The District of Tuchola
Środa, 18-12-2013
The District of Tuchola,
captivating with its untouched beauty, is a place to explore and a world to discover. Postglacial plains dotted with glistening lakes and cut by rivers and canals are a magnet for tourists, artists and photographers. A huge variety of forms, shapes, colours and tunes build an absolutely harmonious unity. As well as being an area of inestimable beauty, the region is also famous for harbouring big populations of unique plants and animals. Diversified flora and fauna is attractive for canoeists, walkers, cyclists and naturalists alike. It is not uncommon to catch a glimpse of a beaver, otter, deer, roe deer or a boar in the virgin parts of the forest. The picturesque town of Tuchola as well as charming villages with their placid pace of life add to the atmosphere of the district. In numerous towns and villages which have their roots far in the Middle Ages you can still admire pearls of old architecture.
Tourists come here to experience unprecedented recreational opportunities in one of the most beautiful places in Poland. The river Brda, considered one of the most attractive kayaking routes in Europe, rolls its waters through scenic landscapes. Moments spent on paddling a boat along the river will be remembered and treasured for many days hence.
The district also provides excellent opportunities for cycling in the countryside offering miles of bike tracks to explore, wildlife in abundance, and plenty of sites of interest to visit. Numerous landscape parks and nature reserves are the ultimate ‘green gym’ for all seasons and an ideal facility for those who pursue curriculums of nature literacy, deep ecology and natural history. Learning trails wander through timeless ecosystems with their wide variety of endangered and threatened species. Then, the district is anglers’ paradise offering undisturbed and utterly peaceful fishing in beautiful surroundings as well as a treasure trove of mushrooms ready to be picked. Tourists incessantly fall for the majestic beauty
of the District of Tuchola, once they have escaped from urban sprawl to the pure tranquillity of the outdoors. Whether they want peace, solitude or invigorating adventure, there’s place to suit them. The district’s landscape invites visitors to rediscover the art of simply BEING. It is a place of contact, contemplation and inner dialogue.
The area of the present District of Tuchola owes much to the Scandinavian glaciation.
The Scandinavian glacier, the mighty sculptor of the landscape, carved wide valleys, created numerous lakes and deposited large expanses of rolling plains of sediment (a jumble of sand, gravel, mud and detached blocks). Geologic features created by the retreating glacier also include morainic hills, U-shaped valleys and erratic blocks scattered all over the area. This undulating landscape, picturesquely cut by the river Brda, numerous streams and brooks, is dotted with plentiful glacial lakes, including paternoster lakes with ragged shorelines and ribbon lakes with unique animal and plant life. Amidst the forests small tarns and kettle lakes overgrown by peat bog vegetation, and covered by a thick carpet of peat bog mosses offer a stunning view. The River Brda, the main waterway, winds its path in a beautiful valley lined with old deciduous woods. The most spectacular section of the river in the village of Świt was once nicknamed “Hell” by local raftsmen. It is here that steep banks, mounds of rocks hidden in the depths and strong currents determine the Brda’s “mountain river character”. The District of Tuchola, spreading over the central and south parts of the Tuchola Forest, is characterised by high density of forests, which cover nearly half of its surface.
Located far from industrial centres, vast undisturbed areas of pine woods boast of extraordinary climate, known for its healing properties. The most spectacular parts of the Tuchola Forest have been turned into nature reserves, which preserve the forested areas, particular plant species or peatbogs. The most famous include the forest reserve “Leon Wyczółkowski Old-Polish Yew Trees Reserve” in Wierzchlas at Lake Mukrz near Wierzchucin, the landscape reserve “The Source of the River Stążka ” and the reserve “The River Brda Valley”. Though the profuse flora and fauna of the past have been dramatically reduced and altered by man, big populations of wild animals can still breed here undisturbed. The Forest, still sparsely populated, provide food and shelter for deer, roe deer, boars, martens, polecats and beavers. The community of birds comprises golden eagles, swans, herons, eagle owls, ospreys, black storks, and kingfishers. Local lakes, streams and rivers are densely inhabited by numerous species of fish, reptiles, and amphibians. The region’s fame sets on stunning woodland and a great surrounding countryside to walk around. Tourists are drawn by the impressive combination of spectacular sights, plenty of wildlife and historic architecture.
