Winter Hikes on the Jelovica Plateau

So, in addition to the ongoing (and boy is it going on…) coronavirus situation, in this part of Slovenia we have already had the highest snowfall in 43 years – and winter is far from over. I, for one, hope it’s also the last time for the next 43 years!

Regular readers of my blog will know I’m not a fan of snow, so this is by far, already, the hardest winter for me since moving here in 2007, and with the restrictions in place due to ‘the’ virus, there’s nowhere to escape, and no way of escaping, snow, so one just has to put on a brave face and plenty of winter clothing and get out there and ’embrace’ it.

Yesterday was the first day for around a month that it was due to be sunny, albeit it bitterly cold, so it was finally time to head out for a long hike to get some photos for my blog. Due to the restrictions in place, as well as the snow, there’s not a huge choice of places to go where a) we are allowed to go, b) the risks of avalanche are minimal, c) there are no problems with parking and no crowds – the latter turned out to be a particularly good move as the headlines on the news on Saturday were about the major traffic problems in the most popular winter sports areas. Thus, the obvious choice for us was the Jelovica plateau, which is right on our doorstep and which we can reach on foot from home. In fact, we’ve grown to love the wide choice of routes on the plateau so much, they are now likely to become a staple among our local hikes, even when we are allowed to go further from home!

We started from home in Radovljica at 8.30am, first down to Lancovo and then onwards towards the hamlet of Kolnica in Spodnja Lipnica.

From there we continued up to the Suharna viewpoint above the Lipnica valley. You can also read more here about my first hike to Suharna earlier in the year, which, believe me, was a lot easier than trudging through the snow now!

It usually takes around an hour to reach the viewpoint but you always need to allow about half as much time again when walking in snow, and even more if the snow is knee (or thigh!) deep.

After hiking up through the forest you reach a road (yes, that really is a road you can ‘see’ below!), where the ‘path’ to Suharna continues to the left. The path is well marked throughout, provided the signs are visible beneath the snow, that is!

From the viewpoint there are far-reaching views across the Radovljica plains, the Karavanke mountains, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and towards the Ljubljana basin.

Just don’t get too close to the edge as there is a sheer drop beneath that snow behind me!

We decided not to take a seat on the bench – can’t think why! – and instead returned to the intersection of paths and began our way, slowly, towards the Vodiška planina mountain pasture.

There are numerous paths that lead to the mountain pasture. This one proved to be a good option as we met few people along the way and it allowed us to do an entirely circular hike. Fortunately someone – though it looked like only one person – had already hiked that way that morning, so the trudge through the snow was at least somewhat easier.

From Suharna it would usually take around 1.15 hours to reach the Partizanski dom mountain hut on Vodiška planina but, again, it took us quite a bit longer due to the snow and we finally reached the mountain hut at just after 12.30pm, thus four hours after leaving home.

A flask of tea is an essential in winter, and even more so now when the huts are closed.

From the hut there are numerous paths the lead down towards Kropa. We took the one that leads towards the Stočje – the lower part of Kropa – which brings you out near the swimming pool.

The mountain pasture is only 1,108m and there’s over a metre of snow, whereas in the higher mountains there is over 3 metres of snow this year already. So, if you do plan any winter hiking, please do ensure you only choose familiar and/or well-trodden paths that are low risk in terms of avalanches and, of course, you need the full gamut of winter gear including gaiters, crampons, an ice axe (if going higher) and not forgetting a flask of tea!

From there we returned along the pavement to Kamna Gorica and from there we took the path that leads over the Fuxova brv footbridge back to Radovljica. The total hiking time from door-to-door was around 7 hours, and two pleasantly tired hikers certainly enjoyed their (gluten free!) pizzas once home!

You can read more ideas for winter hiking in my previous blog ‘5 Great Winter Hikes in Radovljica’

© Adele in Slovenia

A Different December in Radovljica!

As you might expect, the festive season is going to be somewhat different this year in Radovljica, and, in fact, in Slovenia as a whole. Am I rocking the mask look?!

