Szlak Kultury Wołoskiej (The Wallachian Culture Trail). Walking in the shoes of people who were wanderers at heart
Tourists can choose from 15 thematic routes, mainly hiking, but also two bicycle routes and one driving route, leading through places related to pastoral activities. The routes are varied in length and are characterised by a varying degree of difficulty.
From St. Wojciech (Adalbert) to St. Michael the Archangel
The Wallachians are a pastoral people who, with their valuable cultural heritage and art of grazing sheep in Poland, appeared around the 15th century. The Wallachians' were wanderers at their core – they would travel far, through the Karpaty (Carpathian Mountains), and also closer, seasonally travelling between their home and the place where sheep grazed. The beginning and end of the sheep grazing season was marked by the redyk – the ceremonial departure of the shepherds with their herds and their return. The grazing season traditionally started on the Feast Day of St. Wojciech (April 23), and ended on the Feast Day of St. Michael the Archangel (September 29). The departure and arrival of the baca (chief shepherd), juhasian (shepherd hand) and sheep in the mountain pastures was accompanied by magical rituals aimed at protecting the herd from evil forces and guaranteeing successful grazing and a safe return of the sheep to the village. Despite the fact that itinerant pastoralism, known as transhumanism, is slowly disappearing in Europe, the redyk is cultivated in the form of a folklore show. It is a unique opportunity to get to know part of the pastoral culture. In 2013, a special Carpathian Redyk was organised – a rush of several hundred sheep with herding dogs, donkeys and horses. The shepherds with their animals travelled about 15 km a day, and the their journey was over 1,200 km long. It ran along the Karpaty – from Romania through Ukraine, Poland and Slovakia, and ended in the Czech Republic.
Jazda, Panie Gazda (Giddy up)
The Wallachian Culture Trail is a cultural tourism trail that presents both the cultural heritage and legacy of the Wallachians that have always been an integral part of the mountain landscape. See the recorded clip in the Beskid Sądecki on the Wallachian Culture Trail (Stary Sącz, Rytro, Piwniczna-Zdrój, Wierchomla). The words to the song “Dalej jazda Panie Gazda” were written by Michał Zabłocki, music by Czesław Mozil.
On the Małopolska section of the Wallachian Culture Trail, special places to rest as well as information and educational centres have been created. In the villages of Ludźmierz, Sękowa, Małastów, Jaworki, Rytro and Piwniczna-Zdrój, tourist gazebos were created, referring in their style to regional architectural patterns. The gazebos are equipped with benches, bicycle stands, baskets, and information boards about the heritage of the Wallachian culture.
A distinguishing feature of the trail, inviting you to wander along mountain paths and glades, are the Bramy Karpackie (Carpathian gates) in Ludźmierz, Piwniczna-Zdrój and Wierchomla. In the villages of Leśnica, Wojkowa, Rytro, Zakopane, Murzasichle, Chochołów, Lipnica Wielka, Łapsze Wyżne, Maciejowa, Piwniczna Zdrój, Dzianisz, Brzegi, Czarny Dunajec – Baligówka, Sękowa, Małastów, Jaworki, Ochotnica Górna, Przełęcz Knurowska, there were 16 information boards installed and 18 Wallachian posts showing the route and attractions in the vicinity. Ochotnica Górna, one of the largest Wallachian settlements, as well as the place where the idea of the Wallachian Culture Trail was born, was marked with a Wallachian "staff". Come follow the Wallachian Culture Trail!
Historical trail: through Gorce and the village of Ochotnica
A medium difficulty walking trail of 7.7 km leads through the vicinity of the village of Ochotnica, which is considered the main Wallachian village of Podhale. The historical route leads through the most important places related to the first settlement under the Wallachian law. The route’s views of the Tatra Mountains and the Beskids (e.g. from Jaworzyka Gorcowska or from the observation tower in Gorce) are an asset. The path leads through the charming Hale Gorcowe, where sheep used to constantly graze in the past.
Nature trail: two Gorce Mountains
The 18.2 km long, medium-difficulty walking trail runs along the bank of Ochotnica. The nature trail leads to the junction of two elements: through glades burned with the incandescent method and through the valley of the Kamienicki Potok. The starting point is located on the Przyłęcza Przysłop, and leads through the scenic Polana Podskały, Gorc Troszacki and Polana Pustak. This route not only enchants with its landscape, but also presents the natural values of Gorce, and the village of Ochotnica, famous for its autumn redyk.
