Here begins a nature trail that will lead you into the lush and sheltered lap of Pornaistenniemi. Along the nature trail you will come across ten short poems describing the surrounding nature and suggesting activities. Here you can enjoy peace of mind and a rejuvenating walk.
The length of the nature trail is just over one kilometre. The trail is accessible for wheelchair users with only very small slopes. The Pornaistenniemi Nature Trail is part of a network of trails around the Old Town Bay and provides an accessible route all the way to the island of Lammassaari.
Pornaistenniemi has an eight-hectare alder grove that is very biodiverse. It was protected as a nature reserve in 2016. An impressive 56 polypores and 99 corticoids have been found in the area, which are some of the highest numbers that have been identified in Finland. The fungi thrive on the abundance of decayed wood. Snags, trees that are rotten but still standing, attract lesser spotted woodpeckers, black woodpeckers and even the less common white-backed woodpecker.
The alder grove is bordered by a canal connected to the Viikinmäki wastewater treatment plant. The canal was used to discharge wastewater from the 1960s to the 1980s. To the south of the canal are bird wetlands that form the biggest nature reserve in Helsinki (338 hectares). The wetlands are part of the EU’s Natura 2000 network of protected areas and are covered by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat. The area is the natural habitat of the smooth newt and moor frog. The most common fish species in the bay are bream, pike and pike-perch (zander).
In the early 1900s, Pornaistenniemi was mostly fields and meadows. From the late 1960s to the late 1990s, a winter storage area for boats was situated where there is now a dog park. On the western side of the peninsula there are two old huts that were once used by loggers and fishermen. The name Pornaistenniemi is a phonetic rendering of the old Swedish name Borgnäs, “Castle Peninsula”, which refers to a fortification that was planned for the area in the 16th century.
Nature promotes our wellbeing in many ways. When we are close to nature, we are happier with life and feel healthier. Nature helps us relax, which can be observed by a lower resting pulse and reduced secretion of the stress hormone cortisol. Natural diversity with a wide variety of biological species is particularly good; the abundance of organisms supports the body’s immune system. We can experience the diversity and richness of life simply by walking in nature, but we can gain an even greater appreciation by focusing on the natural details and phenomena, as well as on our own sensory perceptions. Before heading off into the woods and along the shores of Pornaistenniemi, feel yourself from head to toes.
How are you doing today? Try again after you return from your walk and feel the difference!
Lush is this forest
nourished by the alders,
dropping their leaves in autumn,
green and full of life.
Invisible but useful to us all
are many of nature’s microbes.
We greet them as we do the alders
when we pat and hug the trees.
When our grandparents were young
these were rolling fields of grain.
The clay soil left untilled
invited in all the pretty trees.
Do you hear the birch grove?
It presents us a task:
Transported by an iceberg,
then thrown into the sea,
here ended up this boulder,
Rapakivi granite from Vyborg.
Can you find in the rock
the feldspar crystals?
And the grey rings around them?
Windows to the past, 1600 million years ago.
The Chinese exercise
by walking backwards
to refresh the mind and
stimulate neural connections.
Are you ready to trust
the caring caress of nature?
and say goodbye to all your cares!
Humans are united by a longing
taught to us by evolution:
To see far off into the distance
and still be safe from harm.
If the sky is clear,
rest your eyes amidst the blue.
Can you find the same expanse
within your mind?
Reeds can be found around the world,
swaying along the shores,
home to the reed warbler
singing along to the melody.
As you walk along the path,
forget everything else
and focus on just one thing:
What the reeds are playing now?
Protecting the Old Town Bay
was the life’s work of Leo Lehtonen,
an ornithologist, teacher and writer
who preserved this scenery for us all.
Tread quietly to the hideaway,
and come across a sight to behold,
a treat for your eyes,
a never-ending theatrical display.
“Remember that you have to die,”
whispers nature all around you.
This moment is golden.
Walk tall and upright
through the alley of birches,
with your head held high,
like you are returning home in triumph.
Where once the dirty discharge water flowed
is now a mirror that reflects the clouds,
roach, dragonflies, waterlilies – even otters.
Can you see the rings in the water?
What in heaven’s name?
Is it raining manna from above?
Crumbs from your picnic lunch
are a feast for all the fish.
Your outing to Pornaistenniemi,
so bursting with life,
has come to its conclusion.
But the memories will last.
When you leave, think of a friend
you would like to bring with you
when you return to the lap of nature.
May the force be with you!