Monday, 16 July 2012

Korsholm, Björköby: Bodvattnet nature trail

Whether you've experienced the Kvarken islands from the sea or not, a walk right next to Svedjehamn harbour at Björköby village is a delight. It may sound funny to do a walk on the mainland to experience the archipelago of the Kvarken,  one of UNESCO's World Heritage sites, but it's worth it.
It would be great to do the whole trail from Björkö to Panike but as these trails are a total surprise to me, only discovered on the spot, I opt for the 4-kilometre one round Bodvattnet, Bodvattnet runt. The trail returns conveniently back to where it starts from.
A short walk along the narrow road takes you to the marked trail which you can't miss anyway, thanks to the wooden gate. Nature trails aren't always in as good condition as this one!
Even if this may not be the height of the wild flower season, there is always something to look at right at your feet. Should carry a flower guidebook with me, I'm really bad with the names of the plants.
Arriving at the birch-dominated forest, I am surprised. As if it was spring, and the leaves were only about to come out; the birch leaves seem absolutely tiny. What is this? You'd expect the leaves to be pretty big in July and their colour ought to be a much deeper shade of green.
When I spot the small rowntrees by the side of the path, I stop to take a closer look. Poor things. There must be some pest insects about. Perhaps the damages in the trees are all caused by the same ones, which could explain why the birches look like they're not feeling well either.
Soon the trail arrives at Bodback where the Russian army began its unfortunate trip across the sea to Sweden in March 1809. A sign by the side of the road advertises historic guided walks which take you back to the events of those days.
Björkö's most important fishing port used to be located in Bodback. However, due to the annual rising of the land, the fishing port simply had to be moved to another place. When the fishing port here was at its busiest, there were more than 100 buildings for the fishermen on these shores. Only few of them remain today. 
The waters of Bodvattnet are now so shallow that they wouldn't allow passing with fishermen's boats. Some original, ancient fishermen's nets are hanging there, as if getting dry after a fishing trip.
Bodvattnet runt... round Bodvattnet. Even the name indicates that if you can walk round this former bay, it must have either lost its connection to the Gulf of Bothnia totally or there is one or more bridges for us walkers. I wonder how the fishermen felt when they saw the waters get shallower year by year at their home port; how could the sea do that to them, as if it was slowly walking away? However, they had no choice but to leave and follow the sea. And it wasn't the sea's fault anyway; their enemy would have been the rising land.
The nature trail, having begun wide as an avenue, turns into a rocky path that follows the Bodvattnet shore. The little fence is there to keep the sheep at bay. Their summer job is an easy one, a continuous eat all you can buffet, and thus taking good care of the scenery.
The pleasant path meanders through the trees under which there is an abundance of berries ripening - not ready just yet though. It could be a good year for cranberries!
Some of the birches along the trail seem to have chosen exactly the same favourite spot to grow on. How come they haven't realized that was plenty of good land available close by, and they could easily have grown up straight instead of crooked?
The numerous little white flowers that decorate the land are not at all familiar to me (later discovery: bunchberry or Swedish Cornel). Soon I arrive at a place which is perfect for a snack, if only you've come prepared: there is a picnic table and benches, plus firewood for making a fire, right by the sea and the sea buckthorns. Lovely!
The tiny wooden bridge reveals that this is where one of the most recent connections between the sea and Bodvattnet used to be. However, now the rocky bottom is completely dry.
Towards the end of the nature trail, there is a reward: the wooden Saltkaret observation tower. A climb up is definitely something not to be missed! Only a couple more steps...
The views from the tower are fantastic.  The Kvarken is spotted by numerous islands, the number and sizes of which keep growing slowly. Somewhere there, on the other side of the Kvarken, there is Sweden, but before the Swedish isles for example Valsörarna (Valassaaret) islands that belong to Finland. I wonder how long it will take before the rocks that are now partly in water will be on totally dry land?
From this perspective it is much easier to get an idea of how the scenery keeps changing, with the narrow moraines that are all pointing the same way. Saltkaret is literally the top of Bodvattnet walk but I still recommend to walk the whole way, and not take a shortcut to the tower!

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