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Kranjska Gora, Slovenia

Saturday 16th September
Another trip to Slovenia started with long delays.  At the time we were due to depart from Manchester I fired up FlightRadar,  the Adria Airways A319  I should now be sitting on was still making its way over Belgium.
Once the aircraft arrived, we were delayed further, apparently due to Manchester being short staffed.
Things on board improved. I had all three seats to myself and the row in front of me was empty.
It was a very pleasant  flight with mostly clear, turbulence free skies, however,  over Slovenia things became  very cloudy and very wet!

I got in to my hotel at around 20:00 and went  straight to dinner.  An all you can eat buffet. I went for the beef soup, croquettes,  pork ribs and a bowl full from the salad bar. The food was alll very nice, as was my room at the Hotel Kompas The single room was a good size and  had a balcony over looking the hills.

After dinner, the rain had stopped so I took a short stroll around town, passing just one person walking their dog.
Typical Saturday night in Kranjska Gora!

Sunday 17th September
After a very good night’s sleep, I went down to breakfast which included apricot dumplings and  carrot souffle!  Sufficiently fed, I wandered to the local  Mercator for some supplies before heading back to pack my waterproof gear.

One word to describe today….wet!
Leaving the hotel I joined the D2 bike path West towards the start of route  9. All well signed posted easy paths so far.
As I ventured further in to the woods I hadn’t seen a sign for a while and the path was climbing. My golden rule when walking in Slovenia; if you’ve not seen a sign or a painted red and while ‘blob’ for a while, your probably going the wrong way. I headed back, yes, there was the sign but I shouldn’t be going up hill and my GPS said I was way off course. At least I was heading in the right general direction towards Planica so continued until I reached a hut at across roads. There were no signs or painted marks here but I knew a right should get me in the right direction and loose the excess height I’d gained. Sure enough, it brought me out where I expected on the track I had originally planned to walk on.

Indoor cross country skiing
Indoor cross country skiing

I soon reached the ski jump centre at Planica.
Wow, it has changed a lot!

Last time I was here, there were a number of ski jumps and a ‘mountain hut’ to the side of them. There is now a hotel, indoor skydiving centre, indoor cross country, a cafe and toilets. Good for escaping the rain!

Leaving the centre, I continued on towards the Nadiza waterfall, I had to cross the river at one point, just in case I wasn’t wet enough already already!

Nadiza waterfall is impressive although you can’t get very close to it. Luckily it had  stopped raining long enough  for me to get some photos from the best vantage point I could find.Nadiza waterfall Kranjska Gora Slovenia
From the waterfall, I crossed a field to take shelter in a church and take a look at the map.
I took same path back to Planica then continued along the road to Ratece.
The weather had become worse, along with the rain was plenty of thunder and occasional lightning
At Ratece,  I rejoined D2 stopping to take a look at the Labarinti.  I assumed this to be a maze for kids, however, after reading in to it online, the labyrinth is somewhere you go to find your inner well being….or something like that!
Deciding my being was well enough, I continued on my way, towards  Zelenci, a  nature reserve just outside Kranjska Gora. As it had finally stopped raining I thought I’d extend the walk a little!
This route is available to download as a GPX file

Back at the hotel I took a quick shower then down for dinner at the ‘help yourself buffet’. Garlic soup to start followed by veal. I put a bit of shark on the plate too, just to try something different!
The weather got worse in the evening so I stayed in the room and  watched Slovenia beat Serbia in  the Eurobasket basketball tournament. I’d later discover this was big news in Slovenia!

Monday  18th September
After breakfast I once again headed out in more rain and again I took the D2 cycle path, this time towards Gozd Martuljek., taking a right on the track just south ofThe difficult path the village.
Just past the information boards and a clearing where a charcoal pile was being ‘cooked’, the path split in two. I took the left hand fork up what was described as ‘the difficult path’.
I like a challenge!
Initially this was a lovely route along the gorge.  The paths were well marked following the cascading water.
The path climbed and, with the help of steps and bridges, crosses the river. Then, came the awkward part…. passing over and climbing up the torrent!
It didn’t help matters that my  boots were already wet due to all then rain.

Metal Ladder in Rocks
Metal ‘ladder’ in the rocks

After the first waterfall,  Lower Martuljek , or ‘Slap 1’ as it is signed, I had a climb through the  woods  to the next upper waterfall.
Towards the end of the route, hand rails have been put in to the rock, along with metal ‘ladders’ to help with the climb. It’s not an easy walk but the views are fantastic!
I’ve since read websites detailing the dangers of this route.
I managed on my own and, as long as decent boots are worn and care taken, it shouldn’t pose any major problems.

