How to start an introduction to a blog in which you intend to describe a place like Idrija? When I think of the memories that bind me to this place far away in the Idijca valley, between the steep walls of the Trnovo plateau and the Škofja Loka-Cerklje hills, memories of my teenage years and the miracle of Idrija basketball flash through my mind. , narrow roads and “drunk” Yugots of Idrija racers who reigned on them. Today, fortunately, these roads are a bit wider and the access to Idrija is much friendlier, which is why the trip to Idrija is not so “far” anymore. But when we are in the valley near the Idrijca river, what sights to see in Idrija, what to see, where to go?
The sights of Idrija that we will visit today are the Idrijske rake, Divje jezero, and the shortest Slovenian river Jezernica, the extremely popular natural bathing area on Idrijska Bela. We will walk to Idrija klavže, huge water locks, stop at the spring of healing water and the “grandmother’s tooth”, and finally see the largest of klavže in the vicinity of Idrija, which are the only ones still active today, and jump to the Ovčjak waterfall.
If I say that Idrija is one of the most interesting and varied cities for tourists… I can already see some of you raising your eyebrows and wondering. And I mean that seriously. Idrija has such an interesting location, such a history with the second largest mercury mine in the world, all the infrastructure that had to accompany mining, a lace museum, pearly streams and rivers, uninhabited valleys and gorges, turbulent events in World War I, and World War II., as well as between them, but I must not forget the žlikroge – traditional local dish… and so on and so forth.
Before I visited Idrija as a tourist and someone who writes my own blog, I was thinking of including some of the sights of Cerkno or even Tolmin in the trip, but soon after the invitation of my guide Janja, who is from those parts, I quickly realized that only Idrija has many, many more attractions that attract visitors than I can deal with in one blog. So I chose only 5 of the ones that Janja and I managed to process in one day.
By the way, if you are looking for ideas for similar family trips around Slovenia, I suggest you read the article entitled Where to go on a trip. and Sunday trip to nature, together you will find more than 30 different ideas for full-day trips.
For a start, I suggest that you drive to Idrija and park your car in the parking lot of the Tuš store, or somewhere near the football field, which is in the immediate vicinity of the same store. From there, you cross the river over one of the two beautiful suspension bridges, which will accompany us practically all the time on today’s wandering around Idrija. The left river bend of Idrijca is arranged in a very pleasant park. Part of this park is also a natural science educational trail through the Idrija rake.
Immediately after crossing the bridge, you will notice the old obsolete building of the Idrija Mercury Mine. Everything around the building gives you the impression that you are approaching the first landmark… Kamšt is a pumping device inside the building, a huge wooden wheel that pumped water from the mine shafts and thus allowed safe work for miners. The signs in front of Kamšt will teach you that the wooden bicycle that helped draw water from the mines is the largest wooden bicycle used for this purpose in the world.
Along Kamšt, you climb the stairs to the building where the mine loading station used to be, but today the mine locomotives and trucks are exhibited there. This is where the natural science learning trail along the Idrija crayfish begins, and at the same time the crayfish end here. Rake is a water canal, first built in the 18th century, for the needs of the mine. Initially, Rake was wooden and led to the center of Idrija. Later, they were surrounded by stones and today the crabs end at Kamšt.
The path along Rake is the only walking path in Idrija that is more or less flat. It runs along the left bank of the Idrijca and at the end, at the dam at Kobila, leads us not only to the beginning of Rak, but also to another world landmark, which is hidden by this mysterious valley (but more on that later).
The nature learning trail is an extremely popular walking trail for locals as well. This is especially true in the summer months when walking in the shade of trees and along with the Rake, where cold water flows, is much friendlier than walking in the sun. Along the way, boards with natural science content teach us about many special features that the eye of an ordinary visitor quickly overlooks. The entire educational trail along Rake is about 3 kilometers long. However, the walking path does not end at the dam, but you can walk along with it, along the Idrijca, all the way to the village of Idrijska Bela, which is a few kilometers higher in the valley.
