“George… I want to go north.”
“…what, like Scotland?”
“Definitely not. I mean really north. I want to spend a week in a little hut with a snowmobile as my only form of transport; surrounded by forests and snow.”
“When shall we leave?”
It begun a bit like that! The best adventures are the ones you haven’t planned; The ones where exploring is your only option. Neither George nor I had ever been to Finland, nor had we had much experience of driving on the right (*wrong) side of the road. But there we found ourselves, in Helsinki airport with no plans other than driving north…very north.
But first, coffee! After a quick search, I realised Helsinki has a pretty decent coffee scene and we found ourselves in Good Life Coffee. An amazing choice.
Time to hit the road. We had a fair way to go before we reached our destination, Iso Syöte; 450 miles to be exact. It was time to road trip across the length of Finland. Into the night, through blizzards and over ice.
After making headway from a solid 4 hour effort we decided to pull over somewhere in the Kalvitsa region. The snow was still plummeting down and within seconds of stopping, the car was totally covered. We got out and looked around us. Although it was 2am, the whiteness of the snow illuminated the surrounding forests. The silence was utterly breathtaking and almost eery. An echo from George’s best wolf howl impression lasted 5 seconds or so. It went on for miles and yet, there wasn’t a single sole to hear it.
We had at least another 200 miles to go before we would arrive in Iso Syöte; we layered up with every item of clothing we had and attempted to sleep for a few hours before ploughing on. I guess the realisation of it being -20 degrees only really occurred when we woke up to find my sock frozen to the car windscreen. I managed to rip it off, turn on the seat warmers and get back on the road. The simplicity of travelling like this can’t be undervalued. Having nowhere to be and not knowing where you are going is one of the most exhilarating feelings. We could drive anywhere and everywhere… and we did.
Hotel Iso Syöte is located about 2 hours NE from Oulu. With each mile closer, there seems to be an extra meter of snow. The trees could no longer be distinguished from the landscape. Up on the top of the hill sat the Fjell cottages where we were staying. Traditional Finnish looking, they even had their own individual sauna. This would be our base for the next few days. From here we would go ice-fishing, husky riding and snowmobiling.
If you ever have just one day in Finland, you must hire snowmobiles. We drove through the forests, snow relentless as the light faded, up to the summit of the hill until we stumbled across three little huts. Inside, an open fire still ablaze, surrounded by wooden logs for seats. This place was truly incredible.
On our final day in Finland I headed out early for a run. The sun was just beginning to rise, the sky was totally clear with temperatures around -10 degrees. Running on snow isn’t something I am used to or particularly comfortable with but in fact, it was perfect. I ran down into the forest, where the snow was compact by the cross country skiers. It was totally and utterly silent other than the slight crunch of snow each time my foot hit the floor. I can’t put into words how amazing it was to run in Finland and with Comrades just two months away, a bit of hill training was exactly what I needed.
Finland is an unspoilt natural beauty. You can drive for miles without seeing a soul. A huge thank you to Hotel Iso Syöte for the incredible stay. It really is as beautiful as it looks up on that hill. Until next time Finland, what a crazy adventure! Thanks also George for coming along, I couldn’t have asked for a better road trip partner in crime.
If you want to watch some epic daily vlogs from our trip to Finland, check out George’s vlog channel here