Saturday, 13 June 2015

Another long walk to Czachówek

Not a 03:50 start; this time I left home at 14:00, bound for Czachówek, on foot, a different, more direct way. It's hot and sunny, over 30C in the afternoon, and the stormclouds had yet to start building ahead of the heavy downpour that would hit Jeziorki 12 hours later.

But first, a word of warning. This is the prime season for ticks, and they are out in force this year. Ticks are nasty, evil little beings. They have adapted to drop from foliage onto passing mammals, and then suck their blood. And often as not, the ticks carry parasitic or bacterial diseases that all too easily enter the human bloodstream.

2015 is a boom year for ticks. Everyone says so. Pan Wiesław and his wife and dog went into the forest and came out to count 20 ticks upon themselves. Our cat Czester has brought back several this season, all dead thanks to his anti-tick collar.

So it's long sleeves, long trousers, long socks, stout shoes and a bush hat for me whenever I'm out and about in the countryside at this time of year, despite the heat. Below: here's a tick I found on my white shirtsleeve, between the elbow and the wrist (click to expand photo). It had not yet managed to make its way to my armpit (a favourite place for ticks to screw their snouts into human skin) or gorge itself on my blood. Light-coloured clothing makes it easier to find them when you emerge from the woods. Niepozorny, isn't it?

It's not just ticks you need to worry about in rural Mazovia at this time of year: adders are around too. You'll need to recognise the difference between an adder (poisonous) and a grass snake (non-poisonous). I came across three snakes on my walk, all were grass snakes. Two were road-kill, the third (below) looks like it had shed its skin on a railway sleeper.

Anyway, on to the walk. My route this week took me more directly south, following as close as I could to the Warsaw to Radom railway line. Jeziorki - Mysiadło - Nowa Iwiczna - Piaseczno, then on down to Zalesie Górne, Ustanówek and my destination. Below: the line crosses two rivers between Warsaw and Czachówek; the Jeziorka and the Zielona; this is the Jeziorka. It's 15:58. As I cross, I come across a group of students (at least 12 of them in six canoes) paddling eastwards towards the Vistula.

Onwards, south toward the sun. South of the Jeziorka, south of the level crossing at Żabieniec, a cobbled road leads to Zalesie Górne. Below: many cyclists are out and about; cycling on cobblestones not easy unless your bike has fat tyres and suspension. It's 16:21.

Just before Zalesie, at 16:31, I come across this courtyard containing two classic Polish-designed Żuk delivery vehicles (samochody dostawcze). In the background, smoke emerges from a chimney. Wędzarnia? 

At Zalesie Górne, I stop for a large lamb kebab na ostro w cienkim cieście. I've been walking for over two and half hours. At five pm, I get going again. I pass through Zalesie Górne, an exurb of działki and dworki many of which are getting a bit shabby; the owners seem to put a bigger store on owning a big new SUV than keeping their houses looking impressive. People who commute here to town by car each day must experience frustration and a sense of a life wasted (25km to Centrum via Piaseczno or 32km via Konstancin). Below: a life-size Tyrannosaurus Rex stands guardian to a house in Zalesie Górne. It's 17:37.

Onwards to my favourite bits. Having passed beyond Exurbia, Mazowsze shades into its rural self. Here I am, approaching Ustanówek. This stretch of road gives me those strong 1950s USA vibes. Below: it's 18:06 and a Radom-bound train heads south.

Further on down the road, across the level crossing and heading out of Ustanówek, towards my destination. It is 18:27, my train home's due in less than an hour (the one scheduled after this one, below).

Below: I enter the forest, which is criss-crossed with railway lines. To get to Czachówek Górny station I need to cross the north-to-east spur. This line is in the throes of maintenance; old rails badly hammered by heavy goods wagons are being replaced by new rails (lying between the tracks waiting to be installed). It is 18:57.

Into the trees. I scramble down the embankment and come across a boar's head, below. Not a Shakespearean tavern but the real thing; the cycle of life, death and decay. It is exactly 19:00.

I've made it in good time to Czachówek Górny station. Surrounded by forests and train tracks, a place of interest. Between the main line and the west-to-south spur is a garden with columns and horses. In the background, a railway signal. From time to time an occasional oil train rumbles through. A place, I think, O. Winston Link would have liked to have photographed.

I'm on the platform at Czachówek Górny. I can hear in the forest a train to the east of me. It it westbound? Northbound? Or southbound? I cannot immediately tell, not being able to see it. The low rumble through the trees is getting louder... where will it emerge? Below: it's a Koleje Mazowieckie passenger train from Góra Kalwaria to Warsaw. According to the timetable, it's running half an hour late. As a result, my train back to Jeziorki is delayed by a few minutes.

Below: my journey; just over 20km in five hours' walking with a half-hour stop for supper en route. Nearly 30,000 paces in total. Click to enlarge.

June is Mazowsze's finest month in terms of weather; one should make the most of every sunny day!

This time last year:
Half a mile under central Warsaw, on foot

This time two years ago:
Dzienniki Kołymskie reviewed

This time three years ago
Russia-Poland in Warsaw: the worst day of Euro 2012

This time five years ago:
Thirty-one and sixty-three - a short story

This time six years ago:
Warsaw rail circumnavigation

This time seven years ago:
Classic Polish vehicles

This time eight years ago:
South Warsaw sunsets

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