Sunday, 2 March 2008

Tourist trail through Jeziorki

Anyone familiar with Poland's mountains will know what a szlak turystyczny is. A recommended tourist trail marked with coloured lines (usually red, blue, black, green or yellow) on a white background. These are found painted on trees, posts etc.

Warsaw has scores of these heading out of the city to rural parts, dating back to the days when jolly workers from their state-owned zakłady pracy would set off on jolly hikes on their one free day a week to take in some fresh air.

One such trail passes Jeziorki on its way from W-wa Dawidy PKP station to the Las Kabacki forest and then on through Klarysew to Ciszyca bus station. Officially numbered MZ-5142-z, it's 16.4km long. Here's a full list of all szlaki turystyczne in Mazowsze province. There's more than a hundred in all, with a total distance of over 2,700 km. Administered by the PTTK, quaintly translated as the "Polish Tourist Country Lovers Society" (I'd go for "Polish Tourism and Sightseeing Association" myself), a body set up in Stalinist days as a kind of communist version of the Ramblers' Association.

Above: Tourist trail markers along ul. Dumki and the footpath linking it to ul. Sarabandy. Part of this stretch that runs through Jeziorki is visible from my bedroom window. Every now and then the trail falls foul of local landowners wanting to block it. Once, walking home I found a few metres of police tape stretched across the path. More recently, a building plot with a new house on it cut into the trail and the landowners on the other side blocked off the detour that hikers were making around the plot with logs. This situation has now been resolved and a little wooden gate now stands here.

SUPPLEMENTARY: A week later I'm came this way to find the gate chained and padlocked shut. I scrambled over without too much effort, but I think that blocking public rights of way like this is not on. Indeed, it's probably an offence against the Ustawa (Law) of 18 January 1996 on Physical Culture, which sets out all the Rozporządzenia (enabling regulations) regarding the marking and maintenance of szlaki turystyczne.

SUPPLEMENTARY 2: I've discovered another szlak turystyczny in Jeziorki! This one (MZ-5143-c) runs 9.9km from Pyry to Powsin, again through the Las Kabacki forest. This sign (right) is on ul. Jeziorki.

The Rozporządzenia to the Ustawa say that szlak turystyczny markers should be painted (in oil paint) 10cm high by 15cm wide, white-colour-white, and should be no more than 50m apart, from each one you should see one in front of you and one behind you (assuming clear visibility).


Neighbour said...


I don't understand your comments about "communist era" or "stalinist era" remarks. I don't recognize PTTK as a "comunist version" of whatever. I was born mid-sixties and often used to walk "szlak turystyczny" or reast at PTTK huts in the mountains. I have also gained my kayaking miles for the record to get the "Kayak Tourist" badge.

Your comments look a bit funny for somenone who lives here for several decades and, whether you like it or not, doesn't consider everything established pre-1989 as a "communist" burden or heritage. Especially when such comments are addressed by somenone, who lived for his first 40 years in the Western Europe and seems not to understand fully the effort to have decent life here ;-)

Believe me, not everyone who was more than 18 in 1989 was a member of PZPR :-)

Best regards,

Neighbour said...

Should be:
"I don't understand your "communist era" or "stalinist era" remarks."

Michael Dembinski said...

You're probably right, Neighbour. It's all too easy to sneer at anything that functioned pre-1989. Not being here at the time, I have little direct experience that would enable me to sift out those parts of PRL reality that made life more bearable. Walking in mountains and forests would have been an antidote to the drab, awkward and unpleasant.

Still, PTTK was set up in the depths of Stalinism with an ideological intent: