SROMOWCE NIŻNE – Červený kláštor – Dunajec Gorge – Lesnica – Lesnické sedlo panorama – Veľký Lipník – Haligovce rock walls – SROMOWCE NIŻNE
The natural beauty of the Dunajec Gorge is not everything to see. The trip leads through this magnificent rocky gorge, but further on we also discover the peaceful village of Lesnica, and after it... a sea of greenery and a difficult climb to the Lesnické sedlo pass, for delicious views of the Pieniny and Tatra Mountains. The long descent through Haligovce is an impressive lesson in the geology of the Pieniny Mountains. The trip is moderately difficult, with one difficult uphill stretch, but not requiring much experience, allowing you to get to know the gentler, Slovak side of the Pieniny Mountains.
The trip starts in Sromowce Niżne. Over the foot and bike bridge over the Dunajec River, which was built in 2006, we go to the Slovak side and turn left. We come to the historical Červený kláštor. For centuries it was the religious centre, but also the scientific and cultural centre of the area. It was from here, according to legends, that brother Cyprian set off on his bold voyages to Lake Morskie Oko (Eye of the Sea). Below the monastery, by the water, hides a wonderful view of the Trzy Korony Peak.
We go along the Pieniny Road through the Dunajec Gorge – riding along it for the next 7 km. Several hundred metres long rock walls between which the waters of the Dunajec Gorge have carved this magnificent gorge, show the power of nature. Many of the local plants can also be found in the Tatra Mountains – their seeds have travelled here with the river.
After reaching the asphalt road, we turn right, up Lesnický potok closed between high rock walls. We reach the village of Lesnica, hidden among the Pieniny walls. This village, founded in the 13thcentury was, until the 19th century, only connected to the world by narrow footpaths, which allowed its customs, the style of construction and folklore to survive.
From Lesnica, we constantly ascend the road that connected it with the rest of Slovakia in 1967. Again and again, catching our breath, we look down the valley at the rocky mountains piling up by the Dunajec River. The last part of the uphill stretch may force some people to walk with their bikes, but what awaits us is fully worth the effort.
The magnificent panorama from Lesnické sedlo pass will certainly enthral us for a long time. At our feet the deep valley of the Lipnik Stream, behind it the hills of Spišská Magura and in the background the Tatra Mountains are piling up. Before going down, it is worth checking the brakes and putting on glasses. The downhill stretch to Veľký Lipník, among terraced fields, a mixture of meadows, rocks and fields is one of the most wonderful slopes in the Pieniny Mountains, and it somewhat resembles the downhill ride from the Osice Pass to Sromowce.
We go down to Veľký Lipník, turn right and continue downhill, already less steeply, along the bottom of the valley. We come to Haligovce which is impressive, above all, with its views of the steep walls of Haligovske skalýRocks, currently a strict reserve within the Pieniny National Park. Somewhere among these rock walls there were inhabited hamlets such as Ďura or Jezovka, but now only wild apple and cherry trees remain, lost among the meadows.
From Haligovce, we continue to go down the valley, arriving at Smerdžonka(which, translated, is a ‘smelly place’). The name is not accidental, deriving from the local sulphate springs with a specific smell. The old spa, destroyed during the war, was reopened a few years ago. From Smerdžonka, we are only a moment away from Červený kláštor (after all, the beneficial effects of the waters were already exploited by the monks), and thence only across the footbridge and we are back in Sromowce.