But our journey for today will end at the dam, or. a few meters earlier, as we will walk over another suspension bridge to the starting point and tables that will direct us towards the Divje jezero (Wild Lake) and the shortest river in Slovenia.
Divje jezero and the shortest Slovenian river Jezernica
Divje jezero is located just a few meters from the main road Logatec – Idrija, at the turnoff for Idrijska Bela. Along the otherwise narrow road, there are some parking spaces where you can leave your car. On both sides of the bridge, which takes us over the shortest, only 55 meters long river Jezernica, there are paths that take us to the lake.
The lake is very calm and peaceful most of the time, but after heavy rains, huge amounts of water (up to 60 cubic meters per second) can gush from its depths, which is also evident on the water surface. It all looks like boiling water in a pot on the stove, only this pot is a little bigger. Hence its name, Wild Lake. The lake is one of the deepest lakes in Slovenia, Divers have explored its siphon to a depth of 160 meters, but it does not end there.
This karst lake is also the source of the shortest Slovenian river Jezernica, which flows into the river Idrijca a few meters after the bridge. The lake is surrounded by vertical walls, about 100 meters high, which gives the lake an additional look of wildness. In 1972, Divje jezero was declared the first Slovenian museum in nature.
The special feature of the lake is its constant temperature, as on the hottest days of summer it reaches only around 10 ° C, and on the coldest winter days it grows about 3 ° C less. The lake is home to trout and many cave animals in the depths of the tunnel, including the largest cave animal in the world, the Human Fish. The vegetation along the lake is also special, as at this low altitude, in the Primorska region, some alpine plants thrive, such as Kranjski jeglič, Kranjska bunika and many others…
Today we will have fun around Idrija only in nature, despite the fact that Idrija also has many museums. But since the blog is called in nature, we will stay there as well. Idrijska Bela is a small sprawling village with about 60 people. The narrow gorge Strug, which is wide enough only for Idrijca and the road, which is squeezed under the rocky cliffs, leads us to the village. Idrijska Bela is the confluence of Idrijca and Belca, and at this confluence, there is an extremely popular and besieged natural swimming pool in summer.
The exceptional natural swimming pool attracts many visitors from the Notranjska, Primorska and Osrednjeslovenska regions. There have been places next to the swimming pool for several years, which you can rent for picnics in nature, there are also two beautiful beach volleyball courts, a basketball hoop and much more. For all those who are quickly hungry and thirsty, a snack bar is also open during the summer months.
The swimming pool in Idrijska Bela is suitable for practically everyone, even your youngest. Only when entering the water will you have to make a little effort, especially if you are accustomed to the summer temperatures of the sea or larger lakes.
The parking lot next to the swimming pool is also an extremely good starting point for mountain bikers, to whom Idrijska Bela offers a real cycling paradise. Here you have the opportunity to attack the Trnovo forest and many more and less demanding trails through the surrounding forests.
Just a few kilometers above the village of Idrijska Bela, another surprise awaits us. Klavže for harvesting wood or The “Slovenian Pyramids”, as they are also called, are really an amazing surprise when you see them for the first time in the narrow valley of the Belca stream. Klavže is another of the many buildings left behind by the mining industry in nearby Idrija. Namely, Klavže was used for rafting wood from the very rich valleys in the vicinity of Idrija, to the center of Idrija, where there was a mine that needed large quantities of wood for its operation. Both the one that served for support and safety underground, as well as for heating the furnace and many other needs of the mine.
Klavže operated between the 16th and the beginning of the 20th century. Initially, these were wooden barriers, but in the 18th century they were replaced by masonry slabs and shaped stone and mortar. These huge water barriers served as barriers, behind which workers stacked huge amounts of wood, then closed the massive wooden gates in the klavže to prevent the water from flowing away. Thus, a lot of water accumulated behind the klavže and when the Klavž gate opened, the water carried the wood to Idrija, which is more than 14 kilometers away from the highest klavž. In Idrija, however, “rakes” were set up in the water, 140-meter-long wooden barriers, in which water washed by water stopped.