Ethnographic trail: linguistic curiosities
A fairly long walking route of almost 30 kilometers leads along the oldest trail in Beskid Sądecki: from the Dolina Poprad, through Piwniczna-Zdrój, to Krościenko nad Dunajcem (description of Krościenko nad Dunajcem). You can learn about the Wallachian culture at the beginning of the trail by watching the exhibition of Carpathian folk instruments at the exhibition in Piwniczna. Along the way, you can learn about the traditional Wallachian names of villages, settlements, clearings and peaks. Beautiful views from the Przełęcz Obidza, Wielki Rogacz and Przełęcz Przysłop provide an aesthetic experience and compensate for the hardships of the trip.
Ethnographic trail: Pieniny, Spisz, Podhale
Another ethnographic long-distance walking trail crosses three ranges: Pieniny, Spisz and Podhale, and leads from Sromowce Niżne to Zakopane, with a distance of 67 km. In addition to the stunning views of the highest mountain ranges in Poland, on the way you can visit the shepherd’s huts under the Trzy Korony or Polana Podkólna in Jurgów, with an incredible group of over fifty huts.
Ethnographic trail: the redyk in Beskid Żywiecki
A 15 km walking trail of medium difficulty leads from Zubrzyca Górna to Zawoja. The ethnographic journey begins in the regional heritage park Orawski Park Etnograficzny (Etnographic Park). The trail runs through the picturesque Polana Śmietanowa, which was once a very attractive grazing area, to the hut on Markowe Szczawiny at the foot of Babia Góra. The route ends with a heritage park in Zawoja Markowa presenting old wooden structures.
Ethnographic trail: near Turbacz
The 22-kilometre-long walking trail leading from Ochotnica Górna to Nowy Targ evokes the memory of the legendary shepherd and healer Tomasz Chlipala, known as Bulanda. The path runs through scenic glades and pastures near Turbacz, and on one of them, in Polana Jaworzyna Kamienicka, there is the historic Bulandowa Chapel. In Hala Wzorowa, you can rest at a shepherd's hut, where cultural sheep grazing is carried out to this day. The degree of difficulty of the trail is marked as medium.
Ethnographic trail: through Beskid Mały
A fairly long, more than 24-kilometre hiking trail leads from Czartak near Wadowice to Sucha Beskidzka. The clearings and meadows of the Beskid Mały were also famous for their pastoralism. One of the attractions near the route is Jaśkowa Arka – a tin shed in the shape of a boat and the heritage park Orawski Park Etnograficzny in Zubrzyca Górna. The clearing at the top of Leskowiec shows one of the most beautiful panoramas of Beskid Mały.
Historic trail: through Małe Pieniny
The walking trail, less than 13 kilometre long, runs almost through the entire range of the Małe Pieniny Mountains. It starts in Jaworki, leads through the charming reserve Wąwóz Homole, and finishes with the scenic Wysoki Wierch close by. On the trail, you can visit an example of a former shepherd's hut, the Schronisko pod Durbaszką (mountain hut), or a traditional shepherd's hut – a shelter house under Wysoki Wierch.
Nature trail: through the forests in Gorce
A 23-kilometre walking route leads through Gorce, and through the Lubania range, from Przełęcz Knurowska to Krościenko. A path rich in landscape and natural values of the regenerating mountain clearings and spruce thickets runs through meadows which are the habitat of the orchid. The route has many attractions including the remains of stone huts in the Lubania massif and the observation tower. The degree of difficulty of the trail is marked as medium.
Ethnographic trail: black sheep in Beskid Sądecki
The 30-kilometre-long walking trail passes through places associated with the former black sheep farm, from Piwniczna-Zdrój to Muszyna. The clearings in the Jaworzyna Krynicka range and the famous Hala Łabowa were places that were formerly used to graze sheep, while from the Bacówka PTTK nad Wierchomlą (mountain shelter) there is a picturesque panorama of the Tatra Mountains. It is worth starting with a visit to the Muzeum Regionalne Towarzystwa Miłośników Piwnicznej (Regional Museum of the Piwniczna Lovers Association), and stop at the waterfall of the Łomniczanka stream in Łomnica-Zdrój. The degree of difficulty of the route is marked as medium.
