The best in Poland: Kashubian Lake District

Local legend has it that Kashubia was the last part of the world created by God. He had plenty of building materials left over, so He liberally endowed the area with them - hence its diversity. The Kashubian Lake District is a land of vast forests, undulating hills, wild ravines strewn with immense boulders, colourful fields, scenic villages, rushing rivers and hundreds of beautiful lakes, their calm shores bristling with little peninsulas. The region's biggest asset,   though, is the fresh, rejuvenating air, clean water and overpowering tranquility.

Wdzydze Kiszewskie

Seen from above, the huge Lake Wdzydze looks like an enormous cross. At the place where its arms meet, the ancient village of Wdzydze Kiszewskie lies on the northern shore. The lake is dotted with eight islands, the largest of which - Ostrów - has an area of 75 hectares. In summer, sailing and windsurfing regattas are held here, transforming the village into a lively tourist spot.

The eastern fringes of the village are part of the Kashubian Ethnographic Park*, the oldest in Poland, established in 1906. Its collection of some 30 traditional wooden buildings from the 17th-19th centuries includes several ornate arcaded houses, fishermen's huts, a school, manor house, blacksmith shop, a charming little church and a Dutch windmill.

*The Kashubians - a Slaw ethnic group from Pomerania, descendants of the ancient eastern Pomeranians, whose language is distincly different from Polish. Boasting a rich culture, the live in Gdańsk Pomerania and the eastern part of West Pomerania. The earliest records of the Kashubians date back to the 13th century. Despite intensive Germanization over the centuries, they have never lost their identity.

Kartuzy

Set in the very heart of the Kashubian Switzerland, the small town of Kartuzy is surrounded by steep wooded hills and scenic hairpins of roads that wind through them. Three small lakes are tucked in-between the buildings: Klasztorne, Karczemne and Mielenko.

A major attraction is the Gothic Carthusian Church from the 14th century, which has just the nave and no aisles.

Hanging beneath the organ loft is a pendulum weighed by the angel of death; when it is set in motion, the terrifying scythe flies just above the heads of the faithful. Legend has it that if it stops for a while, the person it points to will die soon.

Info: The church, which is nearly the last remnant of the old monastery, stands at the southern end of Lake Klasztorne, off the Sierakowice road. If it is locked, look for the sacristan, who lives in the old hermitage nearby.

Visiting Kartuzy see necessarily: Kashubian Museum which has a delightful collection of folk toys such as dolls, trolleys, pets and moving figurines.

Chmielno

About 10 km west of Kartuzy, Chmielno sits amid five lakes. The starting point of the Raduńskie Circle trail, it attracts flocks of boaters and kayakers. There is a pier, good beach and bathing spot on Lake Kłodno, and the area is ideal for hiking and biking.

Visiting Chmielno see necessarily: Museum of Kashubian Ceramics established by the Necel family, the best-known potters of Pomerania.

Raduńskie Circle

The Raduńskie Circle is the popular name of 14 lakes near Chmielno which form a 40 km long string roughly shaped like an enormous circle. The lakes, the largest of which is Lake Raduńskie, fill deep glacier-carved troughs, their steep shores covered by beech and pine forests. The scenery, reminiscent of mountains, is ravishingly beautiful and is cut by possibly the most scenic road in Kashubia. There is also a superb kayaking trail which takes in ten of the lakes.

The whole area is now protected by Kashubian Landscape Park. Numerous horse farms offer riding and riding lessons, while in winter three ski lifts operate. The park is cut by Kashubian Road, the most pictersque road on Kashubia.

Stone circles in Węsiory

The western shore of Lake Długie is the site of a spectacular ancient relic, a Goth cemetery dating back to the 1st-3rd centuries AD. Between 1955 and 1963 archeologists unearthed 132 tombs here, three fully preserved stone circles and fragments of a fourth one, plus 20 burial mounds.

Source: Poland - an ilustrated guidebook. For more information look at Pascal

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The best in Poland: Kashubian Lake District
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