Adventures on Kum – Slovenia’s Best Mountain Hut and Mountain Dessert!

Hiking is very popular in Slovenia. There are over 170 mountain huts spread across the hills and mountains of the Julian Alps, the Karavanke, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, the Pohorje, Jelovica and Pokljuka plateaus and all the other areas. The huts range in facilities, in general the higher you go the more basic they become. Some, particularly the higher lying ones, are only open in the high season (July-September), others are open year-round though, out of season just at weekends, whilst a small handful, including this one, are open all year round, regardless of the season.

Every year in Slovenia the public votes for their favourite mountain hut to win the title of ‘Best Mountain Hut’. This year the competition was won by the mountain hut on Kum (Koča na Kumu) and since I’d never been there, and since the warm autumn weather we’ve been experiencing of late has meant the hills and mountains beckoning for hiking, I visited Kum last weekend and, well – wow – now I know why!

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At 1220m Kum is the highest peak in the Posavje region. It can be reached from a number of places, including from Trbovlje, Radeče and Zagorje ob Savi. However, having read about the mini-cabin used to cross the Sava river at Zidani most, where one of the routes begins, I decided that sounded like an adventure with my name on it! This little cabin (for want of a better word) is also used by locals wishing to cross the river to avoid an otherwise lengthy detour.

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As I wanted to make an early start on Sunday morning, and also because I wanted to suss out the cabin in advance, I decided to stay the night before at my new favourite hotel, Rimske terme in Rimske Toplice. I say ‘favourite hotel’ because I visited once and liked it so much, and there was so much to see and do, that I returned a week later, hence there’ll be much more about that in a coming blog.

Zidani most is one of Slovenia’s most important railway junctions, and is also known for its 3 bridges – two railway and one road – as well as being at the confluence of the Savinja and Sava rivers. Though surrounded by wonderful nature, to be honest, from what I saw of the place, there’s not really an awful lot else to see or do there, though I might be doing it a disservice since I only used it as a base for my walk.

If arriving by train, on exiting the station turn left then walk along the road for about 1km to where the road crosses the railway. If arriving by car then you can park on the dirt road beside the Sava river. Then, its a quick hop into the cabin to wizz (ahem!) over the river to begin the hike. Well, at least that was the plan! If there is a group of you, it would be far easier as those on the opposite side of the river bank can help by winching the cabin if (and when!) it doesn’t quite make it over the river!

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So, just get in, take the obligatory photo, close the ‘door’ and let gravity do its thing!

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The cabin is just big enough for 2 people. If, however, you are alone, you might want to ask a friend to help (or flutter your eyelids at a friendly local – though you could have a bit of a wait, there aren’t many!) when you (inevitably) get stuck halfway across the river and don’t have the strength to pull yourself the rest of the way!

The path leads up alongside a stream, steeply at first, crossing the stream in several places (I’d advise against taking this path after heavy rainfall as imagine it gets pretty slippery and treacherous). It emerges to meet a road then continues up along a sunny balcony, passes weekend houses from where the endless and rewarding views begin.

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The panoramic views are breath-taking and, despite not being that high, you really do feel on top of the world. On a clear day, you can see all of Slovenia’s mountain ranges and Slovenia’s highest mountain, Triglav, as well as peaks in neighbouring Croatia and Austria.

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On the top there is a large antenna, the mountain hut and St. Neža’s church. There is also a small play area for children, farm animals and an orientation table.

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Inside the hut, where I was warmly greeted, the first thing that caught my eye was the chiller cabinet full of cakes! That in itself is a rare sight as most mountain huts have the usual fare of soups, stews and strudel. It’s not surprising then that the hut’s kremšnita (a cream slice, otherwise known as ‘Bled cake’) was declared the best mountain dessert of 2015. Of course there’s plenty of other tasty food on offer too.

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Kum is also popular destination during the winter and the hut is open all-year round, so, what are you waiting for?!

Useful links – Kum Mountain Hut – http://bit.ly/1kEitRE

 

Sevnica: So Much to see and Do!