Unfortunately, Slovenia is faring far less well second time round and, at the time of writing (1 December), the situation is thus: there is a curfew in place from 9pm to 6am; all restaurants/bars etc. are closed; all non-essential shops are closed; we are not allowed outside of the municipality where we live; masks must be worn at all times outdoors too, other than in ‘green’ areas where it is possible to ensure a 3 metre distance from others; there is no public transport; mixing with others is not allowed other than with immediate family members; all sports events/public events etc. are cancelled. So, as you can imagine, the atmosphere is not as festive as it could be, but that doesn’t mean that Christmas has been cancelled; this year it will just be more ‘intimate’, which isn’t always a bad thing!

However, with the festive season upon us, there is a glimmer of hope and a twinkle of fairy lights, and Radovljica is looking even more picture-perfect than ever! So, let’s focus on what you CAN see and do right now, rather than what you CAN’T!

A stroll through the historic old town centre of Radovljica is pleasant and interesting whatever the time of year, but even more so in the festive season. Tourism Radol’ca have really gone to town this year with this festive lights, which now not only adorn Linhart Square but also the town park and the square in front of St. Peter’s church.

To get you in the festive spirit, below you can watch the switching on the festive lights in Radovljica, which took place at 5pm today.

The theme of this year’s decorations is Radovljica’s long tradition of wickerwork.

This year, despite the lack of an advent market and live events/performances, you can still enjoy an ‘adventure’ in the form of the new ‘Journey to the Fairies’ Tree‘.

Of course, and thank goodness, nature hasn’t been affected by the virus – some would argue it has in fact got even better due to less pollution – thus taking to the forest is a great way to socially distance too! So, check out the array of themed hiking trails and short hikes ideal for little ones in the Radol’ca area.

We’ve been hiking a lot on the Jelovica plateau of late, since we can’t go that far from home due to the restrictions. There has been a lot of fog in the valley so getting up above it – as we did last Saturday – is certainly worth the effort!

In addition, a number of the Taste Radol’ca restaurants are offering home delivery and/or take-away food, so you can also have a day – or days – off cooking over the festive season, and you can even pick up fresh ingredients and treats from the vending machine in front of Gostilna Kunstelj!

You can keep up-to-date with the latest information on the COVID-19 situation here and find out more about the latest events, well, as and when there will be any – in the Radol’ca area here.

To end, I wish you all a very happy and, of course, more importantly healthy, Christmas and New Year and hope to be back with you soon with some more positive news!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Radovljica to Jamnik…the long way round!

So, having done so well in the first round of COVID-19, unfortunately Slovenia is faring much less well second time around.

We are now back to a partial lockdown, and as of 19th October the Slovenian government officially (re)declared an epidemic and also introduced a curfew from 9pm to 6am. We are not allowed out of our region, bars and restaurants are closed, as are all non-essential shops (as of tomorrow), home schooling is in place for year 6 upwards, and masks must be worn outdoors too at all times, other than when doing individual sports such as cycling.

Hence, the best place to be by far – other than alone on your bike(!) – is in the forest and far from the madding crowd. So, that’s exactly where we headed last weekend; from Radovljica to Jamnik via Kamna Gorica, on foot all the way there and back!

There are several paths that lead up to Jamnik and its landmark church from Kropa, or you can drive (or cycle) up the windy road. If, however, you want to make a full day of it and you haven’t got transport, you could follow my lead and go the whole way on foot!

First head from the old town of Radovljica past the cemetery and down to the Sava river where you cross the Fux footbridge (Fuxova brv) and follow part of the Lipnica Castle Trail.

Instead of turning off the path towards Lipnica Castle, at the junction of paths with a shrine and an information board, as seen below, continue straight on towards Kamna Gorica.

You soon get your first glimpse of the Church of the Holy Trinity, which stands above the village.

Walk through the village then rejoin the road and walk on the pavement, with the stream to your left, until you reach a sign on the right, almost opposite the bus stop, for Vodiška planina (the Vodiška mountain pasture).

Walk up the tarmac road which soon becomes a forest trail. From here on the path is well marked with the usual red/white circles on trees.

Most of the trail runs through dense forest, so there isn’t much in the way of views, but when there is a gap between the trees it makes the effort worthwhile!

