The Pilgrim Path Falköping - Varnhem
Falköping - Hornborgasjön - Varnhem
The Pilgrim Path between Falköping and Varnhem in Skaraborg is an enjoyable walk for the whole family. Discover undulating landscapes, two medieval abbey ruins and a rich bird life around Lake Hornborga.
Lovely cultural landscapes around Lake Hornborga
In Västergötland there’s a wide network of walking trails, and one of the nicest is the 43.7 kilometre long trail between Varnhem and Falköping. It’s also the stretch that has the strongest historic connection to the pilgrimage phenomenon.
There’s a lot to discover along the trail, including one of Europe’s most important bird areas, Lake Hornborga, where the thousands of dancing cranes arriving every year is an amazing spectacle. At the Hornborga Visitor Centre you can visit an exhibition about the fascinating crane dance, and learn more about the birds in the area.
Abbey ruins and Sweden’s oldest room
The abbey ruins in Varnhem and Gudhem are two other historical landmarks worth seeing. Moreover, on the slope behind Varnhem Abbey is the ruin of one of Sweden’s oldest churches. It’s called Kata Gård, and historians believe that the crypt of the church could actually be the oldest preserved room in the country.
Photographer: Lukasz Larsson Warzecha - LWimages Studio
Don’t miss Ekornavallen, a remarkable archaeological site, with remains of graves from the three main eras of the prehistoric period. The oldest grave was built during the Neolithic period of the Stone Age, approximately 3300 BC.
Enjoy the view from two hills
A steep track will take you up through the lovely natural surroundings of Billingen hill, where you’ll get a fantastic view of the plain from the top. Further south the trail passes Mösseberg hill, in Falköping. These two plateau mountains are packed with things to experience, including exercise tracks, mountain bike trails, and ski runs, both downhill and cross country.
Lots of places to fill up along the way
Hiking requires a lot of effort, which is why its important to top up your energy supplies often. There are lots of places to eat along the Pilgrim Path, and Löfwings Studio and Restaurant, and Cesarstugan, are both worth a visit. You can also eat well at Kurorten Mösseberg and enjoy a massage or spa experience, as well as stay the night. Cosy B&B’s Nästegården and Konstnärsvillan, by Löfwings, are two other suggestions for accommodation along the trail.
Fact about the trail
The path from Falköping to Varnhem is 43.7 km long but can be split into three day stages. The first is from St Olof’s Church to Gudhem, approximately 13 kilometres, the second stage goes from Gudhem to the Lake Hornborga Visitor Centre over approx. 18.8 km and the last stage, which is around 11.5 km, from the Lake Hornborga Visitor Centre to Varnhem.
The whole stretch takes around 14.5 hours to walk (not including stops), and can be walked in three days. This depends of course on the individual, and what the terrain is like on the different stages.
The path is waymarked with the classic pilgrimage mark of the red St. Olof’s mark.
Level of difficulty:
Overall the path is classed as easy to moderate. The terrain is relatively flat, with some steeper parts, and the walking surfaces are varied, from small forest paths and fields, to gravelled roads. Some parts are also on relatively low trafficked asphalt roads, and urban areas. In some places you will pass through fields where animals might be grazing. The path is very varied in the respective stretches, and you’ll find more detailed information about each stage below.
- S:t Olofs Church – Gudhem Church: The first part is through streets in the town of Falköping, to then climb via larger paths up and gradually over Mösseberg hill. A couple of kilometres of winding paths is followed by the last five kilometres along a country road and then an easy walk downhill to arrive at Gudhem church.
- Gudhem Church – Lake Hornborga Visitor Centre: This stretch is characterised by flat and easy walking. The first part is along forest trails, followed by country roads, and it finishes on gently undulating paths by the shore of Lake Hornborga.
- Lake Hornborga Visitor Centre – Varnhem: This stretch is mostly along smaller forest paths on the edge of Sydbillingen hill. The walk starts however in open fields before heading via a steep slope up the hill. The last bit is easily walked, arriving at Varnhem Abbey.
Photographer: Lukasz Warzecha
Start and end:
You can begin the walk in several places along the route. Falköping is a railway junction and regular buses to Varnhem leave from both Skövde and Skara.
- Stage St. Olof’s church - Gudhem (approx 13 kilometres). St. Olof’s Church is in the centre of Falköping and it’s easy to get there on public transport ( a bus stop is approx. 350 metres away and the trainstation is about 1,6 km away). There are also several car parks in Falköping.
- Stage Gudhem – Lake Hornborgasjön Visitor Centre (18.8 kilometres). If you want to start your walk near the Gudhem Abbey ruins, the Kabelstationen bus stop is right by the path and approx. 500 metres from the ruins. There’s also a car park by Gudhem Abbey.
- Stage Lake Hornborga Visitor Centre - Varnhem (11.5 kilometer). You can travel by bus to Lake Hornborga, get off at the Bolum stop, approx. 2 kilometres from the path. (This bus tour runs rarely.) Parking is also available at the Lake Hornborga Visitor Centre and Varnhem Abbey.
How to get here:
The Pilgrim Path Falköping - Varnhem is in West Sweden, in between Lakes Vänern and Vättern, approx. 120 kilometres from Gothenburg. If you want to travel by train there are good services arriving at the travel centres in Falköping and Skövde. It’s around one hour by train from Gothenburg to Falköping, and 90 minutes from Gothenburg to Skövde. Find timetables on Västtrafik or SJ’s websites. If you’d rather drive there are several car parks in Falköping, and also at the start of the path, Gudhem Abbey, the Lake Hornborga Visitor Centre and Varnhem Abbey.
You’ll find a digital map of the path on Falköping council’s website. A printed guide map of the path with things to see, accommodation and places to eat can be found in Tourist Information Centres in Falköping and Skara.