One of the aims of my blog is to draw attention to lesser-known areas of Slovenia, or at least those that are lesser-known to those visiting Slovenia from abroad. Places that, on first glance, you, and indeed I, might not give a second glance and by doing so I myself have discovered, and am still doing so, so many wonderful parts of the country that are ripe for exploring.

This time it’s Sevnica in the southeast of Slovenia in the Posavje region which is the country’s most forested areas – 68%, has two wine roads and is one of the main wine growing regions in Slovenia, and has numerous beautiful castles and churches and other sights of interest.

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The new town of Sevnica was developed with the building of the railway line and is the main residential and shopping area and is on the main line from Ljubljana so even for those without their own transport it’s easy enough to visit. The town’s star attraction is undoubtedly Sevnica Castle, set on top of a small hill above the old town centre. It’s worth taking a tour of the castle as it contains much of interest including the Castle Puppet Theatre, Wine Cellar, Baroque Salon, School Museum and several galleries and exhibitions, and the Castle Café, the terraces of which offer fabulous views.

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Sevnica is the starting point of the Bizeljsko-Sremiška wine road, as well as being on the Gornjedolenjska wine road, hence the whole area is awash with rolling green hills, vineyards and beautiful vistas. Tourist farms and vineyard cottages, called zidanice, are popular options for sampling some of the local wine and food, and also provide accommodation, so you can enjoy more than just a taste!

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I timed my visit to coincide with the Sevnica Mountain Marathon (Sevniški planinski maraton) which was organised for the first time this year to mark the 110th year of the Sevnica Mountain Association. The marathon takes place along the Sevnica Mountain Route (Sevniška planinska pot) which can also be walked independently as it is very well-marked throughout. The day of the marathon was a sweltering 33 degrees but fortunately much of the route is through the forest which provided welcome shade. The event was very well run and I have nothing but praise for the organisers. There were a choice of 6 routes ranging from 6km to 67km. Surprisingly, the most popular route was the longest one, I hasten to add that I didn’t opt for that one! I instead chose the 30km Ajdovska route which covered a total of just under 8,000 metres of incline and just over 8,000 of decline. Along the way there were water, feed stations and we were even greeted at one stop by accordion music.

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The route passed the Ajdovski gradec Archaelogical Park, where a short guided tour was available, and later ascended to the peak of Lisca, home to the very popular Tončkov dom mountain hut where a hearty dish of goulash was on offer for hikers. The site was discovered by locals in 1811 when a Roman tombstone and sarcophagus was found and later more detailed excavations took place. Today the remains of the foundations of a late Roman or early Christian settlement from the 5th or 6th century can be seen.

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The Sava River runs through the heart of Sevnica and acts as a border between the regions of Dolenjska and Štajerska. It is popular with anglers as due to the slow flow of the river there is an unusually high number and variety of fish in this part of the river and access to the river is also easy here due to well-maintained paths. it is also here that the Sava rivers makes its biggest bend as it heads onwards towards Croatia. Beside the river there are a group of stones, which form a Geopuncture Circle, created by the distinguished author Marko Pogačnik.

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Another speciality in Sevnica is the annual Salamijada (Salami Festival) which has been running for over 50 years and takes places at the popular restaurant Gostilna Vrtošek in the old town.  During my tour of Sevnica Castle I also had a chance to sample some of the delicious local salami (and that comes from someone who doesn’t even usually like salami!) produced by the Grajske mesnine butchers, who also produced other local specialities available at the town’s Farm Co-operative (Kmetijska zadruga).

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So, as you can see, there’s plenty to see and do in Sevnica. Way too much for just one blog! Information about all the above, and more, can be found on the very comprehensive Tourism Sevnica website – see below.

Useful links:

Tourism Sevnica – http://www.dozivljaj.si/

Sevniska planinska pot – http://www.pd-lisca.si/sevniska-planinska-pot.html

Fishing on the Sava River – Sevnica – http://www.ribiskekarte.si/en/rd-sevnica/sava-18

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015