Nuuksio is a place that outside of Finland and – surprisingly – Japan is hardly known at all. Wrongly. It is a National Park close to Helsinki, with wonderful nature and easily accessible even on public transport. Last weekend, we went for a short hike in the snow there.

To reach Nuuksio on public transport, first you have to take a bus or train to the centre of Espoo. From there, there are two buses which go to different points of the park. We took the number 85, which stops at several points along the park boundary. We got off at Haltia to walk the 4.6km to Haukkalampi and take a bus back from there. However, I would now recommend doing it the other way round: The bus stop at Haukkalampi is 2km walk from the park and there is no shelter, whereas at Haltia you can wait warm and dry inside the nature centre, as the bus is only once per hour.

The walking route between Haltia and Haukkalampi is signposted very well, so you won’t get lost even without a local guide. In addition, there are several other circular walks at both places, with different lengths and difficulties, including a walk that is suitable for wheelchairs and prams from Haukkalampi.

So we got off at Haltia and started walking. I have to admit at this point that I am a very unlucky combination of “wants to go out into nature and see as many new places as possible”, lazy, in bad shape, and the body temperature regulation of a lizard (almost always cold and frozen half stiff, but if not that, then feeling too hot). This usually results in me tearing Mr Always Right away from the comforts of his computer to go on outdoorsy adventures, just so he has to endure my whining from about 5 minutes into the trip onwards. Also this time: after 100 metres walking uphill (Mr Always Right insisted on taking a small but steep detour) I was out of breath, and after 500 metres my rear was frozen despite multiple layers of thermal clothing.

Of course we continued nevertheless. Right behind Haltia, we reached a ski slope. As it wasn’t a very long one, there were mainly children’s ski schools out on that day. We officially entered the National Park a bit further along the path. Now and again our path crossed the road, but still it felt like being far away out in nature. Perhaps because the road was white like all the surroundings, and there aren’t too many cars around. We were walking without snow shoes, and as there had been plenty of visitors before us this was no problem, as the snow was trampled down nicely on the path. In a few places though I was glad about my snow grips, but Mr Always Right, who is a lot more sure-footed on slippery terrain, had no problems without them either. Despite the popularity of this park anad the glorious weather on a Saturday morning we hardly met any other hikers.

The trees were heavily laden with snow, and also on the frozen lakes you could see the pristine white (pristine until I launched into it to make a snow angel, and in another place some people walked across). Thick powder snow, which crunches under your shoes at every step and glitters in the sunlight. Arriving at Haukkalampi, we had just missed a bus and therefore quickly walked along the “wheelchair route” to a nice viewpoint with fireplace. Here you can make a nice campfire with already provided firewood, and traditionally roast sausages. On this day, the fire wasn’t lit though, and the surrounding benches were covered in thick snow. Walking to the bus stop, we came past a car that had come off the road – I guess this easily happens when everything is white and someone is not used to driving on snow, so be careful out there if you are hiring a car for your visit =).

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