“Rules” for pilgrims
PLEASE CONSIDER THESE AS YOU WALK ALONG THE PILGRIMAGE ROUTE
In Europe, there are pilgrimage routes that are visited by a large number of hikers annually. In certain places, the resulting strain on the local population and the environment can become significant.
St. Olav Ostrobothnia, Finland, is not likely to attract such large volumes of walkers, and there will therefore be less noticeable effects. Still, some things are still worth considering as “pilgrims’ rules”, both when walking on larger,
- “Everyman’s right” (see link): The established so-called “everyman’s” right of public access is the foundation of enjoying nature here in Finland. It clarifies what you may and what you may not do outdoors.
- Smaller, private roads. Finland’s right of public access allows pedestrians, hikers and cyclists to use also smaller, private roads, paths and trails. The maintainers of some private roads have given permission for the planning and marking of this pilgrimage route. But if such a road passes through or close to private property, considerate behaviour is expected (avoid loud or disruptive behavior, do not leave things behind, etc.).
- Forest areas beside roads. All forests are owned by someone, who is also responsible for the forest’s maintenance. But hikers also have the right to be in the forest, as long as they behave responsibly, and keep their distance from residential plots.
- Litter and waste. Along both main roads and smaller roads and paths: leave no traces behind you other than your footprints! Plan in advance how you will dispose of e.g. paper, plastic, or other waste. Biodegradable toilet paper can, when necessary, be disposed of by
hiding it under a stone or a piece of moss. Avoid contributing to the appearance of unofficial outdoor toilets in the woods!
- Rest breaks, meals, campfires. Prioritise using planned picnic spots whenever they are available. You can also take rest and meal breaks beside a road or hiking trail, but remember: it is not permitted to light an open fire! During hot, dry spells when there is a risk of forest fire, take extra precautions if you smoke cigarettes, and regarding any other risk factor.
And last, but not least…
Respect and responsibility. Think of those who will come after you! They have a right to as positive an experience of fresh and unspoiled nature and pleasant outdoor living as you have (hopefully) had on the pilgrimage route.