Another Waterfall to cross
Another waterfall to cross

I wandered back the same way before taking the left hand fork to the ‘easier’ path through the woods.
I decided it was too early to go back to the hotel and, as the rain had stopped, I followed the quiet road climbing from Gozd Martuljek  to Srednji Vrh passing another waterfall on my way.
The views across to where I had walked earlier were beautiful, especially now the weather had cleared slightly
From here it was an easy walk back in to Kranjska Gora.

The full route is available as a GPX file

Tuesday 19th September
Horrible weather forecast;  yellow alert for rain and the temperature during the day not rising above 8 Celsius.
My  phone (running the ViewRanger GPS app)  and paper maps wouldn’t last 5 minutes in the persistent heavy downpour so I opted for an extremely easy to navigate route.  I joined D2 and just kept on going  to Mojstrana, a lovely village,  shame about weather!

I concluded it was too far, too cold and too wet to continue on to the waterfall. On a nicer day I may have continued to  Peričnik Falls and got the bus back but today, the prospect of standing waiting for the rather infrequent bus wasn’t something I wanted to be doing.
Instead, I popped in to the Alpine museum in Mojstana, an interesting little museum with the bonus of being warm and dry!  There is a small shop in the museum offering souvenirs and maps. It is also, a good place to get information about weather conditions in the mountains, details on mountain huts etc.
Not far from the museum is the start of via ferrata trail maybe something else for me to tackle in the future!

IMG_3118 Bivouac II
Bivouac at the Alpine museum in Mojstana

The hotel had a themed night tonight, traditional foods and band in costume playing Slovenian folk music. The meal included beef soup, local smoked hams, pasta stuffed with potato in a cheese sauce, goulash and buckwheat.
After my evening meal, I decided I ain’t going back out there so the evening was spent planning some more walks. If the weather forecasts were to be believed, the worst of the weather was over

Wednesday 20th September
Blimey blue skies!
I was up early. Buckwheat on breakfast menu along with ‘semolina tower’.
After my unusual first meal of the day,  the waterproofs went in the rucksack, where they stayed for the duration!
I followed the D2 cycle path West to Ratece,  the last village before the Italian border and  one of the coldest places in the country.  I walked North through the village to  the path leading the point  where the borders of three countries meet.
The route climbed steadily. It was partly path, partly track and easy to follow.

As I climbed I started to see little patches of snow, these became larger and larger patches. Before the final climb, I had a choice,  track or path. I opted for the winding path. The patches of snow became bigger and nearing the peak it became a thick layer of crunchy fresh snow.
An unexpected surprise in September!
Austria, Italy and Slovenia all covered in snow… At least, they were up here!
Over to Austria

I took a brief stroll along the Austrian hills before taking the obligatory photograph where the borders met.
Back in Slovenia,  I followed the wide track from the top down, taking a right at the first fork then a took a right and descended towards Podkoren.
Annoyingly, happily wandering along I missed my path(s) into Podkoren and ended up on the road but at least the traffic was light.
From Podkoren I headed East and just before joining the main road, I took route 3 following the River Sava before dropping down back down to Kranjska Gora.
Download this route as a GPX.

Thursday 21st September

Chilli peppers at breakfast! (-;

Mist on the hillsHeaded out today following the river south passing the Zlatatog statue.
Initially I was following a road. A cyclist rode past singing Bohemian Rhapsody…as you do.
It was early in the morning, the roads were quiet and the mist was rolling down the hills.

I stayed on the road until I hit a bridge, here I crossed and continued up the quiet Vršič Pass. Partway along, road works were being carried out. I wouldn’t say little happens in this part of the world but I later spotted myself on local news walking past!
I left the road when I reached the Russian Chapel, a chapel built by Russian prisoners of war engaged in forced labour in the area during World War.
The climb up to Vršič was well signed as it zigzagged up towards Vršič and, once again I found  snow!

IMG_20170921_130626348_HDR~01

This is virtually a linear route I altered it slightly by crossing on to the other side of the river on the way back.
Despite having to return the same route, this was a lovely walk with some fantastic views!
This route is available to download

IMG_20170921_131746658

As I got back to Kranjska Gora, a number of interesting cars were driving through, many parking up in my hotel’s car park. All were taking part in the Ramble Rally, a 5 day rally through Europe.

