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.
From the chair lift we’re going to walk alongside the river
Using this lovely boulevard
And crossing some of the many bridges
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!
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
The view from the landing stage
A frail bridge lures you for a closer look
At this strange bird, guarding his territory
No wonder the benches are empty!
I wonder what might lurk in these caves?
But the flora are delicate and pretty
The trees and water are a myriad of colour
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.
Hues of gentle aquamarine
Still, smooth water
And interesting patterns in the cliff face
Wandering through light and shade
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.
I found this sign quite interesting
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.
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
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?