Saturday, 1 September 2007

The Walk From The Station

I have already written about the walk up from the bus stop, so here I thought I might tell you about the walk from the small rail station that serves Horice Na Sumave. Again as with the walk from the bus stop the walk should be taken slowly and in a leisurely manner, to allow frequent stops to admire the views that unfold, the details of nature that reveal themselves, always the walk changes. I say this and all of it is true, but it is also true that the stop gives me time to catch my breath on the hill up to the village.

The road from the station goes along a level section at first - across a field of gunnera and thistles you can see a beautifully restored mill or farmhouse. At this time of year the the field is full of small birds, finches clearing the thistle heads of their downy seeds and as you pass they suddenly take flight to hide among the silver birch trees. The next major landmark is the town swimming pond. These wonderful creations are all over the Czech countryside - man-made ponds designed for swimming in in the summer and skating on in the winter. Ours is fed by the little river that starts in the hill above the house and is the home of ducks and frequented by housemartins skimming small insects off the surface. I remember as a teenager cycling to a similar swimming pond in a village near my Cotswold home. I remember too how wonderful the water was, unclourinated, warm with only the rays of the sun. Of course the health and safety bods have long since closed it down, but here in the Czech Republic the swimming ponds survive.

I then pass a small copse of elder and birch, where in the winter I was greeted by a huge chattering of hundreds of invisible birds. In the grass verge the other day I found two young snakes curled up and perfectly still. In the winter there was a dead deer in the snow. The road bends under a rail bridge and the walk up the hill starts. There are two groups of wayside trees - they are how I know where I am in the dark. The first at this time of year is host to mushrooms (though mostly inedible) and the second to a treecreeper, a little mouse-like bird that does indeed creep up the tree. In between I have wonderful views and of course the company of the ubiquitous cows.

At the top of the hill one arrives in the village. At the T-junction there is the village pond and the crucifix, with Christ's lolling head now blotted with bird droppings. There is a footpath sign - we are 700 metres above sea-level it tells us and so many miles from Horni Plana. Some time I will tell you about the walk to Horni Plana.

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