15 – Loket to Karlovy Vary

When you get itchy feet, have you ever opened a map of your country, closed your eyes and blindly dropped your index finger on a spot ? For me, chance chose Loket ! And as chance would have it, Loket is within walking distance from Karlovy Vary…. No need for further planning !

Access : by car : drive to Loket and park on the town square (pay between 10h-22h). Occasionally, hotels and hostels lend you a parking permit to display in your car.

Tips : I can recommend two places to stay the night in Loket (one standard priced and one plush). The first is Lazy River Hostel (hostelloket.cz) run by friendly Eva and her husband, where you can book a private room with shared bathroom and kitchen facilities. The accomodation was listed as pet-friendly on Internet Booking sites but I sensed that accepting pets was an exception, so you should double-check by e-mail before booking. Everything went well though, we were only present in the evenings as we were out walking from dawn ‘til dusk, my dogs behaved themselves and Eva’s cute and curious children came to visit them a couple of times. The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming and the hostel, well situated. If you are looking for something more luxurious, U Bílého koně is the place to stay. The building  dates from the 16th century, is located on the main square and is managed by a very helpful man. The rooms are gorgeous and breakfast, delicious. Dogs are accepted for a small fee. 

Information : Loket is a treasure you must discover. Charles IV was imprisoned here, in the castle, as a child but as the 14th century ruler, he apparently visited the town often and held meetings there. According to legend, while hunting, he discovered a hot spring, thus founding Horké Lazně, which later became known as Karlové Vary or Carlsbad. It seemed stange to me to drive a car right over the bridge and park in a historic square surrounded by exquisite architecture. If I were a member of the World Heritage committee, I would have required the town’s administration to declare it strictly pedestrian and have everyone park in a huge car park before the bridge. However, I am not. The fortunate residents and visitors can continue to unpack their shopping and luggage at their front door. I did several walks from Loket ; all magnificent. 

Loket to Karlovy Vary

Difficulty : difficult   Distance: 21 Km   Time: approx 5h

On the square, facing Hotel U Bílého koně, go left and walk through the whole town and down towards the river. Continue straight on, following the river on Rooseveltova street. When the road bends to the right to cross the river, you must continue straight on. There are blue trail markers. The road becomes a cycle path and if you don’t mind keeping your dog on the leash, you can continue straight on if you like. I preferred to take a minor path at Kemp Loket which does not fall under the catagory of cycle path, in order to set my dogs free (see my route on the map). Walk all the way to Svatošské skaly and cross the bridge.

If you need a break, there is a popular restaurant here Restaurace Jan Svatos. Here, you can wave a cheery goodbye to all the cyclists as they will be taking the flat blue cycle path. You will follow the yellow trail markers upwards. Then get ready for some adventure. After the fourth bend on this yellow trail, look for a path branching off to the left. This starts off as an unmarked path and in fact, access had been physically barred by piled up tree trunks. However, it looked interesting. My dogs agreed. We were not about to be deterred by a pile of kill-joy wood. Before long, I discovered some blue trail markers. They are not of the « official České Turistky Trasa » kind ; they are splodges of blue paint that are nevertheless perfectly visible, and will lead the adventurer on an exhilirating journey. I thoroughly recommend !

I am currently trying to discover whom I have to thank for this glorious trail…. If you do take this path, it will join up with the green trail, which you must follow to Doubi and then along the road Svatošska (green/blue) to Doubi MHD.

If you have a fear of stepping outside the comfort zone and deviating from official trail markers, after crossing the bridge at Svatošska skaly, follow the yellow trail all the way up to Bor, then go left on the yellow/green to Borhaj.rozc and go straight on following the green trail to Doubivesnicka then blue/green to Doubi MHD.

In either case, then you must follow the blue trail up the street K Prehrade, cross the railway and go left on the bluet rail at Brezovau zst. Keep following the blue trail all the way through lanové centrum to Doubska hora, then

chatu u obrazu, then nad lesni poboznosti to Diana lookout tower and all the way down the winding blue trail, straight into Karlovy Vary. You will finally descend a flight of steps and emerge literally right next to the most luxurious and magestic hotel ever, Grandhotel Pupp. In 2006, an extensive part of James Bond, Casino Royale was filmed here. Granted, after a 21 Km hike, you will not be dressed for the occasion. In addition, I had two panting, disheveled setters on tow, which Charles IV may have found attractive company for a hunting session but which I expected the staff of a five star hotel to find less endearing. However, adjacent to the hotel is the Grandhotel Pupp Café and at the sight of the cakes on customers’ plates, it just was not possible to neglect the need to boost my glucose level, so I chose a seat on the terrasse where my dogs could lie at my feet and savoured an expensive but exquisite and unforgettable Dort Pupp, a chocolate coated confiserie made with orange zest and Becherovka, the potent liqueur concocted from herbs and spices, and sold in 1807 by Jan Becher from Carsbad; intended, naturally for medicinal purposes, to ease stomach.…and soul.

If you have never been to Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), the first thing you must know is that before taking a step further, you must purchase a traditional porcelaine sippy cup. Then, the ritual is, that you stroll from one spring to another, sipping the different spring waters, with their varying temperatures and mineral constitution. Despite your fatigue, you mustn’t leave this picturesque spa town without doing this ; it is the only way to get the true feel of this historic place where people have been flocking for centuries, in a quest to cure various ailments or bathe in spring, spa waters. Some springs will not be accessible to you with your dog, (Mills collonade for example), but you will still be able to see the places well and you will be able to walk right up to the majority of the springs, with your dog on the leash, and fill your sippy cup. My dogs in fact became quite a photo attraction to the occasional throngs of tourists, some of whom commented, smiling, that it seemed very suspicious that two thirsty dogs were showing strictly no interest in the water dripping from any of the fountains. 😂

We hope you have enjoyed your walk and your time in two historic, beautiful and charming Czech towns. Don’t forget to leave your comment as feedback and to assist fellow hikers.

Cheers, ZaK and dogs.

 

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