The retired sisters: “We are hiking St. Olavsleden in three stages – over three years.”

Sisters Britt and Siv are walking S:t Olavsleden for the second year. After walking from Selånger to Frösön in 2016, they have now just reached this year’s destination, Skalstugan. Health permitting, they aim to complete the entire S:t Olavsleden next summer.

– We have divided the hike into three stages spread over three years. We did the same thing in Spain where we walked the Santiago de Compostela in 2012, 2013 and 2015, says Siv Svensson, who is 69 years old and lives in Äspered, 80 km east of Gothenburg.

In 2007, her younger sister Britt Simeonsson who is 66 and lives in Mölndal, listened to Rolf Enander who had written a book on the pilgrim trail in Spain, and said to Siv that they had to walk it.

– Our mother told us to do it straight away, before we got too old, says Siv Svensson.

But since they had ageing parents, they chose to take turns in accompanying their parents on holiday, so they never spent their holidays together. When both parents had passed away, doing the walk in Spain was a way for them to start spending time together again, reminisce about old times and think about their parents. They divided the Santiago de Compostela hike into three stages, one stage per year. After that the sisters wanted to continue going on hikes together and found S:t Olavsleden.

Selånger to Frösön in 2016

– We travelled to Selånger in August 2016 and hadn’t decided how far we would walk, but we got as far as Frösö church. Then we took the train home. It was another three years before we did the next stage, but now we’ve just walked from Frösön to Skalstugan, says Britt Simeonsson.

– One of the advantages of dividing the trail up is that we can discover it during different seasons. Last time there were lots of ripe berries, this time the beautiful flowers were in full bloom as we hiked, says Siv Svensson.

The two sisters have always enjoyed hiking and always had active holidays. They don’t do the hikes for religious reasons, more for the social aspects and the beautiful cultural scenery that the pilgrim trails offer. That’s a religious experience in and of itself.

– It’s great to be part of the enormity of a pilgrim trail, knowing that people have walked it for thousands of years. It’s huge, says Siv Svensson.

Meetings, nature and a thought through packing

They also think that the hiking trails are often well sign-posted and that the hike can be done cheaply and easily.

– Eggs, crisp bread and fish roe sandwich spread are our basic foods, we eat them almost every lunchtime. And we always have some nuts with us that help if we get tired.

They carry about 7 – 8 kilos each. Things have to be thought through as there aren’t too many shops along the route, so you need to plan for two or three days sometimes.

The best thing is meeting other people, both other hikers and the people who run the various places to stay. But the sisters also highlight the nature.

– Some of the sections are on tarmac roads where cars drive, and that can be fairly heavy-going. But what we’ve most enjoyed is the nature along S:t Olavsleden, it’s magnificent – better than in Spain. And it’s really well sign-posted, concludes Britt Simeonsson.