To the Gulf of Bothnia

2013/06/26: Lake boat to Koupio and 5 km
2013/06/27: 110 km to 10 km north of Iisalmi
2013/06/28: 104 km to 4 km north of Kestila
2013/06/29: 101 km to Oulu

Lock on the Saimaa Lake system

Having cycled through The Lakeland area and seen things from the land, it was pleasant to board the M/S Puijo and enjoy a 10 hour journey on the lake system. We left passing the Olavinlinna Castle, which had its drawbridge up to let us through, passed through the parks that protect the Saimaa ringed seal (but no sightings), and then north through a complex set of small lakes to Kuopio.

The view from the lake is in many ways prettier, and definitely more bug free than that from the land! We went through several locks as we passed from lake to lake. Typically these had about a 1 metre rise. In one case there was no lock just a fast running channel, marked by buoys, the boat went up with ease. We were always going upstream because the Saimaa lake system flows from north to south. We saw large barges, carrying wood, being pushed by tugs, many pleasure craft, and of course cottages dotted the shoreline. Altogether a pleasant ride on a sunny day.

We stayed the night in Kuopio and then travelled north for three days, camping out, and riding on low traffic roads. The second night campsite was especially memorable being by a lake and reasonably free of flying insects (but not ants). Coming into Oulu at the end of this 300 km ride there was an adder coiled up in the middle of the bike path. Unfortunately, I got too close and it uncoiled before a photograph could be taken of it in its coiled up state. (Note: It was definitely a Vipera berus)

Adder on bike path

Oulu is a geeks’ city less than 200 km from the Arctic circle. It is blessed with a beautiful harbour and set of islands. It is the most bike friendly city I have ever been to,  and on the weekend bikes outnumbered cars by a considerable factor in the city centre. Several pedestrian/bike bridges make travel between the islands easier by bike than car. In winter it is all frozen over and there is a 12 km skating loop.

Prior to entering Oulu, we stopped at a cafe where we met Steffen, a touring cyclist from Hamburg. He has travelled extensively in the European far north, and gave us excellent suggestions on our route. He travelled 170 km that day, and the wind was not in his favour, so he is very much more hardcore than we are –younger as well!


Going up a 60 cm rise between two lakes. Red swaying buoys to port, green to starboard

Lupins have been replaced by this white flowered plant (left) and fireweed (right), as our roadside companions. Wild blueberries are the roadside fruit as well as wild strawberries.

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