After around 1.5 hours of walking you reach the Vodiška planina mountain pasture and the Partisanski dom mountain hut (currently also shut due to the virus).

If you’d like a shorter version of this hike then you could now take one of the paths that lead directly down to Kropa. Should you wish to continue, then just keep following the signs to Jamnik.

And lookout for the viewpoint with a bench along the way!

…from there on its downhill all the way to Jamnik! We experienced almost four seasons in one day – sunny when we left Radovljica, a hailstorm on the way down towards Jamnik, then shrouded in fog when we got there. Oh well, you can’t have everything!

On a fine(r) day, it usually looks more like this and there are great panoramic views too!

So, despite everything, it’s still possible to enjoy the beauty of nature but, of course, do heed all the precautions and, above all, stay well and safe.

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

Radol’ca Gets Gorenjska Bikes – Help Keep Radol’ca Green!

Slovenia has been going cycling mad for the last few weeks thanks to the supreme efforts of both Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič – the winner and runner up, respectively, of this year’s Tour de France. Congratulations to them both!

Therefore, it’s only fitting that my latest blog is on the theme of cycling, since as of last week Radovljica officially joined the Gorenjska Bike scheme.

The bike sharing scheme offers subscribers the use of regular bikes and e-bikes, which can be used for up to 840 minutes per week for a fixed price. Bikes can be taken at one location and returned at a different location anywhere within the Gorenjska Bike catchment area – Kranj, Naklo, Tržič, Jesenice and Radovljica.

I went along to the official unveiling of the new bikes in Begunje na Gorenjskem last week to find out more about how the scheme works and to have a go myself!

There are several bike terminals in the Radol’ca area; opposite the Radovljica library…

… at Lesce railway station, on the corner of the road Gradnikova ulica, and adjacent to the tourist information centre in Begunje na Gorenjskem.

Since the scheme is really aimed at those who will be using the bikes on a fairly regular basis, those visiting the area just for a few days are better off just hiring a bike (click here to find out where you can hire bikes in the Radovljica area), however, for those visiting for a longer stay, or those visiting more frequently, the Gorenjska Bike scheme is certainly worth considering as the price and convenience makes it particularly attractive. Seasonal hire costs just €25 for regular bikes and €50 for e-bikes, or monthly hire is available for just €10 for regular bikes and €20 for e-bikes. More information is available here (currently only in Slovene).

From Radovljica you can cycle to, for example, Kamen Castle and the Draga valley in Begunje, Bled, and other nearby places of interest.

Getting around by bike is an ideal way to see some, or all, of the best attractions in the Radol’ca area and, of course, by signing up to the scheme you can play your part in helping to keep Radovljica ‘green’ too!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Theme Trails in Radol’ca – Take Your Pick!

Following a themed hiking trail is a great way to discover more of a place, whether its history, culture, and/or natural features.  In the Radol’ca area you are spoilt for choice with a total of 11 such trails. Some are relatively flat, short trails, while others involve a bit more effort; all of them, however, are unique in their own way.

The Begunje Shepherds’ Trail is a 10km circular trail and is by far my favourite of the bunch! It leads from the Draga valley up to the Preval mountain pasture, then along the ‘ćez Roza‘ path to reach the Roblekov dom mountain hut. The start of the trail involves a short section of climbing, followed by a steep section through the forest.

On emerging from the forest the path levels out somewhat, and you can start enjoying the views. You can read more in a previous blog post here.

The Brezje Path of Peace starts close to the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, Slovenia’s main pilgrimage site, in Brezje. It leads via forest paths and country roads to the Peračica waterfalls.

The Sava River Trail, as the name suggests, runs along the banks of the Sava river from the Fux footbridge to the Šobec camp. It is a linear walk that can be walked in either direction.

St. Peter’s Trail is a short trail that leads up to St. Peter’s church above Begunje na Gorenjskem. From the church there are fantastic views of the Radovljica plains, the Jelovica plateau and, on a clear day, all the way to Triglav, Slovenia’s highest mountain.

The Lipnica Castle Trail leads across the Fux footbridge over the Sava river to the ruins of Lipnica Castle above the Lipnica valley.