Millions of years ago, changes in the Earth’s climate caused animal and plant life to diversify. The varied plant life of the district includes numerous boreal, arctic, subarctic and relict species, which confirms the primeval character of the region’s flora. Today, the vegetation comprises different plant communities and can be subdivided into the following categories: freshwater aquatic plants (including a score of waterside, floating and submerged species), peat bog plants (including a range of mosses and lichens), meadow plants and forest plants. Monotonous though it may seem, the forest ecosystem in the District of Tuchola embraces all types of forests typical of the Central European Plain. Though the prevalence of pine trees is undeniable, deciduous trees are just as common and beech, birch, oak, alder, hornbeam forests are regularly encountered. Moreover, it still contains a wide array of old-growth forest stands representing all major types of habitats.
A remarkable phenomenon is the yew tree (under legal protection in Poland), a big population of which still grows in its natural stand in “L. Wyczó³kowski Old-Polish Yew Trees Reserve” in Wierzchlas.
Classified as endangered, the wild service tree is considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. It is protected in the “River Brda Valley” reserve.
The forests of the district are densely inhabited by club mosses: small, creeping, terrestrial or epiphytic, vascular plants, the principal genera of which are Lycopodium and Selaginella. Some species of Lycopodium are called ground pine or creeping cedar.
You may also see awesome sundews, insectivorous (insect-eating) plants found on raised and blanket bogs. Their leaves are covered in hairs, which secrete a sticky liquid ensnaring any small insects landing on them. Over time the leaf closes in on its catch and releases enzymes which digest the fleshy parts of the insect. This effective trapping technique gives the plant most of its nutrients, a necessary adaptation to the poor conditions. The most common species are: the Round-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), Great Sundew (Drosera anglica) and Oblong-leaved Sundew (Drosera intermedia).

The list of aquatic plants commonly found in local lakes (incl. lakes Sztuczne, Zdręczno, Białe, Okrągłe, and Okonińskie) comprises white water lilies, yellow water lilies and blue water lilies. Though rare, a relic species Great Fen-Sedge (Cladium Mariscus) can still be seen in lakes Zdręczno and Sztuczne.
Key elements of the landscape of the District of Tuchola are peat bogs, coming in three variants: raised bogs, blanket bogs and fen (transitional) bogs. A bog is a wetland ecosystem that accumulates acidic peat. Peat is made of incompletely decomposed plant remains, which accumulate in waterlogged soils over thousands of years.
Despite the fact that many species are in danger of extinction, the population of lichens is still abundant. Lichens grow on rocks and tree trunks in the following main forms: leafy (foliose), crusty and flat (crustose), shrubby and mixed (squamulose), branched (fruticose), powdery (leprose). Most popular ground species include lichen islandicus, cladonia rangiferina (reindeer moss), cladonia macilenta, cladonia verticilatta and pettigera canina.
Although lichens typically grow in naturally harsh environments, most species are extremely sensitive to manufactured pollutants: they shrink, wither and even die when exposed to air contamination. Hence, they have been widely used as pollution indicator organisms.
The multitude of lichens in the Tuchola Forest is a clear indication of good aerosanitary conditions of the area.
The District of Tuchola, a vast part of which lies within the borders of the Tuchola Landscape Park, makes an ideal environment for many animals. A profuse variety of habitats guarantees a huge biodiversity of the region. Animals grow and develop in and around numerous lakes and rivers, in vast acres of woodland, on peat bogs, moorlands and meadows. Though much more plentiful and diversified in the past, local fauna is still remarkably diverse. The woods give shelter to numerous birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. This land makes a perfect home for many species, which are therefore still abundant: deer, red deer, fallow deer, boar, elk, marten, and otter. Beavers, which have been reintroduced in the region, have built a thriving community. White-tailed eagles, osprays, cranes, swans, herons, eagle owls, black storks and kingfishers still soar over Tuchola and its environs.
