Jo’s Monday walk : the Dunajec Gorge

Shall we start at the chair lift?

Shall we start at the chair lift?

To be fair, I have so many photos it’s hard to know where to start!  After the wedding, my Polish family were wonderfully indulgent of my wandering ways.  I had booked into an old wooden villa for a couple of nights, in the upper part of the thermal spa town of Szczawnica, right down on the border with Slovakia.

Why there?  Well, I already knew that the scenery in nearby Zakopane was beautiful.  Part of the Tatra Mountain range, it is renowned for Summer hiking and for Winter sports.  But, as always, I wanted to see somewhere new, yet still within reasonable distance of Kraków.  The Pieniny Mountains are not so high, nor so busy, and they have a beauty all their own.

Szczawnica (rough pronounced ‘Sh-chav-nitsa’) sits in the river valley of the Grajcarek, a tributary of the Dunajec River which forms the border with Slovakia.

Come with me on my walk, and see what you think.

Ok- so from the chair lift we're going to walk alongside the river

From the chair lift we’re going to walk alongside the river

Using this lovely boulevard

Using this lovely boulevard

And crossing some of the many bridges

And crossing some of the many bridges

And sometimes looking back to check the view behind

Not forgetting to look back to check the view behind- peaceful, isn’t it?

This was one of my favourite houses- just look at that roof!

This was one of my favourite houses- just look at that roof!

And always, the river, rushing along beside

And always, the river, rushing along beside

After many twists and turns the Grajcarek flows into the Dunajec, and the beckoning scenery becomes much more dramatic.

One of my reasons for choosing Szczawnica is that it sits at the end of a stretch of the Dunajec famed for river rafting.  Not the white knuckle ride that phrase might conjure up for you, but nevertheless, a strong test of the skills of the boatmen.  The Dunajec Gorge drew me to the area.

Szczawnica przystan, or marina

Szczawnica przystan, or marina

The view from the landing stage

The view from the landing stage

A peaceful island lures you for a closer look

A frail bridge lures you for a closer look

A rather strange bird, guarding his territory

At this strange bird, guarding his territory

And the empty benches

No wonder the benches are empty!

And you never know what might lurk in the caves

I wonder what might lurk in these caves?

But the flora are delicate and pretty

But the flora are delicate and pretty

The water and trees are so many different shades

The trees and water are a myriad of colour

But what's this, patiently waiting?

And what do we find, patiently waiting on the river bank?

Wooden canoe trips have been organised through the Gorge since the early 19th Century, when customers came primarily from nearby castles at Niedzica and Czorstyn (more of these in a later post).  The Gorge loops through the valley, the limestone rock reaching 300 metres in height almost all the way.  It makes for some very beautiful walking and cycling, not to mention the opportunity to river raft.

Gentle aquamarine

Hues of gentle aquamarine

Still and smooth

Still, smooth water

And interesting patterns in the cliff face

And interesting patterns in the cliff face

Light and shade

Wandering through light and shade

The shadows adding a layer of mystery

The deeper shadow adding an air of mystery

Families, walkers and cyclists all have access to this dramatic beauty, though Spring and Autumn are probably the times to see it at its peaceful best.  In Summer and on public holidays there are mountain huts where you can find food and information.

An interesting sign appears

I found this sign quite interesting

And then a further clue

And then a further clue- welcome to Lesnica, written in Slovak

Without realising it I had crossed over the border into Slovakia, part of which is formed by the River Dunajec.  It felt quite strange, and looking at the remaining distance to Cerwony Klastor (approximately 2 hours, according to the sign)  it seemed a good time to retrace my steps.  But not without first paying homage to one of the nation’s favourite sons, who loved to hike and ski in the mountains.

Just one more sign- a view dedicated to Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II)

The view is dedicated to Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II)

In no time at all I was back at the marina with a hard-earned beer

In no time at all I was back at the marina, with a hard-earned beer

Fast approaching, round a bend in the river, some boatmen!

Where I saw, fast approaching round a bend in the river, the boatmen!

But that needs to be the subject for another post.  For now, I’m hoping that you’ve enjoyed our Monday walk.  I certainly did!

