Hanging out with gorgeous animals during the day, and wild cooking in the evening – just another day in beautiful Sörmland, Sweden.
If you read my guide to Sörmland, you could probably tell just how much I loved it! Many of the trips I’ve loved most have been the ones that surprised me. While I’d spent time in Sweden before, this was a new region and a total contrast to the likes of Stockholm and Gothenburg.
It’s only an hour from Stockholm, yet much of Sörmland feels remote and untouched. This isn’t suburbia! It’s a region where you’re never far from the water, a forest or a farm.
It’s also somewhere you can enjoy just ‘being’. My trips are often packed full of activities and experiences, but to be honest, this is the kind of place you could spend several days enjoying leisurely walks, eating delicious food, and unwinding with a good book and a stunning backdrop!
We were lucky enough to have great weather for our trip in May, with several warm, sunshine-filled days. While I have plenty of highlights (you can read about some of them on my guide to Sörmland) I wanted to share a little more about our time at Håcknesta Gård.
Watch the video and then find out all about our experience…
Arriving At Håcknesta Gård
After driving along country lanes with lush green fields on either side, we turned down a dusty track to Håcknesta Gård. While I’d had a look at their website before our trip, I didn’t really know what to expect.
At the end of the lane we were faced with a few houses, several fields of horses and some farm buildings. We hopped out of the car and were mesmerised by the spectacular views! Beyond the farmland is picturesque Lake Runniviken, surrounded by stunning forests and countryside. After a quick bite to eat, it was time for our first experience…
Donkey Trekking In Sörmland, Sweden
I mentioned in my other post that I wasn’t sure of what ‘donkey trekking’ would involve, but I’m so happy to share what a wonderful experience it was.
Monica, Håcknesta Gård‘s warm, friendly owner introduced us to Eeyore and Reuben, two of her beautiful donkeys. There are 28 animals on the farm in total including 6 donkeys, a mule and several horses. She’d picked the donkeys from a rescue centre in Ireland, and is now dedicated to rehabilitating them. We heard how they had been badly beaten and mistreated, and were gradually showing positive signs of recovery. It was so sad hearing about their pasts, but I was full of admiration for what Monica was doing.
Interestingly, there are only 300 donkeys in Sweden (plenty more in the UK!) and yet 6 of them live at Håcknesta Gård. Being honest, I love animals, but I’m not an animal lover, if that makes sense… I adore seeing them and am fascinated by the different creatures on the planet, but I’ve often felt a little nervy getting close to them. Even with dogs I often flinch when they jump or bark!
Alongside my new friend Eeyore, I was excited to explore the landscapes of the area on a leisurely trek. During the walk I quizzed Monica all about the donkeys, what they love, what they hate and why she loves them so much. Her passion radiated through, and by the end of the walk, I could understand why she thinks the creatures are so special.
Our trek took us along farm tracks, into thick Swedish pine forests and out to a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the lake. After all that walking, we’d worked up an appetite for some traditional fika! Well, any excuse for a cuppa and some delicious sweet treats!
The forests were a highlight for me. Seeing the golden sun beaming through the trees, illuminating the donkeys’ path – I felt like I had been transported to the pages of a fairy tale!
As for the creatures? They’re adorable yet stubborn. They loved to stop and graze on grass along the way, and however much you tried to hurry them up, they decided when it was time to go! They were definitely in charge!
They have a calming presence about them. They’re peaceful and don’t jump or jolt (unless they’re scared or uncomfortable). Monica mentioned that the activity was popular with kids, and I could understand why.
I’ll admit that if I’d seen this activity advertised, I wouldn’t have thought it was my kind of thing, but I’m SO happy we had the opportunity to take part. It was a highlight of my trip, and I’m definitely missing my donkey friends now.
A Wild Cooking Experience In Sörmland, Sweden
Håcknesta Gård has just started offering a wild cooking experience in one of the fields overlooking the lake. Actually, it’s not just any field, it happens to be a Viking graveyard! They’re unable to build or keep animals on the land, so it’s the perfect spot for an activity like this.
Our host for the experience was Åsa who comes from Northern Sweden. She told us tales of cooking out in the landscapes there, with no electricity or running water. Ingredients were foraged (or caught) and she learned to cook delicious feasts from whatever was at her fingertips that day.
These days she travels around with a huge pan, heated by fire, and shares her passion for this rustic style of cooking with visitors from around the world. Tonight she’d set up her pan, a few hay bales for chairs and had a stash of drinks and lovely ingredients waiting.
On tonight’s menu?
- Canapes topped with wild boar salami.
- Venison in a creamy sauce with lingonberries.
- A selection of vegetables, flavoured with herbs, cooked on the grill pan.
- Handmade flatbreads.
- Cinnamon apples.
With the help of Monica’s family, we prepped all the vegetables for the main course and the apples for dessert. Then we took turns tossing various vegetables in butter on the heated pan. We chatted, laughed, drank and enjoyed the beauty of the location as delicious scents tickled our taste buds. It felt like we were one big family, all working together to create a feast.
Soon it was onto frying the slithers of venison, and shaping the flatbreads to toast on the heat. I couldn’t believe what an impressive meal we were creating, and so colourful too!
As for my verdict? WOW – the meal was delicious, hearty, flavoursome and surprising! I loved the pops of lingonberry and the way the bread soaked up the amazing creamy sauce. The apples to finish was sweet yet smokey. I think the meal tasted even better as we’d had to work for it.
An Overnight Stay At Håcknesta Gård
When I heard we’d be spending the night on a farm, I didn’t expect anything particularly smart. Wow, I couldn’t have been more wrong! The accommodation at Håcknesta Gård is absolutely gorgeous. There’s a large converted barn, with six bedrooms, several bathrooms, a kitchen and a large banqueting hall. As there’s so much space, it’d be perfect for a big group of friends or a few families.
We stayed in a comfortable double room, which had plenty of chic, artistic touches. We enjoyed meals outside on the sunny terrace and loved how close the accommodation was to the lake.
We also loved the facilities at Håcknesta Gård. There’s an outdoor pool, Jacuzzi and sauna. We used both the Jacuzzi and sauna during our visit – great ways to warm up and unwind.
If you’re interested in booking the barn, you can find it on Airbnb.
I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my experiences in Sörmland, in particular my time at Håcknesta Gård. If you’re interested in following in my footsteps, I’d recommend contacting Monica who can check availability and give you a quote for the activities you’re interested in.