What to do till bus time?
Lakata eco trail
missed the bus
change of hotels
We have a few hours to kill today. There is only one bus a day to Trigrad, and it leaves at 16:30. Looking online for what Devin has to offer, we found that there is an Eco trail up in the mountains. Sure the area is known for its thermal springs and spa resorts, but that is not us. A nice walk in the country is.
Making our way to tourist info after stopping in at the museum for directions, we were told that it starts a bit of a way out of town. Getting directions, we set out. It is about 3km to the thermal pools and from there another 2km to a 70m waterfall. So about a 10km round trip. This should be doable. The directions were easy to follow, and we started walking out of town. Going past the Devin water bottling plant and a fish farm. The fish farm confirmed our suspicions on the concrete structures we had seen built along a lot of the streams and rivers in these mountains, so that mystery was solved. A lot further on we reached the thermal pools. These have now been set up as a cross between a local pool and a resort. I see no attraction in this style of set up, and it could be placed anywhere in the world with a decent up market hotel. Compared to the half water tank in Lightning Ridge it is nothing! Well, OK it is set up much better than that, but has no soul, although there were plenty of people enjoying it.
Passing beyond this the eco trail stated. In Bulgaria, an eco trail basically means a marked walking track with occasional signs on the wild life around. Not that you will see it, but it is possible that the species being described may be in the country. In Bulgarian. OK, I know I am in Bulgaria, but still! The trail itself was fine. At first we were walking along an old dirt car track, but eventually it did turn into a proper trail along the river. Following this along is great, and at one stage the trail was a series of wooden walkways built out of the side of the cliffs just above the river. There are places to have picnics and relax before continuing on. The end however was pretty abrupt. It finished in a mountain meadow with two cottages. We think this is for the serious hikers that are doing multiple day treks that need a place to stay. The only problem with this is that we had not seen the waterfall yet! Backtracking a little, we found another route that goes up the mountain. This is supposed to take us to an old fortress. We already knew there was nothing left up there, but thought to ourselves “why not?” Well, for a start it is a steep walk, secondly there is a time limit on our walk, and thirdly, we were looking for a waterfall, not a fortress. We still decided to do the walk. The going was not too bad, until we made it to the top of the hill, then there were a few sections where the path was right beside a rather large drop straight down, but not unsafe if you were careful. There was a few signs that people were here in the distant past with two rock walls being created, yet this was no fortress. The boulders on top have not come from buildings, or been sculptured by humans. If anything it was an old hermits hide out, or just a few walls created to contain the cows. There is no evidence to my untrained eyes that this was a fortress holding a civilian or military population during a time of crisis. There was a decent stone that gave a look out over the valleys though, so it was not a wasted trip.
My biggest issues is the same here as on other walking paths though. While there was not much evidence of ancient habitation, there was lots of evidence of more recent walkers. Toilet paper. I know it is biodegradable, but please, don’t leave it on the path!
There was a different path down the hill on the other side, so we decided to follow this. Zigzagging our way down the hill, we made our way back to one of the rest points we had passed on the way around the valley. This was also the point where the path to the waterfall had diverted from our path, so we now took it. After the well formed trail going up the valley, it was a bit of a shock. Scree littered the steep sections and although the path was well worn, it was a bit treacherous in places. We made it without indecent though.
When we were in the meadow at the far end of the trail, we had asked a couple for directions. We had mentioned that the waterfall was 70m high and we were looking for it. The reply confused us a little, as they said it was smaller in summer. We assumed this was a vagary in the language, and they meant that it was only the amount of water that was different, not the height.
Now, as we looked upon it, we knew what they meant. The waterfall was only about 10 metres high! How does this work? The water no longer goes over the top of the cliff, but out of the cliff itself! The colours are spectacular with rust orange lines on the outside, with vivid green moss inside this, and a stripe of foaming white water in the centre. You cannot see where the water is issuing form the hill, but on going further up a vertical track you can tell that this is the only option for the source of the water. We dangled our feet in the pool of icy cold water for a while before heading back.
Two things about the waterfall: Firstly, apparently it was only rediscovered in 2010, although there are ancient legends of fairies inhabiting it?!!? and the second is that it freezes over in winter at its full hight. We saw a picture of this, and it looks amazing, although it is also amazing that a person made it there in winter!
Walking back to the road, we knew we were cutting it short to get our bus, so we tried to hitch hike. There were plenty of cars passing us from their time at the thermal pools, but none of them stopped for us. Making it back to town, we realised that there was no way for us to get to the hotel, pick up our bags and get to the bus station on time. Before we had left, we joked about the fact that we would miss our bus by 10 minutes. We were wrong, we missed it by five!
Not even trying after speed walking all the way back, we sat for a beer. Discussing the walk, we realised that again, Bulgarians have an interesting concept of distance. It was apparently a 5km trip there and back. OK, so we had done more than just the waterfall, but we added up the distances of all the sign posts we had seen. It should have only been a 12-13km round trip. It was more like 20km. This is a rough guestimate, based on the time it took us,and that there was only two steep sections, but even so.
Not that we are complaining, as it is a great walk, and we would recommend it to anyone. Just don’t get your hopes up about the waterfall in the middle of summer…
On arriving back at the hotel, we asked if we could stay another night, but they were full. This was a bit surprising, as there were only two guests the previous night, us and another couple that we had also run into on the walk. So we had to grab our bags and find a new place to stay. This was not too hard, as we had seen a guest house advertised along the river below where we had had the beer. Asking there, we found out that they had spare rooms, and they were even cheaper than where we had stayed last night! So it turned out well for us.
We just hope we manage to catch the bus tomorrow….