On what was – if I remember correctly – my second visit to Radovljica back in 2006, prior to moving here in 2007, I called in at the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre to enquire about where I could go for a walk without needing a car.
I was given a map of the area and directed to the Forest Nature Trail and/or the Lipnica Castle Trail. I’ve written about the latter previously, however, it wasn’t until I recently read in the local paper that the former has now been equipped with new signage, that I realised that I have never actually written a blog about it. So, now is the time to right that wrong!
Do like me and pop into the Tourist Info Centre to pick up a map, then, if you have a car, you can drive to the start, or, like me, cycle there!
There is an information board at the start (unfortunately it’s only in Slovene), and from there just follow the trail through the forest. You can’t (really) go wrong!
The trail is equipped with signs showing the species of tree (in both Slovene and Latin) as well as signs with footprints showing the way.
It first leads through the forest on a terrace above the Sava river…
…before descending to a beautiful, tranquil, forested part of Radovljica, which makes you feel like you are a million miles away from civilisation. There is a tree trunk showing the rings of wood and significant national and international events that occurred based on the presumed age of the tree.
In one of the quieter areas, away from the road, we even spotted deer in the forest in broad daylight when we were there last week, though you’ll have to trust me on that since I wasn’t quick enough with my camera to catch them!
Additionally, if you are in the area from now until the end of August, why not try the Hop On and Discover tourist bus – a reincarnation of the Hop-On Hop-On tourist bus – which connects interesting sites and attractions in the municipalities of Radovljica, Tržič and Jesenice, thus giving you a chance to see, and do, even more!
Due to an ongoing vestibular problem (more on that later), for the past five months I haven’t been able to do the kind of adventurous hikes that I’m accustomed too. Fortunately, there are plenty of hikes of all levels in the hills and mountains in the area where I live. So, this time, I decided that, since I can’t scale the dizzy heights of Mt. Storžič itself, I can at least walk to the Dom pod Storžičem mountain hut (1,123m) beneath it and gaze up longingly at it, hoping that one day I might again be able to make it to the top of this, and other, mountains.
The walk from Grahovše to the Dom pod Storžičem mountain hut makes an ideal family walk. It only takes around an hour and isn’t strenuous.
To reach the starting point in the village of Grahovše, drive through Tržič in the direction of the Dovžan gorge (Dovžanova soteska) until you reach a road on the right that leads up to the hamlet of Slap. Note: if you don’t have a car, you can start the walk here, and you should allow an extra hour or so to reach the mountain hut.
Follow the road up to the idyllic village of Lom pod Storžičem, with its imposing church.
Drive onwards to reach the village of Grahovše, where you will see a large gravel parking area on the left-hand side. Although it is possible to continue further by car, the tarmac road turns into a track, and there is also a notice opposite the aforementioned parking area, requesting that visitors kindly park in the allocated parking area, thus respecting life for the villagers and helping to preserve nature.
After just a few hundred metres you reach a junction and a signpost to the left marked Dom pod Storžičem. Follow the dirt road and you will soon get your first glance of majestic Mt. Storžič (2,132m) – the highest mountain in the western part of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps.
Continue on the road adjacent to the stream for around 10-15 minutes, passing a source of fresh water (on the left) and a somewhat hidden shrine (on the right).
On reaching a junction, you can either continue on the road (the longer, less scenic route) or take the right fork uphill (the more direct, scenic route). The latter soon leads up over a pasture with a few scattered wooden huts.
A short, steep incline awaits then, before you know it, you’ve reached the mountain hut.
From the hut, those wanting a longer, full-day hike, have several options. You can hike to the top of Storžič (cca. 3 hours from the hut), but note that part of the route is considered demanding, so only experienced and well equipped hikers should tackle it, or up to Tolsti vrh (cca. 2 hours from the hut), among other options.
If, however, the hut itself is your destination, then sit back and enjoy a drink and/or snack before heading back to the valley. The strudel looked delicious, though, of course, not gluten free so I could only look on. Note: in order to be able to sit indoors the hut, you must have proof of being double vaccinated, or have a negative COVID-19 test, or proof that you have recovered from the virus in the past 6 months. There are no restrictions on sitting outside the hut.
Click here for more information about this and other walks in the Tržič area.
