David and Camilla Taylor's slow bicycle ride through the Baltic lands

Journey South from Tallin

map of route

Sunday 17h August from Tallinn to Nõmme Korts north of Rapla

We shared our breakfast table with two middle aged korean ladies who had brought all their food with them and who breakfasted on boiled potatoes, chicken curry and seaweed paste. Fortunately as a Sunday morning the road out of Tallinn was relatively quiet. Even that was daunting. Imagine two lanes each way of continuous cars and buses, and two lines of trams. I saw 6 BMWs one immediately behind the other leaving town. We rode out down the Parnu mnt. which has a bike lane on each side and tram tracks up the centre for 5kms away from the centre and then we turned left for the road 15 for Rapla by using the pedestrian crossings and walking over from island to island in stages as the traffic lights changed. The traffic on the Rapla road was much heavier than we expected, far worse than our own SW Highway at home. About ten km out we were passing thick woodland and we met an old russian speaking woman who had found an enormous mushroom in the woods and was proudly showing it to everybody. By the time we reached Todon where we stopped for ice-cream and sweets we were sick of the traffic noise. We went another ten km. and then looped off to to the left on the country road that goes via Prillimae, Angerje and Pirgu then just short of Juure we returned to the southwest onto the Nõmme road. It was certainly very much quieter going this way but Camilla complained of saddle torture and threw her bike into the bushes a couple of times to relieve her feelings. Just as she refused to pedal another revolution we arrived at Nõmme Korts.

Monday 18th August from Nõmme Korts to Toosikannu Puhkemaja

I was awakened this morning by the cry of an eagle which was repeated several times but I did not see the bird.

After yesterday's experience with the traffic we set off on a revised gravel route startng at the door of the pub with a bitumen road to Hõreda and Ingliste. From here we travelled the gravel road through a swampy forest conservation area alive with mosquitoes. The turn-off shown on the map as Lau was particularly tricky. We actually went past the unmarked turning by nearly 2km. but having passed the river and then entered the signed state forest (Riigi Metsu) we realised our mistake and back tracked. Just before we reached Palukula we spoke to an Estonian lady bicycle rider who used signs to indicate the direction of Lelle with repetition of "8 kilometri, autobussi." When we arrived at Lelli we missed a turning to the left directly to Lelle and followed the railway round to a major level crossing 2 or 3 km. out of our way. After riding back along the highway south of the railway line we rode into Lelle to find the shop closed for midday so we continued on the 9km to Käru where C. spent 30 minutes to purchase a bottle of drinking water and the makings of a evening meal. Our target accommodation was now only 7km away over a good gravel road with dense woodland on either side. A tiny 600 mm high deer crossed the road just in front of us. We arrived wearing rain jackets in drizzly rain.

Tuesday 19th August from Toosikannu Puhkemaja to Vändra

map of route

We took the gravel road out to the southeast and turned down a heavily used road which headed directly south for 5 km. just as we expected but it proved to be the wrong road and after we tuned right at the next, naturally unmarked, T junction we gradually realised our mistake. To make the best of it and to avoid backtracking we decided to continue on and reach Vändre via Eidapere village. After a brief stretch of bitumen through the built up area we were back onto the gravel. We saw one stork sitting on its nest on top of a house just north of the village and another standing on a roof thinking about it. We had a ten minute shower of rain and the headwind on our stbd. bow was irkesome but eased whenever we passed close to a heavy bank of trees. There were no wild berries today. Camilla became extremely tired and was very nervous about the change of route. She was ready to throw the bike into the ditch on a couple of occasions so we were pleased when we were able to find accomodation at the hostel in Vändra rather than continuing to the herb farm at Vihi another 24 km further on as per our planned itinerary.

Wednesday 20th August from Vändra to Silla - Reiu Puhkekeskus

We decided on the road that runs down the left bank of the river Parnu and it was a very good choice - quiet traffic - good gravel surface BUT it took us one hour and 10km of stop start cycling to get out of Vändra and on to the road to Vihtra. We turned off the main road through Vändra at a very clear large blue sign that pointed to Vihtra. Vihtra 500 metres or so down the road we came to a curve in the road and a sign thus. JunctionThe minor road indicated appeared to go right into the centre of a block of flats and there was no other indication so naturally we followed the road to the left and 60 minutes later found ourselves back exactly where we had started. The minor road to the right turned out to be the road that we were seeking. Camilla's remarks on the subject would have been enough to make the town engineer blush. Nevertheless once properly briefed we can recommend this route.

Today was being celebrated independence from the Russians in 20th August 1991. We stopped briefly in Tori where there was an event. The church bell rang 17 times and the locals were having a show of estonian horses but we could not stay. As it was getting late and the drizzle was not decreasing we found our way to Silla and booked into the Reiu Puhkekeskus. After unloading I did a 6km each way ride into the supermarket in Parnu and bought smoked mackerel and rollmops with bean salad and naturally beer for an evening meal in the room. We made tea with our portable immersion heater and went for a walk over the footbridge next to the hotel that crosses the river Reiu. We spoke to a local launching his canoe in the river and going off for a solitary paddle.

Thursday 21st August from Silla near Parnu to sea front chalet in Kabli

We did it again! Even on our large scale map it appeared that we could follow to the south the road in which the guesthouse is situated to join the main road south and avoid some of the traffic. This was not so and it cost us 80 minutes riding and 13km partly over rough gravel roads to find out that there is no other bridge over the Reiu. We went back to the highway south from Parnu. The traffic was terrible as we expected but there is a reasonably safe cycle lane on a wide shoulder of smooth hotmix. We suffered the noise for 8 km or so and then took the country road via Soometsa. This road runs roughly parallel to the main Baltic Highway for 25km but instead of very heavy traffic this way is very quiet but includes 20km of quite good gravel road. It is in fact a country bus route and we can certainly recommend it for bikes as an alternative to the Baltic Highway.

After reaching Häädemeesti we bought bread at the first shop and enquired after accommodation. The only recommendation was the Lepanina hotel at Kabli. The Lepanina was already claiming by email to be fully booked from January so we discounted them. We found the Valge Külalastemaja 1 km. down the road but it was shut up and for sale. Another 4km. down the road we found at Kruniküla the Oravapa Külalastemaja also closed and locked up. At Kiru just north of Kabli a camping ground on the shore that looked as though they had a few rooms shut up also! We next enquired at the R.M.K. Info Office. They have camping only. We saw a few motorcyclist campers setting up on the beach. Two km. further on we found a place with several lovely chalets where we finally stopped for the night.

Old House Hostel Nomme Korts Toosikannu Puhkemaja Hostel Pargi
Hostel Pargi, Vändra Reiu Puhkekeskus Kabli Chalets