The Kashubian Switzerland — tradition and mystery
Hundreds of ribbon lakes, hidden among woody hills and picturesque settlements are the hallmark of the region. The name itself, “the Kashubian Switzerland”, evokes beautiful landscapes and breath-taking sceneries. It is one of the most delightful parts of Poland, with rich history and tradition. I love coming back here, it’s my refuge and destination whenever I need to charge my batteries. Whenever my friends drop by to my home city of Gdańsk, I always suggest Kaszuby as part of the itinerary. Regardless of the season, there are always places to chill out and eat well.
The secret of stone circles
I know the stone circles by heart. I visit them several times a year. Węsiory is a little, inconspicuous town that lures tourists with an unusual attraction, commonly known as “the Polish Stonehenge”. The magical aura surrounds you as soon as you enter the forest. Following a forest path, listening to bird songs, I reached the place where life once ran its course, so different from what we’re used to. According to archaeological research, the numerous stone circles and burial mounds were built two thousand years ago by the Goths who came here from what is now southern part of Sweden. What was the role of these circles? They served as both burial grounds and observatories, from where its builders could observe changing seasons, and served a crucial role in planning the distribution of goods and crops. Many people believe that these circles have the power to “recharge” your energy. There are explicit guidelines how to do this on the trees that surround the area. If this actually works, you have to check for yourself. What is certain is that a visit in this place will definitely brighten your mood, and will set you up for a more demanding stroll.
The “Kashubian Switzerland” is a land of hills, valleys, rivers, and lakes
The nature of the region is teeming with diversity. It doesn’t matter if you choose a well-known path, or you decide to change your route along the way. You can be certain of picturesque landscapes along the way. I recommend taking a route that combines myths and legends, history, and unusual landscapes. One of such routes goes through the Mirachowski Forest Complex.
There, you will find a spectacular glacial erratic that is impossible to miss, as it lies right by the lake. Known as the “Devil’s Stone”, it is said to have been placed there by Lucifer himself. It’s an astonishing 17 metres in circumference, and 3 metres in height. After I’d finished contemplating this marvel of nature, I continued along the lake Lubygość. Time flies when you’re surrounded by marvellous landscapes, full of beeches, oaks, and pines, reminiscent of a hike in the mountains. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for an unusual cave/grotto along the way. The Mirachowskie Grottos are from 3 to 6 metres deep and, unfortunately, can be only admired from the outside. Entering them is strictly forbidden. If you follow along the stone markings, you will easily reach the historical “Ptasia Wola” bunker of the Pomeranian Griffin, a secret military, anti-Nazi organisation from WWII.
It is a unique opportunity to experience tangible history. Most probably everyone knows that during a war, partisans would hide and live in the forest. This place gives you a first-hand experience of how this might have looked like. The site is described in detail. Currently, it is impossible to enter the bunker, but I hope that this will change soon. I am certain that if it weren’t for the markings I would’ve missed this spot, Its camouflage is excellent. The last stop of our little journey is the Lechicka Fissure (Szczelina Lechicka), a natural lookout point. Taking the same route back provides an entirely different perspective. When you’re finished enjoying the landscape, take a while to admire local handicraft.
Pottery that has remained unchanged for generations
The region is famed for its exquisitely embellished earthenware. More than a hundred years ago, Franciszek Necel arrived to the popular summer resort of Chmielno. His family had been potters for five generations at the time. His workshop, located by the lake Białe, has survived until today, becoming a true regional gem. This place lets you in on the secrets of this demanding craft. It also has a pottery exhibition as well as hosts numerous pottery workshops. If you’re into handicraft, you won’t leave empty-handed, I can promise. After experiencing local culture, you should carry on to try some regional delicacies.
The history of a 19th-century craft brewery
In the near of The Kashubian Switzerland there is the Kościerzyna Old Brewery (Stary Browar Kościerzyna). The brewery started its operations in 1856. Unfortunately, it was closed down after the war. In 2013, followed by a complete restoration, the Kościerzyna Old Brewery (Stary Browar Kościerzyna) was opened. The historical building, together with modern elements of interior design, definitely draws attention. The restaurant that operates within the premises, offers traditional, Kashubian cuisine. The menu is full of fresh, local fish, but also typical European dishes, including pizza prepared in a wood-fired oven. Being a part of a brewery complex, the restaurant has a wide selection of delicious, local beers on the menu, including regular and seasonal beer.
It is a perfect place to spend a weekend in, as the brewery is also a three-star hotel.
The Lavender Settlement (Lawendowa Osada), a luxurious, outdoor retreat
I have visited plenty of agritourism farms, but I fancy this one the most. Three picturesque guest houses are located on a large area surrounded by woods and lavender fields, offering a year-round outdoor experience, and even modern glamping in high season. It is a place that really lets you relax and catch your breath. As a guest, you will definitely benefit from the lavender SPA. You can also take part in cosmetics workshops and use the astronomical observatory. The children will appreciate the playground and the swimming pool. You don’t have to worry about catering, as the owners prepare meals with local ingredients, giving something extra from their garden. You can end your day having a bath beneath the stars, in a wood-heated hot tub, or relaxing in the sauna.
The Kashubian Switzerland is a unique destination. It combines all the best features of the region: hiking, excellent food, and the omnipresent Kashubian language, which does not let you forget how unique this place is.