Brno Family: Introducing Children to Spelunking
Jeskyně Pekárna (Cave Bakery) is a perfect day trip hike for little kids. Photo credit: BZ.
Just outside of the Brno city limits there is a short hike that leads to a huge open question: Can you imagine living in a cave?
If you are lucky, you will have a guy playing a didgeridoo to make the atmosphere even more exotic.
Let me back up and explain. The area north of Brno is famous for caves. Spelunking — which is the same in English and in Czech and is still probably new to many in both languages — is the word for exploring caves.
Many caves require rock climbing skills and overcoming claustrophobia.
Jeskyně Pekárna (Cave Bakery) is perfect for little kids. It is a large cave that has relatively safe and easy access, and the atmosphere is memorable and inspirational for toddlers (and adults). It is a nice hike at any time of year. Now is a great time to visit because you can enjoy some leaf-peeping on the way.
The trailhead is about five kilometers from Velká Klajdovka, the hotel at the edge of Líšeň and under the Hády radio tower.
The road is windy and busy with cars going to Ochoz o Brna. Look for the trainhead on the right. There is a small makeshift parking lot for about four cars. Spillover parking is possible on the other side of the road.
Going by bus takes just 16 minutes from the Stará osada tram stop / transit area. Take Bus 201 or 202 in the direction of Jedovnice. The stop is called “Ochoz u Brna, Říčky” and it is by request.
The route starts on a paved road (for local cars only) for about a kilometer. It is downhill on the way in. That, of course, means that it is uphill on the way out — consider it to be the cherry on top of the trip because it will tire out the kids and they will hopefully fall asleep on the way home.
At the bottom of the hill, there is a small bar (this is the Czech Republic, of course there is a place to get a beer) and Kaprálův mill, which is a Scout Environmental Education Centre that provides first-hand experience of the natural world.
Continue along the road when it changes to dirt, cross the stream and, in 80 meters, you will find the start of the forest trail on your left. From there, you are in the trees for the rest of the trip. Follow the blue marks on the trees all the way to the cave. (Print out a map from mapy.cz or maps.google.com. You can also take a mobile phone picture of the maps that are on signposts at the parking area and at the start of this forest-trail section.)
The trail follows a small creek and a dried creek bed. Both meander through a small valley. Two relatively new bridges make crossing them straightforward.
I took my two toddlers on the trail in the first weekend of October, just as the deciduous trees were starting to turn red and orange and brown. Muddy puddles may be a problem but there are always dry edges to traverse, assuming your children don’t re-enact scenes from “Peppa Pig” and splash into them.
Don’t bring a stroller. Even when the trail isn’t muddy, there are long stretches of rocks that, from personal experience, force dad into more carrying than walking.
After about a kilometer, you reach the bottom of the cave hill. There are about 100 steps that will take you all the way up to your destination.
The cave is a huge yawning hole in the side of the hill. It is 23 meters wide. It has a flat area inside and a sort of ledge out in front. If it rained the day before, you can stand just under the lip and see the clear line between wet and dry.
It is hard not to image the people who used the cave to shield themselves from the weather 12,000 to 15,000 years ago, and it is a great conversation into which you can lead your children. How many people do you think lived here? Where do you think they danced and sang? Where did they cook? Where did they go to the bathroom? Do you think dinosaurs lived here before the people came?
The cave goes back about 60 meters and you can slowly pick your way into its depths. Be careful, the ground is uneven, and the ceiling closes in to less than two meters high. At the far back, there is a small chamber to the right. Bats can be found sleeping there. A flashlight would be useful, but a mobile phone light works just as well for a few minutes.
When we visited there was a man with a didgeridoo. He went to different parts of the cave to experiment with the deep sounds that amplified through the cavern. That was a lucky bonus.
The exotic music drifted out over the entire area and proved to be another new and memorable experience for the kids.
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