If you’d like to join in, you’re more than welcome to add a link to a walk you’ve enjoyed in the comments, or to link back to me from your post.  Either way, I really don’t mind.  I try to keep it free and easy so you can join in any day of the week.  The more beautiful walks, the better- right?

Whilst I was in Poland, kind people continued to contribute walks to cheer me up on my return. I’m delighted to be able to share them with you.  Enjoy your walking.  See you next time.


Way out in Western Australia we have Pauline, walking on the foreshore :

Sylvia is busy packing up her home in South Africa, but still found the time to cherish a few memories in her walk :

Tish Farrell brought me back to her home in Much Wenlock, a beautiful part of Shropshire :

A lovely surprise from a lady I’d not met, Gunilla, but will certainly spend some time with :

And last, but never least, my sunny friend from Virginia, USA- Cathy, with an arboretum walk :


Here are some of this week’s walkers,

Paula has been to the zoo :

And Elaine introduced me to Finsbury Park in London :

And who can resist Amy’s Iphoneography? (is that spelt right?)  What that girl can do with a flower!

We’re going to be busy reading this week, aren’t we?



  1. I’m going to be exhausted with all this walking Jo 😉
    How lovely is that tiled roof on the house there and a balcony to boot …
    I can imagine it being very popular around there looks ideal for those taking a gentle stroll as well as all the other … more adventurous activities 😉
    I’m popping around here on your blog to catch up .. wow YOUR feet haven’t stopped have they …

    1. Hi Poppy 🙂 Remind me- have you been away on holiday or for work? I’m just about keeping my head above water with the blog visits since I came back so I sorry if I’ve missed you.

      I’m happy with armchair travellers. No need for us all to have blisters 🙂

      1. WORK !!! Squeal oh no Jo * big giggling here
        I had some me time down in Cornwall camping with Lottie dog and then visiting with Chillbrook for a full on week of photography and fun 🙂
        I’m so behind with catching up :-/ but I do think the right people always understand about such things don’t you 🙂
        Take it as it comes is one of my mottos . And with that … it’s bedly time here chez nous …. ‘Nite Jo x

  2. It was such a lovely walk as usual Jo and the views are just amazing. Great shots hon. I loved that little house. So cute! 😀

    1. Thanks, Sonel 🙂 The weather was so kind to us, too. Dad just arrived home yesterday and said it has rained for the last couple of days. Charmed life, somebody mentioned 🙂 Hope you’re well?

      1. Glad to hear that Jo and I can see you truly enjoyed it. 😀
        I’m okay thanks – hubby was out of town for the whole week – new installations and training – and well, then I feel like half a person – but he is coming back today and I can’t wait to have my other half back. LOL!

        Thanks for asking hon. Hope you are doing much better. 😀 ♥ Hugs ♥

  3. Wow Jo, what a beautiful walk. I love the little boulevard beside the river. And the roof of that house is fantastic. What was the weather like? I’m glad you included the pronunciation. I can never even begin to pronounce Polish words. Lovely walk, as always. Thanks for bringing us along. 🙂

    1. Oh, and I forgot to say, when I saw the beer reward at the end of your walk: “Cheers!” I remember fondly sharing wine and meals with you and Mick in Portugal last summer. It seems like ages ago. 🙂

    2. This is one of my favourite walks to date, Cathy, and the weather was perfect. Especially on the day we did the river raft, which took 2 hours, so that was a real treat. 700-800 photos so you might be a little tired of Poland by the time I finish 🙂

      I really must look at booking some Algarve flights. Last Summer feels like a lifetime ago.

      1. Oh Jo, I love river rafting so much. Can’t wait to read about that. 700-800 photos?? I’m not at all surprised. I often wind up with thousands of pics after a holiday!! It’s fun to go through them and relive the trip though, isn’t it?

        I’m glad I’m not the only one for whom last summer seems a lifetime ago. Sometimes I wonder when I’ll be traveling again. I miss it so much…. I’m just not meant to be here in the USA!

