“Tuu tuu tupakkarulla, mistäs tiesit tänne tulla. Tulin tuota Turun tietä, hämäläisten härkätietä.”
That was the beginning of an old Finnish song sang to children while putting them to sleep. The Hämeen härkätie (Oxen road of Tavastia) is a real road which was used already on 9th Century while merchants, church men and perhaps even Kings used. Over then it was not much more than a path formed through the forests but over time it widened to a proper road. Nowadays the oxen road of Häme is partly marked as museum road and remain unpaved. It’s also marked with signs for travelers to better find the correct way. It begins from Castle of Turku and goes all the way to Castle in Hämeenlinna and the roads are still in beautiful country scenery following the river quite far. We drove the road from beginning to the end with Porsche Macan S Diesel.
“From one castle to another…”
It was July 2014. Time was around 5 am and I was at the yard of Turku Castle with Marko. Our plan was to drive the Oxen road of Tavastia during one day. Apart from a couple in their morning run, there were no people around. Weather was warm already and it would become hot during the day. You should multiply the needed time with at least 3 if you intend to photograph and video a road trip. That’s why we started so early in the morning. Another reason was that we didn’t want to have so much audience.
So we started from Turku Castle and began to drive along the Linnankatu towards the Turku Cathedral. We ended up to Hämeentie from there and continued past the Turku University Hospital to a street called Vanha Hämeentie. This should follow the old path of the oxen road. That street is not too long and then you need to turn to Highway 10 which is the current road to Hämeenlinna. There is a farming museum at that crossroads so if you’re not driving as early as we and you have time, it’s worth to pay a visit.
When you arrive to Lieto, the museum road is on the left. We turned there and first saw an old well where travelers gave water to their horses. There is also a hill with an ancient fort. That hill is also an interesting place to climb since the stairs have signs to show the level of seawater in specific years. We went all the way up and oh man what a view you get from the top. The Fort is not visible any longer. You can spot some metal attached to the rock but that’s about it. There’s also a nature-path circling around the hill.
The museum road part continues a while after the ancient fort of Lieto but then you need to drive to highway 10 for a while. It’s about 17 kilometers until you get to oxen road again. We took a little sidepath to the ski jumping place at Parmanharju Lieto. There are also nature paths and paths for running and skiing.
We turned left from Tarvasjoki junction and got back to Oxen Road. This time its windy tarmac road following the river. After a while from Tarvasjoki Center (not really much more than a few buildings) the road connects with highway 10 again but this time you just cross it and continue on the other side.
The road still follows the river on this side of the highway 10. River is called Paimionjoki and the road twists along the countryside with a few villages like Marttila and Koski TL. Sometimes after Koski Tl the river turns to lake (Pitkäjärvi) and the road follows that all the way to Somero.
We had a halfway-break at Somero but during the summertime there are small cafe’s, shops and breweries along the road too. It’s about 53 kilometers from Tarvasjoki to Somero and it’s safe to say it as a drivers road. Speed limit is mostly 60 km/h because the turns are tight and you don’t see whats behind them all.
Here was the first part of this trip. You can see the video from this below. Part 2 is about the rest of the Oxen Road of Tavastia and it takes you from Somero to Hämeenlinna.