A walk through the Dębnica valley in Geopark – Postglacial Land of Drawa and Dębnica

The weather is really nice this autumn. Quite a lot of sunshine, and therefore relatively high temperatures make us want to have a long walk. Unfortunately, what everyone can notice, each day the dusk falls much earlier. During the week we can only take evening walks on Kołobrzeg promenades and look at dark endless sea. What is more my weekends are fulfilled with activities connected with touristic guide course, in which I take part among fantastic people since september. This will also be a topic of my post soon. All in all it is pretty hard to find time our own explorations.

Lately I decided to let go one sunday from the course, and go with Madzia on a long walk. The amount of interesting places to go to in a diameter of 100 kilometers from Kołobrzeg or Koszalin appears to be unlimited. We decided to go to the Dębno lake nearby Barwice town, and start our walk from there down the Dębnica valley.

Dębnica river is one of two main bases of a geopark named Postglacial Land of Drawa and Dębnica, which was created in 2013. It is an area in northern part of Drawsko lake district between three towns: Barwice on NE, Połczyn-Zdrój on NW and Czaplinek on S. Also, it is mostly within Drawsko Landscape Park.

The other basis of the geopark is upper course of mysterious Drawa, one of the most popular and beautiful polish rivers.

There were also some publications accompanying the opening of geopark. Some time ago I was given a full bundle of them, including a 1:25000 geomap, a richly illustrated guide and five leaflets – guides into particular geotouristic routes on plastic-coated thick cardboard. A great idea for outdoor exploring.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/polodowcowa/, access: 16 november 2018

These publications are new for me, and extremely attractive. We’ve decided to take a walk along the ‘Dębnica valley route‘, which is one of five routes created in the geopark. They are quite long, about 15-18 kilometers each, but there’s always a possibility to shorten them or simply modify to one’s possibilities or needs. Four of them are loops, one is guided from Połczyn-Zdrój to Czaplinek, and is the longest one.

We parked the car by Dębno lake, just by narrow but beautifully conducted road from Kluczewo to Barwice. Our decision was to go first down the river to Luboradza village, take a turn there and return from western side of valley. I calculated it for about 10 kilometeres. The original geo-route is over 16 km long, because it goes around Dębno lake and abuts the astonishing Dębnica Gorge Reserve, which is a totally worthful destination itself.

Unfortunately, the geo-route is unmarked in the terrain. Nevertheless, it goes quite parallel to blue hiking route number ZP-1092 called „Szwajcaria Połczyńska” which can be translated “The Połczyn Switzerland”, because of very rich postglacial terrain forms.

The area here is very picturesque. It is abounded in lots of hills and deep long ravines with steep slopes. Also the river valley is pretty wide. Our start point is very interesting, because here there was planned planned a bridge over Dębnica on a highway named “berlinka“. The idea was brought to life and realisation after Adolf Hitler won the election in 1933 and Germany became nazi Third Reich. The highway was supposed to connect Berlin and Königsberg (now it is Kaliningrad), but it wasn’t ever finished. In Pomerania we can observe its route, sometimes already prepared for further building process. Just like in the picture below:

Source: mapy.geoportal.gov.pl, access: 16 november 2018

You can observe some parallel earthen shafts, which were made while leveling the route.

Just by the estuary of Dębnica from Dębno lake, one can observe relicts of a watermill named Jungfer. It is possible to see a retaining wall on the right bank of river. We didn’t decide to go there, as there was no path leading to it. Also the slope was too steep.

There were about three watermills down the river on its 6 kilometer section, starting from the Dębno lake, and finishing just behind Luboradza village. It was a very attractive place for this sort of objects, because of high fall of Dębnica. You can see it on further photographs, as we are on ruins of another watermill.

What is more, sometimes there was no need to locate a mill just down a river – even a small brook was enough, if it was flowing with appropiate speed and had enough water flowing constantly. There’s an example also by the Dębno lake, at its south-eastern corner. There was a watermill called Stern (in german: a star), probably related to a small settlement called Sternhof – nowadays Gwiazdowo. Nothing is left from the buildings, except some foundations, bricks and destroyed walls.

We walked down to the river a little bit earlier than the route shown, at the height of small settlement on other side of river, called Dębno. The ravine has a specific profile, just like the left side was prepared for wagons or maybe cars.

We can already notice really big beeches, one of which had an original texture on a trunk:

There was a small stone bridge build on the bottom of ravine.

Now it is destroyed so it is only possible to pass it on feet, but as the stones have fallen into the water, it become a small weir. It caused creating a small reservoir up the river.

Water easily found its way between the stones and flows naturally.

Going by the river, we come up to the road leading us to the second watermill. Here we can see some old and huge beech trees. They command respect in us.

And we reached quite spacious relicts of Hassel watermill in Dębno.

As I said a little earlier, the fall of river here is high.

A quick photo session, and we’re heading onto next point of interest on our route, which is an erratic block in Parchlino.

I’ve noticed really strange looking stone just by the path, in a  narrow ditch of a stream.

I’ve asked mr dr Tomasz Duda about this unusual shape (as it appeared to me), and mr Tomasz identified it as a stone formed during human work, i.e. through mining or burning some sorts of materials from rocks. Thanks very much!

Although the weather was not shiny at all, we still had decent views on our way to Parchlino.

The erratic block was supposed to lay by the football field. It actually hadn’t move anywhere:

The grass is a little bit overgrown.

The block is quite big (or I’m small, the choice is yours):

… and sometimes you can see a beautiful mermaid sitting on it (a remind of Copenhagen?)

Still it is a small one, comparing it to the block Trygław in Tychowo.

We’re heading north. Because a lot of people nowadays post photographs of mushrooms on facebook etc, I don’t want to stay behind:

It was the one and only eatable mushroom, that we found on our walk.

We’re getting closer to the Koprzywno lake. There are some fascilities build and prepared for tourists: benches, carports, and even a nice platform on the lake. Also, there’s a place for starting a fire.

Alongside some winterswimmers appeared and started preparing themselves before entering to the water. While we were warming up ourselves with freshly made coffee with moka, most of the winter swimmers started to jump in ice cold water.

On the right side of the road leading from Parchlino to Luboradza, just by the lake, one can notice a very high stoke, which is cut across by two very deep erosion valleys, with long floors, up to over 300 meters. Their view on the Geoportal appeared to me very attractive, presaging high class aesthetic impressions.

I checked the view again after returning home, and a few hundred meters north there was another erosion valley, but three-four times longer and much wider than the ones on the south – its floor was about 1200 meters long. 

Source: mapy.geoportal.gov.pl, access: 16 november 2018

Because of the small size of my smartphone display, I didn’t see this long ravine. Even if I saw it, we wouldn’t have time to explore, as we planned to take turn in Luboradza.

Because Madzia decided to stay by the lake and relax a bit, I went just by myself for a quick reconnaissance.

Southern valley with specific break has a floor of 320 meters length. The northern one is a bit shorter, with floor 200 meters long. Both have very steep slopes, a lot of fallen trees lying along them, across aswell.

Upper parts are completely dry. The water appears pretty low on the valley floors.

I decided to go up by the hill between both ravines. It was pretty steep, but after few minutes I reached the highest point of northern one.  The bottom of the valley at that point was going down calmly.

At some point the bottom begins to fall radically at an acute angle. The slopes in some places were almost vertical.

he landscape at the top of the valleys is extremely scenic. When I am looking at the picture below I have a constant impression of being deliberately deformed.

I walked by the edge of the valley, it would be nice to have a look at it from the bottom. The southern valley is longer and at its peak three characteristic valleys converge, looking from above as if the valley was an arm with an extended hand with three fingers raised.

From the perspective of the earth it looks like this:

Small boulder areas were created at the top of the valleys due to the use of land beyond the valley for cultivating purposes.

In one of the slopes, a badger settled down – that’s what the surroundings look like to me, with a sand dump at the base of the hatch.

Initially, descent doesn’t present the steepness seen in the satellite image. However, with subsequent meters, the relative depth of the valley begins to grow very clearly.

