Sunday, 13 February 2011
Winter in the Sumava
The name Sumava comes from the sound leaves make in the wind - the whispering or russling forest. But at this time of year there is very little sound of whispering leaves, just that silence that comes with snow and maybe a "whoosh" as snow falls from the branches. Right now, I'm sitting in a friend's cottage which sits next to a frozen, snow-covered lake. In a few minutes I will put on my walking shoes and head off into the forest. I need to clear my head and fill my lungs with fresh Czech winter air. But first I am writing this for you.
Our local little train which I travelled on this morning was full of Czechs heading for the deeper snow and forests of the Sumava National Park. The Park is one of the Czech Republic's best kept secrets - forming with the neighbouring Bohmerwald the largest forest in Central Europe - "Europe's Green Lung." Only it's not very green now. On the slopes of the Sumava's mountains there are ski resorts - affordable ones - and through its forests, across its plains and along its lakes run hundreds of kilometres of landlaufing trails.
The sun is out, the snow is virginal and I'm heading for the hills.