Improving visitor access and safety in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park

The gorges of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park, in Czechia’s Severozápad region, welcome 135 000 visitors a year. Access paths in certain sections of the park had fallen into serious disrepair, posing a risk to visitor safety. Thanks to an ERDF-funded project, a 960 m section of the trail to the popular Wild Gorge was completely renovated. It now features attractive and robust wooden walkways and railings that are in keeping with the forest surroundings. Trails in the area were also repaired.

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The Wild Gorge of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park in Czechia. ©Ministry of Regional Development/Antonín Kapraσ The Wild Gorge of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park in Czechia. ©Ministry of Regional Development/Antonín Kapraσ

" The total length of the restored section was 960 m. A total of 20 000 special stainless steel screws and connecting material was used. One person walked 26 km each day for 90 days while taking away the old material and bringing new material, which makes 2 340 km. "

Zdeněk Pánek, Mayor of Hřensko municipality

The new paths and repaired trails offer not only a safer and more pleasant visitor experience, but also contribute to the protection of the local flora and fauna. Visitors are guided to the upper platform of the gorge, with fewer walking through protected areas of the forest and disturbing wildlife.

Due to an increase in visitor numbers to the gorge, one additional river barge was put in service allowing more tourists to experience the landscape from the water. This resulted in two extra ferrymen and one additional cashier being employed.

A challenging engineering feat

Due to the nature of the terrain, the state of the existing infrastructure, and the remote location within the park, the project was very demanding. To repair the 960 m-long section of the trail, 20 000 special stainless steel screws and connecting materials were used. The only way to bring new materials and remove old ones was by foot.

One of the most difficult stretches to repair was a 287 m-long walkway suspended 4 m above the Kamenice river, and running alongside the rock face. Here, the corroded iron supports had to be replaced by galvanized steel profiles, embedded in the rock. The surface of the walkway – previously corrugated steel sheets – was replaced by oak planks. The iron railings were replaced by railings made from spruce.

Other areas of the trail that had been eroded by water were levelled and finished with natural sandstone. Stone transverse gutters were added in sections where water flows across the path.

Attracting tourists from near and far

Established in 2000, the Bohemian Switzerland National Park lies about 120 km north of Prague, and is a popular destination for Czech walkers and climbers, and international tourists.

The newly renovated section of the trail takes visitors to the upper platform of Wild Gorge – the smaller of the two gorges along the Kamenice river at 450 m long – where access is only possible by boat.

Due to an increase in visitor numbers since the renovation work, one new river barge has been put in service, creating three new jobs – two ferrymen and a cashier. In keeping with tradition, the ferrymen steer the boat using a pole, and explain the history of the gorge and point out odd rock shapes – the so-called denizens of the gorge.  

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Routing of visitors in the National Park České Švýcarsko” is EUR 362 438, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 227 012 through the “Environment” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Environment and resource efficiency”.

Draft date

09/03/2020