A pleasant walk through the countryside which inspired the Czech painter and illustrator Josef Lada. On the way, look out for pretty, porcelaine plaques, bearing illustrations of a vodník i.e. a water sprite from Czech folklore.
Access : By car, take the D1 (E65, E50) in the direction of Brno, take exit 21, first follow Linz, then Senohraby. As you drive through the little town of Senohraby, look out for the butcher’s shop facade on your right, before the railway bridge, as you may want to photograph it as a retro souvenir.
It reminds me of WWII propaganda, attracting women into ammunition factories… Anyhow, keep following the road until you arrive at Senohraby railway station where you will find limited, but free parking spaces.
By train, from Praha Hlavní nádraží (Os) to Senohraby (50 mins) If you have a litacka travel pass, remember to present it, as a section of your journey is free and will be deducted from the fare. See “tips” for journey planning.
Tips : No need to carry water for your dog as natural sources are abundant throughout this walk.
Difficulty : Moderate : mainly flat with one steep climb.
Distance : 4,8 Km Time : approx 1h30
Summarized itinerary : Senohraby train station – yellow trail – Mnichovka – yellow – Zlenice-Hlaska – red – Poddubí – blue – Hrušov – blue/red – Pod nádražim – red – Senohraby train station
Description : With your back to Senohraby station, go right and follow the road until you see the railway below. Turn down the last road on your left before the bridge. You will immediately see the old Post Office, Česka Pošta, on your left. This little road quickly becomes a forest path and it is now safe to let your dog off the leash. As you advance along the path, which bears yellow trail markers, look out for the bird house on a tree trunk to your left.
Take a peek inside the hole and you will see the face of Josef Lada, a Czech painter, cartoonist and writer born in 1887 in the nearby town of Hrusice. He is best known as the creator of a cartoon cat called Mikeš, for his illustrations of a soldier named Švejk and those of a pig called Pašík. During this walk you will be passing through the forest areas, walking alongside the River Sázava and catching a glimpse of castle ruins that inspired much of Lada’s work. Also featuring in many of his paintings, were vodnice, the infamous water sprites believed to inhabit little streams and rivers. Look out for carvings of these creatures or pretty, painted porcelaine plaques on some benches or barriers next to the rivers or streams on the way. For a few minutes you will walk on a path where the train tracks are directly to your left then the path weaves away from the tracks entirely. Still following the yellow trail markers, the path leads down towards a disused viaduct structure. You must keep going towards the left, leaving the tunnels behind you.
Your dog will be able to drink and paddle in the stream as you make your way towards a small river. Once at the river, you have arrived at Mnichovka. Here, you turn right, walking with the river to your left. If your dog enjoys water, he will be thrilled at this point but keep calling him back to your side of the river as there is a cycle path on the opposite river bank. Where the yellow trail ends, you will find a wooden bridge to cross and you will arrive at Zlenice and be facing a directions signpost. Here, you will be following the red trail which points straight ahead. However, before you proceed, I recommend that you follow the other red trail very briefly to the right, around a wooden fence. You will come to another little wooden bridge and in warm weather you will witness an unexpected sight : scores of Czech children will be playing in a shallow dam-like channel of the Sazava River while adults swim in the deeper section and whole families picnic and lounge on the grassy river banks. This place is known as podarni senohraby or plovárna senohraby and photographs dating back to the first Republic, Prvni Republiky, document identical activity, the only variation being in the style of the swim wear. Indeed, one of Josef Lada’s paintings depicts this location. If you cross the little bridge, you will see on the river bank to your left, a black and white illustration mounted on a waist-high information board. Once you have taken in this rather unexpected, natural, swimming complex, you will need to return to the Zlenice-Hláska sign post.
Before continuing, it would be a pity to miss the castle ruins which are situated up to your left. These are the ruins of the castle you have just seen in the background of the picture on the information board.
When you’ve done all that, go straight on past the official entrance of the swimming area, podarni. There is a bar here, open from Spring (end of April) at the weekends and every day throughout the Summer, if you are in need of a refreshment. A few meters further on, you will see a bench, bearing a plaque of a vodník. And I think it is time you knew more about these water sprites ! In Czech folklore, vodnice (the plural form of vodník) can be good or nasty. They inhabit rivers, have a poor sense of fashion especially in the hat department 🙂 and their occupation involves drowning people who swim in their territory. They then keep their victims’ souls in cups. You have deduced no doubt, that this description refers to the nasty ones. You won’t see any vodník trophies on this walk, but walking elsewhere, you might just happen upon an array of cups, hanging from a tree beside a forest stream. Be warned, they have been displayed by a lurking, local vodník. The number of cups exhibited, which of course indicates the number of victims he has drowned, is his way of asserting his status among fellow, rival vodnice. In any case, the absence of cups here, always appears to be enough to convince my dogs that the vodník who inhabits podarni senohraby is too busy smoking his pipe and playing cards because they invariably plunge into the deep river for a swim. Keep walking with the Sázava River to your right. This stretch is also a cycle path. Keep walking until you reach Poddubí outdoor centrum. You will come across an antiquated row of old, painted cabins on your left, claiming to be a watersports centre. There are indeed canoes and kayaks beached on the shore, however, whenever I have passed, I have only seen a few individuals indulging in nudist sunbathing. Here, looking straight at the Poddubí directions signpost, you will be taking the path sloping upwards, directly behind you i.e. the one indicating Senohraby, bearing the symbol of a train. You can let your dog off the leash again. Before heading up this steep forest path, you may want to offer the opportunity to drink, as the Sázava River is the last water source on this walk. The incline is steep but you can climb at your own pace and enjoy watching your dog trot effortlessly to the top. The track widens into a flat area. You are heading down straight ahead, following blue trail markers. At the bottom of the trail, there is a beautiful, extensive, grassy field . You must go right for about 20 metres. You are now at Hrušov and you’re on the last section of the walk. If you have a very obedient four-legged friend, you will then follow the red and blue trail markers along a convenient ditch path which is located to the left of the road, with your obedient pup walking intelligently beside you. The less well-behaved « man’s best friend » will be safer on a leash until you get to Pod nádražim, where you will cross a miniature zebra crossing and go up a country path on the left side of the road. The trail marker is then red ; the path is steep and short. This steep path is about to bring you out almost right at the train station, therefore, just as you pass the second set of barriers, anticipate the road ahead and catch hold of that tired, panting but very satisfied pup.
If you like, you can now head across to Restaurace Franz for refreshments or a bite to eat, as I am sure your walking partner will be content to flop down under the table and dream of splashing through a stream in hot pursuit of a nasty vodník. You will find their reasonably priced daily menu at restauracefranz.cz under denní menu and in case you need to book for larger groups, here is the phone number 00420 775 031 667.
We hope you both enjoyed the walk.