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Bohinjska Bela

Wet, wet wet

Wednesday 8th June
Today I was off to Pokljuka soteska, leaving Bed via Grajska Cesta to the West. Things didn’t start too well, the road I wanted to follow was shut for works so I took a detour around Kolodvorska Cesta. It was here I stopped to help someone who was very lost having gone some considerable distance North East  rather than North West . Buy a map and compass people!
Following the railway track, I took a left near an industrial area then passed a dairy farm on the way to Spodnje Gorje .
The route was mostly along roads passing through  Zgornje Gorje and Grabče.
Hanging corn to dryI finally left the road near Krnica. This appeared to be a  farming village. A very old couple went past, perched on the back of a tractor trailer. Further along, I passed houses hanging corn out to dry.
Opposite the bus stop, I took a path dropping down to the right. This took me on to another road which I followed round to the left before joining a path heading West.
The path comes out on a narrow but quiet road leading to the Pokljuka car park.
From the car park I headed right, climbing slightly through the woodland towards Stara Pokljuka. This was becoming a pleasant, quiet walk…. but I’ve come to realise during this holiday things don’t usually go to plan!

I reached a crossroads of paths. A left here would take me towards the gorge, however, it would make the walk a lot shorter, besides, I was enjoying it so I pressed on.
The intention was to continue heading West until I hit a road which I would follow South then, take the path heading East from the road to the gorge….seemed like a good plan!

The path off the road was difficult to find, the steps down were just  about visible on the left hand side of a hairpin bend.
The route was rather over grown and followed a dried up river bed. Some basic scrambling was required to cross over the slippery rocks. Further along, a wooden bridge had collapsed.  It was becoming clear that this is a rarely used route.
Broken bridgeI soon hit a third obstacle.
As I didn’t know how long the path would be in this state, I did the cowardly/sensible thing and returned to the road.  If I was walking with other people I may well have continued,  but, I was on my own and had only seen one other person after leaving Krnica. This would mean missing out on seeing the gorge, the main sight  I had come to see on the walk but, better safe than sorry.
I only had two options now, go back the same way through the woods (in retrospect, probably the nicer option) or take the road  all the way back to the Southern part of Krnica. Not being a fan of retracing my steps too much I took the road.
Every once in a while, I glanced over to see if I could spot any signs of the path below….nothing. Strangely, this road seems to be the hog roast capital of the Gorenjska  region!

I stopped in the bus stop at Krnica to see if I could make a more circular route from here back to Bled and decided to take the next road to the right. I walked on to Zaboršt then followed a path from the South of the village. I passed under the railway track and eventually got to Camping Bled  on the Western side of the lake.
I have made the original route plan available for download. An alternative walk can be obtained from the Slovenian Tourism website.

Returning to the hotel as the rain started, I had dinner but soon started to get itchy feet. As the rain got heavier, the sensible thing would be stay in the room, have an early night but no, I have to explore the side streets. Despite taking a umbrella, I got drenched!
This was horrible weather stayed for the next 24 hours!

Thursday 9th June
The weather forecast today was the worst of the week and yes , it was bad!
I got all the wet weather gear on, put the rain cover over the sack and headed out. I took Ribenska cesta South out of Bled to Ribno continuing to the Bohinjka river.
Lake near Ribno, SloveniaTaking the path to the right before the bridge, I headed West passing a lake on the right hand-side. Ordinarily this would be a lovely place to sit and take in the views but the rain was so heavy I carried on  following the river.
Crossing at the next  bridge, the path soon moved away from the river, heading up hill through the trees to Kupljenik.

When I reached the small village of Kupljenik I was surprised to see a fire station complete with a large, modern fire engine. I concluded that every resident of the village must be a fireman.
The rain had been extremely heavy all morning so to get a few minutes break from the rain and fold the map correctly , I took shelter in the church of Sv Stefan. Within seconds of entering the church,  the  bells started to ring….continuously.
Perhaps a religious intruder alarm was alerting the locals of my presence, either that or it because it was midday……I’m going for the alarm!

