Everyman’s Rights

Jouni Laaksonen 15.1.2018

You may have read my post last week. I was skiing in a fairy-tale forest full of snow. I skied off any ski tracks or marked trails. That is possible because of Everyman’s Rights.

 

Dos

In Finland you are allowed to go wherever you want in forests, fells, bogs and so on. You may swim, paddle or row a boat in every lake and river. You can pitch your tent almost wherever you wish. It does not matter who owns the land, the right to walk, ski, paddle, or camp is for everyone.

Everymans_Talvitelttailua_Hanhisuo_0852

Is this called “wild camp” in English?

I have understood this is not the case everywhere around the world. It would be interesting to hear how this matter is in Your home country.

There are thousands of kilometers of marked hiking trails in Finland. Day hiking along marked trails is the most popular method of hiking, make no mistake.

But I think an essential part of Finnish way of hiking is the tradition and possibility of choosing your own route, along unmarked paths and off any paths. Also Finland’s relatively even terrain profile encourages to pick your own route, compared to more mountainous countries. This is done when hiking, and also when picking berries or mushrooms.

Everymans_Mustikat_0626

Everymans_Puolukat_DSC00932

Sweet blueberries (upper pic) are ripe in from the end of July all the way along August. Lingonberries (lower pic) are more sour, but very good berries in September.

Picking berries and mushrooms is allowed for everyone, too, regardless who owns the land. If you come to Finland in summer or autumn, I definitively recommend you learn blueberry (=bilberry), cloudberry and lingonberry and taste them. And if you like mushroom dishes, why not collect your own plateful of chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius), cep (=porcino, Boletus edulis), or other great-tasting mushrooms?

Everymans_Herkkutatit_0151.jpg

Cep, Boletus edulis.

Be careful though. You have to know what you are picking. There are many poisonous mushrooms and some poisonous berries out in our woods, too.

Also fishing with a rod and line, or through a hole in the ice in wintertime, is allowed for free. Though if you mean to fish in a river where there are salmon-related fish species, you may not use this kind of worm bait, and thus you need a permit. As a rule of thumb you might want to stick to lakes with this free fishing.

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This kind of fishing (rod and line) is free of charge and needs no permit.

For fishing with a spinning rod, or fly fishing, you need to buy a permit. Also for hunting you need permits.

 

Don’ts

Of course you must not walk let alone camp so near anyone’s home that they would get disturbed. You must not walk across a field so that the wheat, rye or whatever flattens. In nature conservation areas there are sometimes restrictions for protecting the peace of birds’ nesting, or a rare plant or something such. And use of motorized vehicles is not allowed off-roads.

Making a fire is not part of Everyman’s Rights (but there are those thousands of campfire sites where making a fire is allowed).

I short, you must not disturb other people, or animals or plants. As long as you behave this way, you are probably within Everyman’s Rights. For more information, see official text.

* * *

There were already two January posts, so let’s see the opposite part of year next week. A hot July day it will be.

 

 

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