    3. I feel so sad for you, Cathy. I hate that ‘trapped’ feeling, and I know you do. Don’t know when we’ll ever get to share a hug again. Here’s a big virtual one coming your way. 🙂

      1. Thanks so much for your virtual hug, Jo. I know, I feel pretty depressed right now. But it turns out I’m going to teach a summer class back at the college this summer and will probably apply abroad again, just because I can’t stand not having the financial freedom to travel. I’m not getting any younger though, as as I approach 60, I realize it will be harder and harder to get hired. That’s why I better do what I can do now. And hoping to get my book published and using the principals of The Secret to wish my way to success!!! 🙂

    1. Or the week after will do, Lucy 🙂 I know the feeling- I had 700 -800 from Poland but I don’t edit so much as reject those I don’t like. I take it you had a wonderful time?

    1. No place like home, Jo 🙂 The Poles are fiercely appreciative of their homeland; especially when they live abroad. They have good reason to be, from all that I’ve seen so far 🙂 How’re you, hon?

    1. Timeless beauty, isn’t it Nicole? I absolutely love a mountain backdrop, though I’m not so good at the scrambling up them any more. 🙂 All well with you and the babes?

    1. You’re totally welcome, Tish 🙂 I was looking for a way to say thanks for the support and as not everyone uses Twitter or FB it seemed like a good idea. Thanks for the appreciation. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Dianne 🙂 I was fascinated by the roof style. I’ve suggested I buy a plot and build a few such chalets to fill with bloggers. You coming? (but only when you can tear yourself away from the writer’s nook, of course 🙂 )

  4. A new place to add to my ever-growing list of places to go. 🙂 I really enjoyed taking this vicarious walk with you through. It looks like a beautiful and relaxing town.

    Did you take part in any spa-type activities?

    1. It’s a lovely place, Jackie. I find the spa aspect slightly bizarre though. If you have time look at the Szczawnica link which takes you to Wikipedia and gives lots of thermal details. Apparently the town was named after the slang word for the acidic waters. If I’d had a little more time I might have indulged as it was very cheap, but the weather was gorgeous and more geared to outdoor activities. 🙂

      1. Thank You, Jo! iPhone is really convenient for taking close-up shots, easier than using a camera. The cool thing is that you can use any of the apps to enhance the photos, and it doesn’t take much time at all.

  5. Jo _ i really enjoyed your walk this week. I also love that roof on that house – and what a cool shot of your well earned glass of beer. Great angle and the amber color is so crisp. great shot – but all were nice and flowed so well – I like the verticals in the cave photo – the canoes and the shadows and light shots were my fav – but hard to say cause they all float to give that walk with you some charm – like the signs and the flowers

    and oh wait, I think I even saw a “Y” tree int hat photo titled “trees and water are a myriad of color” – now that was cool…. 🙂
    have a great week and my entry is going to be walking around the old canal walk area around our town. I will link it when I post.

    ❤ 🙂
    peace out!

  6. What a great walk, Jo. Between your narrative and right choice of pictures, you took me to a place I’ll never get to. Rivers all over the world have a personality of their own and this walk is particularly charming and peaceful. Those boats really have my interest (I know…more later 🙂 and I believe I saw Hansel and Gretel looking out of the window of the house. 🙂

    1. Oh dear- I thought I had kept Hansel and Gretel out of sight, Lynne! 🙂
      It could have been too ‘chocolate box’ but it had real charm. How did you guess? More to follow…
      Many thanks 🙂

    1. So funny, Ruth 🙂 I just this second commented to Sherri that I’m going to buy a plot and go into building chalet style houses for bloggers. Come join us!

      1. Do it, Jo! 😉 I’m planning to build a garage with a guest space/office over it in the next year or so, and I’d love to incorporate aspects of this house into the design. I love it.

  7. Just gorgeous this walk, and the photos are beautiful. What a lovely place to stay. I love the wooden house too, could quite happily live there! I’ve never been to Poland so another great armchair walk to see new sights! Lovely to have you back Jo 🙂

  8. Fabulous photos, Jo! Such a peaceful and pictursque place to walk. Thank you for the lovely walking tour! Will be back later… 🙂

  9. What a fantastic gallery of photographs from this walking trip – a painting in every scene. Such a quiet and utterly full sense of nature treasures that you’ve brought us.

  10. You really get to do the best walks. I shall think of you as ‘The Happy Wanderer’ (Val-deri,Val-dera). 🙂
    I wouldn’t have ventured, into those caves either, but aboat ride down the river would have been tempting.