The Lamberg Trail leads to the ruins of Kamen Castle in the Draga valley. It begins at the Krpin recreation area in Begunje na Gorenjskem and leads through the forest past the ruins of Kamen Castle, passing two small archeological sites, ending in the  Draga valley at the Gostišče Draga restaurant, where you can enjoy a drink, snack or slap-up meal to gather your strength for the return journey, or you could even continue further on one of the trails that lead into the Karavanke mountains.

The Grabnarca Waterside Nature Trail is pleasant, shady trail over wooden footbridges. It begins at the source of the Lipnica stream, crosses the Grabnarca stream and ends at a small lake. The walk can easily be extended further by walking on country roads to return to the start.

The Otoče-Brezje Pilgrimage Trail begins at the railway station in Otoče, runs through the village of Ljubno, known for its numerous frescoes, and on to Brezje, home to the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians.

The Mošnje Archeological Trail explores the village of Mošnje, home to the Villa Rustica archaeological site and the Mošnje Ethnological Museum. 

The Rosary Bead Trail is a circular trail that leads along ancient pilgrimage routes. It gets its name due to the rosary bead-like shape of the trail. The trail is rated as easy, though it covers a total of 12.2km, across fields and meadows, through forests and along country lanes, with wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.

The Begunje Village Trail takes you on a tour of the village of Begunje na Gorenjskem, the birthplace of Slavko Avsenik, the founder of Slovenian folk music. You can also visit Katzenstein Mansion, which today houses a psychiatric hospital and, at the rear, the Museum of Hostages.

Now all you have to do is choose which one, or ones, to walk – a tough choice indeed!

© Adele in Slovenia

The Šlibar Organic Farm – A Real(ly) Rural Retreat

Isn’t is just great when you go somewhere not expecting much, only to find it’s so much more than you imagined? That was exactly the case when I recently visited the Šlibar organic farm in Kovor, near Tržič.

In addition to very much being a working farm, four years ago the family decided to make further use of its vast grounds by adding seven rustic-style glamping huts, which have proven to be a real hit!

There are two styles of huts, as can be seen above. They differ only on the outside, while the well-appointed interiors are all pretty much the same.

Each of the wooden huts has one main room with a double bed as well as a separate nook with two single mattresses for kids.

Outdoors each hut has its own cooking area with basic equipment, while there is also a shared outdoors covered kitchen area just metres from the huts, and each hut also has its own designated toilet and shower located just a short walk from the huts. An organic breakfast, featuring produce from the farm, is included in the price of a stay.

The farm also has its own small shop that sells home-grown produce and home-produced beer and spirits, jams, pasta and other grains.

I couldn’t try it, since coeliac disease and beer do not mix, however, word has it that the home-produced beer is excellent, and judging by the crate loads that one customer was buying at the time of my visit, it must be true!

Kids will love the animals…

…and the abundance of space to be… kids. Well, you’re never too old, as they say!

The peaceful, rural location, farm and domestic animals, organic food, and great views too – it all adds up to a truly organic experience!

The farm is a destination in itself as well as a great place to base yourself for exploring, hiking and cycling in the surrounding area. Nearby hikes, which I have blogged about in the past, include Kriška gora and Tolsti vrh, Košutica, Dobrča, the Born Trail from Ljubelj to Preval, and the peaks and mountain pastures on, and below, Slovenia’s longest mountain – Košuta.

So, whether you are still undecided where to use your tourist vouchers (for Slovenian citizens only – a government measure to stimulate tourism re COVID-19), or you are planning to visit Slovenia and seeking somewhere a bit ‘off the beaten track’, the Šlibar Organic Farm could be just the place for you!

Find out more about what else to see and do in the Tržič area here.

© Adele in Slovenia

The Juliana Long-Distance Hiking Trail – Stage 4: Begunje na Gorenjskem – Bled

The Juliana long-distance hiking trail covers a total of 270 kilometres in 16 stages, one of which runs through the Radol’ca area.

