Docking in Heltermaa on the eastern side of the island there was a brief flurry of traffic as cars and trucks rolled off the ferry and disappeared down the road. A few on-coming vehicles hurried to catch the return sailing and then the peace and quiet set in. I pedalled for a couple of hours along empty roads through thick forest and dappled sunlight, past wooden cabins and old stone buildings with the shadows growing longer as the evening arrived.
My goal was another RMK camping site but once again I needed to find water first.
I called in to the town of Kärdla hoping to ask at a petrol station or restaurant. But the petrol stations were all automated and restaurants closed. I needn’t have worried though, a part of the town sits on a meteorite impact zone which crushed the rock layers and broke through the water table 455 million years ago meaning several street corners had artesian wells gushing fresh water out.
Water sorted, I headed back out of town into a growing head wind to find my home for the night, and like the RMK sites I had visited on the mainland, it did not disappoint. Sheltered from the wind and right on the waters edge I was almost tempted in for an evening swim, until I got up to my ankles. I have definitely lost my cold sea swimming hardiness from living in Cornwall. The perfectly placed trees on the waters edge meant that this was definitely another hammock spot. And in the morning I watched the dawn break over the still waters from my sleeping bag. Magic
After a lazy morning enjoying the shelter from the wind and the tranquility of the calm sea I packed up and returned to the Eurovelo 10 route. Unfortunately this also meant returning to the head wind. I was contemplating just turning around and enjoying a tailwind by circumnavigating Hiiumaa in the opposite direction when I saw a brown sign ahead. As my Estonian is lacking I was just blindly following these points of interest signs to see what was there, and agreed with myself to do the same again before making a decision about direction.
An information board in a small layby on the opposite side of the road explained that this was the cross hill. I had not seen a hill since the old town in Tallinn and I was struggling to identify one here, let alone an angry one. I also couldn’t see any crosses. But there was a small track heading in the direction of the wind and towards the forest so I had a little look. Then the crosses started to appear, mainly rudimentary wooden crosses from fallen branches and sticks, but then more from other found materials. They multiplied in number as I went further and due to their significance (see info board photo for explanation) what could have been very creepy became ever more moving and poignant.
I added my own cross to the collection and decided to battle on with the headwind. Another search for water on this almost deserted island led me to a repurposed fridge, some free WiFi gave me a chance to mingle with some wooden locals, and 60 odd windy kilometers brought me to the tiny village/port of Sõru. I stayed here for the night and spent the next day making some adjustments to Raven and exploring the coast a bit more before taking the afternoon ferry to the next island of Saaremaa (not to be outdone by Hiiumaa with the number of vowels in its name).
It was a shorter crossing of an hour, but an equally delux ferry, with the added novelty of an episode of Doc Martin (a TV program set in Cornwall for those not in the know) being shown onboard! I was a little short on daylight to reach my next RMK free camp on the other side, but again the roads were empty and I arrived in time for a stunning display from the migrating geese. Or at least they looked like they were migrating, until they all flew back in the opposite direction the next morning. But given the beauty of the location, who can blame them!