A charming railway station and a bridge suggest that Pilchowickie Lake can be reached by train. It was possible in 2016. However, the tourist line Jelenia Góra – Lwówek Śląski (so called Dolina Bobru Railway) was closed due to the poor technical condition of the rail track.
I started my one – day stay on Pilchowickie Lake seeing the Pilchowice Zapora railway station built at the end of the first decade of the 20th century. It was hard to resist an amazing view of the lake, dam and the Karkonosze Mountains in the background as seen from the platform.
I parked the car and prepared myself for the SUP trip beside the station building.
My access to Pilchowickie Lake was allowed by the SKŻ Horyzont marina located at the foot of a steep slope just below the railway station. Admission and the use of their base were free. Getting to know the history of the dam and being trained to staying safe on the water, especially in the area of the dam, were also free of charge. I finished the instruction by saving the contact number to marina bosun in my handy with permission to use it in a critical situation. This nice gesture made me feel confident.
Getting to the water required covering quite high ground levels difference. I gave myself a nice warm – up by going down the narrow stairs with the gear on my back and in my hands. Because I focused all my attention on the safe descent to the floating platform, I didn’t pay attention on the scenery surrounding me which beauty was emphasised in the morning sun. The day promised to be sunny and calm. I knew that there is no rush so the plan to see the entire reservoir was really possible.
I don’t know when I got to the lake and I don’t remember how much time it took me to reach the Pilchowice Dam. This hypnotized me since I stood on the water. I paddled in amok focused only on the object. I felt like a moth flying to the light. The closer I came the size of the object became more impressive. I felt to be very tiny having it on my back. I floated along the wall back and forth barely aware that it descends to a depth of at least 40 m below the water surface. The flow of time and water deficiency in the reservoir were visible on the dam’s wall. I felt like having practical classes about designing hydro constructions. I checked if the mandatory elements of dam’s equipment were used for this type of construction. I got a buzz out of exploring the second highest dam in Poland raised for flood protection and energy purposes in 1912. It was hard to take me out from this place.
The railway bridge, spanning on the north – eastern part of the lake, was another equally interesting engineering object on the route of my SUP trip. This is one of many accompanying facilities built and used to transport materials to the construction site of the Pilchowice dam. Today, it has been waiting for reestablishing the tourist function.
The steel truss construction is undoubtedly an engineering masterwork that looks best from the water surface. It is also a gate to a small cove, an ornithological paradise, giving shelter to many bird species. My presence only scared the small inhabitants of the lake so I turned back not wanting to disturbed them.
Surprisingly, the sun was shining strongly as for almost middle of September. It was hot. I dreamed to cool off in the water. It looked like rather as spinach soup. The thick green suspension, the effect of eutrophication – the water bloom, was so disgusting to me that I didn’t dare to wet even my feet.
I continued floating on the south. I decided to stick to the western shore of the lake which let me take a few shots of boats moored near of Agroturystka Przystań Pilchowice.
It took me a long time to reach the end of the lake. The picturesque landscape distracted me from paddling. I stared at every meter of the lake fully concentrated. I was curious about methods of slopes protections. I watched the rocks surrounding the valley. I wanted to remember as many technical solutions as possible which ensure correct work of the reservoir and safe intake of over 50 million m3 of water.
The low water level stopped me from seeing the place where the Bóbr River gets to the lake. I gave up trying to slide through as soon as I started catching the bottom and rubbish with the board fin. Slalom between tires, concrete blocks and the worst of all scrap (not only construction remains) sticking above the water seemed dangerous and risky.
I turned to floating all the way back along the east bank. Spreading trees gave me desired shadow. I felt tired after more than three – hour stay on the water in full sun. Foot cramps became so annoying that I needed an immediate break. It was not so easy to find a place to rest in this part of the lake. The slopes were so steep that I could forget to go on the land. Finally I parked my board between the rocks. Keeping SHARK in place required using the “handbrake” – my paddle – so blocking a blade in the rock rift. Holding the handle made chillout in lying position difficult for me. Still, I was able to stretch my legs.
The cove in the eastern part of the lake was the last destination on my SUP trip. I wasn’t surprised by the presence of anglers located along the sandy beach due to the possibility of getting there by car.
The return to the marina was calm and slow. The need to look again at the objects changed by the afternoon sun was just an excuse which I used to delay the moment of return on the land. I felt myself inside the landscape, I was integrated in the surrounding. I didn’t want so much to leave this wonderful place. I felt unsatisfied although I circled the whole lake. I spent five hours on the water. I covered 12 km distance. I had still enough strength to float to the dam. I would love to sit on the board the rest of the day catching in the photos – like an impressionist on canvas – the play of light on the dam’s wall.
My excitement disappeared when I pulled the board on the floating platform. I climbed the stairs to the parking lot with tears in my eyes.
The last look at the Pilchowickie Lake from the observation deck of the marina gave me hope that it wasn’t the only visit in this amazing part of Poland.