Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in late 2000, HÖGA KUSTEN (w highcoast.net), or the High Coast, is the highlight of any trip up the Bothnian coast. This stretch of striking coastline north of Härnösand is elementally beautiful: rolling mountains and verdant valleys plunge precipitously into the Gulf of Bothnia, and the rugged shoreline of sheer cliffs and craggy outcrops gives way to gently undulating pebble coves. The dramatic landscape of Höga Kusten is the result of the isostatic uplift that has occurred since the last Ice Age; as the ice melted, the land, no longer weighed down by ice up to 3km thick, rose by 286m. There’s nowhere in the world where the uplift has been so great as in this part of Sweden, and, in fact, it is still rising at a rate of 8mm every year.
Off Höga Kusten are dozens of islands, some no more than a few metres square in size, others much larger and covered with dense pine forest. It was on these islands that the tradition of preparing the foul-smelling surströmming is thought to have begun. A trip here is a must for anyone travelling up or down the Bothnian coast; from out at sea, you’ll get the best view possible of the coastal cliffs which (as the very name High Coast suggests) are the tallest in the country. The islands themselves are havens of peace and tranquillity, offering the chance to get away from it all. Among the most beautiful in the chain are, from south to north: Högbonden, Ulvön and Trysunda. Each of these islands can be visited using a combination of buses and boats; before setting off, make sure you’ve understood the boat timetables (available at tourist offices), which are in Swedish only and can be confusing.