The first boulders appear in the bottom.

Just before the turn to the north, a smaller valley with a gorge-like profile comes to the ravine. The area here is quite watery, with one puddle and a lot of mud.

From behind the corner you can already see the effect of what kind of natural power we face. The slopes are absolutely phenomenal.

Honestly, being surrounded on each side by high, steep edges and great trees, some of which didn’t stay on the slope and fell to the bottom of the valley, I felt the real fear. Cold sweat covered me. It’s brightly, nothing is happening – I tried to convince myself to control it. The sinister silence around me made me hear only my faster breathing and I felt stronger, clearly faster heartbeat. It can’t be described in words.

Half-pass, by the edge of the valley, a narrow path well trodden by the game has run along. I didn’t want to beat a new path and cause landslides, so I went along this narrow path, wanting to capture the place in the lens as best as I could.

At the bottom I saw a characteristic rock. It turned out to be a heavy flint loaf.

A dozen or so meters further, the height of the valley decreases. There is a large glacial erratic in there:

 from which a small watercourse flows out.

The stream quickly spreads over the valley bottom, strongly flattened at the influx.

Then it flows through a culvert under the pavement, and further gives the waters to the lake Koprzywno. The spout from the northern valley ends the course exactly in the same way.

The next point that I wanted to see was an old rampart built on the chokepoint of the lake Koprzywno. This position is known to archaeologists, and functions under the name Stare Koprzywno. On the picture above, showing the lay of the land, you can see a small circular object with a very distinct bank directed in the south-west path. This is how it looks like.

In the early mediaeval period this place had to be extremely difficult to access. Even at this time of year you had to wind through the thick bushes and be careful not to enter the watery area; it’s hard to imagine what’s going on there in the summer…

The three sides surroundings with water and rushes, and also strongly marshy access from the east side made it a perfect place for a fortified castle here.

I went to take a look at the bank that had been piled up towards the west shore. The dyke seems to be the result of quite late works, because still on the German topographic map there was a regular bank in here, while the river was run in a completely different way than now – through the middle of the Luboradza’s goods.

In Luboradza there is a mansion from the beginning of the 20th century, and several buildings used to accommodate the guests of a restaurant and hotel object functioning here.

The whole resort is guarded by a lovely bear, referring – I think – to the Barwice coat of arms.

The location is amazing. Directly by the lake from which Dębnica flows, in the vicinity of old, large trees. The view from the lake is wonderful. It is a pity that there was so little sun that day.

Near the mansion, on the green grassy square you can see a white, slender and high sculpture.

It looks mysterious. White lady?

Luboradza was the point for us when we planned to turn back. We didn’t manage to reach the ruins of one of the three mills located in the Dębnica stream on this section, namely to the mill called the Green Grove. Apparently, it makes an interesting impression, due to the preserved frontal walls of the high structure. We will definitely get there in the next occasion. Meanwhile, from Luboradza, we follow the asphalt road straight to Piaski, so that turn left just after the bridge in Dębnica and bypass the valley this time from the west. A row of a ribe false acacias with a fantastically shaped, original bark were growing at the exit of Luboradza. Their planting, I think, is related to the development of the manor park, lying nearby.

We passed the Krynicki lake, which is also a part of the geological path, and the slope of a very steep valley in which Dębnica was, we reached the asphalt road from Nowe Koprzywno to Parchlino. Although the path led up with the asphalt road, we decided to shorten the route, passing the road and continue along Dębnica. The river here gives the impression of a completely small, humble spout.

It was already dark when we came back to the car. There was a clear wave on Dębno’s surface, moreover, there was a strong wind from the south. We drank a hot coffee to warm up, using the new tourist shelter, and after 7p.m. we set off home.


To sum up: Dębnica infuses a mystery. It’s worth to coming back here – which will definitely happen in our case – even to visit places which we haven’t seen this time. Besides, the lay of the land in this region is as attractive as in other regions of Drawsko Landscape Park, and has its absolutely unique atmosphere.

The route of our walk on Bikemap.net with marks on objects mentioned in the text

© translation by Author and Anita Bernaś.

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