Though marketed as ‘new’, no new paths or infrastructure were actually built in putting together the trail, rather what it does it nicely link together existing trails and paths whilst taking in picturesque valleys, meadows, plateaus, towns and villages in and around the Julian Alps and provides information on where to stay and what to see and do along the way.

The trail hasn’t been designed for those seeking to bag summits, rather for those wishing to see and experience the beauty and diversity of Slovenia’s alpine landscape without having to be an experienced mountaineer. That doesn’t, however, mean that its to be taken lightly, as some sections of the trail involve some significant altitude gains (the highest point reaches 1,819 metres above sea-level), but it is not technically demanding.

You can choose to walk the entire trail, or just select the sections that are most appealing. Each section of the trail is numbered and is shown by yellow (occasionally also white) signs showing JA and a number – 4 in the case of the Begunje – Bled section of the trail.

The trail begins and ends in Kranjska Gora from where it leads to Mojstrana and Jesenice before reaching Begunje na Gorenjskem, which is the stage described here.

The first part of stage 4 begins next to the tourist information centre in Begunje na Gorenjskem.

From there it runs through the villages of Gorica and Vrbje before reaching Radovljica, opposite the bus station and adjacent to the market area.

It then leads to Linhart Square, the heart of the historic old town

…and on to the viewpoint at the far end of the old town, from where there are magnificent views of Slovenia’s highest mountain – Triglav – and the Jelovica plateau.

From there it leads down towards the Sava river.

Just before the bridge over the river, the Juliana Trail meets the Sava River Trail, which leads past the confluence of the Sava Bohinjka and Sava Dolinka rivers and onwards to the Šobec camp.

If you want to get a shot of the river, continue onto the bridge before doubling back to the trail marker.

The route continues through the camp, where it crosses the Sava Dolinka river before entering into the area of the municipality of Bled.

A guidebook to the entire trail is available in three languages.

VODNIK JULIJANA TRAIL 270/16 - Kranjska Gora

Click here to find out more about stage 4 of the trail, and click here for more information about the entire trail.

© Adele in Slovenia

Visit Tržič – Jelendol and the Stegovnik Waterfall

Jelendol is a small village located at the far end of the Dovžan gorge in Tržič. Although it takes a bit of an effort to reach the village, and even more so to reach the Stegovnik waterfall, you will be rewarded by seeing this unique village and impressive waterfall away from the madding crowd! It is also the start point for numerous hikes in the Karavanke mountains – with so much choice, it’s hard to know which way to turn!

It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like for residents of the villages following the devastating floods of autumn 2018, which destroyed much of the gorge, the road, and caused significant damage to many of the houses closest to the river. At that time, the only way into or out of the gorge for the residents of Dolina and Jelendol was on foot to the start of the gorge from where they were picked up by minibus and taken to school, work, etc.

Now, the road through the valley has been repaired and numerous improvements have been made to the surrounding infrastructure too, so, provided you have a car, access is easy and, by combining a visit to Jelendol and the Stegovnik waterfall with a visit to the Dovžan gorge, which I blogged about recently, you can make a day of it. Read more here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2020/06/24/visit-trzic-escape-the-heat-and-have-an-adventure-in-the-dovzan-gorge/

Jelendol is inextricably linked with Baron Karel Born (1876-1957), a politician and entrepreneur, who owned as much as a third of all the forest in Jelendol and the surroundings of Tržič.

Born set up an electric saw in Jelendol that used electricity from a domestic small hydroelectric plant. He built a plant to make staves for barrels, then in 1903 he built a 5.5km long railway line, and a main loading station in Medvodje. Horses were used to transport wood from Košuta and Stegovnik, and the wood was then transported by rail to the sawmill in the then Puterhof (renamed Jelendol in 1955). The line crossed the Tržiška Bistrica river several times, which required the construction of ten small wooden bridges. During the war, the sawmill and other buildings were razed to the ground twice by partisans, and the locomotive was even mined.

Nowadays there are still plenty of reminders of Born’s influence on the village; at the crossroads of the road towards Medvodje (to the right) and the road to the left (towards the fire station and onward on the forest road) there are information boards featuring information about Born and his contribution to the economic development of Jelendol (alas, only in Slovene)…

…while just a short walk leads to the Born family tomb, to where, in August 2008, Karel Born’s remains were transferred from the Vienna cemetery.

