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Ekkudden’s Enchanting Nature Trail, Porvoo

On Ekkudden’s nature trail you will encounter enchanting oak trees, linden tree landscapes, whispering spruce trees and a bird’s eye view of rustling reedbeds. The trail starts approximately 3 kilometres south of Porvoo’s town centre and is about one and half kilometres long. Although this distance sounds short, allow plenty of time for a trip down the path, as I ended up stopping constantly!

On reaching the field you come across the first information board. You can start your walk by reading about the Stensböle nature conservation area and the history of Stensböle farm in English, Swedish or Finnish. The area is currently owned by Swedish Literature Society. From here, a path that winds alongside a ditch, leads into the forest.

The Stensböle area, which belongs to the Natura 2000 Europe-wide nature conservation network, is around 1131 hectares, of which about half is water and reed beds. One thing in particular stands out from the story of Stensböle farm, and that is potato farming. Wentzel Frederik Rotkirch, who became familiar with the potato crop during the Pomeranian War (1757-62), started potato cultivation on the Stensböle farms (the potato, at the time, was unknown in Finland) and boiled potatoes became part of the festive table. Rotkirch distributed seed potatoes free of charge to locals and, for a while, sold potatoes locally. Eventually potato farming became more commonplace and Stensböle returned to cultivating them for personal use only.

I started to walk the nature trail counter-clockwise, turning right at the information board. The area is classified as a nationally important deciduous grove conservation area, which doesn’t surprise me at all. Everyday potatoes and worries are forgotten instantly as I look around me at the grove that oaks and linden trees have claimed as their own. Many broadleaf trees poked their branches out pretty high and the grove had a delightfully large number of trees of different ages, not just oaks and lindens, but also maples. Lilies of the valley have scattered themselves over a wide area here, so in spring there are plenty of white flowers.

A dark brown bird that I didn’t recognise rocked on the branch of a linden tree and then fluttered off on its way. I couldn’t keep myself on the path any longer and got momentarily sidetracked peering into the depths of hollow of a tree, among other things.

At the start of the path there had been warnings of decaying trees. And it was true, that some of the older, larger individuals looked like they wouldn’t remain upright forever. One had fallen, somewhat stylishly, over the path, creating a gateway. I admired how nice it looked… Of course, it did also occur to me that this leaning tree should be kept an eye on, particularly if walking the nature trail during a storm. A moment of bad fortune could have the wind send the tree crashing down onto the path.  

The grove is almost certainly going to be stunning with fresh green hues in spring, like it was now in the early evening. It was quite magnificent. Maybe even more impressive than in the middle of the day. There is plenty here for botanists to identify and with a some luck, butterfly watchers can catch a glimpse of a couple of more uncommon moths in the linden grove.

While walking the nature trail you shouldn’t just keep your attention on your feet and what’s in front of or to the side of you. Sometimes it’s worth stopping and looking back, as you might notice something completely different about the landscape. And look up! A joyous green network of twigs above your head against a blue and white sky can be a wonderful sight to behold.

I stepped out of the bright green of the grove and onto the beach, where a stylishly greying snag ruffled its branches. Vast reed beds imprinted the landscape and got me wondering if they might attempt to choke the coast and how long that would take. I sat down for a moment and let the sun warm me.

As I looked in the direction or central Porvoo, I could mainly see a green horizon with the exception of a few towers. To the south, Stensböle’s unbuilt shoreline continued, and on the opposite shore was Sikosaari (Pig Island), where there is also a nature path and a birdwatching tower. It’s amazing how close to the centre all of this is. The sound of cars doesn’t carry into these landscapes, and I haven’t even seen a single boat weaving through the midst of the reeds.

I got up and started walking towards the south on the nature path, weaving pleasantly between the trees, where I came across stonecrops, Scented Solomon’s Seal and harebells, to name but a few, on a rock under the watchful eyes of a couple of dead standing pines. The grove started to gradually get left behind and the terrain became coniferous, the territory of old spruce and pine trees. Soon after that was an obstacle: a spruce had fallen across the path. Hidden behind it was an information board about the black woodpecker. I walked around the dead spruce from the left.

