Black Pudding Gaiters

Hiking, travelling, gear



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 >>

La Palma Pt 2 ( Muchas Volcán)

Sunday 13th March
This morning, I walked the 4 km to Santa Cruz for the  number 300 bus towards El Paso getting off at the Caldera de Taburiente visitors centre.  There are road signs to the visitor centre so it’s easy enough to spot in time to ring the bell.
This  journey cost €2.10* and, on the whole, La Palma has a decent bus service although some more remote villages only see a handful of buses each day and there are a lot less buses running at weekends.
There are just two fares €1.37* for short journeys and €2.10* for longer ones. The La Palma transport website (in Spanish) contains timetables and other useful information. One thing to note is all buses stop on the same side of the road (the side with the BP petrol station) There is a timetable for the Norte bus on a bus shelter on the opposite side but the bus does not actually stop here!

After getting off the bus, I took a quick look round the interesting visitor centre (and made a visit to their toilets!) The centre has been voted the number one attraction by TripAdvisor in 2016. Guides are available to provide information on the walking/cycling routes in the area. Another room contains a ‘mini museum’ of artifacts and information boards with information on the area, the flora and fauna.

Leaving the visitor centre, I followed the road West, taking the first road on the left, Calle Las Moraditas,  signed to the El Pilar refuge.
Initially, the path follows this road\track and, according to my map, it continued for some distance, however, the signs pointed me away from the road and on to a path meandering through woodland.  On the whole the path is well marked with  signs and pained yellow and white lines but, at one point where a track crosses left to right (flagged on the route),  the marker is hard to spot. The actual path is straight across but a quick detour on the left hand track offers some great views!

Views on walk

Path down
The drop to the road can be steep at times

Returning to the correct path, I headed towards Montana Quemada then turned right at the track on to footpath 14.
The path starts at 2790 feet (850m) and reaches 4828 feet (1471.5m) so there is a lot of climbing, however, it is quite gradual over the distance of 5 miles/8km.  The terrain varies between woodland and baron, rocky volcanic paths. Keep a look out here for the local wildlife, it’s not difficult to spot lizards, buzzards and falcons.

The path crosses the LP-301 road a couple of times before reaching  El Pilar, a great place for a break. Situated in a pine forest,  a van serves all sorts of drinks, snacks and hot food. Cross over the road to find toilets and bbq areas.

Leaving El Pilar, I followed the road East for a few meters. turning off to the left to join path 18. From here it’s downhill all the way, dropping down through the clouds.
There are several routes back towards Los Cancajos/Santa Cruz. After leaving the woodland, I went through Las Ledas then straight down to Los Cancajos. All routes follow quiet roads and tracks after leaving the area around La Quebrada.

The GPX of this walk is available to download

Wednesday 16th March
After walking to Santa Cruz, I  took the 10:15 number 200 bus to Fuencaliente,  arriving at the the centre of Los Canarios just after 11:00.
This part of the island is a great place for wine lovers, there are a number of wine producers in this area, however, I was here for the volcanoes and salt.
Views from volcano routeI headed West down Ctra. General, taking the first road on the left heading South towards the visitor centre.  Most walkers headed straight up the nearest volcano, San Antonio, sadly, time constraints meant it would be difficult to do a volcano and complete the rest of the planned walk.  Instead, I followed the GR131 path heading South West.  This almost scree like path headed down to a wider track which was also used by cyclists. One part follows a concrete path but, rather than continue on the GR route, I turned off on to the ash path along side the square reservoir (marked on my GPX route).
Again, many walkers take the popular route up the next Volcano, de Tenegula but I pressed on continuing downwards towards the Salinas at Faro. The route was rather baron, lots of volcanic rocks along the dusty, black path which I shared with several lizards.
LighthouseShortly after passing   Tenegula,  the salt pans and two lighthouses came in to view.

The original lighthouse opened in 1903. It was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1939, and had to be rebuilt. It is now a museum. The current tower, in traditional red and white stripes was built in 1985.
The ‘salinas’ themselves are vast. There is an interesting  self-guided walk around the Jardin de sal which produces around 500, 000 kg of sea salt every year by evaporation of the sea water in a series of pools.  This salt can be bought all around the island but is particularly cheap from the onsite shop.  The building also contains toilets, a restaurant and an upstairs bar upstairs is both cheap and offers great views from the terrace.  Work was underway to include  a spa area to the basement.
After picking up two packs salt for €4.50 each (almost half the price the airport charged), I made my way to the edge of the car park.  There is no bus stop sign, the  bus back up to Los Canarios just stops near the car park entrance buy only once  every two hours (hence not wanting to take too long going via volcanoes!) The journey costs €2.10. * and takes a route passing the Princess hotel. There was then around a twenty minute await for the hourly Santa Cruz bus. I got off at a stop before Santa Cruz  on LP2 by an over pass. At the stop, follow the road, under a bridge to a set of steps to the right. At the bottom, it is then a short walk (1.4km) following the one way  road to Los Cancajos, cutting out the stretch through the industrial area.

Thursday 17th March
After breakfast, I took a stroll around the beach area and quick look in the shopping centre before the short trip to the airport. ‘Shopping centre’ was pushing it a bit. One diving shop, sewing handicraft type shop, yoga \massage building and a medical centre. Some units were closed, one, a restaurant presumably would open later in the day but others appeared to be closed permanently with a few units up for sale.
It was another hour and sunny day. Many more people were down on the beach and in the sea, sadly, however, I was heading back home at 12.

Funnily enough my total mileage for the holiday was  not far off the  distance of the Dales Way but got far better weather, more unusual scenery and the trip cost a less money!

*prices correct at time of writing, March 2016

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