My previous walk was to be the last one during this year’s holidays. Yesterday I went out for a short stroll in the evening, and decided to follow the circular ‘Nordic Walk’ blue trail, crossing and running along the river Bóbr (Beaver). I hadn’t had any plans to describe it as it’s short and seemingly unattractive. However while walking I realised that the trail had some sort of appeal.
The trail doesn’t have any particular starting point as it goes round; I decided to begin my walk near the hotel ‘Młynówka’ (The Mill House Hotel) with its very distinctive and locally unique look. When it opened many years ago it had been considered pretty high class; but over the years its reputation had rather diminished – a friend of mine who’s stayed there once was quite unimpressed.
From there I walked towards a nearby bridge over the river, passing by a hydro power plant clinging to the river’s right bank. It’s one of the two, built on the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, using some clever engineering. The river meanders in this area. About a hundred years ago two canals had been made – creating in the process two islands – and with a system of dams the river had been banked up making a reliable source of renewable energy. After crossing the river I had to cross one of the two canals via another bridge, and then I turned into a wilder part of the local park, resembling a patch of forest in fact. The trail went along the bank of the canal and then the river towards another dam. Rich overgrowth quite effectively obscured the view of the river sleepily flowing below the high bank. After about 15-20 minute-walk the trail came close to a public road, but it didn’t reach it; the trail followed a disused and dismantled railway fork that used to be used by a local textile factory.
There’s a railway station, once very busy, with plenitude of trains and people; that was the station used by some of those involved in the Great Escape. Nowadays it’s rather empty, with just a few trains a day.
The wide path narrowed down and became darker as the dense vegetation cut down the daylight. About 500 metres down the path a rusty, heavy, metal, locked gate kept any walkers away from the closed factory; the trail swerved right and ran along a 2.5 metres-high concrete wall on my left hand side, and dense wild vegetation on the other. Then the wall rose up to over 3 metres high, and some very tall red-brick industrial buildings, with a massive yellow-brick chimney appeared from behind the trees. Very impressive view! Then there was another building along the pavement, with empty windows, secured with solid but rusty metal mesh, and some of them boarded up from the inside. I remember the factory bustling with ongoing production, and a train on the railway fork, transporting goods to and from the factory. Now all is quiet, abandoned and deteriorating. The collapse of communism in 1989 changed the political scene in the Central and Eastern Europe, but also badly affected many of those who had fought against the system.
Just behind the factory the trail turned right towards the river and crossed it via a solid but narrow, footbridge. There were remains of a much more solid former bridge visible in the water; I suppose that it had been destroyed by a flood many, many years ago, and never rebuilt. After having left the bridge I entered into the western tip of a huge artificial island created when a canal had been dug for the hydro scheme. On my right hand side I had an open-air swimming pool, open and pretty popular among locals in the summer. On my left there was a fenced area that used to be a factory making fridges and freezers. Closed down many years ago it had been deteriorating without any prospects; a couple of years ago most of the buildings but one had been demolished, the rubble removed, and a massive empty yard created.
Then I crossed a canal via another bridge, much wider, but closed to traffic. On the western end of the canal there is another hydro power plant. Initially it powered the factory, but it’s been part of the national grid for many years. Just after the bridge the trail turned right again and followed a wide pavement along the bank of the canal. Beavers had been re-introduced in the area several years ago; as an unexpected result most of the trees on this side of the canal had been wrapped in metal mesh in lower parts to prevent them against the tough beavers’ teeth.
The path led into the more tended part of the park, with a playground and an open-air gym recently built there. Then it went into a vast open space, closed by the canal on the south end, a huge palace on the other one, and trees on the east and west. The palace has undergone a massive program of repairs, and it regained part of its former splendour. Then the trail led up the canal and then the river into a bit neglected part of the park. There is an oval pond, with a sort of arcade at its far end. It used to be covered in graffiti; but it had been redecorated a few weeks ago, and I hope it will stay that way. When I passed through the arcade, I reached the point I’d started my walk. And that was it!