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Västanå nature reserve

If you want to experience contrasts, a hike in Västanå is just right for you. You can hike from sandy heath with pine trees to lush deciduous forest, and it is well worth a visit, especially in spring. With luck, you may see both lesser flycatchers and rosefinches.

From sandy heath with pine trees to lush deciduous forest. A hike through Västanå Nature Reserve is a study in contrasts. On the upper part of the precipice, pine trees grow right on top of rock, while the lower portion is covered with luxuriant deciduous forest with many of the hardwoods referred to in Sweden as “noble trees”. In the northern part of the reserve, the Röttleån river runs through a deep ravine. The area has an abundance of plants in the spring and a thriving bird population. Lesser flycatchers and rosefinches live here along with more common species, such as blackcaps, garden warblers, wood warblers and wrens. In spring and autumn many of the migratory birds that use Lake Vättern as navigation, stop here to take a break.

Vättern’s rift

Lake Vättern appeared when the bedrock subsided in relation to the level of the surrounding land. It formed a so-called fault trough. The sides in such a trough can be very steep. Västanå Nature Reserve is located on such a precipitous side. The precipice does not drop straight down into the water but makes a transition to a flatter area down by the shore – the so-called “raster”, or gravelly strips of land. Because of their protected location below the precipice, these locales have a favourable microclimate. This, along with the fertile bedrock, promotes the growth of many deciduous “noble trees”.

Consequently, beech forests and mixed deciduous forests with an abundance of plants and large components of hardwoods and grey alder grow in the lower sections of the area. The shrub layer in the deciduous forest is well-developed, and the spring vegetation has an abundance of intermediate enchanter's nightshade, lungwort, hepatica and white and yellow wood anemone. During the summer large populations of wild garlic, Solomon's seal and sanicle bloom. On the upper parts of the fault precipice, flat-rock pine forest grows.

Within the area, fungi that live on the ground and on wood are plentiful. They include several rare and threatened species. Flaky puffball, spiny puffball and dusky bolete mushrooms grow on the ground in beech forests while the clustered bracket fungus lives on beech wood. The candelabra fungus and hazel bracket fungus are among the many other fungi that grow on fallen deciduous and coniferous trees of various ages and sizes, but also on standing deadwood, such as pussy willow and hazel thickets. Västanå also has abundant bird life, including the lesser flycatcher and stock dove.

If you're planning on staying the night, both hotel Gyllene Uttern and Grenna Hotell are located close by the reserve.