This summer has been full of adventures. So full in fact that I haven’t had a chance to post on here in months! I’m not sure where to start, swimming at Pirry, climbing at Peshteritay, biking, hiking, wild camping, festivals in the centre. There has been so much going on the days have just flown by.
We always reopen on the 1st of June, in time for the wild flowers and the warmth of spring. I employed a summer receptionist this year so that I could go into the hills as much as possible. June was full of camping trips to new and wild parts of the mountains that I have not visited before. It is an amazing time to camp in the hills. Not as hot as August and none of the autumn rain!
The main road into the national park ends at Vihren hut and this is where most of the trekkers start their walks. There are great day hikes from here. It takes two hours to walk up to the lakes, three to the summit of Vihren or Kutelo. For those of you with longer legs the 7 or 8 hour walk from Vihren hut round to Damianitsa hut is lovely. The Damianitsa trip passes 10 alpine lakes and some fantastic flower filled meadows. The waterfall down to Damianitsa hut rather than the official path is a lovely easy scramble and a fun shortcut!
Most of my summer hiking has started from the Vihren hut. I have been bagging peaks along the blue and yellow route to Sinanitsa hut and along the ridge at the end of the Vihren valley. These off piste routes are much harder than they look but offer some incredible views. I took a load of different people into the hills this summer which was a lovely change from my usual solo missions. Thanks to everyone who kept me company!!
The other access route into the park is via the chair lift at Dobrinishtay. The bonus of getting the lift at the start of the day is a great help . Be warned, you have to be back by 4:30pm if you want to get the lift down. Walking down through the clouds of mozzies that inhabit the pistes in the evenings is grim! I went with an amazing group of mixed ability hikers to Sivria above Popovo lake. This is a truly awesome peak. The walk is long but not hard and offers a little bit of everything. Great views, old forests, lakes and rocky peaks all add up to a wonderful day.
Vania, Dylan and I have been doing a lot of rock climbing at Peshteritay. There are routes for all abilities, from total beginners to advanced climbers. Most importantly there is a pub 100m from the climbing wall! This summer has seen a huge leap forward for Team Hughes when it comes to climbing. Vania is now the best of us at climbing, her confidence and skill far outstrips my brute force approach. With a little bit of “encouragement” and a rope tying her to a tree she can now belay me without too many scary moments. I have now banned the use of mobile phones while she has my life in her hands!!
Dylan is a funny little climber, on a good day he will casually flow over the rock like a normal child would wander through a shopping mall. On a bad day he moans and grumbles about how unfair it is he can’t hunt Pokemon and has to be “encouraged” up the wall. I am getting better, both technically and psychologically. I have overcome a lot of the fear but I am still struggling with the fact that I am built more like a whale than a gecko!
This really has been a summer full of adventures. Early on we bought Vania a new mountain bike and she is now loving the off road biking. The Bansko/Razlog valley is an incredible playground for mountain biking. We get asked all the time for trail suggestions but in reality you can go anywhere. There are dirt roads all over the valley floor and if you have a smart phone with Strava you can find thousands of KM’s of trails plotted by the local MTB community.
The Bansko MTB Sunday club ride has been a huge success again this summer introducing riders of every ability to our amazing mountains. As a family we normally treat mountain biking as a mode of transport rather than a sport in itself. For example, we’ll ride from Razlog past the golf course to Bansko for a coffee. Then on to Pirry pool for a day of swimming and back to Razlog for dinner. There are so many variations of this sort of adventure that we never get bored.
Fancy something different? Ride to the Rajdavets hot springs in the woods. Feeling lazy? Ride to a BBQ spot in the woods. Feeling strong? Try the 120km round the valley course. Feeling adventurous? Hit those enduro trails around Dead Dog. Dylan and are planning to get some new bikes for next summer! Considering whats on offer in BG this isn’t going to be too painful financially. Both Sprint and Drag have some perfectly good bikes around the 500 leva mark. They also have some great bikes for under 1000 leva.
When we’ve been tired out by a summer full of adventures, we’ve been heading to the pool at Pirry . This lovely place, staffed by some of the friendliest young Bulgarians, with it’s perfect view of the mountains and laid back atmosphere is our little haven! It can get a little busy between 12 and 3 but before that it is normally quiet and after that always quiet! WE LOVE PIRRY!!!
There are other pools, the Kempinski pool has a lovely location and is built well but definitely not my cup of tea, with poor service and high prices you pay for the location, that said, it is stunning and if you just want a lazy day somewhere beautiful it is ideal. Dobrinishtay Alpha Spa and pool is perfect in nearly every way, hot mineral water, giant Jacuzzi pool in pool bar and nice staff, be warned it can get busy but when its quiet it is heaven!
O.K. this next section is going to sound a bit egotistical but then no one else is going to blow my trumpet so I might as well do it myself! Bansko summer festivals. Yup this year we finally got a musical festival of some sort every weekend. 13 years I have been lobbying for this 13 years of banging on to politicians and civil servants (not always so civil) and finally it is happening!
WELL DONE BANSKO TOWN HALL! The Bansko Jazz fest was brilliant. The Opera fest, amazing! The Bansko Beat Festival strange but fun, The Bohemie festival is lining up to be awesome and that is to name just a few. Nearly every weekend there was something musical going on in the square ! Grab a beer find a bar or restaurant, boogie under the stars, what more could you want!