Ice on Pihkva and Lämmijärv lakes in southeastern Estonia is now thick enough to safely be able to walk on, and has been opened to the public by the authorities, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Monday.
However, the larger Peipsi järv to the north is still off limits due to unsafe ice conditions, as are other inland water bodies in Estonia.
From Tuesday, ice fishing is permitted on Lämmijärv (pictured), which links Peipsi and Pihkva, though the zones near to the Võhuandu and Salusaari rivers, which empty into the lake, should be avoided, due to uneven ice conditions.
Local resident Ernst Rose told AK that he still has to wait to go on to the lake surface, as, while walking on foot on the ice is permitted, the use of a snowmobile is not.
"Right now, the surface is still covered with snow, which holds back the freezing process. When there is no snow cover, it freezes quite rapidly, though you require a minimum of 10cm thickness, before venturing to go out on the ice," Rose, who had conducted a recce of the ice in the vicinity of Räpina, told AK.
"I use a snowmoble because the years have pased a bit and I don't want to walk there any more. It's still 4km to the other side and back again. When it's windy, as it is now, I don't want to travel out there, but it is quite simple with a snowmobile," he continued.
Ice thickness and safety is the responsibility of the Rescue Board (Päästeamet); it should be clearer in the next few days whether other inland waterways in Estonia are safe enough to walk on.
Kaino Zilmer, head of the board's Võru and Põlva counties district, told AK that: "We carry out checking measurements. This should take place in the next few days, while by the end of this week, we should have a clear picture of how thick the ice really is and whether it strong enough to bear weight."
Information on ice conditions is also available here (in Estonian).
The Estonian-Russian border runs through all three lakes, with only the northwesternmost corner of Pihkva lying in Estonian territory (the original 1920 Treaty of Tartu border lay somewhat to the southeast of the current boundary).
Pihkva is the Estonian name for the Russian city of Pskov, which lies to the southeast of Pihkva järv.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera