On Wednesday last week, before the snow made a(nother) re-appearance, and for the first time this year, I walked one of my favourite paths in the Karavanke mountain range. Radovljica, where I live, is ideally situated for lovers of hiking since it is surrounded by the Karavanke to the north and the Julian Alps to the south – so we are spoilt for choice!
The Shepherd’s Trail (Pastirska pot) begins in the Draga Valley (689m), which is reached via the village of Begunje na Gorenjskem. The path then climbs steeply up, crossing a stream in several places and with one short section of climbing, to the Preval pasture and mountain hut Koča na planini Preval-a (1311m). From here there are a number of choices of route onwards – the Shepherd’s Trail follows the mountain road uphill until it meets another path (cez Roža) which traverses the slopes of Begunščica, passing the Roža brook, until finally reaching the Roblek Mountain hut – Koča na Robleku (1657m). The path is narrow and in places somewhat exposed in a few places when crosses gulleys, but otherwise presents no problems; but a good hiking boots and a pair of walking poles are needed. What I particularly like about this path is that a) its circular, b) the views when crossing Roža are fantastic and c) I seldom meet many other hikers (perhaps I should keep quiet about this path so it stays that way!).
At 2060m, Begunščica is the 2nd highest mountain in the chain that forms part of the Karavanke. The Karavanke form a natural border between Slovenia and Austria and are 120km in length. Most hikers visiting Slovenia tend to head for the more Julian Alps, particularly the area around the 7 Triglav Lakes valley, and Triglav itself, Slovenia’s highest mountain. The Karavanke are in general less known and therefore less walked than the Julian Alps, which for me is an added bonus. There are numerous mountain huts and because they are often lower and more easily accessible, there is a wide choice of day walks or walks that can be combined to make a longer trip. Many parts of the Karavanke remain untouched and are free from commercialism – no huge ski resorts, no main roads and therefore no crowds.
Before I moved to Slovenia, when I was just visiting for holidays, I bought myself a copy of the Cicerone book ‘The Julian Alps of Slovenia’. Now I’m pleased to say they have just launched a new book ‘Walking in Slovenia – The Karavanke’. I’ve walked many of the routes in the book but there are a few that I haven’t and so they have been added to the ‘To Do’ list and no doubt I’ll be writing about them some time in the not too distant future, when the sun puts its hat back on! – http://www.cicerone.co.uk/search/?keyword=slovenia&submit.x=0&submit.y=0
The highest mountain in the Karavanke is Stol (2236m) and I’m fortunate enough to be able to see it every morning when I wake up and look out of my bedroom window. Stol is definitely up there too on my list of favourite walks, so as soon as the snow completely melts you can be sure I’ll be up there too. The route to Stol, both from the Slovene and Austrian side, is also described in the book.
The weather was fairly atrocious last weekend. It was even snowing in some of the higher lying places in the valley, above 800m. Fortunately Radovljica itself escaped the snow but it was back to winter clothes, including gloves and hat, for a chilly, wet weekend.
Unfortunately the weather meant the opening of the new ‘Path of Poljane Treats’ in Škofja Loka was cancelled and has been postponed until September. Still, that’s something to look forward to! However, the Radovljica Pottery Festival still went ahead as we are fortunate in Radovljica to have the beautiful Mansion House (pictured above) where events can be held if the weather is bad. The festival included exhibitions and demonstrations, a pottery craft fair, an international potter’s competition, culinary fare and children’s workshops. A great feature was the offer to buy your own handmade bowl and then go into one of the restaurants or cafes in the old town and have it filled with a traditional stew or ice-cream. Under normal circumstances, I might have plumped for the ice-cream but it was so cold a hearty stew was the order of the day!
Upcoming events for this weekend include a flea market (boljšak), which takes place on the first Sunday of each month in the old town centre of Radovljica – outdoors if weather permits or in the Mansion House otherwise. More information about this, and other events in Radol’ca, can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/ Also on Friday this week it’s the final of the Na Zdravje programme on Slovenia’s TV1 and it will also be the final of the search to find the best song from each town and region in Slovenia. The heats took place some while ago and the Radovljica song is through to the final. So, if you’re in Slovenia make sure you vote for us and you can listen to the song here – http://yourlisten.com/channel/content/16938978/Radolca