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Pearls of nature

The Talab Islands

We invite you to visit a real pearl of Pskov-Chudskoy Water Area - The Talab Islands. The route: Pskov - Ornithological Game Reserve -Zalita Island - Belov's Island. (020)

The lake represents a quadrangle with oval corners. The area - 715 sq. km, the maximal length - about 41 km, width - 20 km. Very few rivers flow into the lake. The Tolbitsa River runs into almost in the middle of the eastern shoreline; The River Chernaya flows into a little to the north; and the Startsev's Rivulet - to the south. The rivers Piuza, Vyarska, Vykhandu flow into from the west. But the biggest amount of water is received from the River Velikaya.

Going from the mouth of the Velikaya River to the lake itself you can enjoy the view on the eastern shoreline with rounded hills of Vaulin's Mountains. The western shore is covered with fog at times. Vaulin's Mountains are of glacial origin, they lie 8 km from the shore.

We should stop at Ershovo first. It is a pleasure to lie on the lake's sandy beach. Visiting an ornithological game reserve will be as well interesting.The Ornithological Game Reserve was founded by Pskovskaya Oblast People's Deputies Counsel in October, 4 on the southeast shore of the lake; it occupies 4 km wide lakeside area - from Murovtsy Village in the mouth of the Velikaya River up to Chernevo Village 10 km north; the total area of the reserve is 40 sq. km. Some rare species of birds nest here, this is also a place of rest and feeding for swans, geese and ducks during their migration flights. Lucky tourists can observe a fairy picture of true, majestic "Swan Lake".

After that short stop at Ershovo Village we continue our way further to the north. Southeast shore of Pskov Lake evanesce little by little; instead, the outline of three islands against the mouth of the Tolbitsa River come in view. In past these islands were called The Talabs.

The western, biggest island (the area 0.85 sq. km) is named Belov's Island, the island in the middle - Talabetets (0.07 sq. km), the eastern - Zalita Island (0.62 sq. km). The islands are separated by narrow straits.

A narrow shallow strait Bolshoy Kust separates Zalita Island and the lake's shore. Almost alike it, Maly Kust Strait parts islands Zalita and Talabenets. Both straits are not navigable. Relatively shallow Belov's Strait (4 m deep) separating Talabenets from Belov's Island is called Malye Vorota (The Small Gate). And, at last, the widest and deepest one - Bolshie Vorota (The Big Gate) is between Belov's Island and the western lake's shore. It is 7-8 km wide and 3.5-5 m deep.

Bolshoy and Maly Kust straits at times become absolutely dry and form a sandy strip. Then one can easily walk till the very eastern shore of Pskov Lake.

All the three islands were formed 10-12 thousand years ago. Their southeast shores are rather low, while in the north and northwest they rise up to 10-16 m above the lake, here they are very steep. Big boulders cover all the shore.

A legend says that long ago these islands were covered with rich woods and served as a refuge for robbers. In the course of time the woods were fallen, and now only a small fir-tree grove remains on Belov's Island.

Today two islands - Zalita and Belov's Island are densely populated, whereas the third one - Talabenets has no residents.

The central island Zalita stretches from west to east for 1.5 km. It is 600 m wide. A stone Nikola's Church built in 1790 is a monument of architecture. Nowadays it still serves as an aural beacon. Its tolls are spreading over great distance in fog and strong snowfall

Belov's Island is three km away from here. It is stretched out from northeast to southwest for almost 1.5 km; its width is 800 m. There are about 60 houses in its southern part, Pskov Fish Factory, an elementary school, a store and an ancient monument - Peter and Paul's Church. It is not known who and when constructed it. All we know is that it was burnt away by Swedes in 1703 and reconstructed in 1710. Now the temple is being actively reconstructed, it gains new vitality and spiritual power.

There is a pine-and-fir grove in the northern high part of the island, which native people highly value. Here young pine, fir and sometimes birch growth rise to the sky under high trees. There are small glades in the middle of the grove. It is dry and clean everywhere. The time seems to freeze here. It is still like thousands years ago, only you and grandeur of nature. A glorious view opens from a high shore of the lake, and below, under the steep, at the very water in silent weather one can hear cries of sea-gulls.

This part of the island is a perfect place to have a rest in the open air. Here you can feel all the charm of ecological tourism.

Belov's Island is protected by Pskovskaya Oblast Executive Committee as a complex natural and architectural object since October, 4, 1979.

Bon voyage! And happy sailing to you!

Elena Korosteleva Pictures
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