Nine nature reserves established in the District of Tuchola cover more than 58% of
the district’s surface area. The forest reserve “Leon Wyczółkowski Old-Polish Yew Trees Reserve” in Wierzchlas on lake Mukrz is the oldest nature reserve in Poland and one of the oldest in Europe. Established in 1827, it protects the biggest natural colony of yew trees in Poland together with well-preserved parts of the ancient woodland. Around 3000 aged specimen grow in harmony with other tree species, including pines, oaks, lime trees, maples, sycamore maples, birches and alders. The oldest yew tree nicknamed “Chrobry” has a diameter of 75 cm and numbers approximately 700 years. 181 nature monuments have been registered in the region.
In the largest protected area, the landscape reserve The River Brda Valley (1681.5 ha) the Brda rolls its waters through a mountain-like area. The river, wildly meandering, with swift currents, makes a perfect location for practicing water sports. The breathtaking scenery with plenty of virgin woodland covering the steep valley slopes together with vibrantly colourful plants of the undergrowth will make a visit here an unforgettable experience.
“Marshes by the River Stążka”, a nature reserve protecting the largest area of lowland
peat bog in the Tuchola Forest includes remnants of the wetland that occupied the area in the distant past. Covering 478.45 hectares, it forms the largest complex of low, fen (transitional) and high (raised) peat bog in the region, with a great variety of relict species.
Aquatic and peat bog vegetations receive protection in the reserves “Lakes Kozie”, (12.30 ha) (with 3 distrophic lakes with well-preserved peatlands within its boundaries) and “Marshes of Grzybno” (6.26 ha). Their living surfaces made of a carpet of floating Sphagnum mosses make a peculiar view here.
“Lake Zdręczno” reserve (15.74 ha) protects a raised peat bog community on Lake Zdrêczno. The lake, romantically located deep in the forest is already partly overgrown.
“The Source of the River Stążka” protected landscape is 250.02 hectares  of land especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of forested areas, running waters, arable lands, ecologically important lands located in the River Stążka Valley, building an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Moreover, the reserve “Czapliniec” (23.21 ha) is a very important habitat for native fauna while the reserve “Jelenia Góra” is designated to protect a big cluster of yew trees.
A great part of the district lies within the Tuchola Landscape Park created in 1985 with the primary purpose to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the local landscape. On the area of  36,983 hectares 8 nature reserves were established, two of which (“Ustronie” and “Yew Trees on the Czerska Struga”) expand beyond the park’s boundaries.
The park provides a wealth of food and safe nesting places for a variety of unique birds (112 species), incl. corncrake, turtledove, flycatcher (considered endangered in Europe and on other continents) and 19 species of birds incl. black stork, golden-eye, goosander, red kite, white-tailed eagle, crane, green sandpiper, wood sandpiper, stock pigeon, grey wagtail and raven, considered rare and critically endangered in Poland.
In 1995 Polish National Forests created the Forest Development Area “The Tuchola Forest” which engages forest inspectorates of D¹browa, Osie, Tuchola and Woziwoda. They are responsible for the promotion of ecology-friendly forest management, ecological education and research as well as raising awareness of how to solve real world problems.
