Alone in the hills, part two

There’s a tradition I try to keep going, to go for a hike between exams. It works well to clear my mind. This time, it became a bit extreme. Exam on Monday, okay, went better than expected. The hike was originally planned for Tuesday but the plan changed and I went for a bit different outdoor activity with my sister. So the hike was moved to Wednesday despite the fact that my legs were stiff from 36km of roller-blading in something like 2,5hrs (fastest lap I had was 12min 20sec for 4,5km, by the way).

Anyway, I still set up the alarm at 4:10, thinking that this time I might even regret it (I very rarely regret getting up early for a hike, even in bad weather) and went on with the adjusted plan. Of course, Wednesday + unknown place = being alone.

Waterfall height: 2,7 meters (the slide below it excluded)

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Just after the rainy days

After three weeks of idling, I finally got to the hills again. At first, it did not look well. It was raining three or four days before. The rain was not strong, but it was persistent and I know that for some, it’s enough to be a hit on their mood. If I went alone, I would not give it a second thought but this time, I was to bring a loose group of almost fifty people somewhere after four days of rain with a not-so-small chance for more of it that day.

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Stumps and stones

Over the 8 years that I am going to hike (sometimes) alone, it happened very rarely (if ever) that I took such outside inspiration. There were places in reach I wanted to see and I had some potential tips from people close to me (many of them taken from archives of the hiking club, from times before I joined and the first years when I was with them sporadically, not on 90% of events like the last years).

This time, I decided to visit a place that was suggested by a website. The deciding factor was that it was easily reached by public transport even during weekend.

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Finding inspiration

This is a slight crossover post. While focused on another journey to a nice place (with loads of photos), one of the destination is a chateau I hoped might give me some inspiration for my writing. I hope for it, at least. Also, as a side effect (is it really still late April) it seems I got a bit more summer-ish skin tone.

Before I get to the hike itself, I feel like I should mention one thing: Due to how I was traveling, I departed one hour later than I usually do for hikes that are some distance away from my home. Unfortunately there’s no train heading in the general direction of Wien around 6:00 from here, so I had to be okay with 7:00 and thus starting the walk around 9:50 (I usually try for 8:30-9:00).

The area around Lednice and Valtice towns consists of parks, ponds, the chateaus and other buildings as well as cultivated landscape totalling almost 300 square kilometers. Most of it was done by the Liechtenstein dukes on the verge of 18th and 19th century and eventually made it to UNESCO heritage in 1996. It was the reason I believed to get a bit of inspiration there, though if it’ll happen is hard to guess.

Austrian oak forests

After a walk through the groves of Austrian oaks, I reached first of the cultural landmarks: hunting lodge named ‘Diana’s temple’ and shaped like Neoclassical arch. With main hall in the top-most level.

Why would someone shape hunting lodge like that?

After a bit more walking, the next landmark was a structure in Victorian Gothic style that reminded me of how the castle used to film Harry Potter movies had its windows sculpted. That one was, for change, in pine groves.

As it was mid-week and still before the main “chateau season”, so to say – most of cultural landmarks in Czech republic have ‘pre-season’ and ‘post-season’ where they are open to public only on weekends (April and October) while during the main season (May to September) they are open 6 or 7 days in the week. That meant that most of the time, I was spared the decision whether to dish out some cash for look from inside and instead just took photos from outside and walked on. Not that I would mind it, if I was to see everything from inside, I’d probably need another day.

Shortly after, I reached quite a charming crossing of paths.

Pine and sand crossroads

From there on, I walked to a a semicircle gallery that most likely imitated Antic architecture with the statues of muses and eventually a neoclassical farm that is currently used for horse breeding, yet at that point my main attention was more to the nature.

Seems that this particular pond is dry for quit a while…

The trail led me around a pond that seemed to be well unused for some time, based on the rampant growth of grass. Eventually, I walked to the set of three ponds, first taking a small detour on the shores of the east-most one and after returning, crossing them between the central and east one.

At that point, the sounds of various birds was my main companion. After I left the ponds behind me, I eventually reached the Lednice town and headed for the town square and eventually the chateau gardens (the gardens are open to public). As mentioned above, most of the castle was closed, apart from the greenhouse which I decided to not visit – it was awfully hot on its own already, for late April. So, I walked around the gardens taking pictures.

It was this exact place I hoped to give me some inspiration. I visited in once already, in June 2008. I remember it well, it was school trip and we took the same train back as several of the Polish fans as it was just after the Polish team lost the final match. Good thing we had seat reservations paid in advance, otherwise we’d be hard pressed to find free seats. So, I returned there after (almost) 10 years.

