In my last postcard, I took you to Vintgar Gorge, a breathtaking natural beauty spot most definitely on the tourist trail. Today I want to tell you about a neighbouring gorge, making up in dramatic rock landscapes what it lacks in crystal clear waters, and rewarding more intrepid explorers with a walking itinerary which is most definitely off the tourist trail.
Pokljuka Gorge and the Pokljuka Hole
The Pokljuka Gorge, or Pokljuška Soteska, lies close to the town of Krnica and above the Radovna valley. There is free parking at the entrance to the gorge. The walk I am going to describe is a circular hike, without any technical difficulty but with some steep scrambling and some exposed sections. It’s a great family walk but do take care with young kids in the rocky and exposed areas. If you’re used to hiking, it will be a piece of cake. If you prefer walking on the level, then you might prefer a circuit of nearby Lake Bled. The Pokljuka Hole (Pokljuška Luknja) is a partially open cave which provides a natural shortcut for walkers to access the high mountain plateau of Pokljuka. We will be climbing through The Galleries to return to our starting point at the foot of the gorge, as if threading the needle through this narrow mountain pass.
Follow the pleasant wooded path into the gorge, which is dominated by deciduous woodland at this altitude. Before long you will reach a high rock wall which is our crossroads. To the left is signposted Galerije (The Galleries) and to the right Pokljuška Luknja. Take the path on the left to pass below the Naravni Most (‘Natural Bridge’) where the rocks span a narrow chasm in a remarkable bridge-like formation.
The Galleries are accessed via a wooden walkway pegged into the rock (see Featured Image above). This is not a place for those with vertigo, and neither is it a place for small children to be let loose. The walkway is, however, well maintained though in Spring the whole area can be prone to rockfalls so the use of a helmet is recommended. (I only found this out after completing the walk, but it would have been good to know beforehand!)
Climb through the narrow shaft between the steep rock walls of the gorge, ascending gradually. As you leave the confines of The Galleries you will pass through high woodland ahead in a more open, delightfully peaceful valley. Eventually you will see a signpost pointing back towards Pokljuška Luknja. Following this route will bring you high above the gorge with some steep exposure on one side. Again keep younger children under control here. The return through the Pokljuka Hole is magical; the cave has chimneys open on the sky which let light in to the sheltered spaces. Pause for a moment here to consider all the humans and animals which must have taken shelter in this place over the centuries.
Return to the crossroads then retrace your steps to the car park, perhaps with a renewed sense of gratitude, inner peace and joy at the simple beauty of the natural world.