Stretching from just north of Sveg to the border with Lapland, a distance of around 250km, the province of JÄMTLAND is centred round one of Sweden’s greatest lakes, Storsjön, and its associated watercourses. Altogether more pastoral than its wilder and more mountainous neighbour to the south, Härjedalen, it was the plentiful supply of fish from the lake coupled with successful cultivation of the rich lands around its shores that enabled the region’s first settlers to eke out an existence so far north – Stockholm, for example, is 550km to the south. Although the province can trace its history back to the early Iron Age, Jämtland has only been Swedish since 1645, before which it was part of Norway. The people here have a strong sense of regional identity and, in recent years, have even called (albeit rather half-heartedly) for independence from Sweden. Spend any length of time here and you’ll soon encounter the tremendous pride the locals have in their villages, forests and lakes.
Approaching from the south, it’s the cross-country skiing centre of Åsarna that you’ll reach first. Just beyond here, Hackås is the location for the wildly entertaining Årets Näck competition, which sees a group of naked male fiddle-players compete for the prestigious title. The most enjoyable town in the province is the provincial capital of Östersund, situated on Storsjön lake, whose murky waters reputedly hide Sweden’s own version of the Loch Ness monster. West of Östersund, Åre is Sweden’s most popular ski destination for foreign tourists, whilst nearby Storlien has some great summer hiking right on its doorstep.