The path came close to the border of the seashore, after following the moss-covered remains of a stone wall. From this we could conclude that these lands have been coastal meadows or pastures, but how long ago? In the spruce forest I came across the only other travellers on the path, a couple taking their evening walk.

The whole time, while keeping one eye on the rolling path, every now and then my nose picked up on something fresh and delicious to pop in my mouth, which is normal during berry season. At the same time I extended my neck to peer at mushrooms while passing by, even though I had no intention of picking them and taking them with me. This time it just wouldn’t have been possible for me to take my harvest all the way home. And then, just before the birdwatching tower, it found me!

A sturdy-stemmed cep basked in the sun and whispered ‘Take me! Eat me!’ Since the couple I had come across earlier had managed to get much further ahead, I couldn’t call out to them to take this cep away from a wormy fate. Mushrooms can’t really be reserved and collected on request, so I just hoped that the next walker would notice and pick it before it was too late. Or even that a squirrel would have the sense to go get it and stash it for winter.

After bidding farewell to the cep I was already at the Ekudden birdwatching tower, which was in great condition. I climbed up to look at the view and had to protect my eyes from the dazzling sun. Thankfully, I did have sunglasses with me. In the forest they’re not needed but in sunny spots protective shades might be necessary.

From the edge of the forest, the rustling reed beds opened out as far as the eye can see, even though the tower isn’t massively high. The wetlands are unbelievably extensive. When looking around from here, the first words that come to mind are not ‘city’ and ‘park’, but Stensböle is also a part of Porvoo’s National City Park, which includes diverse urban nature as well as built urban areas.

From Ekudden’s birdwatching tower, you can make out two other birdwatching towers with your bare eyes. On the opposite shore stands Sikosaari’s birdwatching tower and to the north, on the same shore as Ekudden, is Ruskis tower. From the towers one can conveniently observe many different types of winged beings outside of migration and nesting times.

Ruskis tower is close enough to the road for visitors other than nature lovers – this is evident from the marker pen scrawls on the tower walls. Ekudden’s tower has been spared from vandalism due to its sheltered location.

From the birdwatching tower the nature trail curved slightly inland. I hadn’t inspected the nature trail map closely in advance, so the sign ‘Big Oak’ came as a pleasant surprise. This oak doesn’t have a reverential clearing surrounding it (as with Paavola’s oak in Lohja) nor has it been allowed to grow into such a voluminous shape, but nevertheless, this too is a fine oak! Having seen some life, this oak had something satisfyingly mystical about it. Maybe the seductive early evening light sent my imagination flying into the world of tales and stories as I looked at the tree.

It would be nice to know what age this big oak is estimated to be. The tree has clearly been revered for a long time, as it has been preserved. Other oaks this large have not been found in this area.

After the big oak, a few largish rocks stood out from the surroundings – or large at least by Ekkudden’s standards – but otherwise it started to feel like the trail’s main highlights had been experienced. All that was remaining was a short, peaceful stroll. Should I still pick a couple of sprigs of wood sorrel from the side of the path?

Up to this point, many mini experiences had been packed into around a kilometre and a half. Along the Ekudden trail, in a relatively small area, Stensböle has a diverse range of different forest types, rocky coastal landscapes, opportunities for birdwatching, mushroom picking and berry picking as well as the option of taking a slower pace, allowing for more observation. The path was on even ground with virtually no changes in elevation, making it easy to walk. Occasionally you might need to watch carefully where you step as tree roots, for example, can always take you by surprise on a forest path.

When the path reached the side of the field, I was already near my earlier place of departure. The adjacent field had been a watery bay in the 1500s, which quite clearly shows the impact of the land rising. In the spruce forest, which had sparse undergrowth, trees that had fallen across the path had been sawn, but in the nature conservation area, wood had been allowed to rot in peace. The narrow duckboards also showed signs of decay… The ground wasn’t as wet here as in the swamp, but  overall, duckboards are useful even in these kinds of places to protect feet from getting wet. In dry weather you can walk alongside the planks.

Ekudden’s nature trail had something magical about it; the first part of the journey in the deciduous grove enchanted me completely.  More accustomed to walking in mixed forests, I especially enjoyed the green magic of the oaks and lindens, that gained more intensity from the evening sun. And what if I was in Ekudden on a misty spring morning or at the beginning of summer? I wasn’t surprised by the fact that when I got back it was around 7.30 in the evening. Looking around the carpark at that time, I saw one person leave to start their atmospheric evening walk along the nature trail.

Location/Directions: About 3 km south of Porvoo Bus Station, on Porvoo river’s eastern side, a reasonable cycling or walking distance from the centre of town. Ekudden’s nature trail starts next to the Tarkkinen playing field. The sandy field with its car park is at the address: Tarkkistentie 153 (Porvoo). You know you’ve come to the right place when you see a funny bear statue on the side of the playing field. The nature path map can be found on the playing field changing hut wall. The easiest way to the path is from next to the changing hut and from there to the playing field’s back left corner (looking at the car park), although the birdwatching tower signs point to the left of the changing hut, towards the field.

Please note. Mountain biking and driving of motorised vehicles as well as open fire are forbidden.

Map. ETRS-TM35FIN -coordinate system N 6693218  E 428788

The author’s accommodation Ida-Maria Bed & Breakfast – bed and breakfast was provided by Porvoo’s travel office /VisitPorvoo.fi

Translated by Becky Hastings.

Planning on visiting Finland? Here’s what you can expect!

Northern lights over West coast

Northern lights over West coast

When travelling around the world and talking to people about Finland, they have heard about polar bears and northern lights. Well, we do have northern lights but no polar bears. None. Except a few in zoos.

Those white bears live on the ice pack of the Arctic Ocean, but in Finland we have the Baltic Sea. Finland doesn’t have mountains either. We have only mountain roots. Keep reading; I’ll explain this later.

Baltic sea

The Baltic sea

Almost 72% of Finland is covered by forests. It’s quite easy to see; when landing at Helsinki-Vantaa airport, the only things you’ll see are Helsinki city and forests. The landscape is quite flat, and a 20 or 30 metres difference in height already looks and feels like a mountain.

Cities in Finland are quite small and scattered with long distances in between. The Helsinki area has about 1 million people, but other cities fall behind significantly in population. And we don’t have skyscrapers. Sounds boring, right? Maybe not!

Finnish forests and lakes

Finnish forests and lakes

Ok, I have told you about things that are different here compared to the big world. What does Finland have to attract people here? Trendy Finnish design is one thing and food another, but I’m talking about nature. Lonely Planet just released a top ten list of the best countries to travel to in 2017 and Finland was the third.

Fishermen at river Tenojoki

Fishermen at river Tenojoki

As a Finn nature has always been close to my heart. Here is a few things that I think are special in Finland’s nature. I was born in a town called Kokkola which is next to the sea. Nature and forest literally started from my backyard. In the spring nature bloomed and I watched the birds sing and build their homes in nesting boxes I had built. In the summer, I enjoyed the long days –the whole night was one long sunset and sunrise. It was hard to say when one ended and the other began. Colorful autumns, then again, were perfect for long walks on the beach. The polar night is so magical in the winter that to get the best experience, I went to Lapland to see the Nordic magic.

Ice swimming in Lapland and magical polar night

Ice swimming in Lapland and magical polar night

The ice age ended about 10,000 years ago, but you can see its legacy right under your feet. Once, a few million years ago, we had mountain ranges like the Himalayas. Erosion has flattened the landscape, and the moving ice cover, which was many kilometres thick, flattened the ground even more. As I said before, we have mountain roots which you can see in Lapland as fells and hills. Even in Kaivopuisto, Helsinki, there are smooth rocks sticking out of the ground that were polished by the ice.

Legacy of the Ice age: polished beach rocks

Legacy of the Ice age: polished beach rocks

The coastline of Western Finland was under the sea just a few hundred years ago. Near the town of Vaasa, there is the Unesco world heritage site where you can witness this phenomenon. The land is rising from the sea about 1 centimeter per year.

Tampere city, on the other hand, was built on a monument of the ice age: the whole city lies on a narrow strip of land between two lakes, and there is the highest gravel ridge in the world called Pyynikki. It was formed by retreating glaciers at the end of the ice age.