The very first information on the history of the present District of Tuchola is known from archeological remains. Thanks to the burial finds and remnants of early medieval settlements uncovered in Żalno, Gostycyn, Kęsowo and Obrowo one can become familiar with the history of the region from the period before the dawn of recorded history. In the early hours of the Middle Ages it was the village of Raciąż that was the most powerful political, economic and administrative centre of the region. However, as early as in the beginning of the 13thc. Kashubian Dukes established another settlement on the western trade route. The annihilation of Raciąż in the mid-13th century was a significant impulse towards a development of this new power, Tuchola, to which the first written references come from the year 1287. The town’s favourable position on the “margraves’ route” joining Chełmno and German states made Tuchola an immense strategic asset, immediately recognized by the Knights, who thus built there a stronghold and made the town the capital of their Commandery. Tuchola’s fortunes improved even more rapidly when it was granted city rights in 1346 by the Teutonic Knights and the city gained the status of the most vivid centre of economy and culture in south Pomerania. Intensive colonization and the introduction of the rent law accelerated the development of Śliwice (1339), Koślinka (1344), Bladowo (1346), Kiełpin and Raciąż (1349), Gostycyn (1350), Bysław and Cekcyn (1379), Kęsówko (1388), and other places lying in the close vicinity of Tuchola.
In the following centuries the Land of Tuchola was a stage of Polish-Teutonic Wars for power over Pomerania, Polish-Swedish Wars, and finally the Napoleonic Wars. Swedish invasions  and occupation of the country between1655 and 1659 brought a string of misfortunes: the suburbs were reduced to ashes and the castle as well as the defence walls were badly damaged.
One of the most outstanding heroes of wartime was corporal of horse Michałko (1635). Born into a farmers’ family, he seemed destined for the life of a simple miller. However, his plans were abruptly thwarted by the Swedish invasions. Forced to get engaged in warfare, he served in the Swedish army in the rank of reiter. Taken prisoner by the Polish troops at Rawa, he was soon released. Arriving at Tuchola, he formed and led a partisan detachment and with his disciplined army comprised mainly of peasants he won many victories over the Swedish forces and took control of the towns of Chojnice, Człuchów and Tuchola. He then proceeded with his troops to Pomerania, Żuławy near Malbork and Grudziądz, and even to Denmark, where he lost life during dynamiting the Holding stronghold.
The privileged status inevitably brought prosperity (Tuchola was one of the richest crown lands on Pomerania) but economic and social confusion and numerous fires abruptly terminated this era in the latter part of the 17th c. The great fire in 1781 consumed the town almost entirely. Despite a radical proposal of rebuilding the town in another location, Tuchola was reconstructed on essentially the same place with the use of the material from the castle, dismantled brick-by-brick at the command of Prussian authorities.
Following the First Partition, the Prussians, new rulers of the Land of Tuchola, liquidated the starosty of Tuchola and incorporated the area into the administrative district of Chojnice. The city again assumed prominence in the latter part of the 19th c., particularly after it was appointed the capital of the district. The first starost earl Karl Hans von Königsmarck (1839-1910) is best remembered for taking an active part in the district’s political and cultural life.
Another breakthrough was the evolution of the railway system: in 1883 Tuchola got its first train connection while the turn of the 20th c. brought the construction of new railways in the region. A massive development of towns and villages along the new railroads was just a natural consequence.
Like much of the region, Tuchola was subjected to systematic Germanization, but as in many other places, a strongly Polish identity remained. The following individuals had a considerable impact on social and political life of the area: members of Janta Połczyński and Pr¹dzyñski families and dr Kazimierz Karasiewicz (1862-1926), founder and leader of numerous social and economic organizations, glorifier of the local landscape values and author of the first guidebook to the Tuchola Forest. Furthermore, the region was homeland of many outstanding personalities in the fields of history and science, among others priest Stanis³aw Kujot (1845-1914) from Kiełpin and priest Romuald Frydrychowicz (1850-1932) from Tuchola, a talen-ted pedagogue and regional historian. They all contributed greatly to studying and interpreting the past of Pomerania and the Polish nation.
The 20th century saw two world wars sweeping across the Land of Tuchola and leaving much of the region devastated. During the First World War  camp for prisoners of war was built near Tuchola. Harsh conditions led to the death of many soldiers, with 2471 Romanian and 1289 Russian among them. Following the return of Polish independence, in January 1920 the District of Tuchola was integrated with the resurrected Poland. Dr Jan Bartz was appointed the district’s first starost just when Poland faced the necessity to restore its lost unity. Beside fierce, unashamed patriotism, bitter racial and religious intolerance marked the new epoch.
