Witch's Well - Noiakaev

Useful Information

Location: At Tuhala, northwest of Oru, Harjumaa, northern Estonia.
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: KarstKarst Spring
Light: n/a
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Nõiakaev (Witch's Well) is the most famous place of the Tuhala karst, a 188 ha area of limestone, which is the biggest Karst region of Estonia. The Witch's Well is named after an old legend. The witches of Tuhala are now and then taking a sauna underground, beating each other vigorously with birch branches. As a result the water in the well rises and flows out by itself. This happens only now and then, in DEC-2008 it happened after three years for the first time. So when it happens visitors from near and far travel to the well to see this special event. The intermittend spring is of some fame in Estonia.

The karst area offers numerous impressive features. There are karstiorg (dry valleys), former river valleys which are now dry because the water flows underground. The Tuhala jögi (Tuhala river) sinks near two dolines called Äiaauk (Father-in-Law's Hole) and Ämmaauk (Mother-in-Law's Hole). A part of the river flows further to Hundikuristik (Wolf's Gully), where the river sinks completely. From here it flows underground through a river cave until it reappears in two close springs, Veetöusme allikad (Veetöusme spring) and Rahaauk (Money Hole). Along this river cave there are numerous karstinögu (dolines) which formed by partly collapse of cave below. During times of high water level, after the snow melt or heavy rains the dry valleys are sometimes reactivated, as the cave is not big enough to swallow all the water. Then the Vanakubja karstior (Vanakubja dry valley) and the Kuiv jöeorg (dry riverbed) are reactivated. Numerous ajutine allikas (temporary springs) in the area start to flow.

The whole are is called Tuhala Maastikukaitseala (Tuhala Lansdcope Protection Area) and is protected as a natural monument. Unfortunately this protection ends at the borders of the 188 ha park. Right outside a limestone quarry is planned, only 2 km away. This would heavily influence the ground water and most likely the pumps of the quarry would lower it so much that the springs would dry completely. So the rare occasions when Witch's Well is flowing could soon be over.