the builder may have been so up to date as to have used a water-driven plane. Machine-planed shingles probably came into use around this time.

4. Tar making (text of John Käll)
One way of obtaining wood for making tar employed in this area before the 1850s was to "milk" growing pine trees. The bark was simply hacked away near the base of the tree. 30 cm up the trunk grom the ground in the first year and then another 15 cm up in subsequent years to a total height of around 3 cubits (180 cm). Resin then ran out in large quantities into the open wound in the trunk and after three or four years this could be cut away and burned in the normal way for making tar.

In his journey through Scania, Carl Linnaeus describes the widespread practice of tar making here in his "home country".

5a. The county boundary Småland – Scania (text by John Käll)
The 600-year-old border between Denmark and Sweden became a county boundary following the Peace of Roskilde on 26th February 1658.

During the wars between the two sister nations in the 17th century guerilla fighters called 'snapphanar', snipers, operated in the area. The guerillas also took part in the border fighting during 1676-1679. It was on the 26th to 27th July 1676 that the famous "Loshult Coup" took place in this region - king Karl XI's war chest was stolen. The chest was made up of among other things several wagon loads of the largest metal coins ever minted, the so-called copper notes. People from both sides of the border appear to have been involved in the robbery.

Even today, there is a marked linguistic boundary here between the dialects of Småland and Scania.

5b. Border stone (text by John Ney)
At this point where the border between Småland and Scania crosses the Skåne-tour running track is a border stone raised to mark the place. For this purpose was obtained a suitable stone in diabas (black granite) from Tranetorps quarry in Lönsboda. The stone's weight is about 4 tons and its is engraved with the following text (in Swedish):

The year 2002
JN (stands for John Ney)
6. Narrarp croft (text by John Käll)
Just south of the old border with Denmark, now the boundary with Scania, lie the remains of a little croft once called Narrarp. The foundations of the living quarters, barn and outhouses are all that remain.

Otherwise, everything has been forgotten. The sketch shows how it may once have looked.

By following the path some 100 meters south you will find foundations of a so-called hill cottage on a small hill just to the right of the path. Hill cottages were built with three sides cut into the hillside and only the front gable and roof made of wood.

7. Tar Pile (text by John Käll)
A Tar Pile, or Tar Still, is a "gully" dug out on a hillside. The gully is completely cleared of stones and smoothed by tramping down the earth. At the bottom of the gully is a stone lined embankment. To make the tar, the gully was completely filled with finely cut pine wood, rich in resin. The wood was then covered with a thick layer of spruce twigs and soil to prevent air from flowing into the pile. When this had been carefully done, the pine at the top of the gully was ignited. When the fire was well under way, a bellows and pipe were fitted and carefully sealed. Air was then pumped in to keep the wood glowing without it bursting into flames. The resin (tar) melted and ran out through the pipe into a container and was then poured into barrels. Tar was once a major Småland export product.

Pitch cooking  
Pitch was made by cooking the tar made as above. Cooking took place in a cast-iron pot on a stone-lined oven as on the right of the above sketch. The tar was cooked until all liquids had boiled away when it became very thick and transformed into pitch.

It was poured while hot into cones of spruce bark, known as screws of pitch. Pitch was used by, among others, cobblers and sadlers for impregnating the sowing-threads. It was also used for sealing wooden boats and ships.

8. Potato clamp (text by John Käll)
Pits, as shown here, were used during the 18th and 19th centuries for the winter storage of the potato crop from an area of newly cleared and burned woodland.

If access to the new plantation was difficult, farmers waited for winter when snow and frost made it easier to bring the crop home through the trackless forest using animals pulling sledges.

In the meantime, potatoes were stored in a clamp near the cleared woodland.

9. Stone walls (text by John Käll)
Småland is renowned for its endless stone walls bordering the fields and lanes. The walls are not just a characteristic of the countryside but a monument of the hard work of earlier generations.

There are many different types of stone walls, but the most common in our region is the so-called "double wall" as shown above. It consists of two rows of large stones between which small stones were piled. But first, a ditch was dug deep enough to avoid frost and then filled with stones. The wall was then built on top of this. Its sides usually tilted inwards for greater stability. It was obviously very hard and time-consuming work building a good stone wall but the reward was stone-free fields and fences that never needed to be repaired. Many beautiful walls, still standing, are a testimony to the impressive skill of their builders.

10. Aspholmen crofts (text by John Käll)
Aspholmen was a croft leased from the Ormakulla manor, about one kilometer east of Aspholmen (Älmhult Local Society stores its collection in what used to be the barn at Ormakulla).

The last occupants of Aspholmen were a couple called Sven and Johanna, and their children. In the 1930s, when the couple had died, the house was demolished. Several of the children emigrated to America.

The remains of a wolf pit can be found on the hill to the west of the foundations. Look out for the information sign by the pit!

Addition to the text, by John Ney
A large group of junipers - up to 5 meters tall - are growing in a large part the crofts' former cultivated area. This is well worth seeing.

11. Wolf pit (text by John Käll)
The wolf was once known as "the grey one". It was not considered advisable to call it by its actual name as this was believed to attract the blood-thirsty beasts.

Wolves were to be found as far south as this until the middle of the 19th century. The last Småland wolf was probably killed in 1864. Grazing domestic animals often fell victim to "the grey one", a cause of obvious hardship to the animal's - often poor - owner.

People were afraid of wolves and the beasts were really hated. As soon as there was a rumour of a wolf nearby, a wolf pit was dug. These traps were constructed by laying a roof of sticks, covered with twigs and grass, against a pole in the middle of the pit.

The roof was laid as to give in when a wolf, or even more often a fox, went in to devour the frightened, cackling hen or other bait that had been tied to the pole. The wolf, having fallen in to the pit and being unable to climb out again, was easy prey for the hunter's spear.

12.  Harastenen (Hare Rock, text by John Ney)
Why is this boulder known as "Harastenen" ("Hare Rock")?
First of all, it is worth pointing out that this is no small rock, but a relatively large boulder, around 100 cubic meters in volume (10m x 5m x 2m), lying almost completely exposed on the surface of the earth in Klöxhult. What is really remarkable, though, is that there are no other such stones nearby, leaving this huge boulder alone in the area.

But how did it get its name?
Several years ago, when hares were much more common in these parts, they often used to pass by this boulder, especially when being chased by hounds. The hunters soon became wise to this, so whenever the hounds began to flush out the hare, a hunter was ordered to run to "Hare Rock" to keep watch. Remarkably, nine times out of ten, the hare came dashing past right under the hunter's nose - and that night there was hare stew in the pot. Maybe this is where the term "hare-brained" comes from?

How has this boulder come to be lying here?
It must have been moved here by one of the glaciers that spread from the north to cover the area in the Ice Age. Not too far from here is a "necklace" of smaller blocks of stone, stretching from the north and becoming more numerous further south towards the hamlet around Loshult Church. Their distribution suggests that they have been brought here by the ice and that the heavier stones have worked their way free at an earlier stage.