In a previous post we showed you Wąchock, told you about its history, and now it’s time to set off from Wąchock for a walk through the forest to Bodzentyn. But it will not be an ordinary forest, it will be a place that on the one hand is an escape into nature, and on the other hand an extraordinary lesson in history, because it is these forests that were the shelter and camp site of the January insurgents and partisans of the Home Army, which is commemorated by many graves, monuments and commemorative plaques.
We are, of course, talking about the Sieradowicki Landscape Park, which is located in the northern part of the Swietokrzyskie Voivodeship, within the Swietokrzyskie Mountains, between Wąchock, Starachowice, Bodzentyn and Suchedniów. It covers an area of 12,106 hectares, and its buffer zone is more than 16 hectares. The park itself is part of a larger forest complex that is the Swietokrzyska Forest.
We took the blue trail through the Siekierzyn Forest in search of memorials and interesting rock formations and continued through Sieradowska Mountain to Bodzentyn.
It is definitely a day trip, especially when traveling with children ;) However, we will hint that a large part of the route can be traversed on a paved road through the scenic park, which is partially led by the blue trail. Theoretically, this road is accessible by car and is mainly used by mushroom pickers in autumn, but we are writing about it as an alternative, especially if you want to cover the route with a stroller – crossing the paved road will be easier than the forest trail at times.
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Sieradowicki Landscape Park
Several trails pass through Sieradowitz Landscape Park, including. The blue route named after him, already mentioned by us. The route, which starts in Wąchock (at the train station) and ends in Cedzyna at the MPK/PKS bus stop, is led by Edward Woloszyn. Its total length is 44.5 kilometers. Of course, we did not choose to walk this distance, but you can simply walk through the woods, or go a little further, to Bodzentyn, where there are several interesting sites (we write about Bodzentyn at the end of the entry).
2.5 kilometers separate Wąchock from the entrance to the Sieradowice Landscape Park, a place that has witnessed much fighting and bloodshed. For just as one cannot pass indifferently by the graves and monuments that commemorate the deaths of the soldiers who died here, this entry cannot be left without a historical feature. So we’ll start with places that are symbolic and full of patriotic touches in the Sieradowitz Landscape Park.
And another hint. Exploring the area, but also the Świętokrzyskie province in general, will certainly be made easier for you by the map available on the portal and in the “Świętokrzyskie Trails” app, which you can download here. In addition, here you can preview the tour route with active markers.
It was the first point on our map. It is a small clearing away from the main paved road through the forest, through which the blue trail just passes. In its central part there is a place to make a bonfire, benches, but more important is what we read on the information and memorial plaques that are located in the clearing.
The glade is named after one of the leaders of the January Uprising of 1863 – General Marian Langiewicz. It was probably here that the insurgents’ camp was to be located, although, as we can read in various sources, this information is not 100% confirmed. But we can be sure of what we have already mentioned in an earlier post: Langiewicz was stationed with his army in Wąchock and nearby forests in late January and early February 1863, and he had his headquarters in Wąchock, as evidenced by the manor house, which has survived to this day and is located directly on the trail.
There is a commemorative stone in the clearing with a plaque containing coats of arms and two dates: 1863 and 1943. The stone was founded by AK soldiers from the Gloomy grouping, who signed on as Continuers of the Freedom Struggle Tradition, on the 122nd anniversary of the January Uprising. Below is a commemorative plaque, marking another anniversary, this time the 130th. This one informs that the current shape and appearance of the clearing was given by the residents of Wąchock. Around the plaque are candles and flowers – surprisingly many.
Attention in the clearing is also pierced by a fenced pine tree, which is a natural monument and has a cast iron plaque attached to it with the inscription: Camp of General Marjan Langiewicz, 1863. Previously, this plaque was nailed on an oak tree growing in the clearing.
Near the clearing (about 100 meters) is a spring from which the insurgents were to drink water (named Langiewicz Spring).