Finally, as I mentioned above, without wishing to whinge in public, I feel I owe it to regular readers and followers of my blog, particularly those that use it as a source of reference/inspiration for hiking in Slovenia, to write a short word about my current ‘problem’ (since I’m not even sure what to call it). At the end of February this year my world changed, when I thought there had been an earthquake, but it turns out it was something going on in my head, i.e. my inner ear. Since then I have felt as if I’m on a boat on rough seas 24/7, with the world swaying and rocking around me, and the accompanying feeling of sea sickness. I’ve seen 7 doctors/specialists, had scans and various tests, and even tried several types of alternative medicine, but all to no avail. To the outside world I look fine, but, believe me, inside my head it’s a living nightmare, which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and it’s something no one can possibly understand unless they have had vestibular-type issues. Therefore, with little to no balance, my adventurous outdoor pursuits are currently resigned to those of someone twice my age, but I’m trying (though not always succeeding) to remain optimistic, and keep as active as I can. And on that note, until next time…
While I can’t be certain whether the claim of the Rosary Bead Trail that it is “the largest natural rosary bead in the world” holds true, it certainly is a lovely walk that connects four churches and leads through remote villages and countryside. Be sure to add it to your list of things to see and do while exploring the Gorenjska area!
Though originally designed as a pilgrimage trail, this 12km circular trail is also a great way to escape the crowds and appreciate the beauty of the unspoilt countryside between Tržič and Radovljica.
The trail begins in Brezje at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians – Slovenia’s national pilgrimage sanctuary – from where in five stages it follows a route through the forest, across streams, through villages and along country lanes, and all in the shape (when viewed from above) of a rosary bead.
Below is an overview of, and a few insights into, the trail.
The first part leads from the basilica to the junction for Peračica. The first trail marker is at the rear of the basilica, from where you should set off in an easterly direction for 100 metres towards the yellow roads sign for Peračica and Dobro polje. Follow the road towards Peračica steeply downhill, passing a sign for the Path of Peace (Pot miru), until you reach a junction and the next trail marker with a map of the trail.
The trail is well marked throughout with green markers on trees as well as cement posts with plaques showing where you are on the trail.
Turn right and follow the country lane, passing another trail marker (on the right) and a colourful, traditional Slovenian apiary (on the left). The road leads down to cross a stream and then later, at a sign for Kovor, the trail branches off from the road into the forest.
Unless otherwise marked, keep straight ahead ignoring any paths that branch off to the left or right. You will reach a small wooden bridge over a stream with a bench, which is an ideal place to take a break.
The trail now leads slightly uphill to reach another fork where you take the path uphill to the left, which eventually emerges in the village of Kovor.
From Kovor the path continues towards Brezje pri Tržiču, not to be confused with the village of Brezje where the walk begins! This part of the route is on quiet country lanes with beautiful views of the countryside and hamlets beneath Mt. Dobrča.
On reaching Brezje pri Tržiču, there is a shrine and an information point with a visitors book.
I thought I knew the area pretty well, but from here I was in unknown territory and discovered a few villages in the municipality of Tržič, such as Vadiče, that I didn’t even know existed!
The final part of the trail leads to the village of Leše, from where it leads back to the start at the basilica in Brezje.
Click here to read more about this and other footpaths, hiking trails and other natural and cultural attractions in the Tržič area. The Tržič area, as well as the rest of the country, is now slowly reopening to tourists. There are various requirements for entry, depending on whether the country you are coming from is on Slovenia’s green, orange, red or dark red list. Click here for the latest information, but note that it can literally change overnight – as it did yesterday.
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 Radovljicaat 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!
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.
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 situationhere 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!
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.
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!
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 sevenrustic-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!
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.
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.
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 Trailin 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!
Okay, I admit it, at times I’ve been finding it a bit hard to remain optimistic of late, more so since new rules came into force last Sunday at midnight, which stipulate that we aren’t allowed out of our municipality and have to wear masks to go into food shops, banks, and the post office. On the flip side, however, at this time I am certainly grateful that, if I am forced to be confined to one municipality, it is Radovljica!
In these testing times, when we are surrounded by so much doom and gloom, it is important to find some reasons to be cheerful and rays of hope. And, fortunately, here in Radovljica we don’t have to look too far to find them.
During this period when we are all doing our best to avoid each other(!), it’s the perfect opportunity to take stock and appreciate what we have got rather than what we haven’t. And the main reason to be cheerful, particularly for me, is that Radovljica has so many natural assets and hidden beauty spots, that there’s actually no need to go too far from home.
In the past week, in addition to working, we have managed to:
Hike to the Roblekov dom mountain hut where, following last Monday’s snowfall, it still looked pretty wintry as of the middle of last week…
Walk in the Draga valley in Begunje na Gorenjskem – where there really are more animals (albeit not real!) than people at this time. Of course, once things are back to normal, you simply must try the parkour archery course for real, i.e. with a bow and arrow, rather than just being a spectator! You can read more about the course in a previous blog here)…