This is the first of three trails that I am sharing, which celebrate the cycle of nature. Wiccan Way will guide you through deep oak and pine forests, past a cairn-filled alcove and on to a ledge of natural rock, known as The Devil’s pulpit, from which the view can only stimulate one’s sense of awe. An area steeped in Celtic and Druid legend ; certainly one of the most spiritual places in the land.
Intuitively, we feel that a walk in nature does us the world of good.
Ten years ago, while expanding my reading material, I became curious of Neotic Science. I had long since learned to acknowledge my intuition and had no problem whatsoever recognizing the existence of this precious asset. However, I fully respect that some feel the necessity to prove and quantify the initially, apparently, unmeasurable and will even dedicate a life-time’s work in the pursuit of convincing skeptics and achieving academic recognition of their work’s scientific value. And it certainly did fascinate me to ascertain that in Switzerland there are hordes of scientists, dedicated to researching and accumulating scientific evidence of our sixth sense and how intuition can guide and protect us.
So what if our intuition is accurate ? What if walking in nature and forests really does impact our mental and physical health ?
I feel that it does. At certain times, I allow my intuition and that of my dogs to guide us along unknown paths. At certain times, we are led into forests of predominantly oak and pine, and always, after spending three hours walking, I emerge feeling profoundly relaxed, centered and at peace.
Thus it surprised me not, when I heard of Shinrin–yoku ; the Japanese activity of « forest bathing ». Should the concept be unknown to you, let me elucidate the fact that the practice does not entail nudity in the woods. 😄Participants simply spend time, mindfully, in forests of, coincidently, ……….pine, oak and cedar.
I was curious to learn that extensive research has shown that chemicals called phytoncides, present in these species, can apparently lower stress levels in humans. Phytoncides are volatile compounds which according to research carried out at Osaka University, Chiba University and the Nipon Medical School, provide relaxing effects. Brain monitoring equipment has apparently shown that exposure to nature and more specifically to certain tree species suppresses activity in the region of the brain, associated with rumination, known to undergo stimulation during bouts of depression. South Korean studies have also suggested that exposure to nature and the alpha-pinene secreted from certain species stimulates NK activity and results in an increase in number, of these protective cells. Finally, my personal documentation on the subject led me to reports and research pioneered by the Dean and professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Science of Washington University. His work strongly suggests that there is an accumulation of evidence to support the theory that exposure to “nature does indeed benefit mental and physical health in very specific ways” and that the effects of are prolonged and still measurable, even several days after a walk.
What if taking your dog for daily walks could impact you positively….right down to your cells ? 😉
The three walks which constitute Destiny’s Trilogy will share places which we discovered intuitively, which brought us relaxation and peace. What is more, I found out weeks later that the area into which we allowed our intuition to guide us, turns out to be the most “mystic” place in the country…. Coincidence ?
Access: drive to Lhotka (Beroun region) or take the train to Rejkovice (in which case you will start by following green markers)
Difficulty : moderate Distance : 16 Km Time : approx 3h
Summarized itinerary : Lhotka – Bezdědičky – Viklan – Plešivecké sedlo – Čertova kazatelna – plešívecky hřeben – Lhotka
Detailed itinerary : Look for yellow trail markers at the bar/restaurant Hospoda U Hejduků and follow them all the way through the pine and oak forest then at the pond, switch to the green trail. Leave the green markers at Nad Jezirkem where you must switch to the blue trail, going left. At Bezdědičky you will find yourself surrounded by beautiful oak and willow trees and as we did this walk for the first time just after the Spring equinoxe (Ostara), we found ourselves advancing on a glorious, thick carpet of catkins.
Catkins are what allow some tree species to reproduce i.e. the male catkins allow the female ones to be pollinated. In the case of the pine and oak, it is the female catkins which will later become acorns. On some trees, for example the white willow, the male and female flowers grow on seperate trees (dioecious) while on other species, both the female and male catkins grow on the same tree. A sudden cold period and strong winds had obviously caused this premature chute of catkins. An astonishingly beautiful carpet !
Continue on the blue trail to Viklan. However, before arriving at the signpost “Viklan”, my dog disappeared up a forest path to the right. I followed her and I highly recommend the detour. You will find yourself in quite an intriguing place indeed !Viklan approximately means “balancing” and visitors to this spot, have left their trace in the form of cairns. The word cairn which means “stones deliberately stacked to mark a memorial or landmark”, comes from the Scots gaelic càrn. Today this ancient practice of stone stacking has become increasingly popular and whether the cairn is constructed with artistic, mindfulness, meditative or commemorative intentions, the number of mounds that have appeared at strategic sites worldwide have been met with a mixture of awe and criticism. A recent article I read in The Guardian, laments on the quantity of cairns accumulating at the top of mountains and on landmark beaches worldwide and relates how mass tourism, the “desire to leave a mark and ones deep love of special places” means that this current trend is spoiling entire landscapes… This article popped into my mind when I found myself at Viklan and you will understand why. While the annual number of visitors to Orkney island in Scotland must certainly surpass that of Viklan, it is true that the extraordinary number of cairns made it impossible to stroll through most of the area. I have been conditioned by the Scots “free right of way for all – leave no trace” law, so personally, I didn’t balance stones, but I felt more than content, just sitting and taking in the atmosphere of this special place.
At Viklan, switch to the red trail, going right. You will climb to a sensational viewpoint where you can rest on a ledge of rock and contemplate the beauty of Springtime and nature springing to life. This platform is known as The Devil’s pulpit, Čertova kazatela and nearby is a site of a fortified settlement thought to date back to several centuries B.C.
Finally, follow the red trail all the way down through the deep pine forest. You will pass through an area known as Fabián’s Garden, Vihlydka Fabianova Zahrádka. Fabián, believed to grow herbs here to cure the poor, can also control the weather…
Then switch to the yellow trail which cuts across a vast grassy field and takes you back to the main street of Lhota, Plešivecká.
We hope you have enjoyed the walk. Please remember to gift us with your feedback on dogwalksprague.blog
This is an ideal trail to do over the Easter period, the Spring equinox (Ostara) where you will be able to appreciate all the signs of nature beginning a new cycle.
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