It soon became clear the rain wasn’t going to ease off any time soon, so I left my shelter and returned to the road, walking towards a small car park on the left. The path starts at the opposite end of the car park heading roughly back in the same direction I came.
The intention today was to head to the caves at Babji Zob. It was well signed. So far so good.
20160609_140906_HDRAfter a fairly steep climb, I joined a track.
According to my GPS mapping I wasn’t on any recognised route, however, this wide track had a number of signed routes including one to Babji Zob. The red and white path markers were clearly painted every few hundred metres.
I followed the signs through the mist and rain. Despite being early June, I was wishing I’d packed my gloves.
I  came to the turn off towards Babji Zob. From the track it was a step few steps up on to the path through the woods. On the first attempt my feet slipped on the extremely muddy surface. For the second attempt, I hauled myself up using a branch…I slipped again. I noticed a large stick and used that for extra grip and stability on attempt number three and slowly made my way up.
As I rubbed the rain from my eyes, I glanced up at the muddy path that went up as far as the eye could see. There was no point checking my GPS, the mapping for this area was useless. My paper map contradicted GPS and, yet again, neither  matched the actual terrain. The only thing I was sure of were the contour lines between me and Babji Zob. This meant a lot of slippery, muddy climbing.
I mulled over the options. I felt I had ‘given up’ on a few of my walks this holiday and knew that in better conditions I would have continued but the rain was getting heavier, the viability was getting worse and I was getting colder.
Ultimately I wasn’t here to prove anything, this wasn’t a mission I was on a holiday; a time for relaxation and enjoyment.  With those thoughts, I turned round, carefully made my way back on to the track, leaving the stick for someone braver than me.
Getting mistyI decided to continue on the track a while, it was easy walking.  Relying on my compass, I thought I would continue and see if the track turned towards Bohinjska Bela, if  not, it would be very easy to retrace my steps.
As I wandered though the woods I saw a sign to Bohinj.  Was this just short hand for Bohinjska Bela or was it actually pointing to Bohinj, the lake 22.5 km (14 miles) from Bled?
By this point I decided that I’d been heading South East too long. I didn’t want to have to take my paper map out as it was slowly disintegrating in the wet conditions so, rather than chance seeing where the Bohinj route took me, I went back towards the car park near Kupljenik.

Once I reached the road, I took a left down to Bohinjska Bela.
As usual, the road was very quiet with very little traffic although I did meet a group of goats!
River near Bohinjska BelaAt the junction at the end of the road, I crossed over, following the river North on route 11 towards Bohinjska Bela. The rain had slowly started to ease, so I stopped for a while on a picnic bench over looking the river.
I really didn’t want to follow the same route back I took earlier in the week so I took this opportunity to get my map correctly folded and planned a route which took me on the road towards the Eastern side of the village, under the railway track then  a right on to route 5 through the woods.
At a junction of paths, I went right and joined the route I had taken yesterday,  back under the railway line towards Camping Bled.  Rather than take the direct route back around the lake, I took the road past Bled railway station. This road climbs and gives some lovely views over the lake for little effort. Well, it would do given better weather!
This is a residential area and there are some lovely properties there.

The  walk was a very wet 16.8 miles (27km) The circular route through  Kupljenik and Bohinjska Bela is available as a GPX file
No, it didn’t go as planned and the conditions were unpleasant. When I got back to the room I Googled the caves, it seems you have to book to pre-arrange a visit….maybe a good thing I didn’t get there!

After dinner I sat on the balcony and watched the torrential rain, surely tomorrow had to be better…..

Final part >>

Chasing Waterfalls

Tuesday 7th June
Ohh eggy bread for breakfast, been years since I last had that!  Put a couple of pieces on my plate along with bacon, omelette and, to complete the egg theme, scrambled eggs….a bit of protein overload!
Mlino, Bled, SloveniaThe plan today was go around the lake as far as Miinska Cesta (by the supermarket) then take the first road on the right, Prežihova cesta, seeing  the small village of Mlino.
Shortly after leaving the village, the road becomes a gravel track heading in the direction of the Kozarca and Obroč hills.
The path follows the river round to join  Cesta Svobode, one of the roads leading from Bled,  passing the military area on the way (plenty of shooting today).
Following the Sava (river) Bohinjka  to the road, I  crossed over, taking a slight left  to join route 5 towards the church of St sv. Marjete and the pleasant village of Bohinjska Bela.
So far so good…..

I continued to the Slap Iglica  (Slap being the Slovenian word for waterfall). Initially there were a few tourist signposts but as I made my way around town, I struggled to find any other signs. I decided the most sensible option was to follow a stream to the west of the village then find my  way from the bottom of a dead end street.
Iglica falls A small group of climbers had gathered near the falls but no other walkers and to be honest I’m not surprised. Unfortunately,  I didn’t  really think it worth the effort.
I’m sure the 18 meter narrow falls are lovely at the right time of year but today, despite all the rain, it was a slight trickle.
There is a rather rickety set of steps up the side. I didn’t climb them but apparently  there are great views over the whole area.

