17 lakes of Kirillovsky district, Vologda region

Vologda Lakes

The life of each of us is filled only with what we are ready and able to fill it. Behind a pretty wrapper can hide emptiness, and under the modest outfit hides immensity. Tying up the sights with an itinerary, we plan our journey. And if not limited to the technical side, a little historical research will give depth to the trip.

If a southerner is drawn to the north, then we must go! Especially if the ancestral roots are northern. I decided to add another mode of transportation to my legs and bicycle, one that is not difficult to learn and not dangerous to operate. I devoted the off-season to choosing and purchasing water tourism gear. A lot of reading, a lot of phone calls and e-mail correspondence with manufacturers and sellers. And then I had a “classic family frame kayak “Neris 3F Expedition” of the Ukrainian company with (claimed by them or fans) the German quality. The length of the ship is busy – 5.6 meters, the capacity is decent – 300 kg, and the cargo compartment can be used as a cockpit for a fourth passenger – a child (or four-legged). Soon after delivery the boat was tested by relatives during a short, a couple of hours, walk along the river Beysug in the neighboring Krasnodar region. First impressions showed that this boat needs a great voyage, and most importantly, a long one. It takes time to assemble and disassemble the kayak and to dry it. And being in a kayak for a long time is not tiresome at all. Finally, June came, and with it came vacation. Devoting time to preparation, I managed to make an interesting water route through the territory where I actually went on vacation – the Vologda region.

In the Kirillov area, rich in forests and water bodies, I identified a chain of lakes connected with each other by a canal system. Studying photos and articles about the area led me to the conclusion that the route is quite suitable for passing it by kayak. I tried to clarify this through local organizations, in particular the national park “Russian North”, by means of Internet correspondence, but there was no answer. It seemed surprising that in such a rich in water area water tourism is not developed… Taiga, what do you want! Technically the route is interesting, but moreover, the places along the route are historical: the lakes passed are connected by the Duke of Wurttemberg’s canal, made in 1828! Kayak, packed by the manufacturer in two backpacks, weighing 38 kg, as well as a 100-liter backpack with other tourist stuff we dragged to the train in Krasnodar, loaded, and in two days we arrived in Cherepovets.

The North begins in Vologda

The North Dvina Canal is located in the Vologda Oblast and runs for the most part through the territory of the modern Russian North National Park and an ancient Volokolok trade route, whose roots go back to the 10th century, when Belozerskoye was developed by the first settlers. Built from 1825 to 1829, the canal was named in honor of the responsible for construction – the manager of the roads of the Russian Empire in 1822-1833, Duke of Wurttemberg Alexander Friedrich Carl von Wurttemberg – Duke Alexander Wurttemberg Canal, and was renamed after the revolution. On the maps of the Russian Empire in the 19th century can be found the following hydronym: “Kan. Prince Albert. Wirtemb.”.

With a width of 30 meters, the navigable system has a length of 127 kilometers and connects the Sheksna and Sukhona rivers. By the way, from the inhabitants of the settlements on the Sukhona recruited members of the expeditions and the founders of Russian America. Until the 30s of the 20th century it was the only waterway connecting the Volga and the White Sea. The need for the canal was caused by the development of the port life of Arkhangelsk and the need to expand the water trade network.

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Peasants were hired to build the canal, but the latter often escaped from crippling work. At the end of the 19th century the first steamboats appeared on the canal, which served this water system. At the beginning of the 20th century there was a major reconstruction of the canal, in which Austrian prisoners of war took part. In the 1960’s and 70’s the canal was reinforced with walls of wooden piles.

After the Belomorkanal was built the role of the system began to weaken; however, during the Great Patriotic War it was intensively used, and also reconstructed – significant dredging work was carried out, the height of the dam “Znamenskaya” was increased.


It was time for the hike. In the morning of June 21, 2013 I arrived with two younger and almost local brothers at the set point – the former pioneer camp “Chaika” located on the shore of Lake Borodaevskoe. Later I managed to find out that now there is a MU DO “Children’s Wellness Environmental Center. The place was not chosen by chance. Pioneering, in which I had time to take part, and now seems to me a great place for children’s physical and spiritual development. And I was not mistaken: the camp greeted us with a kindly Soviet shield with the inscription “Greetings to the participants…”. There was no ending to the greeting, but in our case it was clear that the camp welcomed the kayakers! The touch of a great untimely departed organization inspired me. “Inochkin is in camp!” – I would have said, but there was no one.

That’s where our journey began. After packing up the kayak, we climbed into it ourselves, and sailed. According to my calculations we should have passed the route in two days. And so it turned out. Some time later the guys took out their fishing rods and tried to go fishing, but it was hard to row and fish, and the fish did not bite. Moreover, my father, who drove us to the point and accompanied us at first, called us and said that we could not swim out of the lake Ferapontovo (next after Borodaevsky), we had to disassemble the boat and drive to the next lake. We had to spur the kayak, thanks to its zealous shape. The speed is good, and the course is excellent.

