How do I get there? Pictures Description

Ratan and Rataskär are mainly known for their importance in Västerbotten history. We'd love for you to come and experience the natural environment of protected harbours and cliffs facing the open sea, though it is the memory of its former greatness from long ago - trading, war and maritime shipping - that draws most people to discover this Västerbotten gem.

 

Ratan and Rataskär

After a journey on a narrow meandering country road, first-time visitors to Ratan find themselves in a tiny, sleepy village with small, beautiful old wooden houses, a few meadows of grazing sheep and a marina, all facing a sheltered inlet. After a brief stop, history novices may find it easy to just continue their journey down to the harbour and then just remember Ratan as the lovely little village by the shore. But Ratan is more than just peace and quiet. Ratan is responsible for a large chunk of northern Swedish coastal history. Had events been different, what is today northern Sweden's biggest city, Umeå, might have ended up in Ratan instead!

All began when the farmers in Djäkneboda demanded the right to have a market here. Conditions for a harbour were ideal, with its sheltered position behind the island Rataskär, otherwise known as Båkskär. One requirement for establishing a new marketplace was that the farmers had to build a pub and the building came to be the first in the area. When you visit Rataskäret you can see the foundation of the old pub.

Ratan's true glory days were during the eighteenth century, when it became "Northern Sweden's Harbour" as it became the staple town or port for the Västerbotten cities of Umeå, Piteå, Luleå and Torneå. Ratan was considered to have the finest harbour along the entire Norrbotten and Västerbotten coasts. These cities' ships were forced to put into this port to have their goods cleared by customs. A maritime customs house was established and built on Rataskär and warehouses were built for the different cities. Pilot and customs personnel built houses on the mainland and farmed.

The last war fought on Swedish soil, the war against Russia 1808-1809, brought hard times for Ratan. On 20 August 1809 the Swedes and Russians fought a major battle; Ratan was the battlefield and the residents returned to find their farms shot up, their belongings scattered and their stores plundered. Today's visitors to Ratan find memories of the war in the form of defences and graves, as well as the occasional bullet hole in some of the houses.

In addition to Ratan's place in history as a harbour and battleground, its name has also become known in a completely different context. Every day the name Ratan is heard on the Swedish marine weather forecast. When interest in the land uplift or "decrease in water" grew during the nineteenth century, Ratan played a central role. Scientists monitored this remarkable phenomenon here and in 1849 a scientist from Ostrobothnia cut the first water level mark in the rock on the mainland. It was the first of many. A mareograph - a water gauge - was also built inside the harbour in 1891. Today there is a new mareograph and reports from it are heard every day on Swedish radio.

Visitors to Rataskäret should naturally follow the little history trail around portions of the island. During a kilometre-long stroll you will see and learn more about labyrinths, compass roses, "gistvallar" (racks for drying fishing nets) and "tomtningar" (remains of ancient house foundations). Along the path you will also pass the lighthouse, which was built in 1891. At the top of the island is the old light beacon, which long ago served as the pilot look-out tower during the time that Ratan was a separate pilotage district.

The nature on Rataskäret is typical for the Västerbotten coast with its land uplift. The island is 21 m above sea level at its highest point in the village; below this peak are beautiful cliffs, spruce forests and a small lake on the north side of the island. Much of Rataskäret is protected as a nature reserve and the entire area around Ratan and Rataskäret are classified as sites of historic interest and have been granted heritage protection.

Photo: Ann Salomonsson
Photo: Ann Salomonsson
Photo: Jan Sundström
Labyrinth
Cliffs on the east side of Rataskär
Light beacon on Rataskär
     
Photo: Jan Sundström
Photo: Jan Sundström
 
Rataskäret's small lighthouse
The old mareograph that measured the water level until 1965 is down in Ratan's harbour

How do I get there

Ratan is along the coast north of Umeå. Take the E4, turn in Djäkneboda or Bygdeå toward Ratan. To get to the island Rataskär you can borrow a small rowboat and row across the sheltered harbour out to the island. The key to the boat is available at Tullgårdens Gästgifveri, tel. (0934) 311 32.

Marina

A lovely marina with guest slips and a small service facility is well protected inside in the village. Read more about Ratan's guest marina at http://www.ratan.se/guesthamn.htm (in Swedish)

Services

The closest store is located in Bygdeå by the E4 highway.

Pointers

  • Tullgårdens Gästgifveri at the southern entry to the village serves food and snacks, tel. (0934) 311 32, fax: (0934) 312 05, open May-Sept., otherwise by appointment. http://www.ratan.se/tullgarden.htm (in Swedish)
  • Tullgården also houses a cultural centre, which is described at http://www.sevart.se/index_eng.php
  • Storsand camping on the north side of Ratan offers both camping and great swimming, summer hours, only tents and caravans. Call (0934) 310  95 for information.
  • Långrataudden south of Ratan is a lovely point with beautiful stone rubble fields and a small cliff close to the water which offers an excellent view of the southern Gulf of Bothnia and northern Kvarken. Långrataudden is also a good place for watching the birds migrate, such as the loons in spring.
  • Places worth seeing include the Bygdeå church, a late Middle Ages church built at what was the coast at that time, but is now far inland.

Links

  • Robertsfors municipality, http://www.robertsfors.se (in Swedish)
  • A good website with information about Ratan's history and simple illustrations of the interesting places around the village and harbour is http://www.ratan.se (in Swedish)

Texts: Anders Enetjärn, Lise-Lotte Molander.
Translation: Accent Språkservice AB.
Layout & illustrations: Päivi Anttila.
Webbdesign: Fredrik Smeds, Freddi Com Oy Ab.
for maintenance & updates contact: [email protected]