The plan now was to head to Slamniki, a small settlement 872 meters above Bohinjska Bela.
Heading West out of town, Slamniki was marked on a sign post but, this was the only sign I saw and trying to follow the tracks marked on the GPS and map was not easy. I headed up hill with with the stream to the left, loosing and regaining not only the path but also my footing in the mud. I trudged continually uphill until the woodland cleared near some houses.
I could see a track  to my left but I could find it on my GPS or paper maps?
My GPS had one potential route; heading South East before rejoining the path I came up on. My paper map had a road heading East towards the Northern side of Bohinjska Bela. I didn’t want to investigate too much as there was a large group of people gathered outside one of the buildings. I didn’t trust my maps enough to go boldly striding towards them!

The GPS suggested only one route, paper map two.
I was getting confused and the more I tried to compare the two maps with the actual terrain, the more confused I became. I didn’t want to walk one particular route to find it took me miles off course.
Views to BledI decided to take the ‘wimps way out’ and headed back the way I came. This is something I hate doing but, if I got back early, I could do another planned walk to Vintgar.
So, I turned 180 degrees and feeling rather deflated headed back. ….after taking  some photos of the view!

Once again, I made my way through the extremely muddy woodland. Maybe it was the ‘familiarity’ of Bohinjska Bela, but I started to got a spring in my step, I could find my way now even without a map and compass.

I  passed straight through Bohinska Bela, towards the church,  joining path 5 heading back the same way I came earlier.
Before reaching the road I noticed this brightly coloured  mobile bee hive.
Mobile Slovenian bee hiveBeekeeping is a traditional agricultural activity in Slovenia. In the past, when sugar was in short supply, almost every farm kept bees.  Virtually all hives  are painted,  many with intricate designs. These are mobile hives are used to move bee colonies between pastures.

After crossing  the road, I took the first road on the left rather than continuing around Obroc.  This road led to Lake Bled were I walked anticlockwise round to the hotel for a wash,  drink and plot the rest of the day.

Sadly I wouldn’t recommend the full 11 mile walk, however, I have added the route to Bohinjska Bela on ViewRanger as a GPX file.

It was 14.30 and I’d only walked 11 miles  so time for another walk this time in the opposite direction to Vintgar gorge.
The best way to the gorge is along the road heading North  East from Bled to Podhom. I followed Partizanska cesta crossing a bridge before  a fork in a road where I took a left up Cesta v Vintgar. I remained on this road, passing under a railway bridge before entering the village of Podhom whose name means ‘below Hom hill’.
There are plenty of signs through the town directing both walkers and vehicles to the gorge. The route is easy, just keep following the road until it crosses the Radovna river. Shortly after passing Gostilna Vintgar you’ll see the car park and then the entrance.
Entry is €4 at time of writing * and is paid at a small hut, there is one on both sides of the gorge. Each entrance to the gorgealso has a small snack bar, seating and toilets.
Slap Sum, waterfall Vintgar Gorge, SloveniaThe route follows a wooden walk ways  which can get narrow especially as it’s two-way.  The views are spectacular and I assume there were especially good today  following the large amount of rain that had fallen in the area recently.
The route passes pools and rapids  and at the end is the 13 m (43 ft) Slap Šum  (which translates as ‘noisy falls’). This is the largest river waterfall in Slovenia.
I walked down the steps past the pay booth and through the woods to the viewing area which is a great place to see this powerful waterfall.


I returned to the booth/snack bar to take the path back through the woods toward Sv Katarina church. Just ahead of  me in the woods was a man dressed in a t-shirt, cargo pants and trainers. His only nod to being in the great outdoors was a Craghopper hat. He had no map and stood in the middle of the woods looking confused.
“Is this the right way?” He asks, surely that depended on where he was going.
I told him to follow the red and white markers painted on the trees. He was wondering what they were for!
At the end of the woods  is the chuch, a restaurant (Pizzerija Jurček )and some beautiful views.I took a short break on one of the wooden benches to take in the vista.

View near Zasip Slovenia

Zasip near Bled SloveniaHeading in to the pretty village of Zasip with its distinctive red roofed church, a lady with presumably her husband calls out a cheerful ‘Dobrodensdki’ .
‘Dober Dan’ I reply almost exhausting my Slovenian vocabulary.
‘Dober dan’ they  both say,  beaming.
If only every village in the world was so welcoming!

