Useful information
1. Contract stones and Otimäe stone burial place
2. Pühalepa church
3. Suuremõisa castle
4. Suursadam
5. Soera Farm Museum
6. Kärdla
7. Hill of Crosses
8. Tahkuna lighthouse
9. Reigi church
10. Kõrgessaare-Viskoosa
11. Kõpu lighthouse
12. Vanajõe Valley
13. Sõru harbour
14. Orjaku bird observation tower
15. Exhibits building of Hiiumaa museum in Kassari
16. Sääretirp
17. Kassari chapel and graveyard
18. Vaemla wool factory

Supported by European Union


Kõpu peninsula is full of mystery and excitement. If you have enough time, then look around, follow the nature trails and enjoy Ristna beach. If you do not have enough time, then turn back and follow the same straight road in the direction of Käina and Emmaste. Turn toward Emmaste and follow the signs.

Photo: Hanno luukas
Photo: Hanno Luukas

Vanajõe Valley (Old River Valley) is proof that Hiiumaa is similar to the rest of Estonia: boasting rivers, lakes, hills and valleys. The valleys in particular seem quite unusual in this environment: it seems impossible to go below sea level in this plain landscape. Still, the valley with its high sandy banks and mysterious brownish water is a real pearl. The valley was made a preservation area in 1962, but it was already in the spotlight centuries ago. Indeed, a water mill operated in the 16th century in the village of Õngu, not far from this little creek, or river as the islanders call it. Supposedly there was an argument in the 18th century between the owner, Vaemla's landlord, and Ungern-Sternberg, who owned the land under the river. The latter decided to exact a water tax. The Vaemla baron refusing to pay, Ungern-Sternberg ordered the peasants to dig a canal ditch to divert the water, and so the water mill had to find energy from other sources. Quite rapidly, the running water shaped a deeper and more natural base for itself, now called New River. The dry wash of the old river is still foreseeable on the landscape.

Nature is continuing to shape the landscape here. Almost every year some of the bigger trees fall down from the edge of the valley, breaking the barriers and shifting the sand. When we say that Hiiumaa is a sandy island, the Old River Valley is the most obvious sign.

Here mezereons grow, and salmon trout comes to spawn. At the beginning of spring thousands of mosquitoes attack and the European weasel tries to regain a foothold, the object of difficult efforts to re-establish a species that has almost died out. Tallinn Zoo prepares the animals for life in the wild. The first litters out of captivity have been born, but problems still remain.

In the neighbourhood of the Old River Valley, coloured earth has been found; dissolved in water and used in yesteryear for painting houses.

Legends and stories

Although the place is called the Old River Valley, legends tell about the formation of the New River. There are stories about a workman, and sometimes about the giant Leiger, who decided to rest here one day. Before sitting down he thrust the shovel into the earth so hard that it went about halfway up the handle. When he continued his journey and pulled the shovel out, a big hole had been formed. Water began to flow from the hole and eroded paths through the sand, eventually shaping a deep valley.

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