From Mora and Orsa, the Inlandsbanan trundles through the northern reaches of Dalarna before crossing the provincial border into Härjedalen, a sparsely populated fell region stretching north and west to the Norwegian border, and containing some of the best scenery anywhere in Sweden. Indeed, the region belonged to Norway until 1645, and the influence of the Norwegian language is still evident today in the local dialect. Härjedalen got its name from the unfortunate Härjulf Hornbreaker, a servant to the Norwegian king, who mistakenly killed two of the king’s men and was banished from the court. He fled to Uppsala, where he sought protection from King Amund, but after falling in love with Amund’s cousin, Helga, and arousing the king’s fury he was forced to make another hasty exit. It was then he came across a desolate valley in which he settled and which he named after himself: Härjulf’s dale, or Härjedalen, as it’s known today.
From the comfort of the Inlandsbanan, you’ll be treated to a succession of breathtaking vistas of vast forested hill and mountainsides (Härjedalen boasts more than thirty mountains of over 1000m) – these are some of the emptiest tracts of land in the whole country, also home to the country’s largest population of bears. Although the sleepy provincial capital, Sveg, holds little of appeal, it’s from here that buses head northwest to the remote mountain villages of Funäsdalen and Tänndalen, both with easy access to excellent and little-frequented hiking trails through austere terrain which features a handful of shaggy musk oxen that have wandered over the border from Norway. Nearby, across the lonely Flatruet plateau, with its ancient rock paintings, tiny Ljungdalen is the starting point for treks to Sweden’s southernmost glacier, Helags, on the icy slopes of Helagsfjället (1797m).