»Cheesy« MTB day on the high plateaus above Lake Bohinj

Finally. I've been thinking of riding a bike on the high plateaus above Lake Bohinj for ages. Don't ask why I haven't done the trip, but eventually ... I did :-).

There were a lot of things to be looking forward to before the trip, but most of all: impressive nature, dominated by Julian Alps, and cheese-making tradition. The plan was to start the trip in a village Stara Fužina nearby glittering Lake Bohinj. (But a bit too cold for swimming in the beginning of June.) Next on the map was a neighbouring village Studor where we left a paved road and rode up hill to the high plateaus Uskovnica, Praprotnica, Zajamniki and Konjska dolina, well known for their shepherd's architecture and cheese-making. Then back to the starting point through the villages Zgornje Podjelje, Jereka, Češnjica and Srednja vas. Distance: around 30 kilometers, elevation: 1100 meters, the highest point: 1280 meters.

So, let's check if cows are already grazing up there!

But first a bit about the cheese-making tradition in the area. I'm quoting: »Alpine dairy farming, which began in the 13th century, and the related cheese-making was the foundation of Bohinj farming throughout history. Few fertile areas, long winters and short summers were the reason, why locals mostly focused on raising cattle (cows, goats, horses, sheep). Milk and dairy products were the basis for staple food for a long time. Data indicate that, in the past, approximately forty Alpine dairy farming settlements were active. They were divided into hay plateaus, middle, and high plateaus. In spring, shepherds began to graze their animals on hay plateaus, which were the lowest. Then they herded them to middle and high plateaus, and in autumn, they did the reverse towards the valley.«

After arriving to Bohinj and facing the unpleasant truth about parking fees in the area (1,5 euro per hour plus you have to pay in advance and I hate checking the time while taking time off!) the trip began. According to plan it was a lovely journey on the firm macadam roads in the shelter of thick woods. The shepherd's huts (which are nowadays mostly private holiday cabins, but neatly restored and maintained) are something to see, especially on Zajamniki.

The cattle was not numerous, it was just the beginning of the grazing season, so it was too soon to enjoy the dairy specialities. If you go there in the summer, you can try and buy lots of delicious fresh dairy products: cheese, cottage cheese, milk, sour milk ... I absolutely recommend the most special of Bohinj cheeses: mohant. Creamy cheese of a very strong taste. Not everyone likes it but it's really tasty. And if you don't reach the high plateaus you can visit the cheese-making farms in the valley. Bohinj Tourist Cheese-Makers Trail connects the cheese makers in the mountains and in the valley and it's the only cheese trail in Slovenia.

And there was again something that amazes me every time I leave the city to visit the Slovenian countryside. It's how neat and tidy it is. And Bohinj region is no exception; on the contrary: the villages, the fields, the meadows, they are so nice as they have been designed by someone totally obsessed with esthetic.

It was a great day and we ended it deliciously: with a home made supper in the small restaurant in Bohinjska Bistrica on the way back to Ljubljana, Gostilnica Štud'l. I ate the best štruklji on Earth and fantastic soup with fresh mushrooms. Bon appetit ;-)!

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