The Black Trail: Żary to Żagań

It’s been ages since I visited the town of Żary. If my memory serves me well, it was in the summer 1999. So my bus ride there wasn’t just about reaching the starting point for my walk, but a sentimental journey of sorts. I was pretty impressed by the renewed high street, but the Square reminded me of a miniature of the Old Market in the city of Wrocław – I mean this as a huge compliment.

But my plan for the day wasn’t to stay in the town, but to walk from it to Żagań along the black trail. It began near the Sacred Heart Church and ran along an unpleasantly busy street leading towards the suburban town of Kunice. Thankfully the further I went the quieter it got, and eventually the traffic was bearable. Soon I reached Kunice, still walking along the main road through the town. To my surprise at one point the trail turned to the right, pretty much in the opposite direction than I’d expected, and followed a newly refurbished street, with a sports complex on my right. Then I moved into a seemingly wealthy suburb, full of new elegant houses. Eventually the tarmac road turned into a dirt one and entered a forest. To my surprise some 500 metres further on there was a huge and very busy building site. I don’t know what was being built there, but it was big. The trail entered a forest called ‘The Green Forest’ – which was a bit of oxymoron, as forests in Poland are green by definition. Nevertheless it was very pleasant to walk through this patch of woodland, with well maintained paths. Sometimes the markings weren’t particularly obvious, and I had to guess which path to follow, but some bits of information I’d gathered prior to the walk turned out to be helpful. There was an open-air gym in a forest glade, and from there the markings became clear again. Just behind the gym the path climbed steeply up, which was rather unusual in predominantly flat country.

At the top of the ridge, hidden among the trees there were ruins of a high tower. There were wooden tables and benches at the foot of the tower, but unfortunately no information about the monument itself, so its original purpose remains unknown to me. From there the path followed gently down the slope, and after quite a while I spotted another tower among the trees to my left. Thankfully there was a path up the hill towards the tower, but like with the first one there was no information about the tower. After taking a few photos I returned to the path and followed it down the hill. At a crossroads there was a stone with carved inscription that read in Polish ‘the hillocks of Żary 222.5 metres above sea level’. The path ran through the forest for some time, sometimes unexpectedly turning to the left or right, and eventually I approached a railway with a passage underneath. On the other side the path led towards some buildings visible in the distance. I was rather cross to learn that I entered into the town of Kunice; the same one I’d left about one hour earlier. There was no time to get frustrated; I had still quite a distance to cover.

I got a bit lost while looking for the trail from Kunice. Eventually I found the mark painted on an electric pole, hidden behind additional equipment fixed to it. The trail ran along a surprisingly busy tarmac road, but thankfully soon it turned to the left into much quieter old stony road leading towards the village of Siodło (Saddle). It was small and pretty picturesque. I went through it and moved into woodlands. The wide forest track led me towards the town of Żagań in a rather uneventful manner until I came to a railway and crossed it through a passage underneath. Then the trail led to the river Czerna and the ruins of a papermill, destroyed by the Red Army during the Second World War and never rebuilt. The last part of my walk led through the town of Żagań to its centre where the trail ended by the ‘Tourist’ s House’.