Memories of that aside, at that point I was glad that I could get there mid-week, I am sure that with weather like this, the place would be awfully crowded during weekends.

The park itself has “no cycling” signs pretty much everywhere, for obvious reasons. People wanting to see the landmarks could be threatened by fast-moving cyclists. On the other hand, the area around is quite flat lowlands, which is perfect for cyclists. So, I saw quite a lot of them pushing their bicycles around (which is allowed), leaning them on the benches when they were taking photos.

Several photos later (I’ve shown only a few above) I left even the chateau’s park behind and walked to my next destination. Now it was walking mostly through fields with trees growing either solo or in small groups, many of them looking like they took a lightning strike during their life, being leafless, the tip broken away and the bark gone.

Then came probably the most interesting cultural landmark. Obviously, artificially worn out things were there long before 2010s jeans. Someone in early 1800s had the idea of having a hunting lodge (yes, another one) built to look like ruins of a gothic style castle.

Romanticism fascination with old (especially Gothic) things and the sad story of them falling apart was brought maybe too far in that case.

And that was pretty much the last interesting point of my journey. From there, I had roughly 8km to go through riparian forests, which can be interesting to see. Unfortunately, the trail took pretty the most direct route on asphalt road used by foresters, with the last 2,5km being through the city. I was disappointed by that, partially because I know that riparian forests can be nice relaxing place and because asphalt feels awfully hot in days like this one.

On the other hand, it possibly saved a bit of my time. I reached the rail station in Břeclav at 15:08, with the train in my direction departing 15:11. Pretty much perfect timing.


Map with GPS log included. Unfortunately, the dense foliage and water caused some multipath issues (without too much technical details: satellite signals reflected by water and ‘bent’ by the vegetation screw up the calculation of my position), which makes it look like I went through the pond. That was not the case (I can’t swim and it’s not that shallow), it’s just limitations of technology.

And that’s it for this one.

Mid-April vibrancy

If there’s something I like on mid- to late- April, it’s that the nature is almost fully awakened after the winter and the trees with their fresh leaves have unmatched vibrancy in their light green colors. It’s something that wants me to spend time outside a lot. Of course, there are years that screw it up sometimes, like last year. Most of the time, fortunately, the time between 20th and 30th April is perfect hike time here.

When I went for a hike in this time last year, I did not make even a single photo. It was cold, remains of the surprising mid-April snowfall and gloomy with mist that would fit November more. Something around 1°C. Yesterday, it was more like early June: 26°C, sunny.

April weather perfection. Photo from 2016

My hike was not supposed to be hard, it was to enjoy the usual April weather, something I did to the fullest. It had some overlap with a hike I did three years ago (minus one day) and I was glad to see some of those places again.

The first rock of the day

The trail led around several smaller rock formations, which is again something I like, more so if they are covered by a few trees that seem to defy logic with where they managed to grow. These places have small disadvantage in limiting photos by the lack of space, but they are nice places all the same.

Eventually, we made it to the second rock formation and the first slight lookout. Knowing there will be better places for observing the landscape later, I was more focused on enjoying the April vibrancy.

It turned out I was probably half a week too late, the birches had their leaves already fully grown instead of just sprouting, at which point they have quite a charming shade of green (as seen on the very first photo to the very left). Maybe the very warm last days affected it, maybe not.

Overgrown abandoned quarry, 4/2015

Then the trail led us around abandoned quarry. Mixture of birches, larches and pines (maybe some other trees as well) grows there almost undisturbed now and create quite interesting scenery.

Same place as above, 4/2018

Just as with birches, larches too have quite charming shade of green when their needles are freshly grown, made even more charming with the growing tiny cones in some kind of purple-ish color I can’t even name. They are also pain to take close-up photo of as the light branches will start swaying on the faintest breath of wind. I gave up when I failed to focus it well for the fifth time.

Then we went to another rock formation. This one had all I liked – could be climbed, had trees growing weirdly in the tight gaps and was decent lookout point.

Spring forests below

From there on, it was mostly walk through the forests for quite a while, until reaching a village with really nervous dog that followed me very loudly for maybe 200 meters until the owner came to scold it and escort it back home. Then, it was through fields a bit, these having their own spring charm as well.

Last ascension after, to a lookout tower built in 2016 (gets me to the point I might as well make a post about the massive growth of these in last years).

And then finally descent to our destination. Apart from the last year, it was as close to perfection as it goes in these days. Maybe too warm for this part of year, I guess I better get used for it again.


And that’s it from this one.