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Tuesday, 4 June 2013

I don't know where I'm going but I sure know where I've been

Whiteshake's lyrics sum up our day walking in the Matra Hills in northern Hungary and as we slogged back up the hill to our campsite, we sang the song to keep our spirits up, as by that time we had been up the hill, down the hill, up the hill again, a long way down the hill and were on our way back up again

Hungary has a great walking tradition and although we mostly had the wooded paths around Hungary's highest mountain, Kekesteto (1014m) to ourselves, otherwise we wouldn't have risked singing, we did notice that it seemed to be take-school-children-out-for-a-walk day, as we saw groups of young people everywhere.

Our planned walk had been going well, as we followed the well marked path through oak and beech woods to Matrahaza, which provided an opportunity for a rest and sweet Hungarian lemon tea.  We easily found the path that our guide book promised would take us around Kekesteto to the further ridge and a vista over the trees.  We were perhaps impatient but after one hour of walking through the forest were longing for a view; on spotting an old ski run we headed steeply uphill and breathless, found ourselves at the top of Kekesteto.  This is not the most attractive mountain top, with gift stalls, a communication tower, a car park and a colourful shrine to numerous dead Hungary motorcyclists but at least we knew where we were and we did find a well-signed path that took us down hill to the ridge and the promised view point.  After a late lunch, we climbed back to the top of the mountain and took the blue cross path back to Matrahaza. One of the problems with wall-to-wall woodland is that you have no sense of where you are in relation to other places; we followed the blue-cross path down and down, it was a well made path and eventually became a lovely walk through more open woodland but we had clearly missed a turn off for Matrahaza.  We tried an unmarked track for a kilometre or so, thinking that might lead in the right direction but without a map we weren't confident it would take us to anywhere familiar and so we returned to the blue-cross path.  We eventually emerged from the woodland 3km down hill from our campsite, hence our walk back up the hill accompanied by Whitesnake.

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