The Planinca and Poljška Highlands

This year’s winter, thus far at least, has been a total antithesis of the previous one when there was SO much snow that even some of the die-hard snow fans, of which there are many in this Alpine region of Slovenia, began to tire of the relentless snowfall. This year however, until now at least, the precipitation has all been in the form of rain and with the mild temperatures to boot, even the weather forecasters are being left scratching their heads.

However, I’m not usually one to be deterred by a bit of rain, after all it’s only water, and in some countries of the world they would give their eye teeth for rainfall. After so much time spent snow shovelling last year, the novelty of which quickly wears off, believe me, I’m not complaining. I usually still don my waterproofs and head out for a run or walk, even if I do sometimes return home resembling a drowned rat! This week, I did at least manage one dry, albeit somewhat muddy, walk to the Planinca and Poljška mountain highlands.

The usual starting point for a walk here, and to other destinations in the Karavanke range such as the ever popular Roblek Hut (Roblekov dom), the Preval highland and hut (Koča na Planini Preval-a) and the peak of Begunščica (the 2nd highest peak in the Karavanke range), is from the parking area at the foot of the Draga Valley.

On this occasion however I chose to begin my walk along the pleasant and interesting Lamberg’s path which leads from the Krpin recreation area in Begunje, past the ruins of Kamen Castle (Grad Kamen), before reaching the Draga Valley. The path takes about 45 minutes (in one direction).

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The path from the valley head is well marked and leads first up the mountain road before branching off into the forest. It is an easy, though fairly steep in parts, hike up to reach the first mountain highland, Planinca (1136m). This was originally owned by the Lords of Kamen and was formerly used for grazing cows and sheep. These days, cattle can still be found grazing here during the summer months and one can stop at the Planinca hut for a refreshing drink or some soured milk (kislo mleko), direct from the herd. The soured milk is actually akin to a natural yoghurt, thick and most often served in a clay bowl and eaten with a spoon. I have to confess that I’m not a fan but it is a very popular delicacy of choice around here!

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During the winter, or rather during a ‘normal’ winter, the road from the Planinca highland back down to the valley is transformed into a very popular sledging track. Of course with the lower section of the road being shared by both hikers and sledgers, one does have to keep aware to avoid being taken out by a fast finishing sledger!

A mere ten minutes almost level walk from the Planinca hut leads to the Poljška highland and hut (1180m), so named as it belongs to the community of the nearby village of Poljče. The pasture was also used for grazing horses, cows and sheep. The Poljška hut is a large chalet style design which, after being burnt down during in 1944, was restored to its original form after the war.

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The mountain road ends at the Poljška highland and from here a path continues up through the forest to the Roblek Hut (1672m). Alternatively, as I did on this occasion, a path to the left of the pasture leads down through the forest before reaching a junction where one has the choice of continuing, at first uphill then again downhill, towards St. Peter’s Church (Sv. Peter) and the Sankaška hut (Sankaška koca), or turning left down a gully to return towards Begunje and the Krpin recreation area.

Of course all of this mild weather and rain is having a hugely detrimental effect on the low lying ski resorts such as Kranjska Gora. The higher resorts however have more than enough snow, with more falling all the time, but they just need some fine weather to entice the skiers out onto the slopes; not that Slovenes need any encouragement to go skiing.

For those not so keen on venturing out in the inclement weather, there are other indoor activities in the Radovljica area such as the Olympic size swimming pool (covered during the winter, open-air during the summer), Linhart Hall cinema and theatre, the museums and galleries in Radovljica’s  old town centre (Museum of Apiculture, Town Museum, Šivec House Gallery), as well as museums in the surrounding villages of Begunje (Museum of Hostages) and Kropa (Museum of Iron-Forging).

Additionally, this week, a new photographic exhibition will open in the lobby of the Radovljica Mansion (graščina) on Friday 24th January at 6pm and next weekend the 8th International Accordion Competition for the Avsenik Award will take place at the Avsenik restaurant in Begunje. Entrance to all these events is free.

© AdeleinSlovenia 2014

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