More Atlas Obscura research gave us the position and some background details on Balancing Rock or Kummakivi in Finnish. It is not easy to get to but we do enjoy a challenge so we plumbed its latitude and longitude into the satnav and let it crack on. Now, you might recall from earlier posts that the satnav sometimes like to play it obtuse, claiming that the quickest way to Somerset from the Welsh Marches is via Birmingham; well, it has refined its game quite a lot.
It sent us off in exactly the direction we had expected to start with. This was nothing remarkable as it had been behaving itself for several weeks – but it turned out that that was just a ruse. It had put the previous weeks to good use, learning about the sort of routes we liked and the kinds of destinations that they led to, so that it could deploy its massive microchip cunning in the way it was about to display. As we reached a point about 20km from the Balancing Rock, the Cunning Satnav started to bring us down smaller and rougher roads – but only very gradually changing the road type, presumably hoping that we wouldn’t notice what was going on. After a good 15 km of this:
which was largely tolerable, even if it did slow us to around 40km/hr, the thing sprung its trap. “In three hundred metres, turn sharp left”, it ordered. 295 metres later we stopped and goggled at what looked horribly like a rough footpath heading up a hillside at a rare old angle. We leaned forward to peer at the satnav display, sure that it must have made an error – but no, it was pointing in a direction that would have led to certain disaster if we had tried to take a 3.5 tonne, 6 metre long van up it. Puzzled, we carried on while the thing burbled on about “Route recalculation” as it tried to outfox us again. Another mountain goat track was suggested and turned down. “Turn around where possible”, was the satnav’s next ruse. No way – we weren’t falling for that, so we drove along until we were at the closest point to our target, then parked up.
Google Maps showed both our location and the famous Rock’s. The Suunto Traverse on my wrist, which up to this point had been asked to do little more than tell the time, was placed into compass mode. We were 679 metres from the Rock, on a bearing of 255 degrees. Simple. “Off we go then”, I announced to Kate, who wisely pointed out that she was not going to go tabbing up a hill through the Finnish equivalent of secondary jungle with nothing but a wristwatch with ideas above its station to do the navigating. Instead, she led the way along a series of deer tracks (which pleased the dog no end) while the watch and I relayed distance and bearing to her. Neither had the slightest effect as it turned out and after a bit more than 679 metres – maybe twice that distance, but none of it too hilly – we arrived at the rock. Technology, both vehicle-mounted and wrist-mounted, had been trounced by Mrs H. This is what we found:
Impressive, eh? But not the sort of place you’d want to make any sudden loud noises, we felt. Another result for atlas obscura.
We decided to take a different route back to the vehicle and fully expected to find a three lane highway with parking, cafe and gift shop on the other side of the rock. This, you see, is what our satnav specialises in doing. After following its advice and driving up the most inappropriate tracks to a location, we generally find that we exit via a nearby tarmac road – frequently adorned with street lights and houses. Not this time though, which was gratifying, since it meant that we’d foiled the evil satnav’s secondary trap too. With our heads held high, we took a curving but in the end quite easy route back and, having beaten it into submission, gave the satnav a fresh set of coordinates. This time we were heading back to civilization where the only gravel tracks to be found would be those leading up to garages and houses off the main road. We couldn’t wait.
Pausing briefly for an overnight stop in Imatra, where there was a beach and marina that apparently Catherine the Great had favoured back in the day, we celebrated our return from the cuds by calling in to an achingly cool hipster coffee shop and roastery in Lappeenranta. And guess what? They were so very cool and cutting edge that they used the very same Aero Press coffee maker that we’d been using for the past 6 weeks…
Feeling thoroughly back in the swim, we let the satnav have its head and roared off towards Helsinki, buzzing with caffeine overload.