Wandering through the Zasip I paused to watch a game of boules taking place outside Gostilna Kurej. The sun was shining and, despite the navigation issues in the morning, this had turned in to another good day!
Continuing on the road out of of the village, I soon reached the fork in the road and bridge where this circular walk to Vintgar started.

Some travel companies offer this trip for around €14 per person. Save €10 and do the trip independently. It’s fairly easy walking and far more rewarding! A copy of this walk is available in GPX format.

I retired to my room after a dinner  and sat on the balcony as the entire town plunged in to darkness for few minutes, the only lighting coming from the emergency lighting from various hotels. Never found out what  caused this, it was one of the few nights we hadn’t had sorms.

Part 4 >>

 

*Prices as of June 2016

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Getting lost, getting wet

Monday 6th June
I started the day early with cheese and tomato sandwich, fruit salad and fresh orange juice (oddly, the fresh juice was only available this one morning).
I took a stroll  to the tourist information office in the centre of town to pick up a walking map for €7. My current map only covered a small part of Bled and it was also showing signs of its age.
Back to the room to change in to my walking gear then I headed out towards the picturesque village of Ribno.

At the southern end of Ribno , I crossed the bridge before taking a right on to route 11. It was a bit of a climb up through the woods and it wasn’t always clearly marked but I just kept heading up!

SignpostThe path came out on to a track. A right takes you to the mountain hut Lovska koca Talez , a number of signs in the woods pointed to it earlier. I gave this a miss and instead went to the left then  a right on to what was supposed to be a marked route to Babji zob.
It was a pleasant walk, passing meadows on the gravelly track. A wooden sign confirmed I was heading in the right direction… but, could I spot the path?!
I continued to the end of the road with out seeing anything remotely path like. Not to worry according to the map, there were potential routes at the end of the road…..nope….
I retraced my steps to the point the GPS claimed the path was. I headed upwards. I knew there would be a climb  but  this was steeper than expected, then this ‘path’ stopped in a clearing.
Once again, I retraced my steps, returning to the point where the stream crossed the road, an obvious feature marked on both my paper and GPS maps. I measured the distance between this point and the required path then paced it out. Still no luck!
Returning to the wooden sign didn’t help so decided to give up  and hastily drew up ‘plan B’.

Heading  back to the hut junction on the track,  I pondered about heading towards it for the view but decided to press on, something I would later be very grateful for.

Get wet!I took the track heading East, slowly working my way down hill through the trees, then came the rain.
Just a few spots at first then a torrential down pour.
Out came the water proof pants and jacket. The nifty built in rain cover went over the Lowe Alpine sack.
Both me and my kit was protected from the elements but it didn’t make for pleasant walking.

By the time I reached Konica the rain had almost stopped. I left the track, taking a minor road to the left.
There was a bus stop on the main road where I packed away the water proofs, refolded the map and plotted where to go next.
It was still early afternoon and the sun was making another appearance.
I pressed on to the church Sv Lambert and into Lancovo, crossing over the river  continuing in the direction the picturesque, medieval town of Radovljica.

 Radovljica. Slovenia Radovljica has the largest number of sunny days in the Gorenjska region and sure enough, the rain had stopped and there was a little bit of blue sky around.
Radovljica streetsAfter wandering around town, under some buildings which once formed the moat and passing houses dating from 15th and 16th century, I went out towards the airfield – I couldn’t resist it!

Wandering past the large garden centre on the outskirts of town, I joined the cycle path alongside the A2/E61 road. I stopped to  watch a light aircraft doing a few circuits with the majestic  mountains behind. It reminded my of a fantastic holiday I took here a few years ago. I hired an aircraft from the Adria’s flight centre and piloted myself from Ljubljana to Bovec, unforgettable! It’s funny though, wherever you fly int the world,  the pilot always wants a cuppa.  As soon as I landed  the owner of the airfield at Bovec comes out with a mug of coffee.

Lesce Bled AirfieldGetting back to my walk…I took a left at Letaliska Ulica, following the signs to the airfield, peeping over to glimpse,  the control tower, hangers and runways.

Returning back through the town of Lesce (a settlement dating back as far as 1004!), I took the cycle route to Bled. At one point the track ends and it’s not too clear that you need to take a quieter road running parallel to the main road.
By now the clouds had darkened and there were a few rumblings of thunder. Despite walking almost 18 miles toady,  I some how found the energy to do the last stretch very quickly! Just as I got to the hotel the heavens opened with some of the heaviest rain I’ve seen!
The rest of the evening was spent in the hotel.

A 14.25 mile/22.9 km version of this walk without the ‘getting lost’ parts is available for download.

Part 3 >>

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