Are you wondering what we’ll be up to for the best part of July and August? Welcome to our summer in Finland, a 38 day hike from Porvoo to the Åland Islands, taking in national parks, fishermen villages, lots of islands and lakes, camping and wild outdoor adventures! Follow our journey using the #EverymansFinland hashtag, and keep reading if you’d like more info on how we got the idea of this trip!
Our #EverymansFinland adventure has been over a year in the making. It was sometime last spring when Nick called me, suggesting we’d start planning a long-distance hike across Finland. South to North was our first plan – we’d call it the ‘Camino de Santa Claus’, we joked.
So we started looking. There aren’t many established long-distance trails in Finland. There’s the Iron Curtain Trail, but that’s more for cyclists. So, we pored over maps and Google Earth, checked hiking sites and books, contacted locals, and finally came up with a plan for our summer in Finland – we’d hike across Southern Finland.
It took us a while to decide exactly where to walk, and for how long. We decided to roughly follow the old King’s Road, an old trading route running across Southern Finland, from the Russian-Finnish border to the city of Turku. The King’s Road is now a fairly busy road, and hiking and camping along it for close to a month wasn’t exactly what we had in mind when we planned our summer in Finland – so we decided to design the trail ourselves, with the help of several amazing people from Visit Finland and the regional tourism boards.
You might be curious to know why we chose Finland. If you follow us, you’ll know that we fell in love with the country during our first visit in August 2014. During that visit, part of the Outdoors Finland project, we travelled to some beautiful and little-known locations along the Western coast of the country, including Maakalla Island, Liminka Bay and the Kvarken Archipelago.
We also learnt of the close relation that Finns have with nature. The islands off the coast of Helsinki are dotted with summer cabins, where many city dwellers spend their weekends relaxing, enjoying sauna with friends, and swimming under the midnight sun. Or maybe just enjoying being with nature. The Facebook profiles of our new Finnish friends were full of pictures of them enjoying nature and the outdoors – cross-country skiing in winter, swimming and kayaking in summer, picking berries, braiding wildflowers…
Respect for nature and the outdoors is one of the main features of Finnish culture. A special relationship between people and nature that is shared in several other Northern countries, and it’s made ‘official’ by Everyman’s Right, a series of rules allowing people to enjoy nature in total freedom.
Specifically, Everyman’s Right allows people to:
- Hike, ski, cycle and sail anywhere, even on private property, provided you keep a good distance from homes
- Wild camp anywhere for a few days at a time, and at a reasonable distance from private homes
- Swim and wash yourself anywhere, in the sea, lakes and rivers
- Pick wild berries, mushrooms and flowers (save for protected species)
- Fish with a rod and line
- Walk, ski or ride a snowmobile on frozen lakes, rivers and the sea
- Light fires at designated campfire sites across the country – firewood is freely supplies by the government
(Our source was nationalparks.fi – check the site to know more!)
The idea behind our Finland adventure was to experience Everyman’s Right for ourselves. Even though our overnight stops are (mostly) set, our route between one place and the next isn’t. We are going to ask locals for help, trying to stay away from roads and traffic as much as possible, crossing forests and meadows, walking on the edge of lakes and rivers.
We are planning to spend some nights camping in the wild and at campsites inside the national parks we’ll cross. Hopefully, we’ll be able to find some berries, even though it’s kind of early in the season.
Our Summer in Finland – Itinerary
Our #EverymansFinland adventure will begin on June 2nd. We’ll walk from Porvoo to Turku and then to the Åland Islands over a period of 38-40 (ish) days – could be more, could be less. We’ll cover a distance of approximately 400 km on foot – we’ll be tracking our progress with a GPS so we’ll be able to give you exact routes and distances after the trip.
Our plan is walking the whole way. We’ll sail when moving between islands and when going from Turku to Åland, bike or walk around cities, and try not to use any other kind of transport at all.
(But maybe we’ll make an exception for donkeys and pogo sticks. Who knows?)
The first stop will be Porvoo, where we are going to spend two days exploring the pretty Old Town and cycling around the surroundings, while staying in a cute B&B.
From Porvoo we’ll walk to Helsinki over a period of two days, crossing the town of Sipoo and little-visited Sipoo National Park, where we’ll camp for the first time.
Then, we’ll rest in Helsinki for six days, participating in the Helsinki Secret project. Despite having been in Finland twice (me) and three times (Nick), we’ve explored the city only superficially – so we’ll take this chance to enjoy Helsinki in the season when it’s at its best. We are hoping to do some kayaking and enjoy urban nature in the capital.
From Helsinki we’ll head to Nuuksio, where we’ll camp for two days – one of which will be in a tent slung between two trees! We’ll also visit Haltia Nature Centre again, after a quick visit in winter, and enjoy the great outdoors of Nuuksio National Park, a beautiful nature area just half an hour away from Helsinki.
Afterwards, we’ll enter Western Uusimaa, a beautiful region with many lakes and islands – it’s there that we’ll stop proceeding in a straight line, zig-zagging instead around lakes and islands, and visiting lots of interesting locations including Lohjansaari, an island on a lake, Mustionlinna, a beautiful castle where we’re hoping to spend one night, the fishermen villages of Fiskars and Ekenas and finally Hanko, a port town on the southwestern tip of Finland.
From Hanko we’ll begin our exploration of the Archipelago around the southwestern coast. Our Archipelago plan is not yet set, but some of the places we would love to see include Bengtskär, a lighthouse island, the village of Kasnäs in the heart of the Archipelago, and the little island of Pensar. We will be spending around 10 days exploring the Archipelago and all kinds of tips are welcome!
Our final destination on the ‘Finnish Mainland’ will be Turku, a city that we’ve wanted to visit for ages – we’re planning to explore the Turku food scene and organise something special for Nick’s 38th birthday – after having spent a birthday in Warsaw and one in Dresden, Turku is next!
After Turku, we’ll sail to the Åland Islands, a semi-autonomous archipelago between Finland and Sweden, where we’re planning to spend a week walking across some of the main islands and relaxing after our long hike. My mother is a massive Moomin fan and after having heard that Tove Jansson was a big fan of Åland, we have both dreamt to visit Åland for a very long time.
From Åland we’ll sail to Stockholm, where another chapter of our summer adventure will begin.
We’re both crazy excited for our #EverymansFinland project and hope you’ll all follow our adventure. We’ll be using the #EverymansFinland hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we’ll post daily on Snapchat (follow us on thecrowdedplnt!) and do lots of live video broadcasts on Periscope and FB Live. We’re off on Thursday – so stay tuned for lots more Finland material on our post and social media!
We would like to thank everyone who made this trip possible – Eva from Visit Finland, Manti from Finnair, Jessica from Visit Finland, Laura from Visit Espoo, Annu from Hawkhill Nature, Jukka from Western Uusimaa, Matilda from the Turku Archipelago, Lotta from Visit Turku, Annica from Visit Aland and all the others. See you all very soon!
Feature Picture credit: Coerelle/Pixabay