How do I get there? Pictures Description

The Valsörarna islands are far out in the outskirts of the archipelago - an island group with a lighthouse, many islets and rocks, as well as a rich birdlife. The landscape features rock and boulder-strewn moraines which extend like elongated points out into the water. The vegetation on the barren moraines is often similar to the vegetation found on heaths. The Valsörarna islands are diverse with wetlands, birch forest, rocky beaches, and sheltered inlets with shoreline meadows. The Valsörarna islands have been protected as a bird refuge since 1948.

Pohjakartta © Maanmittauslaitos lupanro 172/MYY/02


In the autumn and spring Valsörarna attracts birdwatchers who place rings on and count migratory birds. In September and October one of the major events of the autumn takes place - ringing the night-flying Tengmalm's owl (Aegolius funereus). In the spring migrating rough-legged buzzards (Buteo lagopus) and black-throated divers (Gavia arctica) are counted by the thousands. The black guillemot (Cepphus grylle) and common gull (Larus canus) are typical birds for this archipelago. The scientific association Ostrobothnia Australis owns a birding station on Valsörarna.

Valsörarna's landmark, the red-painted 36-metre tall iron lighthouse, was designed in 1886 in Paris by the same firm that later built the Eiffel Tower. The lighthouse had long been in the planning but did not become reality until five vessels sank on a single night in the waters outside Valsörarna. The plan was to place the lighthouse on Äbbskär, but since no appropriate location could be found it was built on Storskär instead, where there is an outcrop. A road called "Kärleksstigen" ("the love trail") was built to transport the sections of the lighthouse from Äbbskär to Storskär. The lighthouse has not been staffed since 1964. The existing coast guard station was first used in 1984, but the history of the coast guard on Valsörarna goes back to the 1940s.

A memorial tablet in a cairn is by the trail on the heather-covered moor on Äbbskär. It was erected in memory of the Russian soldiers who died here from cold and exhaustion when they crossed the Kvarken archipelago under the leadership of General Barclay de Tollys. The story goes that the inhabitants of Valsörarna were tired of running into bones and skulls so they gathered together all the skeletons parts in one place and built a cairn on top of the pile.

Valsörarna was declared a bird refuge in 1948. In 1977 this was expanded to include the already protected Björkögrunden, which is south of Valsörarna, to become the Valsörarna-Björkögrunden nature reserve. The entire area covers 17,200 hectares of water and 600 hectares of land. For everyone except Björköby residents a general prohibition against going ashore is in effect during the breeding season from 1 May to 31 July, with the exception of specific locations. One of these places is the coast guard station at Äbbskär. Throughout the area there is a speed limit of eight knots. Boaters must stay within the marked channels.

Photo: Leena Rinkineva
Photo: ÖFPL/Göran Strömfors
Photo: Tuukka Pahtamaa
Boulder-strewn beaches are common in Valsörarna
The red lighthouse on Storskär
Controlled fires are sometimes set on the archipelago heaths to get rid of dense juniper shrubs and to allow the grass to sprout into better pasturage for the sheep.
Photo: ÖFPL/Göran Strömfors
Photo: Lise-Lotte Molander
Photo: ÖFPL/Göran Strömfors
The old earth cellar at the lighthouse-keeper residence on Storskär
Kärleksstigen between the coast guard station and the lighthouse
The heath glows red from the blueberry bushes
Photo: Timo Hissa

Texts: Anders Enetjärn, Lise-Lotte Molander.
Translation: Accent Språkservice AB.
Layout & illustrations: Päivi Anttila.
Webbdesign: Fredrik Smeds, Freddi Com Oy Ab.
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