On the water

Moscow: Monday 20 May













In the afternoon our ship, the Viking Helgi, left its berth at the Northern River Station and started the journey along the Moscow Canal. During the voyage to St Petersburg the ship had to negotiate 18 locks, and travelled 1150 miles. From the Moscow Canal, built largely by forced labour in the time of Stalin, the route runs via the River Volga, the huge Rybinsk Reservoir, into the second largest lake in Europe, Lake Onega, along the Svir River to the largest lake, Lake Ladoga, and eventually into St Petersburg by way of the River Neva. Often we were in stretches of water so wide that we couldn’t see the shore, and so had the feeling of being on the ocean.

When we were sailing past river banks, the view was of mile after mile of woodland, punctuated by villages, waterside bath-houses and jetties, with the occasional striking sight, such as the flooded bell-tower at Kalyazin, or the ruins of the Nativity Church in Krokhino, casualties of the programme of damming and widening the rivers to create the Volga-Baltic Waterway.

Being late May and so far north, it didn’t start getting dark till about 11pm. One night, sailing across the vast Lake Ladoga, we watched a most spectacular sunset.


Flooded belfry of the St Nicholas Cathedral at Kalyazin

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