What better a way to celebrate the end of the harvest season and the arrival of the “darker half of the year” than an extremely long walk spent admiring the colours of Autumn, followed by a visit to one of the most magical places in the Czech Republic? What is more, as you walk, you can pick up apples and nuts, the traditional festive treats of Hallowe’en.
Access : by car : 50 Km from Prague. Take the E48 towards Chomutov then continue on D0 then 7, taking exit towards Žerotín before petrol station. Park in Žerotín in front of the pond and playpark, just next to Žerocká hospoda. Both the green and blue trail start here.
Difficulty : difficult (but only due to the distance. The terrain is mostly flat and it is also possible to do a much shorter walk in this area as forest paths are plentiful). Distance : 18 Km Time : approx 4 hours
Summarized itinerary : Žerotín – Samotín – Bílíchov – Velký Bílichovský rybnik – Les Spáleníště – Bor – U Křížku – V Koutě – Zřic. Hradu – Žerotín – Nedokončený kostel Panny Marie
Detailed itinerary : Park at Žerocká hospoda in Žerotín and follow the blue trail markers past some houses and immediately onto a country track with a view of vast fields and open land to your left. Here, (end September- mid October) you will beable to fill your pockets with delicious, red apples as sustenance during your long walk. After passing a bench with a location plaque «vyšehrad » you will enter the forest.
While mapping out this walk, I unintentionally added 40 minutes to its duration as I mistakenly followed both forest paths in turn, for ten minutes, in search of trail markers. The entrance to the correct path had almost been rendered invisible by fallen branches. So be careful here ; the correct path is much narrower and runs along the field. Keep following the blue markers. All in all, you will need to be fairly vigilant as the direction sometimes changes, unexpectedly. Also, there is a deficit of indicators at some strategic points, where you are left trying to assess which is the minor and which is the main path and whether you should go straight on or turn, to follow what seems to be the main path… When you arrive in front of the white abandoned house in the field for example, you need to walk past it to your left and the trail continues in the adjacent field, running down the left side of the house. Then, when you emerge from the forest, you need to walk straight down towards the road in order to pick up the next trail markers in Samotín.
Then once you have passed through the village of Bílíchov and you find yourself at the top of a field with an old green electricity pylon and a gravel path going straight ahead, you must go down to the left, despite the fact that there is no indication provided. At the pond, you must take the path towards the forest (pond on your right).
But apart from the aforementioned places, the markers are visible ; you just need to be vigilant. At the fountain U Rumcajse, there is a good map of the region, where you can marvel at the distance you have already covered and assess that which is still to come. After Les Spáleníště, you will walk along the edge of a hops plantation, which, after the harvest season (second half of August), will ressemble but a vast array of very high, wooden poles with cut pieces of old string dangling from interlinking wires… However, when the leafy plants are growing in Summer, they climb nets, reaching up towards the sky – it is not surprising that there is an expression in Czech, “as tall as a hop pole.” This plant is the ingredient which gives beer its bitter taste and the cultivation of hops supplies Czech breweries but its export is also significant. When you arrive at the road, you will stop following the blue trail markers. Here, you must turn right and follow the road through the village of Bor. This section of the walk is off the beaten track but it is the only way to shorten the walk to a reasonable distance. Follow the indications carefully; you will not get lost. When the road turns to the left, you must leave it (small artificial pond on your right) and go straight on, into the forest. Keep going straight on, along this forest road. Be careful ; cars are rare but this is a road therefore make sure you can call your dog back in time, should a vehicule appear. Where this road turns to the right, you are going to go straight on. This small section is off the beaten track and you may have the impression that the path is too narrow or overgrown or wild to be the right one, but just keep going straight on, and you will eventually arrive at an intersection of official forest trails again U Křížku. (The paths are trodden by wild boar and deer and remain visible – see images below).
Now you are starting your return route which, you will be relieved to hear, is significantly shorter than the distance you have already covered. From U Křížku, you must pick up the green trail and follow it all the way back to Žerotín. You will pass V Koutě and a little spring,
before arriving at the pretty pond.
If you would like to see the ruins of the castle, leave the green trail after the next very short forest stretch and go up towards the road, passing the huge hay storage barn on your right. You will find the information board for the castle at the side of the road directly opposite you, and the ruins are located just behind. The powerful Czech noble house of Žirotín hugely influenced the development of this whole area. It is supposed that the castle was built by Jan of Žirotín, between 1230 – 1253. It was his son Habart who founded the Convent of St. Claire in the neighbouring village of Panenský Týnec because his wife had allegedly been healed by St. Agnès of Bohemia. Finally continue to the right (leaving the pond behind you), and you will arrive back in the village. Go to the end of the village and the street where you parked your car is down to the right.
You have completed your walk. Drive the remaining kilometer to Panenský Týnec and park for free, in the car park just after the fire station, in the grounds of the monastery. There is a small cafe kiosk, selling drinks and snacks. This is a very special and interesting site.
This monumental, unfinished Gothic church originates from the XIV century. But due to the Hussite wars which followed, construction was interrupted and not resumed. The site of the ruins is said to be located on a cross-shaped zone of positive healing energy. Thus, the unfinished church of the Virgin Mary, Nedokončený kostel Panny Marie, is a very popular place among spiritualists, healers, psychics, mystics,… who believe the energy to be conducive to cleansing and overall happiness. The ruins are truely magical.
And to top it all, « Týnec », the village’s name is derived from « Týn » or an old Celtic word « Taun » which means palisade-fortified. What better a time to visit Paneský Týnec than Samhainn (1 November, Hallowe’en 31st October) the liminal time, when Celts believed that the separation from the realm of the spirits and the world of the living was at its thinnest ; making connections easier…
Notices state that dogs are not allowed in the monastery grounds. The visit does not take long. At the end of October, your dog will be relieved to recover from his marathonian walk in the car for ten minutes. However, please, if you are visiting in Summer, do not leave your exhausted, already hot and panting dog in your car. You can also see the exterior of the ruins from the park behind.
We hope you have enjoyed this monumental walk. Please leave your comment to assist other potential walkers.