Finlandia

“Finland, Finland, Finland
The country where I quite want to be
Your mountains so lofty
Your treetops so tall
Finland, Finland, Finland
Finland has it all” – Monty Python: Finland

Our next bus journey took us into Finnish Lapland, with a break at Kilpisjärvi, the lake just on the Finnish side of the three-point border with Norway and Sweden. The stillness of the air and water is something that epitomises the 180,000+ lakes in the country.

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There were examples of local wildlife on view in this journey too — such as the reindeer escaping into the woods here.

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Our first destination was Levi, a cluster of fells best known as a winter sports resort, but also offering a variety of summer activities. We explored the area both on foot and mountain bike. The stillness theme continued as we found absolute silence (an entirely new experience for Roger!) on our hike.

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There was a greater variety of colour than it initially appeared, especially when we looked closely.

Many Finns retreat to lakeside cabins in the summer — for a weekend, a week, or even a month. We spent a couple of days with friends by a small, quiet lake called Kirvesjärvi (or Axe Lake) in Rokua national park about an hour’s drive from Oulu.

Wandering in the woods, cycling, rowing, canoeing and having barbecues by day; swimming in the lake after a sauna by night, it didn’t take long for us to feel disconnected from everyday life.

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It doesn’t get any darker than this in the north in summer. This means less pressure to squeeze in all the outdoor activities before it gets dark, which is very liberating.

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