Monday, January 23, 2023


Yesterday was probably the last of the mild spring-like January days this year, with temperatures above +10C. The forecasts for the coming fortnight unequivocally speak that winter is finally coming and the temperatures are expected to fall in the range of -5 to +2, which isn't that bad, but still - not a spring weather yet.

For our weekend hike we chose a new trail not far from home - to the Monastary of Kokalyane and then up to the ridge of the mountain to the Sacred Oak place.

The trail starts from the so called Devil's bridge, a stone bridge over the Vedena river near its inlet into the river Iskar.

The trail to the monastery is narrow and steep, about 2.5 km long.
Hike info:

Destination: Sacred Oak  (1080 m) round trail
Mountain: Plana
Total length: 8.5 km
Elevation gain: 450 m
Total duration (plus picnic):3 h
Average difficulty: 4 / 10

The forests in this part of Plana mountain consist of many oak trees, some hundreds of years old.
Right across the road and the river Iskar is Lozen mountain and the Urvich fortress. Here and there among the trees we could glimpse the on going excavation works there.

The Monastery of Kokalyane is one of the 14 monasteries that were built around the city of Sredetz (old Sofia) during the medieval times. The whole place was called The Sredetz Sacred Mountain (Sveta Gora), by analogy with the Monastic Community on Mount Athos in Greece.

We had a quick glimpse of the monastery grounds and the church and continued our climb up the narrow path to the ridge of the mountain.

Although the trail is not long, some 5 km from the bridge to the meadows on the ridge, the slope is steep and the elevation gain is significant. We quickly found ourselves again swimming in sweat and took off our jackets.

The change of view on the ridge was so impressive - after the steep narrow trail in the thick oak forest we were suddenly walking along level paths by yellow-brownish meadows.

Vitosha looming on the horizon.
An old oak tree. A few meters away from it lived one of the oldest trees in Bulgaria - The Sacred Oak (Кръстатият дъб) - over 1000 years old. Unfortunately in 2010 it was destroyed by treasure hunters, who dug up its grounds in search of gold and the tree fell soon afterwards :(

Me-made items, worn on this hike:

Husband: boxers, orange hat, Fire socks
I: lingerie, Grasser blouse, cat hat, Borika gloves, knitted socks

We had a quick lunch on the meadows and headed back to the Devil's Bridge, following an alternative path through the forest.

And back to the river Iskar

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