Friday 22nd September
Sadly, all to quickly the last day had come….and my walking boots are still saturated! It was a short walk from the hotel to Vitranc chair lift.  I Paid €7 for a one way trip.
This was a new and fun experience given that this was a chair lift more usually taking skiers up the hill.  It was a strange feeling looking down to see nothing below my feet.
Alighting at the top was something niggling in the back of my mind during the journey up. It was fairly simple, lift the bar and run off….well jog quick enough to be quicker than the lift!
I filmed a section of the ride

From the station the walk to Vitranc was well signposted and, once again, it wasn’t long until I found the snow!
The sign below amused me, Vitranc 15 minutes  or 25 minutes for tourists…needless to say I saw this as a challenge and, I’m pleased to say, got there in 15 minutes!

Sign to Vitranc

It was a bit of a slog to the top of Vitranc which, in the winter months, is used for down hill skiing competitions 
Views from walk down VitrancSadly, the hut at the peak was closed so I continued towards Ciprnik.
As this was a 15 mile walk and I had packing to get back to, I decided to give the snowy route up to Ciprnik a miss and continued on.
The snow actually making my navigation easier, just follow the other set of footprints ahead!
The path slowly made its way down, through the woods towards the ski jump centre at Planica.  A little hut along the path offers some great views.
At the bottom of the hill I took the road down to the D2 cycle path. From here, I could have taken a right back to Kranjska Gora but instead decided to quickly pop over the border to Italy.
 Lago di Fusine Inferiore Lake ItalyThe walking was easy, just stay on the D2 before taking the road for the last part of the way to the lake, Lago di Fusine Inferiore.  This is a lovely spot to sit and take in the last of the sunshine. There’s a bar on the side of the lake and plenty of seats offering fantastic views.
From here it was a straight walk back to Kranjska Gora, although I did go via one of the local villages to stock up on drink.

The walk, from the top chairlift station is available as a GPX file.

Saturday 23rd September
Time for a quick cup of coffee and cereal before heading back to the airport for the flight back to Manchester.
A real mix of weather, torrential rain, snow and warm sunshine but another fantastic trip and I know I will be back and I’m sure visit number 10 won’t be too far off!

 

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 >>

Out with Desmond

I had just opened the 8th door of my advent calendar and realised I’ve not been out since the end of October (well, apart from a 4 mile stroll around Thurstaston shore)
I decided that no matter what the weather wanted to throw at me, I was heading out to the hills. This thought came while the news channels were still covering the devastating effects of storm Desmond so perhaps wasn’t my brightest idea!

I had good intentions of planning routes all round the local area, however, as with all good intentions, other things got in the way and I ended up at old faithful, the Moel Famau car park.

Just as I pulled up, the skies turned from a nice blue to black, then the rain came. Huge clumps of the stuff.
Not to worry, the waterproof jacket and over trousers are more than a match and off I headed through the woods following the pinky/purpley coloured arrows before joining the Offa’s Dyke path.
Views on Moel Famau walk
All was good as I headed up towards Jubilee Tower, the route was easy to follow, the sun was starting to make an appearance and it was unseasonably warm (around 10 degrees Celsius).

A few layers were shed, which was to prove a bad move.

Just before the peak I took the left hand path with the intention on pressing on to Moel Dywyll and perhaps  Moel Arthur however, the wind really whipped up in this more exposed area.  Forecasts for Cilcain suggested 25mph winds, gusting 37mph…… then the hail kicked in.

Trying to put my waterproof back on proved to be rather awkward, think of an octopus trying to change a duvet cover and you’ll get the idea.
My Arc’teryx waterproof was on the verge of becoming an Arc’teryx kite.
After that hassle, I decided against a further battle with the waterproof pants, the wind would soon dry my legs off.

Normally my philosophy is to carry on regardless, never wimp out, however, with ice battering my face and the wind trying it’s very best to push me over, the little voices in my head told me the that high, exposed ground was, perhaps, not the best option.
Reluctantly I gave in to the sensible side and turned back towards the last junction I passed, taking  a left,  crossing a style and heading North.

River or pathNow for a different problem.
The ground from here on in was muddy, extremely muddy and slippery.
Somehow I managed to stay on my feet and my bum remained mud free by pulling off moves and agility that Beth Tweddle would have been proud of.
My path came to a ‘crossroads’, I could have continued straight on, shortening my walk, however, given my earlier route failure, I took a left, heading North following the Clwydian Way towards the reservoir and Cae Newydd.

MudAt the next junction I headed right, this path went South initially on tracks and through the odd stream before becoming a narrow wooden walk way.
At the base of Ffrith mountain I went West before taking the mixed use route to my left. This soon becomes a big wide track, big enough in fact for a large digger which was busy doing some work in the area.

By the time I reached the car park, I’d completed about 9.5 miles. Not bad, but I had hoped for more.
An excuse to book another day off work and go on another walk I guess!

 

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