The Wild Wild East of Helsinki – Uutela, Vuosaari
What to do on a grey day in Helsinki? Hop on a subway and take a time travel to the remains of Ice Age which ended in Finland 13 000 years ago. Even though the colour of the sky might be tempting you to have a lonkero in Kallio, on a grey day like this, the intense tones of wild plants and alluring scents of the moistened forest will wake you up and inspire you to move in fresh air and learn to recognise wild food.
The recreation area of Uutela is located in the southeastern part of Vuosaari, Helsinki. The exquisite lagoons whisper about the slow rise of the ground in the post Ice Age. Especially in Nuottaniemi and in Skatanniemi, you can find smooth glaciated cliffs, reminders of the frozen times.
Uutela is filled with small groves surrounded by alders that invite you to have a deeper look into Finland’s most lush and species-rich forest type. In addition, the diverse nature of Uutela has a variety of dry and fresh canyons and bare rocks.
Nature trails and cooking shelters
The building agency of Helsinki has made an eight-shape nature trail in Uutela. The trail consist of two rounds from which you can rotate either one or both.
The "Forest and Pasture Landscapes" round is about 2.5 kilometers long. Its starting point and information board is located in the road of Uutelantie, about half a kilometer from the main info board. The "Gloes and Meadow Beaches" round is about 1.5 kilometers long. Its starting point is next to the parking lot of the nature reserve of Särkkäniemi, about 1.5 km from Uutela’s main info board. The nature trail runs mainly along the outdoor paths and the route is marked with signposts and white and green ribbons.
There are two cooking shelters in Niemenapaja and Nuottaniemi where you can enjoy a snack during your nature exploration. There is no firewood in the cotes, so you'll have to bring your own wood and matches.
The walk from the subway station to Uutela is about 1 kilometer.
Wild and free vegetarian snacks
In addition to nature observation, you can find a variety of wild edible plants from Uutela. From the cracks of the smooth and bare cliffs you can spot goldenrods (kultapiisku, Solidafo virgaurea), livelongs (isomaksaruoho, Sedum telephium), sheep’s sorrels (ahosuolaheinä, Rumex acetosella) and wild pansies (keto-orvokki, Viola tricolor). In addition to these wild herbs, Junipers (katajanmarja, Juniperus) seem to fancy the streaky cliffs and gentle sea breeze of Vuosaari.
Wild raspberries (villivadelma, Rubus idaeus) and heathers (kanerva, Calluna vulgaris) have settled down in between the nature trails and beaches. Meadowsweets (mesiangervo, Filipendula ulmaria) enjoy the sides of the sedative lagoon sights.
The free veggie buffet of Uutela consists of dandelions (voikukka, Taraxacum), waybreads (piharatamo, Plantago major) and stinging nettles (nokkonen, Urtica dioica). Usually, waybreads might be a bit run-down on the sides of nature tracks, but in Uutela, all the wild herbs and vegetables are surprisingly fresh looking – even after the dry and hot summer we had here up North!
To be noted! Do not rub or otherwise disturb the wildlife. Stay on the paths – especially between April and July. Biking in Särkkäniemi Nature Reserve is forbidden. Fire is forbidden, except for cooking shelters which are marked in guides. Always follow the everymen’s rights; in Uutela, you are allowed forage the leaves of non-wooded plants, pick berries and hunt mushrooms. You are not allowed to forage moss or lichen, leaves from the trees nor roots of the plants. You must always recognise the plants you are foraging; there are both poisonous and protected plants in Finnish nature.
Everymen’s rights in Finland: http://www.ym.fi/en-US/Latest_news/Publications/Brochures/Everymans_right(4484)