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

 

 

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

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

Reasons to Be Cheerful in Radol’ca!

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…

Photo: ©AdeleinSlovenia

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)…

©AdeleinSlovenia

Photo: ©AdeleinSlovenia

Strolled over the Fuxova brv footbridge and walked among the wild garlic on the Lipnica Castle Trail towards Lipnica Castle

Photo: ©AdeleinSlovenia

…and hiked from Kamna Gorica up to the Vodiška planina mountain pasture above Kropa.

Photo: ©AdeleinSlovenia

And all that without leaving the confines of Radovljica!

In fact, having read this, you might even decide to spend the majority of your next holiday here in Radovljica. I mean, do you really need to go elsewhere?!

@Adele in Slovenia

Hike and Dine on Dobrča!

The ‘green’ and relatively dry winter continues (though as I write, snow is forecast this Wednesday – yikes!), so, even if the weather is slightly cloudy as it was for our hike, you can enjoy a great hike to Dobrča to enjoy the views, the spring (in winter!) flowers, and the great food at the mountain hut!

I was surprised when I first discovered that Dobrča is actually part of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, not the Karavanke mountains as its position leads one to believe. Dobrča stands in a prominent position between Begunje na Gorenjskem and Tržič and can be reached on marked paths from numerous directions, among them those from Slatna (from the Begunje side), and Brezje pri Tržiču, Hudi Graben, and Srednja vas (from the Tržič side).

We were accompanied by spring flowers most of the way, which, in winter really bring a smile to the face!

Depending on which path you take, it takes around 1.5-2.5 hours to hike up steeply through the forest to reach the Koča na Dobrči mountain hut (1,478m).

However, my advice is not to stop there (yet!) but rather to continue to the top (look for the signs that say ‘Vrh’), which takes around 30 minutes from the hut.

However, at the top itself, 1,634m, the views are fairly obscured, so, don’t stop there either (yet!)… having made it that far you simply must continue another 5 minutes or so to the Šentanski vrh viewpoint…

…where you are richly rewarded (even on a slightly cloudy day!) with views to the east of Tržič and the surrounding settlements, as well as the surrounding peaks of Storžič, Kriška gora, and the longest mountain in Slovenia, Košuta, in the background!

Then, having built up an appetite and as a ‘reward’ for your efforts, head (back) to the mountain hut for some sustenance! There’s plenty on offer including various soups, stews and sausages and, for the sweeth-toothed, štruklji, pancakes and strudel.

No photo description available.

From the hut there are views of the snow-capped Julian Alps to the west, and towards the Ljubljana basin and, on a clear day, beyond, to the east.

This is just one of many great mountain hikes in the Tržič area, many of which I have already blogged about and some that I still have in store for this year!

© Adele in Slovenia

Autumn Hiking at the ‘Top’ of Radol’ca – Mount Begunščica!

At a height of 2,060 metres, Begunščica is the highest point of the Radol’ca area. It rises above the village of Begunje na Gorenjskem and can be reached from several directions; from Radovljica the Draga valley is the most convenient start point. From the parking area at the head of the valley, there is a choice of two trails to reach Veliki vrh (literally ‘big peak’) – the highest point of Begunščica.

The slightly longer but easier of the two routes leads first on the forest road then through the forest road to the Roblekov dom mountain hut and from there onwards to the peak. Nowhere is it overly steep.

The other trail, and the one I will describe below, is my preferred choice – especially since it makes the perfect circular route – but in places is most definitely steep! It leads first along the Shepherds’ Trail to the Preval mountain hut and mountain pasture, and from there onwards and upwards towards the top, followed by the less steep trail down to the Roblekov dom hut and back to the Draga valley – and all without a single retraced step!

I have already previously blogged about the Shepherds’ Trail, so won’t go into too much detail here, other than to say that, should you decide to follow it as per the details in my previous blog, you should only do so up until the point where you reach the Preval mountain hut and pasture; from there on the trail to Begunščica leads off in a different direction.

From the mountain pasture take the path that leads directly upwards across a steep grassy slope before entering the forest.

It can seem like a bit of a slog at times, but once you gain some height and in places emerge from the forest, you can forget the more ‘sloggy’ parts and begin enjoying the views!

Once you emerge from the forest there are a couple of metres of scrambling here and there but nothing too demanding.

Once the ground begins to level out you turn left and start heading towards the highest point of Begunščica, but it’s still around half-an-hour to get there yet, even though the sign says 20 minutes!

Then a short section of the walk leads along a ridge – don’t look down if you have a fear of heights!

The views, however, divert your attention and make it all worthwhile!

Until the end of the grazing season you will be ‘greeted’ near the top by a flock of sheep. And even when they have been transported back down to the valley, you will certainly know they have been there!

At the top there is an orientation table and a visitors’ book and you can rest for a while before beginning the descent.

To make an entirely circular route, descend from Veliki vrh towards the west. It takes around an hour to reach the ever-popular Roblekov dom mountain hut, where you can get some sustenance and enjoy more of the stunning views before returning back to the Draga valley – a further cca. 1.5 hours.

Since October is a great month for hiking and enjoying the fruits of the forest, Tourism Radol’ca has launched a prize game entitled ‘The Wealth of the Forest with Taste Radol’ca‘. To enter all you have to do is head off into the forest and share your experience to be in with the chance to win a Taste Radol’ca meal for 2!

More about hiking in Radol’ca can be found here.

© Adele in Slovenia