Almost urban rapids in Nurmijärvi

7.6.2019

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Myllykoski rapids in river Vantaa are almost ”urban”. They are located in Nurmijärvi, the most populated rural municipality in Finland, just 35 km from Helsinki, easily accessible via highway 3 (Helsinki-Tampere-Vaasa). There is a parking space at Siippoontie 771, just a few hundred meters from the highway exit. The walk to the rapids is less than 100 meters but there is also a 2 km nature trail through Natura 2000-protected woods. Local flora and fauna is presented in information boards and in a couple of brochures but sadly only in Finnish.

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The rapids can be admired from three footbridges, one of them built on the remnants of a mill – “Myllykoski” meaning “mill rapids” – that operated till the 1920s, and one on the remnants of a small power plant that was operative from the 1920s till the 1970s.

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The river banks above the rapids are a popular spot for fishing – angling falls under public rights of access but for fly-fishing a permit is required. There are two designated sites for making a fire, one by the rapids and another one further up by the nature trail, equipped with firewood.

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The rapids extend over 400 meters, with an elevation of 11 meters. The current is strong enough to muffle the sound of the highway – at least in springtime – whereas on the nature trail the steady humming of cars makes getting into a wilderness mood a bit difficult.

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Possibly the most exotic and elusive type of local wildlife is Unio crassus (vuollejokisimpukka), the thick shelled river mussel, under threat of extinction and protected throughout the EU. The population in river Vantaa is among the largest in Finland, some 3 million mussels over a stretch of 60 km. The mussel larvae use a tiny tooth to attach themselves in fish gills for a month to evolve into tiny mussels. Then they drop off and bury themselves in the riverbed for three years. They only venture out when they have grown to 1 cm in diameter. The thick shelled river mussel may live up to 50 years of age and reach a diameter of 10 cm.

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