  11. Fabulous walk Jo. I think those caves look very spooky! The roof on the house is something else. Looks like your trip had many lovely surprises. Thank you for sharing!

    1. A good cycle route too, Sue 🙂 I thought of you when I was pulling the last bits together this morning. Were you cycling in Slovenia- Lake Bled or somewhere? You won’t have been a huge distance away from this if so.

  12. I always enjoy your walks, Jo, but I must say this has been my absolute favorite! These photos are stunning! What an enchanting place and that house with the roof…beautiful!
    Thanks for bringing beauty into my Monday!

    1. Hi Jude 🙂 There’s a follow up post to this one which won’t be a walk. Does that answer your question?
      Many thanks for joining in with such enthusiasm, and also for nudging Gunilla in my direction. I didn’t realise until I visited her site today that you were responsible.

      A question for you. There are so many walks to link (especially this week because of my absence). I’m wondering if I should put the links on the bottom of my next week’s post, because some people, who read earlier than others, are going to miss them. Especially as my Comments now read most recent first. Not sure that I’m happy with this arrangement but it saves people endlessly scrolling down. Thanks for your input, o wise one 🙂 🙂

      1. 1. You could allow pingbacks on your walk posts then links would automatically appear from other blogs linking to you. You can set this per post if you don’t want it as a default setting.
        2. You can change the discussion to oldest first (many readers prefer this way as they like to read the comments before making their own comment – I changed mine after several comments to this efect on one of my blogs which was set to newest first) Go to settings, discussion and other comment settings to change the order.
        3. I think I would always put the links on the following post so that anyone who hasn’t picked them up from the comments on the original walk, can see them.

        Nice how popular this is becoming Jo – I love reading the walks in other places. Wise one? 😳

      2. Armchair education, Jude 🙂 I’ve done my knee in so I’m all for it.
        I changed the Comments to the other way so as not to irritate impatient types (like me).
        Think you’ve lost me on the pings. I approve them when they arrive in my Inbox. Didn’t know there was an alternative. Signed- ignorant one 🙂

      1. Once upon a time (in my life-time) there were almost no restrictions/requirements on New Zealanders travelling to Australia. Didn’t last long but it was amazing and very liberating whilst it lasted.

    1. Sounds wonderful, Pauline 🙂 If it’s ok with you I’ll add your post to the bottom of next week’s walk? I’ll still tweet/FB when I read it, later this evening. Many thanks for your support.

    1. A litttle bit of a one, Rich- not the full on Algarve type 🙂 It was really beautiful and hot those last couple of days but we were on the move a lot. Enormous thunderstorm one day in Krakow when we had to stand under an awning for half hour as it pounded down. All good fun!

  13. Gorgeous 🙂 I am going to High Tatras in Slovakia this summer. I can see you had a wonderful time 🙂 I am not sure if you would like to join me for a visit to a zoo, but I will link just in case 😀

    1. We could see them in the background for much of the time, Paula- quite fabulous as a backdrop but I’m not up to that kind of scrambling so much these days. (especially today as I’ve done something daft to my knee, probably at zumba- silly old fool 🙂 )
      Funny you should mention zoos (Regent’s Park, I presume? Years since I was there). Our last day in Krakow we ended up at the zoo, totally unintentionally, strange as that sounds. Please do! 🙂

      1. I’m there now! It couldn’t possibly disappoint if you had posted it, Paula. Many thanks. I’m enjoying a little catch up time this morning and have sent the other half out walking on my behalf. 🙂

  14. What can I say? This is a post full of wonderful images and that capacity you have to capture large landscapes from just the right angle. I tend to retreat into the minuscule, although you do that wonderfully too. I’ll be putting Szczawnica to my list of jaunts from Warsaw. Water, mountains, delicious architecture – and then Polish beer. Just as well I’m on my way to Poland on Thursday, or I’d be off booking a trip tomorrow. I’m eager for more Polish posts.

    1. Hi Meg 🙂 I bet you’re packed and ready to go- pacing up and down. I would be! Hug those lovely grandbabies for all you’re worth. I’ll bet they’ve grown. First the adventure! I love the sound of that. Take good care, and have a fabulous trip. I’ll be watching 🙂

      P.S I never did get to grips with the language properly. It’s always just on the tip of my tongue.

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