A TENSE Swedish election earlier this month saw a surge to the right, but head out west and another Sweden offers soulful sanctuary. Swirl in world-class seafood and picture-postcard villages that weave between a lingering fishing industry and low-key tourism, and Bohuslan could be Scotland’s west coast.

It’s not just me who sees similarities between western Sweden and the Hebrides. Linnea – it’s very much first-name terms in welcoming Bohuslan province – has carved a life as a seaweed forager since 2014, her company Catxalot supplying local restaurants. She has penned books and now runs tours.

We share miso soup seasoned with seaweed and crackers infused with kelp as she tells me she has never guided anyone Scottish. I show her a photo of the Outer Hebrides and – wearing a jumper that could have been knitted on Fair Isle – she exclaims: “It’s just the same, that could be here!”

READ MORE: Wee Ginger Dug: Kwasi Kwarteng's 'mini-budget' left me speechless

Linnea is right in terms of the landscape, with both Scotland and western Sweden on a similar latitude. Pine trees cloak this rugged coast, heather dapples the hills, and the word “skerries” needs no translation. There is a frontier feel, too, that I often encounter on Scotland’s outer islands; a feeling of peering over the edge of the known world.

The National:

But Sweden is also dramatically different. They don’t ape Scandi cool here – they live it. Wandering around the village of Fjallbacka feels like I’m in a Nordic noir drama – indeed, the TV series The Fjallbacka Murders was filmed here.

As with all three villages I stay in, the houses are brightly colourful and wooden and everything and everyone gazes out towards the lifeblood sea.

I ascend the solid granite hill Vetteberget on one of the local hiking trails with Marcus, who works for adventure company Skargardsidyllen. As in Scotland, hiking here is no manicured experience.

We leave the wooden stairs behind my characterful old-world hotel, Stora Hotellet Fjallbacka, and ascend under hanging boulders and over jagged rocks. The effort is worth it – myriad isles sprinkle across the horizon. “Welcome to my world,” beams Marcus. And what a world it is.

Bashing out to those isles the next morning, I join Ingemar aboard his MS Mira, a wee fishing vessel that transformed his life from consultant to shellfish fisherman. He is one of eight local fishermen and the only one offering tours that share his new life.

Sustainability is key. I learn more with Ingemar than in a lifetime savouring langoustines on Scotland’s west coast – how they live, how to catch them, how important it is to put smaller catch back. I’m impressed Ingemar’s own size threshold is even stricter than the Swedish government’s.

READ MORE: David Pratt on Swedish elections

We haul up langoustines from the seabed in traditional pots. Each has a maximum of four or five langoustines – this is labour-intensive work. The reward is soon bubbling away in the on-deck cooker.

The National: Robin on MS MiraRobin on MS Mira (Image: -)

There is no mayonnaise, not a lemon in sight, but I’ve not tasted langoustines as good as these boat-fresh wonders. With water stretching everywhere I join Lars the next day exploring the Bohuslan Archipelago on his trim, old-school wooden dame Signe.

I take a turn at the helm and on the ropes – it’s all refreshingly laid back.

We tour the mussel beds before stopping off on an islet to meet his wife, who offers wild oysters plucked fresh from the crystal-clear waters.

The native mussels are flat, compact and sweet, while the easier-to-snare Japanese oysters are chunkier and meatier. Both are utterly delicious, as are the wild mussels cooked up over a steaming pot with leeks and chilli.

My island adventures in Bohuslan draw to a relaxed denouement with Christina of Kayak i Grundsund. She teaches yoga and is an expert paddler, chilling me down several notches with a kayak trip that weaves in the flow of yoga.

“I feel deeply at home when I come over to Scotland, and I think Scottish people do here too. After all, if you drop your paddle you might end up back in Edinburgh,” she says as we ease out of Grundsund.

It’s quiet today but, like Scotland’s coast, Grundsund was once alive with herring boats as a whole industry grew up to land the silver darlings. Those days are long gone, with many of the overwater wooden houses second homes, but a sprinkle of fishermen still offer a window back through time.

Christina also shares a window on the bountiful local wildlife. We kayak across a tidal channel, round a sturdy lighthouse the Stevensons would have been proud of and find a wee bay to stop off for a fika (traditional coffee and cake break).

We chat about the seals and seabirds we’ve encountered and the orca she spotted last week as a mink bustles by just metres away.

My last night is spent wrapped in the charms of Slipens Hotell. The autumnal sun burns down over their bathing house, where I bubble in the outdoor hot tub and savour a sauna before slipping into the sea.

Scotland lies just across the water but comes to join me in the hotel’s excellent Brygghuset restaurant, which boasts a multi-room whisky bar stocked with almost 3000 single malts. A familiar peat tinge embraces from Islay as echoes of Scotland marry together with Sweden – I try a Swedish whisky too – in a world familiar and deliciously different.