DAYTRIP: Nuuksio National Park
Wilderness right next to the capital? Easy. Finland is one great forest with a few slightly more densily populated spots like Helsinki.
It’s half an hour to the Nuuksio National Park from Helsinki, by bus. Suddenly you are surrounded by real forest of all hues: tuore kangasmetsä (borealic forest), aarnimetsä (ancient woodland), räme (coniferous swamp) and korpi (Scots pine trees). It does not take long to realise in Nuuksio why Finns have as many words for forest as the Greenlanders have for snow.
The forest brings out all the senses, the forest has its scent and you feel it under your toes. You hear the wind in the treetops, you smell the closeness of the swamp, birds sing and the call of a wader rings out. Your mind is empty and suddenly you are more interested in an anthill than in updating your social media.
You feel the forest throughout your body, the effects are physical: it is mood-enhancing, relieves stress and brain strain, and lowers blood pressure. The forest does not frighten a Finn, they find peace there: 96 per cent of the Finnish define themselves as nature lovers.
Being too swampy and rocky the Nuuksio lands were not good enough for agriculture. Good for us. Now we need them. 344,000 visitors go there every year, yet it is likely that you will not meet anyone else in Nuuksio.
Nuuksio National Park
How: Public transport to Nuuksio, see the website nationalparks.fi/en/nuuksionp
Equipment: Comfortable shoes are enough for a few kilometre stroll. A weatherproof jacket, water and a small snack. There is no need for a compass or a map on the marked routes.
Try: Haukankierros, 4 kilometres, takes you through ancient woodland, tall cliffs that give out splendid views over the Haukkalampi pond and Myllypuro dale.
Services: Haukkalampi nature information cabins at the beginning and end of the route, running water, Mustalampi Camping, sheltered cooking facilities
While you are there: Visit the Haltia Nature Centre, a building that represents progressive wood design by architect Rainer Mahlamäki. Ecology and sustainable development are present in all aspects. The view from the restaurant to the national park is stunning. haltia.com