Ever since I read Tove Jansson’s (famous Finnish author) book Moominpappa at Sea, my desire to visit a lighthouse grew even more. Sometimes you just need an adventure and in this book Moominpappa is bored with his everyday life in Moomin Valley, so he organizes his family to set off on a journey to find a lighthouse in the sea. Last summer I had the opportunity to make my wish come true and visit Söderskär Lighthouse.
There’s something special about lighthouses
To me, lighthouses are quite mysterious. What is it like inside? How did lighthouse keeper live back in the day when lighthouses where in full operation? Only few people had the chance to experience the life in these remote places. You were usually born to be a lighthouse keeper, because this occupation was transferred from father to son. The lighthouse keeper’s most important job was to keep the light burning at all times in the lighthouse to warn all the ships on sea. Rest of the time was usually lonely free time if lighthouse keeper didn’t have a family with him.
I would think that this job wasn’t for social and outgoing people. I can only imagine how it was like to live in such a remote place with harsh conditions especially during the winter and heavy storms when waves were crushing hard on to the shore. You couldn’t always leave the lighthouse and supplies were usually limited. I think that it’s important to preserve lighthouses for future generations, because they remind us of the old days or a certain era.
Background information about Söderskär Lighthouse
This lighthouse is about 40 meters long and actually the 8th highest lighthouse in Finland. What makes Söderskär Lighthouse special is not just its remote location at Porvoo archipelago (on the Gulf of Finland), but that it stands on a Mattlandet island that is surrounded only by the sea. The island is divided in two sections by a suspension bridge. On the Mattlandet side is the lighthouse which you can visit from June to early September and the other side is Bastulandet, a protected nature reserve area where birds are nesting from June to July. Notice that when the birds are nesting you can’t go to Bastulandet!
Architect Ernest Lohrmann designed this lighthouse and it was operating from 1862 to 1989 for only 127 years. From the beginning this lighthouse was unlucky because after construction ended, it had almost the same fate as the tower in Pisa, Italy! The structure wasn’t built strong enough for harsh conditions and it was forced to be strengthened. Today Söderskär Lighthouse is not just a nature reserve, but is used for tourism.
For more history about this lighthouse, check out the official Söderskär page.
My journey to Söderskär lighthouse
It was a foggy morning in Vuosaari when I hopped on a boat that was leaving to Söderskär Lighthouse. I had my picnic lunch in my backpack and some butterflies in my stomach because of all the excitement. The boat ride took about 1.5 hours before I finally saw some land. I felt the magic of this place from the moment I stood on the island and saw Söderskär Lighthouse half covered in fog.
You can climb several floors up to heart of the lighthouse. Stairways are narrow and you have to watch for you head when climbing up. There are lots of information on the wall and several pictures of people who lived there. In the lighthouse you can see an old room where lighthouse keeper’s used to live before the fishing cabins were built. The views from the top are amazing!
After all that climbing it was time for picnic lunch. By now the weather cleared and it was sunny. I enjoyed hopping on a cool suspension bridge and had time to explore plants that grew on this rugged island. Unfortunately time flies fast because after exploring the island for 1.5 hours it was time to head back to Vuosaari. I would highly recommend taking a trip to this place especially if you haven’t been inside of a lighthouse and you’re a fan of Moomin!
How to get to Söderskär by public transportation?
From the city center take a subway from Central railway station to Vuosaari (Aurinkoranta 7), Helsinki. The ticket cost just a few euros one way from ticket machine. Walk 6 minutes from the subway towards the sea. The whole trip to the boat is about 30 minutes. For more information about boat schedules and tickets check this Söderskär page.
Read my previous posts about Finland!