Wondrous Nooks and Crannies Hidden Away Near Chorušice
In the southeasternmost corner of the Kokořínsko area, not far from Mšeno, where the forest covers ravines cut deep into the surrounding landscape, the newly-opened educational trail Chorušická zákoutí weaves its way through the countryside, leading visitors to various nooks and crannies hidden away between the municipality of Chorušice and its satellite, the tiny hamlet of Zahájí. The trail, which measures a little over four kilometres in length, was built by the local Koniklec chapter of the Czech Union for Nature Conservation (ČSOP) under the auspices of the NET4GAS Closer to Nature programme, and with a friendly contribution from the municipality of Chorušice.
The vicinity of Chorušice is very close to such natural and cultural monuments as Kokořín Castle and the popular sandstone formation known as Pokličky ("pot lids"). In character, it is a seamless continuation of the Kokořínsko area – plains settled by countryfolk and for the most part used for farming are punctuated by deep ravines seamed with sandstone formations. These canyons, called "mines" by the locals, have always played an important role in their lives: trade routes led through them, and springs were found at their bottom – an important source of freshwater in a landscape perennially beset by water scarcity. The rocky hillsides, previously bare and used as pasture, are currently covered by forests that are home to numerous attractive animal species, particularly birdlife. Deep in the forest, near a man-made cave hewn into the rockface, a stone’s throw from the hamlet of Zahájí, a group of partisan fighters hid out for days in April 1945 and received support from the inhabitants of Zahájí.
Water is the recurring theme in Chorušice. It was always hard to come by, and the inhabitants of this land came up with various solutions to access water. Service water was collected in retention pools replenished by rainwater, which were known as kaly, an unflattering designation meaning bilge. Today, these "bilges" serve as a refuge for (semi‑)aquatic animals, with several protected species among them. Several kinds of amphibians have been identified in the Chorušice kal, among them the marsh frog, the common toad, the agile frog, and the common newt.
Along the four-kilometre trail, visitors encounter ten panels or game elements, designed to convey information in an enjoyable way to the broadest possible audience – from pre-schoolers to adults. In this way, people may take a peek into the history of the Chorušice water retention pools and learn about their four-legged inhabitants, find out what kind of signs hint at the presence of animals in the forest, understand the causes behind the drying-up of a well much frequented in the past, compare the appearance of the "mine" back then to that of today, and discover the fate of the Zahájí partisan fighters.
The first information panel is found in the part of Chorušice known as Podstavy (GPS: 50.2556233N, 14.5597622E). The route leads from the local retention pool into the Nedvídek forest, whence it swings to the left inside a compact ravine and opens up into a footpath that heads into a rocky gorge, taking the visitor to the final panel, erected beneath the hamlet of Zahájí near the signpost with the blue hiking trail marker (GPS: N 50°22.19550, E 14°39.71988).