Wykus Nature Reserve
Established in 1978, the Wykus Nature Reserve and the clearing of the same name located here are where partisans camped and fought during World War II. The reserve encompasses the western slope of the small hill Wykus (326 meters above sea level). The site itself is hilly, crisscrossed by ravines. The Lubianka River flows through the bottom of one of them. The trees you’ll find here today are mostly 70 to 100 years old. In places you can find pine trees that have been growing here for more than 100 and some even 140 years.
The blue trail leads through the Wykus Nature Reserve, but you can also get here from the paved road – you will find the path into the woods without a problem, because by the road there is a stone informing about the camp of Grim and Nurt. Walking from this side, it is worth stopping for a moment, because in addition to the shelter and benches, there are plaques here introducing historical events and profiles of the heroes of the battles taking place here, including commanders: Maj. Jan Piwnik pseud. “Ponury” and Major Eugeniusz Kaszynski pseud. “Nurt” (Nurt was the successor to Grim). Both belonged to the elite grouping of the so-called “elite”. “Cichociemni,” soldiers trained in Britain for special tasks (diversion, sabotage, intelligence, communications and conducting operations in the enemy’s rear).
Gloomy was the founder of the local encampment and merged previously loosely operating groupings into the Kielce District Diversion of the Home Army, bringing together a total of about 400 partisans. He was killed in June in 1944 during fighting near the village of Yevlasze (present-day territory of Belarus), and his ashes are in the monastery in Wąchock (there is also a monument to Ponury in Wąchock).
The Wykus glade was a base for partisan units in 1943-1944 and the site of battles against the Germans. Wykus was attacked by German troops three times in 1943, in August, in September, and on the 28th. In October, the Germans, with a large advantage (about 3,000 troops, including aviation and artillery), attacked and destroyed the encampment. At the time, 33 people were killed.
In the clearing is a shrine with a picture of Our Lady of Sorrows. Surrounding the painting are stone plaques with the nicknames and names of the fallen. In addition to the chapel, there is also a field altar, and every year, in June, patriotic meetings are held here – ceremonies in memory of the fallen soldiers of the AK “Ponury” Partisan Groups.
There are many other soldiers’ graves and monuments commemorating fallen heroes on the reservation. There is a guerrilla Way of the Cross marked out here, which leads among the places where guerrillas fought and where their graves are located.
Michniowski Stone Nature Reserve
If you are interested in more places related to insurgents and partisans, you can go to the Kamień Michniowski reserve, located in the eastern part of the Sieradowicki Landscape Park (it is definitely off the blue trail). It is here that the Gloomy Cave is located, where the January insurgents and, in the spring of 1943, AK partisans took refuge.
By the way, it is worth mentioning that Kamień Michniowski is the highest peak of the Sieradowicki range, with an altitude of 435 meters above sea level.
Gypsy Cap and White Stone are rocky outcrops not located on the blue trail, but they are easy to reach – they are close to the paved road, the first one that crosses the main route through the Sieradowicki Landscape Park (coming from the direction of Wąchock). This road is called Zuzelanka, and here you can no longer enter by car, but it is still quite wide and paved, ideal for walking with a stroller or trailer.
It will take about 15 minutes to get to Gypsy Kapa (there is 1.2 kilometers to walk one way), and you have to walk an additional 200 meters or so into the forest to the White Stone. Both rock formations are natural monuments, and it is highly likely that soldiers under the command of Langiewicz and Gloomy hid here as well.
Sierad Mountain Nature Reserve
This reserve is the southernmost part of the Sieradowicki Landscape Park. Sieradowska Mountain is 382 meters above sea level and, interestingly, its peak is outside the reserve. The Sierad Mountain Reserve was established to protect the northern slope of the mountain, covered with a multi-species primary forest. Here we encounter numerous specimens of fir trees, which are called “mammoth” because of their size. The territory of the reserve is crisscrossed by deep valleys of the Svilina stream and its tributaries, as well as deep erosion gullies. Classified here are 17 species of protected plants, including many very rare ones
On the mountainside, under the forest, there is a viewpoint. You have to admit that the views from the hillside to the Swietokrzyskie Mountains are really pleasing to the eye. Anyway, see for yourself:
A blue trail leads through the reserve, which immediately leaves the forest paths and enters the asphalt roads leading to Bodzentyn.
