Finland

 

Kokar island

Kokar island

From the Aland Islands we took the route south and the ferry that took us through the islands of the Turku archipelago. The islands grew rockier with fewer trees. We stayed on Kokar, a small island approximately 8 km across, with a campsite and a shop. Then took another couple of ferries before we hit the mainland and on to Turku the main town and former capital of Finland.

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Too much cycling can have a shrinking effect!  Outside the excellent Maritime Museum in Turku.

Too much cycling can have a shrinking effect!
Outside the excellent Maritime Museum in Turku.

The whole area is set up for cycling with good cycle paths and lots of routes through the islands. From Turku we started heading for Helsinki along the oldest road in Finland the The Ox Road of Häme, which has been used for over a 1000yrs.

The Ox road

The Ox road

There are excellent cycle routes through Finland but very few signs. You need a good cycle map to make the best of them. The scale of Finland also makes planning your route important as well as there are few campsites and other forms of accommodation. We hit some major thunderstorms and were lucky to find shelter as the heavens opened.

Finland has many national parks some of which you can wild camp in and even fish and light fires. Something that would be unheard of back in the UK. Nuuksion national park is only 40 km north west of Helsinki and is a mixed forest with lakes and marsh harboring some rare species including the Siberian flying squirrel. You can walk or bike in the park but motor vehicles and motorbikes are not allowed.

wild camping in Nuuksion

wild camping in Nuuksion

 

We headed into the west of the park and camped by one of the 43 lakes. Unfortunately we had not bothered to check out the weather forecast. We had a beautiful evening and met a Finnish couple who turned up with a huge Bernese Mountain dog to barbecue a few sausages and very kindly share a few beers before they headed back home. We enjoyed the rest of the evening sitting by the campfire overlooking the lake. Rain sent us to bed for an early night. The rain steadily got heavier and the next morning it was still going. We packed our sodden tent and headed on through the park along mountain bike trails through the pouring rain. Drying out in a pizzeria on the road to Helsinki.

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