Untouched wildernes of Lapland

Untouched wildernes of Lapland

I once read that “Finland lacks those dramatic must see attractions but is one big attraction itself”. Agreed. We don’t have the tallest buildings, greatest mountain ranges, highest waterfalls or even strangest wild life, but Finland is one big national park of the world, because of all the untouched land. Nowadays I live in Tampere city, but I still enjoy long walks in Pyynikki where I can see red squirrels living in peace with humans. And I’m only one hour away from Helvetinjärvi national park’s beautiful gorge lake which was formed by an earthquake millions of years ago.

Peaceful summer days

Peaceful summer days

I welcome you to the land of thousand lakes!

Amazing sunsets

Amazing sunsets

Here you can find more information about Finnish nature and national parks in English.

Repovesi National Park

 

Repovesi is one of the most beautiful and visited national parks in Finland. High hills and sightseening towers offers beautiful views to the lakes and over 50 km trails calling hikers . Last year Repovesi had 104.300 visitors.

1910 Kymi-Yhtiöt took the Repovesi area under the forestry use. The is still lots of  history left from timber floating with floating channels. 2003 UPM-Kymmene gave most of the area to the future national park and also suggested area for griffin preserve.

15 sqkm Repovesi got national park status in 2003. It has many lean-to’s, huts (also rented), camping areas and fire places. Most of the trails been used so much that tree roots makes trails a bit difficult to walk. Also terrain has steep trails, but when you get top of the hill, you will see awesome views.

Welcoming gate has lot's of information about the park

Welcoming gate has lot’s of information about the park

My friend Niko asked me to go there with him for 2 days and since i don’t have nothing to do, we made a plan. I drove to Lahti on Friday morning and first i went to see my old friend. Around 3.30pm i parked my car to company’s yard where Niko works. My car isn’t in good shape and it would be stupid to drive there with 2 cars since we would drive the same road to get there….

We had dinner first on our way and finally arrived to the Lapinsalmi (Lapland strait) parking. Seems there was already quite a few people, lot’s of cars parked. There is also a small kiosk, where you can buy snacks. Also some warm food is available.

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Lapinsalmi bridge

Lapinsalmi bridge

Took only few minutes to walk 600m to the Repovesi’s well known Lapinsalmi suspension bridge which have been build in 1987. It is 50 meters long and hangs at 10 meter hight.

It has great views to the lake and felt really sturdy too. Sign said to keep 10m distance to each other in the bridge.

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DSCF8186We took some photos and were just about continue….my friend remembered that he forgot to lock his car’s doors… so i waited him 15 mins. And were they lock? Yes they were haha! Oh well, 15 mins is nothing. I took some photos while waiting. Saw some canoeing and wave hello to them.

Seems there was lot’s of foreigners here too, some spoke french, some Russians….we met later one guy who came from Australia.

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Repovesi trails were mainly easy to walk. We saw wide worn out trails, so that tells how popular this place is. First we were heading to the Katajavuori (Juniper mountain). Unfortunately, to get in top of the hill, we have to climb really steep and long stairs. Not easy for 130 kg (275 lb) guy with 15 kg backpack….

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DSCF8202My goodness, they were steeper than i expected. Well, up there waits great views so here we go then….! On our way up i stopped in the middle and those big rocky hills looked so beautiful in the sunlight. Long trees looked like they were trying to reach in the clouds!

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DSCF8206It was a beautiful view from the top! And stairs weren’t so bad after all, maybe i have got some stamina from my daily walk haha!
We were thinking that maybe we should stay here this night, since there was many perfect places for our hammocks…but one other friend was waiting us at the Katajajärvi campfire, so we took some photos and found the trail nearby to get going on.

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DSCF8219Rest of the trail for today was quite easy to walk and took around 20 mins to walk Katajajärvi’s campfire place. Our friend Arto was waiting us there since 6 pm. Now it was 8.30pm.

After chatting, we started to look places for our hammocks. It was quite rocky place, so let’s see what we will find.

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We didn’t want to hang ourselves (i just love to say that…) far away from the fireplace, so this was the place for us…as you can see, it wasn’t so easy to set these up hahah! Took over an hour to get all done. We both have Warbonnet XLC with Super Fly’s.

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DSCF8231Rest of the evening we took some photos, had a chat and made some good food. We were pretty beat up, it’s been long day. Specially for Niko, since he was working today. Moon was shining quite bright and some stars in the sky made me happy.  We went to sleep around midnight.

Waking up 7am, so we could have quick breakfast and walk to the Määkijä camp, before it will start to rain heavily.

Coffee wakes up soon

Coffee wakes up soon

In the morning Arto complain that he feelt cold during the night. He seems haven’t use hammocks for long time and since summer have been quite warm, only the sleeping bag seems to be enough for him. But it went low as +10°C during the night so we found out that he isn’t so experienced hammock user and didn’t have any protection under him.

So that meant that he didn’t want to risk to get sick and decided to leave today. So our trails separated soon. Sad thing, but understandable.

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DSCF8267We had only 2 km to the Määkijä camp. On our way we saw great rocky hills and beautiful forests. We heard that there might be Viper snakes on the rocky trail, so we needed to be careful. But didn’t saw nothing. Better that way.

Määkijä camping was a beautiful place. It has toilets, fireplace, woodshed, small pier and also rented hut.

We wanted to make a camp with our hammocks. Both hammocks towards each outher and tarps tied together. There was a perfect place, but…..also really heavy wind which got stronger later. So after we trying to get tarps set up, we gave up because of wind.

We came back same trail to the Kapiavesi (narrow water) which had some cover for the wind. We decided to check the Lapinsalmi camp too, where we had lunch.

Unfortunately here was too windy too and because it was near the suspension bridge, place was really crowded. So back to he Kapiavesi, where we gave up the idea to make a camp with our hammocks.

It started to rain a bit, but we had only 500 meters to walk. So we set our hammocks fast to the porch mode and had some rest. Wind wasn’t heavy here so we could relax.

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It was only 1 pm, when we got all set up. And rain continued until 9 pm, when the wind also died. So we just listen music, had a chat, tried to kill one damn annoying bee (manage to do it next morning) and made some dinner. I had Chili Con Carne ( i took the spicy instead of mild…huh) and Niko had some Blå Band pasta.

The worker bees are homeless this time of year, so they tried to get any food. They are really aggressive now and trying to fly in the face too. Stings easily…

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After 9 pm we finally got chance to build a fire. Had some cheese sausages with us. Later i heard sudden noise from the woodshed and there was one guy collecting firewood. They had a tent about 100 meters away. Guy was really drunk and it was dark already… he dropped some wood immediately because he could walk straight….

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Night wasn’t bad at all, it was quite warm actually! I woke up around 7 am because some Wagtails (fin Västäräkki) made lot’s of noise and they flew around the hammocks. Also the red-throat divers (fin Kaakkuri) were noisy in the morning. Flying around the lake with recognizable Kaa-Kaa-Kaa sound. Sometimes it sounded like laughing.

Later when we were having breakfast, Woodpecker (fin Palokärki) paid a visit nearby. Black bird with small red hat!

Happy hikers

Happy hikers

Took some time to pack our stuff, because i took lot’s of photos from my Warbonnet. Going to write a review to the Finnish outdoor site Retkipaikka.fi.

As you can see, also Niko’s Super Fly seems to be happy to our trip!:)

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Since it won’t be raining until 1 pm, we wanted to try the Fox Ferry! Cable ferry so we need to pull ourselves to the other side of the lake. 2 km hike to there and only 600 meters to Nikos’s car then. I ate lot’s of blueberries in this weekend, but now it is time for the cranberries! Blueberries weren’t so sweet anymore, but quite good. Sings that autumn is arriving are visible too.

Here the forest ministry have made some forest fires for fire ecology (not sure what is the correct word, but to burn forest to build new life)

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Arriving to ferry

Arriving to ferry

Forgot to take photos from the ferry….but check the video 🙂

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Surely it was a nice weekend trip at the Repovesi! There is still lot’s to see, so someday we will go there again! Maybe even in the winter:)

We rewarded ourselves with good pizzas….

All photos under the blog or check them from my site : http://pixabilly.1g.fi/kuvat/Hiking/Repovesi/

And video can be found from Youtube : https://youtu.be/tIZ_6HDAUdk

 

Thank you for reading, hope you enjoyed!:)

 

 

 

 

 

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