Stuck in Smoylan
Waterfall and canyon walk
walking and walking and walking…
We are stuck in Smoylan today. There is nothing for it but to do the waterfall walk. We only had a vague idea on where it was, so planned to take a taxi to the starting point. This was not to happen. After walking all the way down the hill to down town, then past down town almost to the avtogara before making our way further down to the river.
Here, we found a sign that showed the walking tracks around town, but there was no scale, and no indicator on where we were. So we took a guess and followed the river. It was supposed to start just out of town, past a housing development. This may be true, but it was still a two hour walk to get there. The road was not even that steep or hilly!
By the time we made it to the start of the walk we were exhausted. We were already thinking of turning back and leaving. When the path started and it was a normal road through the valley, where you could not even see the water we were very cheesed off. This is supposed to be a beautiful eco trail with waterfalls, canyons, fortresses and epic scenery in a protected reserve. Not a road with half built houses and run down concrete ruins from five years ago.
Passing a few derelict buildings we came across an EU sign stating how much money the EU had put into this, with help from Greece of all places! It appeared that all this money (it was a LOT) had gone towards a private house. We have seen many of these signs around Bulgaria, and so far the estimate of EU money spent in weird places is in excess of EU 100 Million. That does not include anything that is not as obvious such as fighting crime and corruption. Just roads and walking tracks. Some of these you can see some money has gone into them, and others have taken the money and built a house or the money has had no visible effect..
There were cement structures all along the river in places. Large long pools that were no longer working. We are not sure what they were for. Storing water, treating water, dividing water for use by different families or plots of land. We had no idea.
Eventually road turned into a proper path. This made it a lot more enjoyable. Especially when the path started going along beside the river. The path criss-crossed the river a few times with wooden bridges.
There were a series of rapids, and a few very large waterfalls. Stopping at each of these to enjoy the views on offer. There were very clear signs that you were not allowed off the path, but to see any of the falls properly you had to. Not that we were worried, as we walked all around.
On reaching the Orpheus falls, we found a very nice waterfall, with the hills surrounding it. As we were sitting there, a few people came past and started up the stairs on one side. They made it half way before giving up and heading back the same way. We decided to go all the way up. It was only about half way that we saw a small track to the waters edge. Here pinned on the side of a tree was the name of the waterfall! So we discovered that we had reached the end of the trail. It did not look as if there was a loop at all.
Continuing up the stairs, we found that the path went on. Now we had to decide ourselves on whether we would go back along the river, or strike on into the unknown. Deciding to push on, we went further. Up, and up. At the top a couple of signs appeared. One even pointed to a different path back to Smoylan. That was a stroke of luck, so we took it. This followed the ridge line around, occasionally giving a good view out over the valley.
There is not much interesting to say about this part of the walk, no wildlife to speak of, just a nice pretty walk. It did go back down the hill to pop out towards the start of the walk. Then it was back along the road, and a gruelling walk to Smoylan town.