Last week, I covered the first two days of my week-long hiking trip. Let’s move on to the third and fourth days.
Day three: Maze runner
The third day featured a hike just a short distance from the town where we were staying. Following the river upstream through a narrow gorge sounded great on paper and looked nice when passing the exposed parts of the sandstone slopes. The tree cover, however, provided limited chances for taking photos. And when it did, the lack of light was another challenge.
The sandstone walls often had various nooks and holes in the upper portions, sometimes we even saw a bird’s nest tucked in, the rock formation providing the bird with quite some safety. What also took my attention was a rock that, to me, looked like the side profile of a snarling cat.
Walking through the valley led us to a pond that’s used for swimming, and the rocks nearby have faced human hands quite a fair amount – there are three carvings in the rocks (though in shade, so the photos aren’t that great)…
…and one of the rocks above the pond was, in medieval times, the location of a castle, though the only reminder are hints of cellars seen in the lower portion of the rock.
The trail then sharply ascended (to the top of the spires seen on the photo above), only to descend soon again, with an obstacle: rock collapse damaged the wooden stairs.
The small lookout on those spires gave a sight of the stylish restaurant by the pond, as well as the ruin across the road.
After a while in the shade, the trail led us across fields. In the next branching of valleys, I made a loop that, once again, led me to the upper portions, through a passage with rough-hewn stairs.
My hope was to see the nearby castle that’s some 5 kilometers up the valley, on a plateau across the valley, but the forested landscape gave me no chance. Looping back at least provided a sight of the “slope” I’ve ascended a couple of minutes before.
Another walk on the valley’s lower portion had eventually led me to the parking below the mentioned castle (still no sight but don’t worry, I’ve visited it later in the week), and then towards another rock formation. As before, it meant ascending towards the plateau to see it, only to then descend again.
I’ll let you be the judge if the same-level view (above) or from-below view (below) is better.
Then, a passage through the shade of a side valley followed, again ascending at the end. There, a couple of us took the opportunity to take a bit silly photos…
This short (around 2m) palisade and a mock-up of a soldier are placed where the Swedish forces had an encampment in the 1640s.
A short while later, we neared the main attraction of the day – a small rock maze. This part of the trail featured walking through narrow passages…
…just as narrow wooden stairways…
…and paths that made me question my choice of footwear for a minute though, thanks to the dry weather and thus dry rock, I managed just fine.
The path weaved between the sandstone spires in sharp turns and soon emerged on the top level again.
The trail then led us across a road to the second section that weaved around a bit more, though it wasn’t a maze anymore. It had an artificial cave used by people to hide valuables – and sometimes even themselves – during the thirty-years-war (1618-1648).
Reaching the final village around 14:15 with the pick-up scheduled at 17:00, I and one other person opted to take the train at 15:30 and walk through the town where we were accommodated.
Day four: hollowed-out
The following hike started quite close to where the third ended (not counting the walk through the town). Ascending the nearby hill – and the lookout tower on it – provided a view of a nearby castle (though this one wasn’t on our schedule).
Unlike the first three days, when I was in at least a small group, I separated quite soon this time as people decided to take a bit different route. After a walk through the woods, I emerged on a fresh clearing (likely caused by a combination of drought and insect infestation – the main cause of forest damage in central Europe) with a rock formation named “Petrified chateau”. However, almost nothing is know about its history.
What remains from the tiny fort (which utilized two sandstone spires with a small gap between them) are hints of a small room hewn out of the rock and other man-made modifications of the rock.
Moving on, I soon ended up in a different valley, the trail leading me in the upper section but not on the top plateau. Instead, it followed roughly one tier below.
In one of the tight places was another hewn-out hideout from the thirty-years war. Getting to it was a challenge in sandals, given the walked-down sandstone steps and rusty handlebar.
The hideout itself was something over a meter wide and maybe some five meters long, by my best guess.
In the following sections, part of the valley was, again, deforested. This exposed the top level of the valley, often formed in two to four tiers.
Nearing a small village, I noticed a strangely smooth rock that I soon after confirmed to be an ancient road – where it had led to, however, I have no idea. Well, there was a lookout, but I very much doubt that was a major goal centuries ago.
This lookout provided a very narrow field of view, but a hill above the village was better view of the nearby area.
Near the village, I also passed a pasture where I saw a horse with its coat color more fit for the dalmatian dog breed…
The final village also had a preserved building from the 1860s that served to process hops grown in the nearby lands (the peak featured up to 10 square kilometers of specialized fields), though the 1960s had seen a decline in the growing, and the plant had lost its purpose.
Wooden statues depicting people tending the plants can be seen in front of the building (picture above).
After that, I found an ice cream stand (yay) and a sat on a bench for the remaining time before departure. With my holiday halfway through, I still had a lot to see.
That’s the third and fourth day covered. Four done, four more to go… and the rest will be shared soon. Until then… have fun.