Exploring the Hills of Dolenjska
We begin our cycling tour at the restaurant Gostišče Felicijan where the Mirna River flows into the Sava. How long it must have taken the Mirna River to create such a deep valley with such steep slopes through the hills of Zasavje? Before Jelovec, where the valley is narrowest, the river created two long meanders and later people built two railway tunnels. Not long ago, people did not travel these valleys because they were impassable or too dangerous.
Let us continue on through the hills of Dolenjska which have a rich tradition. Everything in Krmelj reminds us of its rich 150-year mining past. The spirit of the cave dwarf called Knapec (little mine worker) is still present in the area. Did you know that mining settlements have no churches?
We pedal onwards along the uneven terrain of the Mirna valley all the way to Mokronog. The ruins of a castle and the hill Žalostna Gora reflect how great this place was in the Middle Ages. Down the long valley of Laknice we can let the pedals turn on their own.
Then we ride through Čelevec to Klevevž where the Radulja Creek formed an impressive gorge with smaller waterfalls. Here we can also see the ruins of a castle. In summer we can take a dip in the hot spring Klevevška Toplica.
We cycle on through the Radulja valley to Škocjan, where the softness of the Dolenjska region and the homeliness of the countryside create magnificent images all year round.
We cross a motorway in Dobruška Vas and continue along the vast valley of the Krka River. Then we cycle between the hidden meandering Krka River and a large lowland complex of oak forests which partly is also an old-growth forest.
In the village of Malence, we are astounded by the mighty Cvelbar oak tree. Kostanjevica na Krki is the smallest town of Slovenia and it is the only one situated on an island. Because of its many wooden bridges, it is also called the ‘Venice of Dolenjska’.
We continue along the undulating landscape along the right bank of the Krka River. Because the Krka does not carry gravel, its banks are very lush and cut into the fertile plains along the river. In summer, almost every village has its own swimming area. In Bušeča vas, we can refresh ourselves in the thermal water of the small spa Klunove Toplice.
In Cerklje ob Krki, we cross a bridge over the Krka River and go uphill to Čatež at the confluence of the rivers Krka and Sava. We are offered a scenic view of Brežice and Terme Čatež Spa which offers the largest thermal water paradise in this part of Europe.
Passing the only preserved wetland of the Sava River in Posavje, we cycle to the Croatian border. To the right, under the foothills of the Gorjanci, we can see the beautiful Mokrice Castle. After the sun sets, the shadows of the wetland legends and the impish Čatež Dwarf sneak behind the castle walls.