The regions south of Linköping are home to an unusually large number of oak trees. In fact, there are so many here that the area is called the Oak Woodland. If you are interested in nature, there are many good reasons to make one or more excursions to this, Europe's most important region for the biological diversity linked to the oak.
The abundance of so many prime examples of this species of tree in just this location has to do with the fact that the long, fertile valleys are perfectly suited to the oaks, as well as other ecologically valuable deciduous trees. Because of the rocky hills and moraines, the land is not as developed as it is on the plains elsewhere around the city. The central parts of the oak woodland are situated around the Brokind, Bjärka-Säby and Sturefors estates. The northernmost part, Tinnerö, stretches all the way to the outskirts of the city.
Join us - we promise you many beautiful sights and interesting discoveries. More than 1,000 different species, primarily insects, are inextricably linked to these old trees, some of which are several hundred years old. If you're lucky, you may catch a glimpse of woodland brown butterflies, stag beetles and hermit beetles. The oak woodland has been designated a national treasure because of its importance to culture, nature and outdoor life.
In the Brokind Nature Reserve, we recommend a visit to Skolhagen, considered by many to be one of the oak woodland's most beautiful and fascinating oak meadows. Slightly elevated over the surrounding terrain, between the Kinda Canal and Road 34, the meadow overlooks the waters of Lake Järnlunden on one side and the regal Brokind Manor on an island in the Stångån River on the other. Pay special attention to the picturesque outbuildings. This is also where the very first lock of the Kinda Canal was built in 1861.
Rare beetles, such as the hermit beetle, stag beetle, cardinal click beetle and rove beetle, live in Skolhagen's oak trees. If birds are one of your passions, make sure you also visit the Ängsdjurgården game park, located east of Road 34. Because of the abundance of mature deciduous forests here, hawfinches, stock doves and smaller species of woodpeckers thrive in the area.
To get to the Skolhagen meadow, turn off Road 34 toward the Brokind Skola (school) and park after the lock. The easiest way to reach the Ängsdjurgården is to take bus no. 540 or park your car near the bus stop at the entrance to the farming community.
In the summer, you can take a dip at either the swimming area in Brokind or at Viggebybadet, which is situated in a nature reserve on the left side, a few kilometers back toward Linköping. In the winter, bring your skates just in case the ice is safe.
Like so many other large 17th century estates, Bjärka-Säby set up an enclosure for deer. Although somewhat diminished in size, this enclosure is the oldest one in the country still in use. Lookout platforms offer visitors fine opportunities for deer viewing. This deer enclosure is also home to the oak woodland's largest concentration of giant oaks; the oldest ones are believed to be older than the enclosure itself, which dates back to 1660. Some of the tree trunks measure more than two meters in circumference. This also translates into a high concentration of rare lichens and insects. Fornhemmet, a local history center, is located very close to the deer enclosure. It was established in the 1920s, when old buildings from different farms around Bjärka-Säby were moved here. Fornhemmet offers visitors an idea of what villages looked like in the 1850s
Since you're in the neighborhood, we recommend a stroll around both manor houses, the old one, on the shore of Lake Rängen and the new one, which is surrounded by a beautiful royal park where sheep graze in the summer. Stop by the manor's café and enjoy a home-baked pastry with your coffee. During the winter months, many visitors park their cars at the new manor, cross the road, put on their long-distance skates and set off for a lovely excursion on the ice.
If you follow the signs for the ÖstgötaledenTrail, you can turn off in the direction of the hay field. You'll pass big brick farm buildings dating back to the 1870s. After you cross over the railroad tracks, you'll pass a meadow with oaks and hazels that surround small clearings. Lower your gaze and you'll discover meadow plants such as dwarf viper's grass, leafless hawk's beard, green-white lesser butterfly orchid, yellow rattle, common milkwort and quaking grass. The meadow is still cut with a scythe. To get to Bjärka-Säby, you will travel south from Linköping via Ekholmen toward Bestorp.
Sturefors is also home to a beautiful manor. Built in the early 18th century, it sits on a promontory in Lake Ärlången. If you've already taken a boat ride on the Kinda Canal, you know how lovely the building looks from the lake. While the manor is privately owned, the public is welcome to walk around the magnificent grounds, which are considered one of the country's best preserved 18th century parks. Another option is a walk along the lake, on the old road between the manor and Sundsbro. Bring a bag lunch and make the acquaintance of some of the really big oak trees.
At the Sturefors Nature Reserve, one of the biggest continuous oak forests in the country, spring pea, lungwort, baneberry and sanicle flourish. Unfortunately, middle spotted woodpeckers are no longer to be found, either here or anywhere else in Sweden. They died out at the beginning of the 1980s, and the oak woodland at Sturefors was probably the last home of this species of woodpecker. However, many remarkable lichens, wild mushrooms and insects exist here.
The nature reserve is located directly east of Sturefors, south of Linköping via Ekholmen, in the direction of Bestorp. Turn off toward Sturefors, take the road to Grebo and turn off toward Landeryd and Sturefors manor, where you'll find plenty of parking.
As Tinnerö is very close, we could almost call it the downtown oak woodland. It's an easy walk from city center. However, if you want to spend more time in the area, we recommend that you travel by bicycle or car. It happens to be the municipality's biggest nature reserve, so there's a lot to explore here. From Karleplan in the north to Lake Rosenkällasjön in the south, the reserve covers an area of almost seven square kilometers.
You can reach the reserve via any of fifteen service roads. It offers abundant parking places and plenty of informative signs about the different colored paths at your disposal and points of cultural and environmental interest. Feel free to come by bike - the reserve has many bike paths.
While oak trees predominate at the reserve, it also has coniferous forests and wetlands, all of which contribute to an abundance of flora and fauna. How about rare beetles that live in oak wood, bats, lesser spotted woodpeckers, Eurasian wrynecks, red-backed shrikes and stock doves?
We highly recommend an outing to Lake Rosenkällasjön, with its gorgeous views. Don't miss Rödberget, which protrudes into the water like a hilly peninsula. There's also a barbecue area, picnic tables and a wheelchair-accessible jetty. Several bird towers around the lake give visitors the opportunity to horned grebes, little grebes and northern shovelers.
It's not only nature that is interesting in the oak woodland. The area also has a fascinating cultural history. The woodland is filled with ancient remains. In particular, those from the Roman Iron Age (0-400 A.D.) are exceptionally well-preserved. Look for the remains of old, razed stone walls, manor house terraces, grave fields, fossil fields and other interesting ancient remains. So much here is well-preserved because since the 16th century, the land has been used as meadows and for military exercises. Other sights worth seeing include preserved croft environments from later periods.