Tim Padfield’s tour of St Anna Islands, Sweden

Tim joined a group from the Vedbæk canoe club in Copenhagen on a paddle round the St. Anna Islands (Sankt Anna skärgård) which are on the east coast of Sweden south of Stockholm.

st anna team (full size)

Tim, Bjørn, Oddur and Martin

We had fine weather with continuous sunshine and light winds. Even so, we were not always sure where we were.

where are we

From kayak level, the islands are an indistinguishable green and grey continuum surrounding us. However, close up, the islands are individuals with their own characteristic fauna and flora.



We had an 8 person tipi of adv anced design which was not ideally suited to the terrain since there are few grassy spots big enough for it. Here the problem is solved by spreading it over the glacier smoothed gneiss rock.

tent on stone

Tim, however preferred a soft mossy spot under the rock and arranged paddles cantilevered over the rock edge stabilised by rocks sufficiently heavy not to roll down on him if rain should add weight to the tarpaulin which was spread over this frame.

tims bivvy

There are summerhouses on some of the islands but few villages. Harstena is an old fishing community with boathouses built up on piles of stacked crossed tree trunks, presumably because there is no way of pushing a vertical pole into hard metamorphic rock.

The inner islands are covered with trees and lush vegetation but there is always a bare rounded surface where there are relatively few mosquitoes and, during our tour, warm rock to sit on.

The outer islands are barren. Here is the south eastern corner of the St Anna islands, Häradsskär.


There is usually no difficulty landing on an island. There are shallow areas of boulders. The sloping rock faces are covered with seaweed below the surf disturbance zone, so there is always a clear but slippery space to put down a boot.

It was a memorable tour, notable for the varied flora of the inner islands and the austere remoteness of the outer islands, which we were fortunate to be able to visit at a quiet time. Only once did we hear over the intervening hill the faint echo of disco music from a party of motor boats moored in an otherwise idyllic little bay.

For many more pictures:


Tim P.