Villa Elfvik is located in Espoo close to the centre of Helsinki and it was from there that we started our countryside walk. It’s an art nouveau villa on the edge of the Laajalahti Nature Reserve, inside we found exhibitions relating to the diverse nature of Espoo as well as a children’s adventure area ‘Badger’s Wood’. In the villa’s attractive dining room there is a cafe called ‘Satakieli’ but this is only open at weekends.
Nature trails begin at the villa and are clearly signposted. There is a short (700 metre) boardwalk trail to a birdwatching lookout tower which we took first and from where we had some far reaching views across the wetlands. Laajalahti Nature Reserve is one of the best bird watching areas in the Helsinki area.
The nature reserve consists mostly of open water and boardwalk trails alongside the reed beds, shore line and meadows. Near this trail we looked in the old boat shed which is now an exhibition centre with photographs of birds which populate this area. From the ceiling a large wooden bird hangs and children can pull a cord to let it rise and fall and see its wings flap. A little boy was doing just that, and having lots of fun.
Leaving there, we embarked on the longer 3 km boardwalk trail to Maarinlahti. The boards are well maintained but are very narrow down to one plank width in places. I remarked to my husband that you wouldn’t want to be walking along them after a few drinks and then a couple of minutes later and not having had a drink, I obviously wasn’t concentrating and fell over the edge! Fortunately I landed in a dry area and after being pulled back up I continued along the trail no worse for my slight mishap.
There were fine views from the top of the birdwatching tower and as we only had a pair of binoculars with us some very friendly Finnish ornithologists let us take a look through their spotting scopes to view a wide variety of waders and terns.
The nature trail ends here but we continued along the coastal path to Otaniemi which is also a scenic forest walk alongside the water. A little further on we passed the large Aalto University campus which overlooks the bay. The students are very fortunate to be able to study in such a tranquil environment with stunning scenery on their doorstep.
Later in the day we had a walk over to the Laguuni watersports centre at Keilaniemi just a short distance from where we were staying. Laguuni has only recently opened and it was fun to watch people wakeboarding, holding onto a rope attached to a cable mechanism.
The cable follows a circuit laid out with ramps and other obstacles anchored into the bay. Some people seemed to be experts whilst others were trying their best to stay on their feet but they all seemed to be enjoying themselves.
I’ve seen cable wakeboarding before but flyboarding was a new experience for me to observe. The flyboard rider stands on a board connected by a long hose to a boat. Pressurised water is then forced through nozzles into the rider’s boots enabling them to fly up to 15m in the air. Spectacular to watch but not something I would try myself! It was then back to our apartment after an evening watching these thrill seekers.