Heritage Trails from the Idrijca to the Kolpa
Heritage Tours from the Idrijca to the Kolpa
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Rakov Škocjan - Cerknica - Bloke plateau - Hrib-Loški potok - Retje

Water and snow, forests and vistas, resourcefulness and curiosity characterize the life of the people from the Unica River to Loški Potok and from the Cerknica polje to the Bloke plateau. The climate conditions, which the witches of Mount Slivnica further strengthened with their magic, fostered one of Slovenia's most remarkable inventions, and the karst phenomena here created some of the most beautiful sights in Notranjska. Whatever nature failed to create, the locals added. Let's visit them!

We leave the Ljubljana-Koper expressway at the Unec exit and drive to Rakov Škocjan. The valley here, which was named after the small church of St. Kancijan, was formed when the ceiling of an underground passage collapsed. In its course through the valley from Zelška jama cave to Tkalca jama cave, the Rak stream flows under two natural bridges.
After our visit to Rakov Škocjan, we continue past Cerknica and the intermittent Cerknica Lake. At Grahovo we turn toward Mount Slivnica, where according to folk beliefs witches live. Just below the peak is Coprniška jama cave from which in winter flows the warm moist air that inspired the tales of witches. If no witches are in sight at the moment, we can console ourselves with the excellent view from the top over Cerknica Lake and the surrounding region.
Our journey takes us on to the Bloke plateau where we stop to enjoy lunch in Velike Bloke or Nova vas. The abundant snowfalls that blanket the plateau with long-lasting whiteness inspired the people here to contrive their own method of transportation-the Bloke skis. The first preserved description of the remarkable Bloke skis came from the pen of the polymath Janez Vajkard Valvasor in 1689.The skis were about 160 centimeters long and about ten centimeters wide and steering was accomplished with the help of a long pole. The Slamar Gostilna in Nova vas (1) has a room devoted to Bloke skiing where many items related to this practical solution to winter transportation are on display. Another interesting feature of Nova vas, which is not really a "new village" but just the youngest on the plateau, is the hand chiseled wells that get their water from the Sušica spring.
We continue our trip to Hrib-Loški Potok, a village at the center of one of Slovenia's most unspoiled regions. Its surroundings are rich with forests that cover nearly 85% of the area. At their heart they hide rare mutant trees such as the snake pine and the golden spruce. In Tabor, which got its name during the period of Turkish raids on this region ("tabor" means "fortified encampment"), we can visit the church of St. Lenart and the nearby cemetery of the 17th-century church of St. Barbara from where there is a fine view of the surrounding villages. The Retje uvala is a beautiful example of the Dinaric karst world. An interesting ethnological feature of the area is the tall ostrnice, a pine pole with trimmed branches which the farmers use to dry their hay. Below the village of Retje, the picturesque octagonal church of St. Florijan (2) rises from the idyllic patchwork of cultivated fields.

(1) Gostilna Slamar, Nova vas 45, Nova vas (01/709-81-52); open from 10:00 to 22:00,
closed Tuesday and Wednesday
(2) Parish Office of Loški Potok, Hrib 98, Loški Potok (01/836-73-65)