THE GRAND TOUR: HUNGARY 11/12/13th JULY

A peaceful night on the artillery ranges was followed by a successful early morning dog walk when I came across my third snake, luckily this one already dead.  

 The great hunter proudly returned to his women who gratefully received the bounty and set to work.  

 Soon after we started hiking in the forested hills of the Bakony region another 30km north she was thrilled to discover her second treasure of the day, a dead fox from which the skull was soon to join the stinky things to deal with list.  

 It became a rather unattractive adornment to her knapsack which kept me upwind and did little to improve our communication with the family groups we met along the way.  

 

Up until the fox find our path had been rich in more appetising riches. Mulberry trees 

 wild raspberry, walnut, Apple, cherry, chestnut, hazel and what I thought was hops 

 for the beer and even wormwood to make absinthe.  

 And fields of glorious ripe grain.  

 

Most of the long looped walk was in deep hardwood forest, this time un harvested old coppice.  

    We went through stretches of sunken gullies in the limestone and past cliffs and caves. There was even a bit of scrambling with metal pegs and cable.  

   The micro world was busy too with ants nests and fungi and little life.  

   We were very glad to be walking in the deeply shaded forest with the canopy far above our heads as the temperature shot up whenever we came to a clearing. The last couple of Kms were on the road into Csesznek past the castle ruined not in the multiple sieges it has suffered but by earthquake and fire caused by lightening strike. There’s a lesson there somewhere.  

 We were parked up in a nice little flat area with picnic tables and benches and plenty of shade. There was even a water pump in the neat cemetery opposite used mainly to water the flower planted graves.  

 Obviously a popular village with day trippers and walkers we arrived back to the van to find it surrounded by coaches but they were gone before too long and we shared the space with two camping trekkers on a long distance hike. We called to the village inn for a two course dinner and a couple of pints each which involved a lot of Google translate and cost us about 6€ each. Walking up to the castle gates we discovered it was closed for repair work four 4 days but it looked good in the sunset from the van at bedtime anyway.  

 

We did another long loop through the woods the following day. After winding up every dog in the village by parading ours past their fences we thankfully left the yapping and yelping behind and entered the cool and shade of a lovely sunken ” holloway”.  

 These tunnel like tracks and trails have been worn down into soft ground over centuries and often with a hedge on either sides whose root system resists the erosion and creates a canopy above. There are some still surviving in southern England than Robert McFarland explored with Roger Deakin and some of the old Irish borreens are the same kind of thing. Anyway, they make for contemplative walking thinking of the multitudes that have passed by on what is now a pedestrian irrelevance to mainstream transportation.  

 The karstic area is studded with hollows and sinkholes and cut with gorges and steep valleys and the forest trail had us yo-going up and down. Being limestone there was little surface water so we frequently had to stop and give the dogs a drink.  

 These woods of beech, oak and hornbeam had been coppiced for centuries and I was hoping to come across the charcoal makers I’d read about but no luck.  

 

Looping back towards the village from a different direction we passed a cliffy bit with climbers doing their thing  

  and we tried to get a better view of the castle.  

   

Time to head south to the Balaton uplands and give the lake another chance. It was hard work. Temperatures rising, tempers fraying, parking nightmare. How can the majority deal with these conditions?

After too much toing and froing we at last succeeded in leaving the van in shade and accessing the water. We were not alone.  

 Hoards of summer camps disgorge onto the beaches of Lake Balaton in the summer and the nearest thing the Hungarians have to a seaside is swamped.  

 I was too hot to care about honeypot overcrowding and just needed to swim but even that wasn’t easy as the water is very shallow and there are patrolling lifeguards to make sure you don’t go out of your depth.  

 But we managed it and coolness was achieved. We even frolicked in the ripples ( there aren’t any waves) and sat on the grass under a sun umbrella eating ice cream. 

Worried about the dogs parboiling in the van we escaped the Hungarian Riviera and drove inland to the Balaton Uplands where, as luck would have it, we found a great park up at the end of a track into the hills. At the back of the little village of Balatonhenye we found  

 and stayed next to the throbbing waters. I climbed the steep hill above us for a view of the village.  

 And returned to base on a artfully formed sheep/ goat track.  

 

This area has some fine thatched houses, and we past some in the morning as we left.  

     

We were going to walk up the butte of Szt Gyorgy-Hegy, one of the basalt mounds that rise up above the broad flat farmland of the basin in a steep escarpment and provide good views of the lake. 

Our way there was festooned with fruit and nuts of all kinds. Added to the riches we’d had in the Bakony were grape and plum and peach and pear and hazel and chestnut and walnut. And what you couldn’t eat was a feast for the eyes and nose with heavenly scented flowers displayed promiscuously everywhere. Talk about fecund. 

Making our way past the vineyards and veg gardens of the homesteads and thinking what a fantastic country to be a food forager, we climbed up to the basalt columns.  

     And up to the summit for views across to other buttes rising from the plain and the pale blue of lake Balaton.  

   Circulating the hill on the downward journey we past a few deserted properties  

   Which has been a bit of a feature of these parts. Because of the troubled recent history many places are unclaimed and we’ve heard of folk who have successfully squatted abandoned farmsteads. On the other hand we’ve also seen quite a few old places being done up, some obviously by new settlers. I seem to remember a bit of a vogue a few years ago for buying into ultra cheap eastern/central Europe. We past a place advertising some healing/ massage just after Sally slipped and fell but she toughed it out and we got back safely. 

We swung around the lakeshore again and I availed of a senior after4 pm ticket (60p) to have a quick swim before heading to our next park up on the route up our next volcanic objective, Badacsony. After some messing around up dead ends we arrived at a little village green to call home for the night and a nice man called in to wish us well.  I think. 

  

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5 comments

  1. Super! Keep it up. I was thinking today that they should change the middle stripe on the Irish flag to grey, just to match the sky, great to see you’re having great weather

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  2. Wow thats amazing! I stayed for a few days in Badacsony. There is a nice forest above it that I explored. Also there was a lovely wine place up above it that sold their own wine, really good, I had chilled white wine. It was in a kind of cave that kept the wine cold. Also I took a train to Tapolca and I remember it had an amazing park with a lake full of huge goldfish. And an undergound cave. I hope you enjoy it!

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    1. Fancy that. We’ve spent the morning hiking all over that hill/ volcano/butte/ moron dock. We were looking down at all the vineyards and cold cellars. You can go boating in those caves in Tapolca now but there’s not enough time. Going to Europes largest thermal lake nearby instead. Then off to Slovenia to meet the boys.

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      1. If you are going to Heviz, the spa is a bit boring but if you go round the back of it where the thermal spring comes out into a kind of canal you can hang out with the locals and get the same thermal water experience for free! And its much more fun.

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