Hike along Pálava Hills ridge
This is my most favourite hiking day trip in the South Moravia I have already made several times and there is always something new to discover. This hike takes you to the highest point of Pálava Hills (Děvín Hill 549 m) and along the trail of the approximate length of 15 km, you are provided with beautiful scenery views on the surrounding landscape created of water dams, ponds, vineyards and fields, where are situated lovely small traditional wine villages.
Pálava Hills, part of Pálava Protected Landscape Area declared in 1976, is a 20 km long limestone ridge stretching to the very south of Moravia from the crook of Dyje river around Mikulov town to the state border with Austria. It is the warmest and almost the most arid area in the Czech Republic, and therefore vines are cultivated here. A wine variety of Pálava cultivated in the area was named after hills and today it is very popular white wine to drink. In the area were declared several nature reserves you will pass through in order to protect plant and animal species that do not occur anywhere else in the country.
I usually start this trip in the village of Dolní Věstonice, which gave the name to famous Venus figurine from paleolitic time discovered during the archeological research in the village proximity. This discover has proved that the area was inhabited from paleolitic times already. The hike is possible to start from the neighbor village called Pavlov as well, known for its traditional wine cellars situated in the houses having typical baroque gables. Following the red marked trail (if you start from Dolní Věstonice) you pass by vineyards and get to the forest. At the entrance to the forest is installed an information board which introduces you unique fauna and flora of the Nature Reserve Děvín-Kotel-Soutěska established in 1946 on the area of 380 ha spreading on the limestone hills Kotel and Děvín separated from each other by a saddle of Soutěska.
First metres are quite steep and can be demanding but it does not take a long time when you reach the first look-out point from the ruins of the castle of Děvičky. From the ruins you are offered scenery views on surrounding landscape, Nové Mlýny Reservoirs and surrounding wine villages of Pavlov and Dolní Věstonice.
After breathtaking views you need to return back from the castle area on the trail and at this point you have 3 trails to choose. All three lead you through the Nature Reserve Děvin-Kotel-Soutěska. I recommend to follow red marked trail which takes you via the highest hill of the Pálava Hills. Last time I chose to follow blue marked trail which lead me beneath the limestone cliff and offered me a view on this magnificient nature monument from below. If you choose blue marked trail and you do not want to make extra kilometres you can join the green marked trail on the next crossroad which returns you back on the red marked trail which you will follow the rest of the trip.
Leaving the Nature Reserve Děvín-Kotel-Soutěska behind I am already hungry. For this trip I always prepare a good packed lunch at home consisted of my favourite french pie called Quiche and I never forget to take with me at least 2 bottles of water. If you have not taken anyting to eat do not worry. The one of two possible stops on this hike where you can buy a good lunch and have a small rest is just behind the corner in the next village of Klentnice. Remember, after leaving Klentnice the next stop where it is possible to buy food or beverage is at the end of the hike in Mikulov town.
After a short break in Klentnice village you follow the red marked trail which brings you to the second castle ruins on the trail.
Walking to Sirotčí castle you are offered another view on Děvín-Kotel-Soutěska and on vineyards, the part you already passed.
Sirotčí hrad castle was built as the gothic castle in the 13th century by Siegfried Sirotek of Wehingen noble house after whom it was named. When the house died out the castle became a possession of the king of Wenceslaus III in 1305. It is situated over Klentnice village, on the northern edge of Stolová hora tabeland, 458 m above the see level in the Nature Reserve Růžový vrch Hill. It was built on 2 limestock outcrops separated by deep ravine. The main part of the castle lied on the southern part. Over the ravine was built a footbridge. On the smaller part lied 3 storied residential block, while the northern part was occupied by a lookout tower.
After making another scenery pictures, the trail leads you via Stolová hora tabeland which acquired the name for its shape. The flat shape geomorphological nature monument in the length of 350 m is having the most precious part delcared as a Nature Reserve Tabulová hora (tabeland0. I repeat again but can not help myself, the views are amazing.
Descending Stolová hora you continue along the road and vineyards passing by another geomorphological nature monument called Kočičí skála. Here you must watch very carefully after the red mark which turns you shraply to the right. Entering Turold Nature Reserve you are last kilometre before the end of the tour in Mikulov town. The area is equipped with several information boards informing you that you are in the largest Jurassic limestone cave system in the Czech Republic created by underground water under the Turold Hill in the Pálava Hills. If you have time you can buy a ticket to visit the only accessed cave by public in the area. Last metres take you via Mikulov wine-cellar alley and look-out point Kozi Hrádek (Goat Little Castle), which was a tower part of Mikulov defensive system storing a gunpowder.
This hiking trip is possible to do vise versa, but I prefer start in Dolní Věstonice and end in Mikulov. After 15 km trail with elevation of 620 m, you deserve a reward in form of quality wine or good meal or coffee with a cake which is very easy to find in Mikulov. My most favourite place for refreshment is Kafe Pala located in the courtyard of the most beautiful house on the square called Knights` House. If you still have energy you can ascend the Holy Hill which offers views on Mikulov town with the castle, Pálava Hills, Austria and Slovakia.
I have made this day trip several times but never done it in the autumn when nature is full colors and in winter when hills are covered with snow. I am ready to fix it very soon 🙂