Klavže operated until 1926, when a great flood destroyed the rakes. Today, of course, klavže no longer serves its purpose, but you can see them and admire their might. I was most impressed by Putrih’s klavže on Belca, which are the most powerful of all I have seen.
Slightly lower along the Belca stream there are other klavže, which could retain more water (up to 78 thousand cubic meters) and also float more wood into the valley (up to 5000 cubic meters), but they are smaller, or. less imposing. In the Belca valley, you can also stop at the chapel with a spring of healing drinking water, at least that is what some people who drink water from this spring say. Along the way you will meet a very special rock, or. Babji zob (Grandmother’s tooth) standing by the road, a huge rock on a small pedestal…
You can walk to Klavže, but the path will take you along a well-maintained macadam road, which is a bit boring in my opinion. I myself much prefer forest paths or trails. However, it is an ideal road for mountain biking.
Kanomeljske klavže and Ovčjak waterfall
The third of the klavže that my guide and I visited in Idrija is Kanomeljske klavže. The largest of all klavže in the vicinity of Idrija. They were able to hold as much as 100,000 cubic meters of water in the reservoir. A well-marked road from Spodnja Idrija leads us to these. About a kilometer before the klavže we will have to park our vehicle and walk along a wide macadam path to this wonderful cultural heritage. The Kanomelj klavže are still the only klavže that are in function, not in their original form, but behind them is still an accumulation lake, the water of which drives the turbines of the power plant.
The gorge of the Klavžarica stream hides many more pearls. The entire gorge is difficult to access, as it is surrounded by extremely steep slopes, but what can be seen from the path, the gorge is worth seeing up close. The interesting thing about Klavžarica is that it sinks into the abyss in the stream under the klavže and comes to the surface again just before the fish farm just above Spodnja Idrija.
I have not seen this abyss, but I have read about it. I invite you to take a walk past the lake towards the upper course of the Klavžarica, which is truly exceptional. On the sandy alluvium at the other end of the lake, you will notice a path that leads to the forest… the path is always clearly visible but not very well-trodden. It leads us along the picturesque river Klavažrica, which is full of rapids, pools… After about 500 meters we reach the confluence, just a few steps further, and in the distance, we have a view of the waterfall falling into the depth… The waterfall is about 100 meters above us, an amazing view!
When we get a little closer to it, we see that everything is a series of 3-4 waterfalls, through which Klavžarica descends from the Trnovo plateau towards Idrija. The path leads us to the last of the waterfalls, but unfortunately, we can’t go higher along the riverbed, as we are surrounded by precipice walls, and the riverbed is not passable, at least not for us hikers.
Janja and I found our way to a great viewpoint for the waterfall, but the path is quite demanding and not suitable for family trips, but if you also want to visit the Ovčjak waterfall, which is 27 meters high and is a real beauty, I will be with you soon this blog also described a path that is unmarked, but at the end it is not at all and you have to orient yourself by feeling.
Where to eat in Idrija
As I mentioned in the introduction, Idrija is also known for its authentic cuisine and the gastronomic offer in the city of Idrija is quite diverse. I did not visit any of the restaurants myself, but Janja told me that there are 3 inns that she recommends visiting after a busy day in Idrija and its surroundings. The first is the restaurant Kos, the second is the Barbara. and the third is the restaurant at Škafar.
In addition to the ideas I shared with you, Idrija is very rich in ideas for the many surrounding peaks, where you can enjoy beautiful views of the valleys and high plateaus, and neighboring peaks. However, Idrija is also rich in museum offerings. You can visit the lace museum and various parts of the museum in connection with the mercury mine.
So, be enough Idrija for today, but I will definitely come back here. I wish you a safe step to the next ones and go to Nature!