Two members of London Red Rope, Mark Alexander and Humphrey Southall, plus Heather Morris from the Leicester group, spent eight days in Slovenia, mostly walking in the Julian Alps. Mark and Humphrey flew to Ljubljana while Heather came by train via Paris and Munich, so the trip began when we met up at the youth hostel by Lake Bled on Saturday 4th.
Bled is near the Julian Alps, not in them, and is a really big tourist attraction. Our first walk was a circuit of the lake, followed by a ceremonial eating of a Bled cream cake. We then took a bus twenty miles west to Lake Bohinj, no higher but surrounded by the mountains. We used the youth hostel there as our base for the rest of the trip but making two separate treks up to stay in mountain huts. Both Slovenian hostels were comfortable and we had our own room each night, although the evening meals were a bit uninteresting.
The first trek was for just one night, began by going up 3,000 feet by cable car and ended with a long descent back to the lake, not always well way-marked. The second trek took us to three huts and two summits, the climax of the trip being an ascent of Triglav on the Friday. Triglav is not just Slovenia’s highest mountain but a national symbol, appearing on Slovenia’s flag, but fortunately as non-Slovenians we were not required to flagellate one another on the summit …
Having been often to Austria and once to Bulgaria, Slovenia was much more like Austria: the huts were mostly pretty comfortable but similar in price to Austria. Although our Cicerone guidebook did not make this clear, our Austrian Alpine Club cards got us a substantial discount on accommodation in the huts, as well as covering mountain rescue insurance. One advantage over Austria is that there you really need to speak a little German, but nobody expects you to know Slovenian.
We had been worried whether we would get up Triglav, given the amount of “fixed rope” and our lack of climbing harnesses and klettersteig equipment. However, it was all very easy scrambling and the “ropes” (wire cables bolted onto the rocks) were arranged mainly as hand rails: the few people who were religiously clipping themselves on (and off and on again at every stanchion) were very slow. In practice, the places that felt most precarious were where there was no rope in place, and therefore nothing for the people with harnesses to clip on to.
On Sunday 12th Mark had to head home for work, while Heather and Humphrey went two hundred miles west by train to the Italian Dolomites, meeting up with Pam, Barbara and Dave — but the Julian Alps can be recommended as a trekking area offering a good combination of affordability, comfortable accommodation, nearness to the UK and great scenery.