Nature trail

Welcome to Mässkär!

The land along this coast has been rising since the last Ice Age and still rises by 8mm a year.

You are stepping onto historic and virgin ground….

Historic – here, fishermen have been active for centuries and sea pilots since the 1780s;
Virgin – Mässkär has been continually rising out of the sea.
A tour of Mässkär will give you an insight into the island’s history and rich, varied natural landscape.

The trail is marked with red and white stones. Enjoy yourselves!

Svenska Suomi

1. The carving in the rock is an authentic water mark made by sea pilots in 1900 and displays the average water level at that time. Compare that to the surface of the water today. Observe how much the land has risen in just over 120 years.

2. The slate panel displays the water level from the 1650s. Look how high the island has risen since Jakobstad was founded. As you follow the path upwards, you will come across similar plaques displaying water levels. There are about 100 years between them.

3. The slate panel here displays the water level around 1100 – at the end of the Viking era. The panel on the rock here commemorates the last team of coast guards in 1992. The slate panel by the cabins shows the water level recorded at the beginning of the Viking era – when Mässkär was a tiny islet.

4. The old pilot station was built in 1856 at the end of the Crimean War. During that conflict the beacon had been demolished and the fairway signs removed to prevent the British fleet from entering Jakobstad. The new building was constructed in 1912 to accommodate pilots from the Black Sea when our own pilots renounced their position in protest at being subordinated to the Russian Navy.

5. The new pilot station was built 1956-58. It was equipped with modern technology: central heating, water pipes, radar, radio contact with seafaring vessels, and so on. The downstairs area was the coast guards’ station until 1992. The rooms upstairs operated as the pilot station until 1994. Thereafter Föreningen Mässkärs lotsstation r.f. (The Mässkär Pilot Station Society) took over the building, which today serves as a café, restaurant and summer hostel called Mässkärs Naturstation.

6. The small red cabin called Ainas stuga is a typical archipelago cabin from the early 1900s. The summer cabins around the pilot station served as summer places for the pilots. Most of them are still owned by the pilots’ descendants.

7. Take a look at the wide variety of flora. At an inventory in the 1990s, more than 450 different species of plant were recorded on Mässkär. The island is home to over 60 different species of bird. Apart from the sea buckthorn, all our most common berries grow here. You can find lingonberries, cranberries, blueberries, bog bilberries, cloudberries and crowberries.

8. At this point there used to be a radio beacon; a tall mast in the centre produced its own detecting signal which was received by means of a bearing antenna. The antenna detected the direction between the vessel and the radio beacon and recognised the beacon. A stable zero was required. The wiring from the foundation are ground wires for zero.

9. This is a sweet gale bush; its leaves were used in their time to season, for instance, beer and mead. You can still use them to season brandy.

10. This monument commemorates Nostaja, a dredging plant which capsized in a storm one autumn. The whole crew perished. The monument is a reminder of how easily the sea can claim victims.

11. During the Ice Age, the ice moved over our country from the northwest to the southeast. It refined all the rocks in Finland to slope northwest with a sharp edge towards the southeast. It looks impressive in the immediate sea area. It can also be used to establish one’s bearings when out walking in the natural surroundings.
Where the Ice Age has been, you will find displaced blocks; large stones scattered here and there over the landscape. You will notice several here. The slight plateau alongside the commemorative stone is a place from where such a block became loose and drifted away with the ice. The surface of the bare rock reveals an attractive mosaic pattern of other stone materials mixed with granite when it was soft at the beginning of time.

12. This little plant is roundleaf sundew. It eats mosquitoes. Such a bog can take up to 2000 mosquitoes in one summer. Cranberries also grow here. The grooves in the rock are scratch marks from stones during glacial activity.

13. Out on the sea, the coastline would seem like a continuous green line. Hence, the importance of distinctive signs which can be seen a long way off to indicate the entrance to the Jakobstad inlet. Beacons stood near the outer waters to mark the entrance to every town. They were depicted in the margin of maritime charts. Unlike the lighthouse, the beacon does not have a light. The beacon and the little white beacon on the neighbouring island of Emperor’s Hut indicate the old maritime approach line to Jakobstad. Standing 21.4m tall, this beacon is built around one single trunk in the centre. It was constructed at the same time as the old pilot station in 1856.

14. Finland is home to two species of alder tree: grey and black. The black alder grows in the south and the west while the grey alder grows in most parts of the country including Lapland. Both species are growing here side by side.

15. The juniper tree has the longest lifespan of all trees in Finland. It could be a thousand years old. As you can see here, junipers have two distinctive appearances: bushy or columnar. The juniper berry needs two years to ripen: in the first year, it is green; in the second, it turns blue. The berry is used for seasoning products – for instance, gin – and also in cooking.

16. Forest fern and north fern grow, also stiff club moss, whose spore flour is used to make fireworks. Over time similar fertile groves have been ploughed into fields. They are rare natural species.

17. These pits have provided filling material. Nowadays, this road is used in winter. In this pit you will find rainwater; the surface reveals our smallest plant, duckweed, a very small floating leaf with a tiny root. In their thousands, they produce a green mat over the water.

18.A grove of rowan, lily-of-the-valley and ‘false’ lily-of-the-valley. Be careful! The latter two berry types are poisonous.

19. The large birch is infected by a fungus called witch’s broom. The lake here has taken shape because of the rising land. There used to be a strait here. The rising land gradually closed it off, eventually resulting in a lake. Melt water and rainwater have leached from the salt to become fresh water. Water was drawn here for use at the pilot station. The lake is a natural habitat for water lilies and floating pondweed. Around the lake you can find cloudberries and cranberries. It is also a breeding ground – e.g. for swans and tufted ducks.

Now let’s head back to the pilot station for a cup of coffee and a bite to eat!