Ethnographic trail: the culture of sheep grazing in the Tatra Mountains
The nearly 10-kilometre hiking trail runs through the two most popular and captivating Tatra valleys: through the Dolina Kościeliska and the Dolina Chochołowska, where the practice of sheep grazing is still carried out in the surrounding clearings. Walking partly through the valley, partly along the trail over the Regle, you can reach the Polana Chochołowska, which is enchanting in the spring with its carpet of blooming crocuses. The trail leads through Wyżnia Kira Miętusia and Niżnia Kominiarska Polana, where, if you are lucky, you can find grazing sheep. The trail is marked as easy.
Nature trail: through the scenic clearings of Beskid Sądecki
The almost 13 km long, medium difficulty trail leads from Rytro to Piwniczna Zdrój. The main attraction of the trail is the natural landscape of the Beskid Sądecki and especially the scenic clearings. Picturesque views can be seen from those wandering from Polana na Kordowcu (Kordowiec Glade), Polana Poczekaj and Polana Niemcowa. In Piwniczna-Zdrój, it is worth visiting the shepherd's exhibition “Instrumenty ludowe w Karpatach” (Folk instruments in the Carpathians).
Ethnographic bike trail: through Gorce
The over 30 km long ethnographic bicycle loop runs in the area of Rabka-Zdrój. The route runs through Gorce, one of the main pastoral centres. On the way, you can visit interesting towns on the northern side of the Gorce Mountains, inhabited by highlanders. Among the tourist attractions, it is worth mentioning the Władysław Orkan Museum, the wooden house “Pod Trzema Madonnami” (Under the Three Madonnas) in Rabka Zdrój or the scenic Polana Śmierdząca in Olszówka-Jasionowa.
Architectural bicycle path: through Beskid Niski
A difficult and demanding bicycle loop with a length of over 50 kilometres leads through the western part of the Beskid Niski close to Gorlice. On the route, there are monuments of wooden architecture, a valuable architectural complex of the village of Bodaki, the Łemkowska Zagroda Edukacyjna (Łemko Educational Farmstead) and the famous Skansen Wsi Podgórzańskiej (Podgórzańska Village Heritage Museum) in Szymbark.
Ethnographic car route: from Ludźmierz to Chochołów
The only car route on the Wallachian Culture leads through the most important places where the cultural heritage of Podhale was shaped, from Ludźmierz, the oldest village in the region, to Czarny Dunajec. The route leads through Szaflary, the centre of artistic life – Zakopane, and Chochołów a village with characteristic highlanders' cottages.
Look inside the bacówka (mountain shelter)
All trails that make up the Wallachian Culture run through a unique mountain area and recall the memory of the places that testify to the presence of the Wallachian shepherd people. Diversified in terms of themes, they help to discover the secrets of cultural and natural heritage, and the phenomenal landscape of meadows and hills delight regardless of the season. A hike on the Wallachian Culture is a great alternative to mountain, family and individual tourism, and an ideal opportunity to learn about the history and traditions of the region. The accessible tourist trails are equipped with places to rest as well as informative and educational elements, marked with informational boards and posts marking the route. In many places related to the Wallachian culture, festivals, holidays and other cultural events are organised. Shepherd's huts are also associated with the Wallachian culture, where shepherds produce traditional products from sheep's milk.
Glossary of names of Wallachian origin:
- Beskid od “bjêska” – mountain meadow, pasture
- Certeż, Czerteż from “certez” – bright, clean, highlighted
- Groń, Gronik from “grui” – hill, gable, domed hill
- Kiczora from “chica” – hair, stubble, overgrown mountain
- Koszar, Koszary, Kosarzyska from “coşar” – portable sheep pen
- Kotelnica from “kocić” – the place where sheep gave birth to lambs
- Magura, Magurki from “măgura” – clearly separated mountain range
- Przysłop from “prislop, prislopul” – mountain pass, saddle, place on the ridge
- Runek from “runc” – grazing clearing
- Solnisko – a place where salt was laid out for sheep, goat or cattle herds
More information about the trail, its route and the interesting objects associated with it can be found in the guidebook Śladami Wołochów.