Walking high and low
Have we told you that has Małopolska Region something for everyone to enjoy? We haven’t? Oh, then we should have! Long ago! Our mountains for example: even the highest Tatras are fronted by a line of gentler hills, known as the Regle, that offer plentiful options for walking. And yes, you’ve guessed right: as they are at the foot of the Tatras, once you’ve reached the top, you’ll be treated to wonderful panoramas of the rocky crags opening before your eyes as in reward for your climb.
Obviously, it takes more than a pair of good shoes to reach the highest peaks of the Tatras, as it takes some skill (and a pair of good lungs) to climb the highest mountains. Luckily, there are also waymarked trails of intermediate difficulty, and those take you to the more accessible peaks and to the beautiful tarns (post-glacier lakes) occupying the hollows below them.
Do remember that straying off the waymarked trails is forbidden in such national parks as the Tatras and the Pieniny. However, there is really no reason for that, as the trails are long and plenty.
Speaking of long walks, the very long range of mountains and hills running for hundreds of miles lower across southern Poland, broken into several smaller clusters, are known as the Beskidy. A single trail waymarked red runs all the length of the Beskidy, and some of its most beautiful sections lie in Małopolska. If you plan a longer walk, it has tourist shelters (schroniska) located at convenient day’s march distances along the route.
While the Beskidy stretch across southern Małopolska, the Trail of Eagles’ Nests connects the castles and watchtowers put up to the north and west of Kraków centuries ago to guard the trading routes. Built of the white local limestone they provide beautiful dominants in the panoramas and breath-taking views.
If you’ve only arrived for a few days, leaving longer walks for your next visit to Małopolska Region, you still have time to take a peek into the beautiful valleys to the north-west of Kraków. Such places as the Ojcowski National Park, Pieskowa Skała Castle (a miniature Wawel standing on its rocky promontory) are easily reachable by public transport, and you can slate them for a full day, or just a few hours.
Why not be walking up that hill then, and, to make it like Kate Bush does, “with no problems”, take a look here for more information.
The ruined Castle in Tenczynek was built by a Polish noble family on a high ridge. Little did they know that centuries later the first exit from the A4 motorway (Alvernia) to the west of Kraków will open less than a mile away from its foot, offering you convenient access.
Turbacz is a peak standing 4300ft asl (1310m asl) on the Małopolska section of the red trail along the Beskidy, but is also reachable along many other waymarked trails, with the steepest climb from Koninki, and perhaps the gentlest from Rdzawka on Zakopianka dual carriageway (you only join the red trail at Stare Wierchy tourist shelter). If you know the right shortcut, on your way to Turbacz tourist shelter, you can give up the wooded peak for the sake of beautiful views from the Czoło Turbacza glade.
The Pieniny is a picturesque cluster of rocks over the meandering Dunajec River. You can climb them and admire the breath-taking views from the lofty peaks towering above the riverbed or take a walk from Szczawnica along the other side of the Dunajec (entering Slovakia) to admire the white towering cliffs in their full splendour.