"Malownicze" is one of those Polish words which are difficult to translate into any other languages. "Picturesque", one might say, but to be more precise, we should say "as a painting" or perhaps "photogenic". The region Rudawy Janowickie perfectly fits this definition.
The "Valley of the Palaces and Gardens", as it was called during the beautiful times of the 19th century, when Izabela Czartoryska or Frederyk Wilhelm enjoyed staying there, is paradoxically not well known to Poles, in the shadow of the Karkonosze neighbor and its winter sports. It is generally popular amongst geologists and ... climbers. But it deserves, however, to be more known for a multitude of other reasons.
His eponymous nature reserve covers an area richly wooded. Just as some botanical garden, designed by some landscaper, mixing hardwood and softwood forests, whith splendid beeches, larches and so on, so bright in the fall when they turn yellow.
Rudawy Janowickie is also an uncommon geological area. Made of granite and metamorphic rocks, erosion has spared surprising outcrops unusual shapes, such as on hills Sokoliki, or Piec, Garby, Staroscinskie Skaly, Skalny Most, to the delight of climbers from all over the country.
It is also an area rich in more or less rare metals, like iron, copper, arsenic, gold, uranium and radium. The etymology of Rudawy ("red") is also linked to the color of minerals. Some areas have been a very early mining activity, now gone. Old mines were transformed into lakes, such as the "kolorowe jeziora" (colorful lakes), blue, red and green, because of their chemical staining. Far from being dangerous, their visit is generally surprising.
Hydrography is also very varied. While beautiful cascading streams rush down the slopes of mountains of Skalnik or Wielka Kopa, the lazy meandering river Bóbr unveils some of its most beautiful curves. To the west, the relief fades out and gives way to wetlands and artificial lakes, such as Karpnicki. Two names that are suggestive of the aquatic fauna : beavers and carps. A region that will appeal many walkers and cyclists by its density of marked trails.
The region is rich in monuments of last ages, ranging from the castle ruins and fortresses of Bolczów and Sokolec, to manors, mansions and palaces such as Wojanów, Miedzianka, Bukowiec, Karpniki, Łomnicki, Myszków, Bobrów. The slogans praising the local heritage abound, and some of them go until compare it to the Loire Valley.
Rudawy Janowickie finally ressembles some impressionist painting canvas, straight out of the 19th century, and seduce any visitor with a romantic soul.
Translated from an article for Les Echos de Pologne, number 110, and in honor of all the wonderful SP albums of Romuald Kosina ;)
The region is located between three towns:
- Janowice Wielkie, usually the "gate to Rudawy Janowickie" (after which it was named) while we come from the A4 motorway for example from Wrocław.
- Kowary, a beautiful town with colorful houses, worth a visit. The gateway if you come from Czech Republic and/or Karkonosze
- Kamienna Góra, largest of the three local cities and regional center, SE. Kind of industrial and not very attractive, a bit like Wałbrzych, the agglomeration from which you might come from in the same direction.
View Larger Map
No particular red tape, except the usual rules when you are in a natural reserve: no fires, no rubbish, etc etc. People do bicouac near the rocks and climbing spots.
If you rock-climb, there is a certain number of unofficial but strict rules to which everyone should stick, given the popularity of the rocks, like for example no additional equipment. I think I heard also that climbers should be belayed from below and never from the tops of the rocks.
- Bivouac / Wild camping : While the first is "tolerated" near the rocks, the second is probably not allowed according to the reserve's rules. However in remote place the chances that someones checks are small. Just behave responsibly (no trash, etc).
- Mountain huts : The only mountain hut of the area, Schronisko Szwajcarka (Swiss hut, from its beautiful wooden architecture) is very famous. It is more than 150 years old ! Unfortunately the accomodation is not in the main beautiful building but in the crappy building behind, and very disapointing if we have watched the enticing website before. Very crowded because of the popularity of Sokoliki rocks nearby.
- Campsites : Near Sokoliki as well, but north, is located a camp site named "Taborisko pod Krzywą". Perhaps more sympathic than Szwajcarka.
- Accomodations in houses : There is pleinty to be found in Kowary or Janowice Wielkie. Just use Google with the keyword "noclegi".