Gotland´s water-filled quarries are enchanting, filled with a feeling of tranquillity and beauty with a touch of melancholy. Here where the rock was once quarried people now swim and have fun.
Now, many years after the quarries fell silent and the quarrying industry wound down, the closed limestone quarries, which are now filled with fresh water, have gained a whole new significance. They have become places to engage in recreational activities and revitalize. In these spellbinding man-made craters it is possible to take a dip from the early spring until well into the autumn.
Limestone quarrying has taken place on Gotland down through the centuries and is documented as far back as the medieval period. The fruits of this industry are there for all to see, not least in the construction of Gotland’s churches. However, during the 1950s and ‘60s a number of quarries were closed to make way for large-scale economic activities. Today Gotland has two major industries which utilise limestone as a raw material.
One of Gotland’s larger and highly popular bathing quarries, the Blue Lagoon, now attracts hundreds of visitors during the warm summer months. Toilets and refuse-sorting containers are located by the quarry and there are parking facilities for approximately 200 cars.
“The Blue Lagoon is situated in the Bästeträsk nature reserve, so it is permitted to swim here but not to fish,” says Tomas Johansson, conservation officer at the Gotland County Administrative Board.
For the same reason one is not permitted to break the branches of trees or to build fires except at designated campfire sites.
Another impressive quarry is Smöjen in Hellvi, where one can really feel the hand of history. With just a few strokes you can swim out into an old, abandoned, water-filled limestone quarry.
It should be pointed out that the paths which lead to these various quarries are narrow gravel tracks and very uneven. Following rainfall the potholes in the tracks fill up with water. In several of the quarries there can still be seen the remains of the quarrying activity of earlier periods, and for this reason it is important to take care when passing through these areas. When swimming in the quarries you should avoid jumping straight down into the water.
Five limestone quarries which are well worth a visit:
Small and shallow and easy to access.
Directions: Take county road 147 towards Slite and pass the exit to Dalhem. Turn left onto a gravel track approximately two kilometres from Visby.
The Blue Lagoon, Ar
Large limestone quarry in which the water has a shimmering turquoise quality. There are good walking routes around the quarry, which is deep.
Directions: Take county road 148 towards Fårösund. Turn left at Bunge church towards Ar. The Blue Lagoon lies between Bästeträsk and the seafront.
Bläse limestone quarry
Small secluded quarry approximately 2 km northwest of Bläse Limestone Quarry Museum. Populated with fish. You can purchase a fishing license at the museum, amongst other places.
Directions: Take county road 148 towards Lärbro. Turn right onto the road to Kappelshamn and follow it as far as Bläse. The quarry is signposted from Bläse Limestone Quarry Museum onwards. There are tollgates on the road here, which means that it may be more convenient to walk some of the way.
A number of limestone quarries close to a wind farm. In one of the quarries it is possible to swim into an old limestone building.
Directions: Take county road 148 towards Lärbro. Take the exit towards Hellvi and Kyllaj, and then the exit towards St. Olofsholm. Turn left after a few kilometres. Part of this route consists of a narrow forest road. Orient yourself by the wind farm which you will be able to see from a distance.
Follingbo limestone quarry is situated behind the rallycross track on the road to Roma. The quarry is very deep in places.
Directions: Take county road 143 towards Roma. Turn left onto the road to Svaidestugan and take the third turning on the right-hand side onto a minor road. There are tollgates on the road here, which means that it may be more convenient to walk some of the way.