Bodzentyn is a picturesque town located on the edge of the Swietokrzyski National Park, in the heart of the Swietokrzyskie Mountains, on the Psarka River. Bodzentyn is dominated by the gothic Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. St. The St. Stanislaus Church is the tallest building in the area, rising above the roofs of the buildings.
Bodzentyn was founded by Bishop Bodzęta of Krakow between 1348 and 1355 on the basis of a privilege he received from Casimir the Great. In 1365, a castle was built in Bodzentyn, and the city was surrounded by fortified walls.
Very little remains of the castle, only fragments of the walls and foundations, surrounded and reinforced with wooden beams so that no one would get near them and they would not be a danger. One can only imagine what it looked like when King Ladislaus Jagiello stopped here on his way to Grunwald (it was here that he received the deputies of the Pomeranian princes, who pledged to help him fight the Teutonic Knights).
The castle was repeatedly rebuilt on the orders of the bishops (new parts, turrets, cloisters, servants’ houses were added), changing in the process not only the style and form, but also the character of the building from defensive to residential, palace-like. After the bishop’s estate was taken over by the state in 1789, the castle and town began to decline. A military hospital and granary were prepared in its interiors, but a quarter of a century later the castle was abandoned, and local residents began to dismantle the castle for valuable building material. Currently, the castle ruins are secured and protected.
Next door is the aforementioned historic Roman Catholic church, built in the mid-15th century. Inside we can admire from the 16th century, among others: the main altar designed by Giovanni Cini, which was originally in the Wawel Cathedral, the painting of the Risen Christ or the triptych painted by Martin Czarny, one of the most outstanding artists of the late Middle Ages, a pupil of Wit Stwosz. It is worth mentioning that this is the only original surviving work by this artist.
The church is located at the northwest corner of the Upper Square, the site where the town hall used to be. It is now a renovated space with a fountain, benches, trees, and a statue of St. Nicholas. Florian.
A must-see place, which is a bit far from the Upper Market, is the Czernikiewicz village homestead from 1809. It is located at 3. Maya and absolutely stands out from other brick buildings – you will know immediately that this is THE homestead. Formally it belongs to the Kielce Village Museum, but it is an object preserved in situ, i.e. in the place where it was from the beginning (unlike in open-air museums, where objects are transported to a new place).
It shows how a middle-income and multi-generational family lived. Initially it was a house with one room, a hallway and livestock rooms. Over time, the house was expanded, more rooms were added, and the utility rooms changed their use. Currently, in the interiors, we can see elements of equipment in individual rooms such as a weaving workshop, tools for processing grain and baking bread, a sewing machine, there is furniture, a stove, tableware, and religious paintings hang on the walls.
There is a fee to enter the Homestead – $5 for a regular ticket and $2 for a discounted ticket. On Saturdays, tours of the facility are free.
Bodzentyn was our last point on the route, but as we wrote earlier, the blue trail continues through the Swietokrzyski National Park, Swieta Katarzyna, Krajno Zagórze Pierwszy (here there is Sabat Krajno – an interesting place for families with children), Ciekoty and the Lubrzanka Gorge, all the way to Cedzyna.
The places we managed to see, on the one hand, offer relaxation and various outdoor activities, and on the other, the opportunity to learn about the history and fate of the soldiers who fought in the surrounding forests. We expanded our knowledge of the January Uprising and the partisans who fought here during World War II. We walked among the same trees as the soldiers who once fought for the freedom and independence of our country, passed the graves of the fallen, and saw children brought by their parents to learn about local events.
This is definitely an important history lesson that everyone coming to these regions should learn.
// The entry was created as part of a paid cooperation with the Local Government of the Świętokrzyskie Province.
Sources we used: