Family cycling around Ahvenanmaa island

 

Jouni Laaksonen 7.5.2018

I just returned back to civilization from a skiing expedition in Urho Kekkonen National Park. It is winter in Lapland for many weeks yet, but as I’ve written so many snow stories lately, and as it is spring in Southern Finland now, I’ll reminisce two cycling tours in Ahvenanmaa island. One of them took place in May, the other in July.

Ahvenanmaa is one of the very best places for bicycle touring in Finland, and May is a brilliant choice of time for a flower lover. In May yellow Cowslip (Primula veris) bloom everywhere, both in the roadsides and flowery meadows. For example in Nåtö meadow you find Elder-flowered Orchid (Dactylorhiza sambucina). This two-colored orchid is called Adam och Eva (= Adam and Eve) in Swedish. In Ramsholm cape you see fields of Wood and Yellow Wood Anemone Anemone (Anemone nemorosa, Anemone ranunculoides) together with Ramsons (Allium ursinum).

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Nåtö meadow, Cowslip and Elder-flowered Orchid, and others.

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Ramsholm, Wood Anemone and Yellow Wood Anemone.

Flowers of May

One May we headed with my wife to Ahvenanmaa. BTW, this large island, together with a horde of smaller islands, belong to Finland, but the locals speak mostly Swedish. Ahvenanmaa is called Åland in Swedish. We rented bicycles from Turku (I don’t remember the name of the company any more, otherwise I’d link it here), the largest city in that part of mainland Finland, and cycled via the beautiful archipelago road to Korppoo and Galtby harbour. A ferry took us and our bicycles to Långnäs harbour in the south-eastern corner of Ahvenanmaa main island.

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Mostly the roads we cycled were paved, but we hit some nice gravel roads, too. The traffic is light in Ahvenanmaa, very good for a biker.

We had booked a cabin for every night beforehand. The super highlights of this cycling tour were those flower destinations mentioned above. Also idyllic agricultural landscapes crowned with wind mills, historical castle ruins like Kastelholm and Bomarsund, and sea view from Orrdals Klint, the highest hill in Ahvenanmaa, left a permanent mark in my memory. (You can easily see where these places are situated, if you like. Go to MapSite and use Search.)

After cycling a week we continued by ferry from north-eastern corner of Ahvenanmaa main island, Hummelvik harbour, to Kustavi in mainland Finland. Then we continued back to Turku and returned our rented bikes.

May is a month of great contrasts. When we returned home to Northern Finland, there was no green yet, let alone flowers.

 

With a child in July

Many years later, when our first-born was about five years old, we returned to Ahvenanmaa. This time we took a ship from Turku city to Maarianhamina, which is the capital of Ahvenanmaa. We had again booked cabin for each night beforehand, and also we had booked bicycles and child trailer beforehand from Maarianhamina.

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Child trailer is handy when the child is not old enough to pedal herself.

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One of the cabins along our route. When you have a certain accommodation for each night, you can travel lighter.

Distances in Ahvenanmaa are comparably short, which is very good when you are cycling with a child. Our daughter enjoyed riding in the child trailer, she could read or sleep or see the landscape, but she likes to have lots of playing time every day. Also we like to combine cycling along roads with walking along paths, and we had scouted beforehand many nature protection sites, geological peculiarities or viewpoints we wanted to visit.

And so we did. The nature protection sites often have a marked path, but guidance to the sites is pretty nonexistent. Anyway, the most important like Nåtö and Ramsholmen are easy to find. And I definitively want to recommend Getabergen nature trail. This 5 km loop shows many special geological sights, like caves, extraordinarily shaped boulders, crevices, and a wonderful view to Djupviken bay. Always before a child could get bored of walking the next special sight arrived and she was enthralled, and us, too.

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Four pics from Getabergen. In Swedish this is the entrance to the large Djupviksgrottan. It could be translated Cave of the Deep Bay. The cave is room-sized, albeit the “door” is so small.

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Skeppsbogen, translates as the Bow of a Ship. And that’s what this huge boulder, or cliff, looks.

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The outcrop over Djupviken (Deep Bay) was a perfect place for lunch break.

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On top of Getabergen hill there is café and cabins. After completing the nature trail we enjoyed ice cream in the café and then continued our afternoon with mini-golf.

Also Eckerö post museum was interesting, and windmills, and the different kind of flowers that bloom in July, and butterflies…

After a great week we returned from Maarianhamina to Turku by the same large ship.

 

Safety note

In Ahvenanmaa islands do be wary about ticks. They spread Lyme disease tick borne encephalitis. If you just cycle and walk in roads or wide paths, there’s no problem. But if you head to narrower paths, or out of paths, pull your socks over your trouser legs. And despite this precaution check yourself and your companion’s skin every evening.

* * *

I’m writing this away from home and my plans, so I don’t recall just now what I have thought to write about next. So next week’s subject shall be a surprise! 🙂

 

 

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