VISITING THE BLOODY LADY OF ČACHTICE
At first glance, the Small Carpathians is an inconspicuous, mountain range with a length of one hundred kilometres lying in the south of Slovakia, near the border with the Czech Republic. For a long time we just passed it on the way to its more famous mountain siblings, then we suddenly stopped there and it turned to be an unexpected and very nice surprise. The not very high hills with interspersed abundant limestone rocks and thickly scattered mysterious ruins in fact conceal a lot of adventure. And right now we are about to set out into the Small Carpathians for another mysterious story.
When approaching the northern part of the Small Carpathians, we quickly forget its modest height, which does not exceed 800 meters. Precisely modelled hills surrounded by broad lowlands, self-confidently growing before your eyes, the feeling crowned by the massive silhouette of the ruins of Čachtice Castle, rising up from a limestone promontory It is not difficult to imagine the fear the fortress must have aroused in the 16th century when it was the seat of Elizabeth Bathory, who took great pleasure in torturing and murdering young women.
According to historical sources, up to 2000 victims are attributed to her perversion, thus reliably ranking her among historical celebrities. Over twenty movies about her have been shot. But now let's leave history and quickly get on our saddles. An elevation of two hundred meters awaits us on the way to the castle, but the access roads there are relatively easy, just a warm-up. Too bad that until 2014 you'll find at the top of the hill just a noticeboard informing you of the closure of the castle due to renovations.
But you don't need to be sad. The best still awaits you. There is a narrow trail unravelling right from the castle which is a pleasure to behold.
It mildly meanders through the meadows, among white rocks and sparsely scattered pine trees...
...then it dives into the old forest and springs out into another clearing with far-reaching views.
No top-down game, but a mannered contoured trail able to pump up all your senses on a bicycle or on foot.
The ridge is not long, but these ten kilometres are a great example of the victory of quality over quantity.
TIP: WHERE TO GO IN THE SMALL CARPATHIANS
Singletrack Cerová dráha - The old hunting trail restored by biker volunteers meanders through the hills just above Bratislava and offers an easy yet very interesting ride. The length of this attractive contour trail is slightly over 10 kilometres, making it suitable for a quick airing or combining it with the extensive network of other routes in the area.
Záruby - On foot you can set out for a popular tourist destination - the highest mountain in the Small Carpathians (738 m) on the top of which you will weave through a dense beech forest. Be sure not to miss the great limestone ridge with the massive ruins of Ostrý Kameň, connected with Záruby.
Getting to know the Lady of Čachtice and her ridge trail, including admiring the surroundings, takes half a day. And what next? Just have a good look at the map, select interesting places evenly dispersed across the mountains and wander and explore just as you like. It is the great concentration of places worth exploring that makes the Small Carpathians exceptional. Therefore, we don't pass it anymore, but return again and again.