an easy climb to Crna Prst in July, 2014

– made easier because I took a taxi from Stara Fuzina, beside the lake at Bohinj, up to the end of the road, just below the abandoned skiing station.

I’m going to get some help to  put all this in order, all these ‘posts’ I mean,  and I need to put some maps in here, but we’re in the same territory as the series ‘at Vodnikov Dom’. Before I went there, early July 2014, I went to Crna Prst. I’d been there before.


this is from my dairy, written last summer:

Walking along the ridge near Crna Prst last year I met two small groups of people, the first were led by a small adventurous dog. As often in a lonely place and when you share a language, we talked and they asked me how far? Where? Both groups had been easily lifted up to the other end of the mountains by the cable car and then found the walk along the ridge, with many ups and downs, longer and harder than they had expected, and wanted to get on to Crna Prst to find the path back down to the valley. I told them both that they should stay at the refuge, but they had to get down. No running water, except a dribble into a sink outside and a sign warning you not to drink, but otherwise, a princely spot on top of the mountains with commanding views, and if you pay a bit more you can have your own little room and drink beer because it’s about the same price as water. It was not long till sunset but they were all intent on the two and a half hour descent, and they didn’t even have a map. In 1989 I had done the same thing, committed to a long, youthful walk, having gone up with the others on the cable car and left them to go down the same way, while I strode on, with a headache, on a hot day, over Rodica and Poljanski vrh and Konjski vrh,  pausing at the refuge for a drink of something, regretfully telling the guardian who asked me if I wanted to stay the night that no I had to get down to the valley, they were expecting me, and on to the in the end exhilarating descent, over scree, down rocky slopes strewn with shrubs and flowers, through the dark forest as the sun dipped down, out into hay meadows and broad tracks and finally the road leading for the last two or three kilometers to Stara Fuzina, beside the lake, as it grew dark, compelled along, happy that I had the strength to hurry, able to trust my knees and even, with a goal and a purpose, to ignore the pounding ache in my head.

Crna Prst lies near the east end of a long undulating ridge, never more than 2000 metres high, to the south of the valley that contains Bohinj and its lake. To the north and west you see ranges of higher mountains, culminating in Triglav, Slovenia’s highest. To the south folds of forested hills lead eventually to the Adriatic.

The people I met who were in such a rush reminded me of that headache day, and I always wanted to go back, slowly. 25 years after the first trip, it was always going to be slow. A day to go up, an evening on the ridge, the next day exploring a little of the other side, and a but further along the ridge, and the third day walking back to Stara Fuzina by a different route. For now, I’ll just put some photos here. As you climb of course the landscape changes. And the weather.  It’s obvious really, but it still amazes me, the different places you pass through, and how a very small place, an insignificant cwm for example, can seem like a self sufficient, detached world. Like our parochial human worlds.

First, through the high meadows near the forest; the abandoned ski resort. It’s too low to get good snow.  Rising above the mist that fills the Bohinj valley.


Wild flowers are taking over again:

meadows grow back into the failed ski resort


Then up through the forest, (I have no pictures), till you come out on the edge of a great bowl, beyond which you see the mountain ridge properly for the first time. Just there is a hut, a little refuge, where I was given a drink of herb tea and met a friendly couple from the Czech republic. You could just stay there. You wouldn’t need to go any higher.


Solar lighting has replaced noisy generators in refuges all over the Alps.

The next past of the walk is through mixed, open, flowery woodland as you skirt around the edge of the bowl heading up towards the ridge. Some of the plants have been labelled. This is a tricky and sometimes misleading thing to do as the labels stay put but the plants often don’t.


Among the hidden rocks there are pockets of good soil, the vegetation is quite lush here. Clematis alpina appears:


And this, I think it’s Lathyrus occidentalis, cousin to the sweet pea:

scrub at 1200 m, above the forest

The real mountains are nearer, we’ve come round the bowl and here you see spurs which descend from the main ridge:


The shrub in the left hand corner is Alnus viridis, not like our alders, but the green alder which is flexible enough to be buried by snow and rock falls and grow on through in the spring.  The path leads up onto one of the spurs. Rhodiola rosea, (a widespread plant, I’ve seen it on Ben Bulben in County Sligo,) is beginning to flower:


You can see Triglav in the distance. The plants of the ridge, in great variety,  occupy a band which in places is only a few yards wide:



Up at the refuge I was disappointed to meet a very noisy, oily, smoky generator. But it was only used for half an hour to haul firewood up from the valley to the south. The slopes to the south are smooth, steep and grassy, and the wood comes up on a sled:


 The view to the south:IMG_2378

Evening looking west along the ridge:



the refuge:IMG_2419

You see the earth just below the horizon?  That’s what Crna prst means: black earth. It’s one reason why the flora is special. Here’s the rare and beautiful Geranium argenteum:

geranium, lower ridge

In the morning I walked some way down the south side – slowly, not far, probably only a descent of 4-500 metres. Here are some of the flowers I found there which I didn’t see anywhere on the north side. Another world.


Lilium martagon – the biggest I’ve ever seen!


Lilium carniolicum


Iris graminea


Dianthus barbatus, sweet william

Later that day I walked some way along the main ridge from the refuge, where it gets rougher and higher. On crumbly rocks on the north side, hard to get near, was Eritrichium nanum, sometimes known as the King of the Alps:

eritrichium on the ridge

I was too early for the beautiful androsaces, and only just caught gorgeous Potentilla nitida, a speciality of the whole area, just opening, normally pink but these were white:

potentilla on the ridge

Next day I went down a different way, first over steep rocky slopes covered in dwarf pine, Pinus mugo:


After the shower you see approaching here I found myself in a little corrie, where snow would have lain deep until very recently, and here there were more new flowers, with raindrops:

IMG_2520 B

Pinguicula alpina, close relation of our butterwort

IMG_2513 B

an unknown buttercup (there are 39 in my book on alpine flowers)

IMG_2515 A

and a pulsatilla

and the flower you always expect to see in such places, Soldanella alpina:

Then lush growth concealing the gaps and hollows between big rocks, where there were beautiful big dame’s violets, Hesperis matronalis, which grows in England in very different circumstances:


On the rocks, delicate Rhodothamnus chamaecistus (sorry, no English name) which a keen reader might remember from Vodnikov Dom:



and Rhodiola rosea again – it seemed to be signature plant of the area


and Paederota lutea, a close relation of veronica

Everything changes so fast as you go down, it’s dizzying


globe flowers, looking back. on the left you can just see a useful red marker on the rock, the sort of thing that’s forbidden in Britain.

And then on the edge of the forest, in a place where there must have been deep, late snow and smashed trees spoke of avalanches, I found Corydalis solida, a common flower I had never seen before: the book says March to May, and it was now the beginning of July. That’s how deep the snow had been.


Then the sudden darkness of the forest, where Rosa pendulina manages to put out a few blossoms:


and this phyteuma, (we call them rampions in England, where they are now rare):

To cut a long walk short, I came out of the forest and through meadows, some still cut for hay, and as I got near the first houses I came across an extraordinary little patch of flowers by the track. As if I was suddenly near the mediterranean, there was Gladiolus byzantinus:


And a plant I’d never seen before -that feeling of unexpected discovery is beautiful – the marsh helleborine:

IMG_2581 A

Looking back up to Crna Prst:

Down by the lake there was a border collie that its family had forgotten.

Waiting and waiting for someone to throw the stick. They were all busy eating ice cream.

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