Sunday, March 1, 2015

Kanalski Vhr

Back to Slovenia to celebrate the arrival of March.  I was eager to check out the new pista ciclabile on the Soča River's west bank which I'd read about on Max's wonderful blog .  So I parked at Solkan and started the trail.  Really well-made cyclepath, with lots of hikers, dog walkers, toddlers on tiny bikes etc enjoying their Sunday morning.  

After the bike path ends at Plave you can continue on small farm roads to Kanal.  Here I crossed the river and located the start of Kanalski Vhr climb at Morsko.  It's a tough climb as you'd expect in this terrain, 6 km averaging 8.6% with some 14% ramps in the mix.  Eventually the climb levels out at a settlement called Kanalski Vhr on the Banjšice altopiano.  This area was the scene of horrific fighting and casualties in WW I, and even today seems a little spooky.  It's sparsely populated, with miles of rolling hills covered with beech trees, grotesque karst rock formations and deep sink holes.   You can hear no human sound, only the fierce winds.  Another words, my kinda place.

I wasn't sure if there were any paved roads crossing the altopiano, but it turns out the route through Bate to Grgar is an excellent road.  I want to go back now and do it in the opposite direction, maybe descending to Avče from Lokovec (900 meters).

From new bike path, Solkan railway bridge (longest stone single-span bridge on earth).

Old stone train signalman's house; Sveta Gora high above across the river.

Close up of Sveta Gora

Quality construction of the cycleway; there are stairs for pedestrians with adjacent ramps
 so you can push your bike (or if you're a maniac like me you can ride down the ramps)

Bike tunnel under the railway line

Kanalski Vhr altopiano

Bate (I looked for Bate's Motel, but there was none) 

Right turn goes through Grgar to Nova Gorica; 
left explores the wilds of Banjšice altopiano

Solkan Bridge from the road toward Monte Sabotin;
the bridge is still in use today

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