In some places, history and tradition converge with modern times in a completely natural way. One such place is Gränsfors. Firmly established along a meandering river, Gränsfors is situated in the north of Hälsingland. Just a short detour off the busy E4 motorway, you will find yourself in a world you thought no longer existed.
A vibrant culture of craft and industry has thrived here for hundreds of years. Mills, stove-builders, breweries, sawmills, forges and much more have been in operation along the river at one time or another. Two of these fine craft-based industries still remain in full operation: Gränsfors Bruk makes its quality axes and Gränsfors Blomkruksfabrik turns out superb flowerpots. Gränsfors is a living place above all, a place where history informs the modern pulse of life.
Gränsfors Bruks Axe Forge
Gränsfors Bruk is open weekdays from 9 am to 3 pm.
The Axe Forge is closed on weekends.
Guided tours at Gränsfors Bruk
For larger groups it’s possible to book guided tours in the axe-factory, which is done to phone: 0652 – 710 90.
A guided tour takes approximately 20 – 30 minutes and the tour is free.
Gränsfors Bruks Store
Open for visitors on weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm.
The store is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
During the period 3rd of june – 17th of august, the store is also open on saturdays between 10 am to 2 pm.
Next door to the forge lies Gränsfors Axe Museum, packed with over 2,000 axes from floor to ceiling. And anyone who thinks an axe is an axe is in for a surprise – there are special axes for most purposes. The museum’s collection includes root axes, notching axes, marking axes, mortise axes, packing house axes, adzes, pick axes, fire axes, battle axes, executioner’s axes and double bit throwing axes, to name but a few. The museum also has on display axe models forged at Gränsfors Bruk and in Gränsfors before the time of the forge. The oldest axe from Gränsfors is a small stone axe that dates back around 3,500 years and was found on the river bank.
At Gränsfors Axe Museum, visitors can try their hand at throwing an axe and chopping and splitting firewood.
The museum is open weekdays from 9 am to 3 pm.
The Axe Museum is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
Admission is free.
Café Augustas is housed in a traditional red building near the Gränsforsån river. You will find it has more to offer than many visitors would perhaps expect of a tiny, remote place like Gränsfors. Daily in the summer, guests and course participants are served Swedish classics for lunch, usually with freshly baked bread. With a little advance notice, the café is also able to organise catering for a large party or conference group.Opening hours
Augusta’s Café is open during the period from June to August and closed during the winter months.
Gränsfors Flowerpot Factory
Production of earthenware vessels began at Gränsfors in 1883, and since the beginning of the 1900s, the flowerpot factory has been run by the Bergström family, now in its fourth generation with Niklas Bergström at the helm. The local clay is of a suitable quality for moulding and firing, and visitors can see and experience how clay from the nearby fields is worked and transformed into beautiful, practical items.
Flowerpots from Gränsfors, which have been the main product since the 1930s, are the Rolls Royce of pots. They are loved by growers and gardening experts for their quality and their simple, natural beauty.
In addition to flowerpots, the small factory also makes traditional earthenware bowls and dishes from old original models. There is also a factory shop on the site.
An old nailworks beside the bubbling rapids has been converted into assembly rooms. On the terrace by the river when the weather is fine, or inside by the cosy fire, course participants can often be seen comparing notes or telling tall tales from near and far. In the summer, the local community also holds music evenings at Spiksmedjan. Artists who have performed here include Michael Rickfors and Idde Schultz.
Lakes, beaches, forests and mountains
Upstream of Gränsfors lies a sizeable lake, Grännsjön, that is perfect for fishing and swimming. There are two excellent sandy beaches to enjoy: Krusbaden and Jägarviken. Around the lake stretch endless forests with peaks at 200-300 metres above sea level.
On a clear day, from nearby Klövberget you can see the Gulf of Bothnia to the east and the bluey mountains of Hassela in the west.
10 km west of Gränsfors is the village Bergsjö. Here lives about 1,500 people and coming from Gränsfors, this is the nearest place to find supermarket, ATM and gas station. In Bergsjö is also the bus station where buses run daily to Hudiksvall and Sundsvall.
10 km east of Gränsfors, at the motorway E4, is the village Gnarp. Here floats Gnarpsån and here you can visit Gnarps church from the late 1700’s. From Gnarp you can also take the train and bus to Sundsvall and Hudiksvall and coaches to Stockholm.
The village of Högen is a peaceful spot just south of Bergsjö, beautifully situated beside the lakes of Kyrksjön and Storsjön, and clearly illustrates the long history of iron in the local area. You can see graves and ruins and imagine life back in the 6th century. Access to the sea, the social life of the village and bog iron are essential building blocks in the history of iron. This was an import site during the Iron Age, as is shown in a small exhibition in a nearby log cabin. Contact Nordanstig Municipality for more information. www.nordanstig.se
The Gulf of Bothnia
Twenty kilometres to the east lies the Gulf of Bothnia with wonderful, often wholly unspoiled, beaches. You will also find a string of beautiful small coastal communities, including Sörfjärden with its beach and golf course, and Mellanfjärden, which has a hotel and the Sjömärket Restaurant. Running along the coast is Kuststigen, a walking trail from village to village, stretching 60 km in total.
Hassela Ski Resort
Hassela, 20 km west of Gränsfors, has 12 downhill ski runs, cross-country skiing trails, scooter safaris, dog sled tours and spa facilities during the winter season. In the summer, Hassela has a choice of two golf courses. www.hasselaski.se/