Last weekend Jesse (popping across from Estonia again) and I visited Nuuksio National Park, on the northern border of the Helsinki metropol.
Brigitte and I had an amazing (albeit quick) visit to the park with Miska in spring, and had been very keen to return for a longer exploration – it is a beautiful area of forests and lakes, close to the city but yet still feeling rather pristine and removed from the urban hussle.Mushrooms everywhere – but none to eat?
It was a stunning day, and I am thankful that we were blessed with really good conditions – warm and cloudless autumn weather. The park was quite full – lots of both tourists and locals. There were mushrooms every – lots of different varieties and sizes – and we saw many people who’d been collecting them (unfortunately neither of us were knowledge enough [yet] to identify which were edible). We did, however, collect some berries – blueberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) were quite scarce, but the few that were still around were large and juicy. We also found a small patch of bog bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum) with a large crop of berries, which we quickly collected and have been enjoying (there’s a bowl of them in our fridge at the moment). The forest’s birdlife was quite quiet, but we did get good views of a male Great Spotted Woodpecker.
For lunch we grilled (“braai”ed in South African lingo) some makkara (= sausage) with some of the other hikers at one of the picnic spots – the reserve provides wood, you just have to remember your matches (and of course to make sure that the fire is extinguished once you’re done).Lunch at Holma-Saarijärvi. With the obvious exception of this picture, all the photos were taken by Jesse (thanks!)
Taking a long walk through the reserve was a great way to spend the day – maybe next time we’ll try overnighting in the reserve.
Logistics: You can find lots of useful information and maps at Outdoors.fi and the park’s WikiTravel page. In addition to your camera, bird book, etc., please don’t forget some warm clothes (even in summer the weather can change quickly) and a mobile phone (just in case of an accident – there is fairly good reception across much of the reserve)
Jesse and I travelled by train from the Helsinki central railway station (Rautatieasema) to the centre of Espoo (Espoon asema), catching the 85A bus from there north to the park. It is not a particularly tricky trip (although we did get out at the wrong train stop…), and you can easily find directions using Reittiopas.fi (you can use Nuuksionpää as your destination), and check out prices at Helsinki Region Transport’s website (although the simplest is to buy a regional day ticket – you can buy them from the blue ticket machines at the central railway station and most metro stations). Additionally, there are a set of fairly useful videos on YouTube showing the route – here, here and here.
There are multiple places where you can enter the park easily from public transport. We disembarked from the 85A bus at the Haukkalammentie stop (Google StreetView here), and walked ~2km down Haukkalammentie to the Haukkalampi information centre. We were able to get a free map there (you could also buy a detailed map for €16 – but that’s only necessary if you plan on walking off the paths), and had a chat with the very friendly and knowledgeable reserve staff. Another alternative is that you can take the 85A bus right to the end of its route (Kattila; in the north of the park) – although this is not an option during winter, when the bus only goes as far as Nuuksionpää. If you’d rather visit the southern section of the park you could catch the 28 bus from the Leppävaara train station – that bus will drop you near Siikaniemi (you get off at the second last stop) from where you can walk into the park. However, unless you’ve bought or printed a map before departing, I’d suggest heading straight for Haukkalampi to get a map – it is easy to get confused on the forest tracks. There is also access to the western side of the park using one of the private bus companies (see here).
And if you are doubting if it’s worth the effort of getting there… then check out some of the photos of the area posted on Panoramio here – that should help to convince you that it is a great place to visit!