We passed Borodaevskoe, sailed through a couple of islands that boldly stood in our way right in the middle of the lake, and reached Lake Ferapontovskoe. Note that Lake Borodaevskoe or Borodavskoe is a flood of the Borodava River, and Lake Ferapontovo is named in reference to the monastery located on the shore of this picturesque lake. The monastery is named in honor of its founder, the Venerable Ferapont. However, Lake Ferapontovo is also called Lake Borodaevskoe (or Borodavskoe). In reality both lakes are parts of one big body of water. On this basis, I will not deny that both lakes are one, Borodaevskoe. On the shore of the lake stands the village of Ferapontovo.

Passing the lake, through the holy places, thawing our souls, we enjoyed the view of the monastery on its shore. It was a familiar sight only from book illustrations, where the image of Russia – motherland: wooden, stone, golden-crowned! We must pay tribute to the architects of those times, whose creations are recognizable by the great synodality of the Russian spirit – they were able to build grandiose and with extravagance. And they have immortalized memories of themselves, how many centuries have passed – and will pass, they were doing a great job!

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We also saw the bow cross of deposed Patriarch Nikon, which he erected on a man-made island as a reminder of the Lord’s saving passions during his imprisonment in the Ferapontov Monastery in the late 60s of the 17th century. Believers see the island with the cross as a symbol of the temple ship sailing from west to east and ruled by the patriarch. To others it appears as a nesting place for seagulls. Because of this, in the past the island was called Chaikin’s. We were lucky enough to catch the nesting, but it did not allow us to venture closer to the cross – in high water the island is hidden in the lake waters blessed by the cross, and I did not make out the land, believing that the cross is set on a reeded shoal. I confess that I did not know about this holy place, and I noticed the cross by accident. The creation of the island, its proportions and orientation are very curious, as is the interesting fate of Nikon, but that is another story. And our ship sailed on. The Internet resource ferapontovo.ru can be proudly considered a treasure trove of information about Ferapontovo.

Yes, the channel turned out to be meager in volume. They say that in those days when they rafted timber here, it was livelier. Now it is impossible to raft timber down it, and us too. I would like to bypass the duct, but the next lake Spasskoye, where the duct leads, is not connected with the subsequent lake Pyatnitskiy. And on the maps at home, how smoothly everything merged into a chain … What a woe! Two hours of rafting, and again “to unhitch the horse”? And what did I get the two-wheeled cart for? We tied the boat to the car and took a ride to Pyatnitskoe. The distance was insignificant. From Pyatnitskoe we sailed further. It turned out, that the lake was separated from the river Itkly by hydro-foundation, probably by the overflow weir. In total, we passed three lakes, and one lake we bypassed.

The queen of the trail – Itkla

Just behind the bridge, Itkla was not deep, and it was impossible to sail through this structure. We bypassed it and soon resumed our voyage. There were no more obstacles on our way. The roots of the hydronym go so deep that it is hardly possible to establish its meaning, however, according to one version, it may mean “crybaby” or “howler”.

But, how beautiful this river, Itkla! It looked as if from a fairy tale: the coniferous, dense banks were washed by a river of unhurried lily blossoms. Earthly bustle seemed to have no power over its waters, thoughtful and at the same time frivolous. The water reflected a calm and serenity that resonated inside me, a determined and determined man, who was in the mood for a severe and unpredictable hike through unknown waters in the company of young guys, inexperienced watermen like me. After three lakes, vast, immense and indifferent, Itkla seemed to me a hospitable and caring river, carefully presenting in the reflection of the water surface the true meaning of the earthly stay of a fragile human being. It is such invisible currents, penetrating the flesh and reaching the heart, when the vital connection between mother and child: Nature and Man is revealed. The hardened materialists argue that there are no other worlds or dimensions, that there is only the visible and tangible. They don’t hear their opponents, they don’t hear themselves. They do not hear their own inner voice. They cannot read in the measured ripples of Itkla her message. Here one must open one’s eyes and close one’s mouth!

The abandoned village, which in Soviet times was a logging camp, also bears the same name as the river. It is said that a few ruins of administrative buildings and remnants of a narrow gauge railway are left of the settlement. But we didn’t see it.

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The river did not loop or fool us. Intoxicated by its beauty and revelation, it gave me a piece of its life force that would nourish me as long as I remembered its name. We entered Lake Tatarovskoe, on the shore of which is the village of Tatarovo. I don’t know why I owe this hydronym, but some maps don’t have it, apparently the lake is considered a spill of the river. The toponymy of the Vologda region has undergone significant changes, as is evident from the maps of the area. Nevertheless, the names are guessed, only in almost everyone have changed endings or individual letters. The day has come to an end, and it would be necessary to find a place to stay and stay overnight. I could not bring tents and sleeping bags with me almost all the way across the country, so I had to make my own arrangements according to the circumstances. The sternness of such an approach echoed the severity of the northern nature, and could not please the participants of the voyage. We found something tolerable on the wild shore not far from the village of Tatarovo, pulled the kayak out of the water, lit a fire, had supper. Two of us lay down in the boat, and the third lay down in an improvised gabled tent made of stretched rope and cellophane sheeting.

