Route 1: Through the sands of the desert
Klucze, Rabsztyn (11 km) Jaroszowiec (17 km) Golczowice (20 km) Kwaśniów (23 km) Ryczówek (25 km) Rodaki (27 km) Klucze (36 km)
36 km, 4h, difficulty – medium
Altitude profile of the route:
During this trip we’ll visit one of the major natural curiosities in Poland – the Błędów Desert. We’ll admire beautiful panoramas of both the southern and northern parts from the viewpoints located in Klucze and Chechło. From the roundabout in the centre of Klucze we head west by ul. Rudnicka, then we pass the Red Pond (Staw Czerwony) and the Green Pond (Staw Zielony) and we continue around the desert to the northern Czubatka and then by the western side. We leave the trail and turn left on the second asphalt road. We continue by route 791 and head south, then, after 1 km, having reached the power line, we turn left onto the side road. In Bogucin, we turn right and then left before the driveway, onto a dirt road. After reaching the main road, we turn left and then another left, this time into the side road leading to the Rabsztyn Castle (1), the picturesque ruins of which are worth visiting. The road further leads along the Jura Bicycle Trail (red). We cross the hamlet of Czarny Las and then Jaroszowiec. We turn left and then left again. In Jaroszowiec, we go right behind the sanctuary (2) and through Golczowice we reach Cieślin. In Golczowice, we can shorten our route by choosing the road to the left, leading to Klucze. In Cieślin we turn left, then a bit further, at the fork, we choose the right spur. In Rodaki, after the curve of the road, on the right is a wooden church (3) which is worth visiting. We turn back to the black trail departing to the right and we go to the village of Chechło. To see the historic church and cemetery (4), turn right in the centre. We return to the intersection and veer to the right to the blue bike trail, which will accompany us until the end of the trip. On the way, on the Dąbrówka hill, we can find the ruins of an observation bunker from World War II. This place also offers a beautiful panorama of the Błędów Desert (5), and the further route leads along a sandy road to the borders of Klucze.
ATTRACTIONS ON THE ROUTE:
- Ruins of the Rabsztyn Castle (1) – situated on a lofty hill, the castle was built on the initiative of King Casimir the Great to protect the economically important mining centre of Olkusz. In the first part of the 17th century, a lower castle was built at the foot of the original upper castle, giving it the character of a Renaissance residence. During the Swedish Deluge, in 1657, the entire site was burned down by the invaders. This was the time when Rabsztyn began to fall into disrepair. Only the main walls of the lower castle and the remains of the walls of the upper castle have survived to this day.
- Sanctuary in Jaroszowiec (2) – associated with the cult of the image of the ‘Mother of God, Help of Christians’ painted by Jan Szczęsny-Stankiewicz, a student of the famous Jan Matejko. Main celebration: May 24.
- Wooden church in Rodaki (3) – one-nave, partly with arcades, with a sacristy from the north, built before 1601. On the main altar in the late Baroque style is a painting of St. Mark, the patron of the church. In the side altar there used to be a statue of St. Nicholas from the early 15th century, but it was transferred to a new church in Rodaki.
- Church and cemetery in Chechło (4) – the Baroque 1807 Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary next to which is a belfry from 1830 and a cemetery with a stone obelisk of the Kmita family from 1789, and a burial ground for the Home Army partisans.
- Błędów Desert (5) – the largest area of flowing sands in Central Europe (covering about 20 km2). Up to about the 12th–13th century, this area was covered with pine forests. Their depletion, mostly for the needs of the Olkusz mining industry, led to the creation of a desert landscape that is now degrading, mainly due to ecological succession. The northern part of the desert is closed and serves as a military training ground. The southern part is an attractive area for hiking and horse riding. Two World War II observation posts have been preserved: a German one on the side of Chechło and a Polish one on the side of Klucze.