Having visited the tomb and had a wander round the village, you can continue your way by taking the right fork in the road towards Medvodje. Follow the dirt road for quite some time (I suggest by car or by bike – on foot would be a long slog!) until you reach a parking area near the ruins of a former barracks, where there is a sign to the waterfall. This is also the start point for hikes towards the mountain pastures beneath Košuta.

From here set off on foot for cca. 15 mins to reach the Stegovnik waterfall, which is formed from the Stegovnik brook.

Though the waterfall only drops around 15 metres, it is still quite impressive, and lovely and cool in the heat of the summer too!

During summer you can also visit Tržič every Friday on the Hop-On Hop-Off tourist bus, which includes free guided tours of the Dovzan gorge and Tržič old town centre.

© Adele in Slovenia

A Glamping Fairytale in Tržič!

The growth in the popularity of glamping was already rising exponentially, and this year, due to a certain virus, it has become even more popular than ever, as holidaymakers seek less crowded spots to spend their holidays.

Glamping Mountain Fairytale is a new addition to Tržič’s range of accommodation. It makes the perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind.

It’s not marked from the main road, so keep your eye out for these signs.

Though only small (6 wooden houses), it fits perfectly with the saying ‘Small is beautiful’, and the area has been thoughtfully laid out according to the principles of Feng Shui.

Image may contain: indoor

Each house is uniquely named and comes with its own hot tub.

Guests can help themselves to produce grown on-site.

In addition to breakfast included in the price, there are also some great freebies for guests.

FREE access to the Gorenjska plaža (The Gorenjska ‘beach’) – Tržič’s swimming pool. It is also possible to arrange a half board stay at Glamping Mountain Fairytale by taking your meals at the Firb’c okn restaurant at Gorenjska plaža.You can read more about the pool and the restaurant in a previous blog post here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2019/07/03/gorenjska-plaza-and-firbc-okn-fab-fun-and-food-at-the-gorenjska-beach/

And FREE entry to Tržič Museum, which you can read more about in a previous blog post here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2019/01/02/rediscover-trzic-with-adele-in-slovenia/

Glamping Mountain Fairytale has certainly become a hit in Tržič, so be sure to book well in advance. Click here to find out more about more about what to see and do in the area.

© Adele in Slovenia

A (New) Hike and an (Old) Walk in the Lipnica Valley!

Despite the title, the hike to Suharna isn’t actually ‘new’ per se, it is, however, newly marked and thus easier to find and follow – so that makes it new(ish) in my book!

The path begins in the Kolnica area of Spodnja Lipnica in the Lipnica valley. If coming by car from Radovljica then you should turn right opposite the Krona bar on the road marked towards Talež and other points of the Jelovica plateau.

You could, of course – like me – get to the start by bike (the car in the photo isn’t mine!), I got there purely by pedal power!

The first few hundred metres can be a bit muddy following rain, but the path then leads up into the forest on a good track.

The rewards come early on this hike, as after just a short while you glimpse the first view back across the Lipnica valley and across the Radovljica plains.

After around 20 minutes you reach počivav – a shrine with a bench where you can take a breather.

The path is well marked throughout.

A further cca. 10 minutes brings you to an intersection of two paths – continue left for Suharna or upwards towards Razpok. For the best views choose Suharna; the path to Razpok, which I also decided to check out, leads to a small pasture with a few weekend homes, but the views are somewhat restricted.

After a mere hour you reach the Suharna viewpoint at 952 metres above sea-level, where you can linger and marvel at the stunning views earnt for such little effort!

So, now to the ‘old’ walk mentioned in the title! I have blogged about the Grabnarca Waterside Nature Trail in the past, but since it begins from the same start point as the hike to Suharna, I thought it deserves another mention.

The trail follows the Grabnarca and Lipnica streams, which in the past powered mills and sawmills in the valley, and also leads to the spring of the Lipnica stream. You can read more in my previous blog post here.

You could even make a day of it, pack a picnic, and do both walks in one!

© Adele in Slovenia