The morning woke me up early, as camping happens – at four in the morning, at dawn. To see a southerner a taiga sunrise is worth a lot, especially when the first rays of the sun, bewitching and setting the forest on fire, jump into the sleepy lake water! Everything comes to life, everything comes back after a dream, and death does not exist. As soon as it gets dark, the realization comes that the end of the play is not the end of your career, and the audience is waiting for your new roles. Gee, on this day and at this time, the war broke out. The country was sleeping peacefully, the graduation balls were thundering away… The shots were thundering away, and peace time had returned. A new forest stands in place of the fire. Now “it” will wake up, eat its breakfast, and we will go on our way. Time to wake them up, falcons!

Pearl Necklace.

Our water trip was coming to an end, or rather it was coming to an end. I was afraid that we would not make it to Topornya, the final point of our route, in time, so I spurred the kayak and the guys, reluctantly and lazily, paddled up as well.

Behind Tatarsky, a pearl necklace of lakes Kishemskoe, Pigasovo, Zaulomskoe, Pokrovskoe, and Siverskoe, woven into the North Dvina Canal, were waiting for us. Oh, it is so nice! Wide, boundless!

Sometimes I forgot that I was in company. Believing that there could be no other occasion, I closed my eyes, scattered mentally in the wind over the Zaulomsky lake, and then I was whirling, whirling… Sometimes I was dashing toward the alluring and at the same time frighteningly restless water! Then I soared over it, shaking the pines with my fervor. One by one we sailed through the villages, and after Karbotka we entered Kirillov! I can’t hide the pleasure, with which I was catching local sights in our red kayak! But soon a motorboat with drunken and terribly cheerful people rushed toward us! Both men and women were shouting something to us, either asking where we were from or telling us stories. They seemed to be flying from Cherepovets. We exchanged emotions and parted like boats on the river. We were not far away from the river, we passed Siverskoe and entered Toporninsky canal. By the way, as it usually happens in people, the honest people do not limit themselves with one name. The North-Dvina channel between the lakes has additional names: Vazerinsky, Toporninsky, Kuzminsky channels, the rivers Karbotka, Pozdyshka. And the lakes themselves do not lag behind the famous water system. Pokrovskoe lake is also called Babi lake! But we haven’t seen women and haven’t moored to the shores of Babi lake under the cover of night… Still I like more popular names! Let’s give the hydronym Pokrovskoye to Orthodoxy and the Intercession of the Holy Virgin.

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Now, some time later, I recall with tenderness this wonderful, pastoral route. We arrived in Topornya on time. On the shore our fathers were waiting for us, cars and inquiries. There was a lake of impressions, not a single one! And then there was the train. The green birds of foliage had not yet taken off from the trees to the south, and we were leaving. Leaving behind bundles of ripening strawberries, cranberries, crushed cranberries, and bundles of white berries, we took away a part of our Motherland, big, immense, yet so undiscovered, but always dear. One fleeting touch to which is able to fall in love with her and fill it with unconditional devotion, true Russian spirit, which can not weatherize the fashionable resort, and the words can not convey …

Lakes and rivers of the Vologda Region. Three participants with 2 oars on a frame kayak “Neris 3F Expedition” took the following water objects of the Kirillovsky district of the Vologda region: Shilyakovo village (old name Shilyakova) MU DO “Children’s Health Ecological Center” (former pioneer camp “Chaika” near the village of Zaitsevo), Lake Borodaevskoe (or Borodava), Lake Ferapontovskoe (aka Lake Borodaevskoe, or Borodava) Village Ferapontovo, Spasskoe Lake – bypassed by car because it is impossible to pass water, Lake Pyatnitskoe, the River Itkla, Lake Tatarovskoe (it’s also a flood of the river Itkla) North-Dvina channel, Lake Kishamskoe, North-Dvina channel (it’s the 2nd Vazerinsky channel), Lake Pigasovo, North-Dvina channel (it’s the 1st Vazerinsky channel), Lake Zaulomskoe, North-Dvina Canal (aka Pozdyshka River), Lake Pokrovskoe, (aka Babie) North-Dvina Canal (aka Kuzminsky Canal, aka Karbotka River) Lake Siverskoe, North-Dvina Canal (aka Toporninsky Canal) The village of Topornia, The village of Shilyakovo.

Date: June 21-22, 2013. The passage took 2 days with 1 overnight stay at a leisurely pace. Distance: 53.1 km. In 31 hours and 45 minutes. Difficulty: Moderate.

April 14, 2015 Tags: travelling, rafting, adventure, kayak, Vologda region, taiga, rivers, lakes, neris, Kirillov

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