There’s ice cover on lakes now – so it’s perfect time to think back last summer’s swim tour in July! After saying goodbye to Samuli in the Arctic Circle, I flew back to Helsinki with Jonathan. And then Tuomas, a marathon-swimming pioneer in Finland, picked us from the airport and we drove to Padasjoki by Lake Päijänne. After almost two hours’ ride (160 km), we met Paula and Ismo, who welcomed us to the beautiful location of Villa Takila holiday apartments.Wow! We got to sleep in a first-class venue with a beautiful overlook to Lake Päijänne. We had a light barbecue and then dived into clear water of Päijänne. A nearby island, Kalainsaari, in 350 m distance from the Villa, belongs to the Päijänne National Park. Its dense forest appeared dark against the late evening sunlight. It’s nature-protected area and nobody lives there. How nice would it be to lit a fire by the lean-to on the island…
Next morning Markus Sirkka, a professional nature photographer, joined us. He was interested in shooting photos of open water swimming. So we were four, when Ismo took us to Kelvenne Island by boat. Kelvenne is one of the largest and most beautiful esker islands in Finland. Ice age gave Kelvenne its long and narrow shape and its sandy beaches and lagoons. There were just few campers on the main beach called Isohieta, where we landed, so it was easy to find good spots for a tree tent, a traditional tent and a hammock. If you haven’t heard about tree tent before, read more of it here.It was a sunny day and water temperature was around 18-20 °C, so after a quick look to surroundings we decided to swim to the nearby island. Lietsaari Island is 2,7 km from Isohieta beach. Markus started paddling on a SUP board for the first time in his life and first we swimmers thought we might have to save him some time…but he learned it fast so well, that he could take few photos during paddling. There was hardly any boat traffic and the water was clear and we enjoyed swimming enormously. Water temperature varied a bit during swimming, but it was warm enough to swim without wetsuits. We arrived to a nice sandy point of the island and felt like winners. We were invited to a boat for a cup of tea. The boat had everything that you could imagine, it was a whole summer cabin with sauna on the waves. We had short rest before swimming back to our base camp. Markus took some awesome photos while we were swimming.
In the afternoon we walked the 9-km hiking route along the island. We spotted lagoons and cliffs on both sides. There are many islands nearby Kelvenne Island and next summer I’ll organise Swimming Holidays and Tours at Lake Päijänne, so we’ll explore all the brilliant swimming spots.We had a nice evening meal by the fire. And enjoyed more swimming in a beautiful sunset. Later on we went to find Markus, who had disappeared to take photos all over the island. We found him at the northernmost point shooting great landscape photos and we were lucky to also witness a pink sky and a serene lagoon. Afterwards we had couple of beers and then happy sleeping. Next morning Ismo came to fetch us and on the way back to Villa Takila we passed rock paintings of Haukkasalo Island.
We ran out of time! We could have spent a whole week in Villa Takila and Kelvenne Island. Well, it was an introduction trip for our guest Jonathan. So naturally we will back next summer for longer time!
Thank you Paula and Ismo at Villa Takila!
All photos ©Markus Sirkka, follow Markus: Sirkka Image Photography, @sirkkaservices
(except blue swimmer photo ©Jonathan Cowie and two Villa Takila pics, SUP paddler and two underwater photos ©villiuimari).
Päijänne National Park
Location: Padasjoki, Päijänne National Park