The outbreak of the Second World War was one of the most appalling moments in the history of the region. In October and November 1939 as many as 227 Polish citizens were executed in the forest near Rudzki Most, while local community of Jews was literally slaughtered in the allotments in Sępoleńska Street. Legions of Polish men eagerly joined the ZWZ partisan troops (Armed Resistance), Gryf Pomorski (Pomeranian Griffin) and AK (the Home Army).
On 15th February 1945 Tuchola was finally liberated by the Soviet Army. Its territorial status changed again and Tuchola was made a part of the Province of Bydgoszcz. Like other regions, Tuchola saw the post-war era bring communist rule, repressions against the democratic opposition and wave after wave of economic crisis. The end of the epoch of the Polish People’s Republic meant the urge to revive and reinvigorate the economy and to make up for the past economic blunders. During the recession after 1989 many local companies went into liquidation and unemployment hit the region. However, the reform programme pursued with vigour, the consequence being the boom of private entrepreneurs. The newly established firms operated in wood industry, furniture industry, heavy hydraulics and tourism. It is tourism, however, that is expected to be the most thriving branch in the nearest future. In the past few years efforts have been made to have the Tuchola Forest included in the UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.The administrative reform of January 1999 brought Tuchola the status of the capital of the district and the seat of regional authorities.
A large swathe of the District of Tuchola, i.e. the areas around Tuchola and Cekcyn, is populated by Boroviak people. Boroviaks developed highly original culture as a result of their isolated existence in the depth of the forests. Initially, their activities were closely connected with the woods they inhabited: men hunted wild animals and caught fish, (both being an important source of food), collected honey and wax from wild bees, and then farmed the land. They practiced various crafts: milling, pottery, smithery, wood distillery and charcoal production. Woods were a real treasury of natural resources. Trees provided phloem, perfect material for making primitive shoes, baskets, ropes and harnesses, as well as roots for weaving baskets. From the roots of pines, firs and junipers local craftsmen made a range of containers for carrying and storing potatoes, forest fruits and mushrooms, and for measuring grain and flour. Even hives, chairs and jugs for carrying water were produced in this way.
Local soils, low in nutrients, produced rather poor crops forcing the inhabitants to exploit the woods’ resources. They gathered resin, birch juice and herbs, the latter two of wide application in folk medicine
Hunting was an efficient method of supplying food. At times wild animals’ meat was a principal source of nutrition. Hunting was engaged by all classes, but it was generally the privilege (and a stylized pastime) of the aristocracy.
As fishing was also a major source of food, it was regularly practised, with the use of various nets, including landing nets, seine nets, and also rods, drags, leisters  (three-pronged fork-like spears). The abundance of timber resulted in extensive tree felling and wood processing. The wide-spread flax cultivation together with efficient sheep breeding were two major factors in the development of weaving – the craft was so popular that in every household flax and wool weaving was practised. Boroviaks are also famous for mastering the skill of making snuff-boxes of cherry tree or birch bark and horn. An interesting phenomenon is that at some point in history Boroviaks collected amber.
The Cult of the Virgin Mary grew particularly high in the region; Mother of God figure was a central object of worship and thus exposed in numerous wayside shrines. In some, however, figures of other saints (incl. St. John of Nepomuk, St. Rozalia and St. Florian) can still be seen today. In villages located far from the church, they still attract legions of believers who gather there to say their prayers together. In traditional Boroviak wooden cottages timber blockhaus and post & beam constructions were commonly applied. Traditionally, the houses have gable thatched roofs, porches placed at the front, centre or corner of the building, and decorated gables. In a typical Boroviak house you could find wooden sliding beds, hand-painted trunks for storing clothes, hand-painted cupboards with open upper and closed lower part, tables, benches and stools. On the walls hung paintings with bunches of dry herbs squeezed behind their frames and ceramic stoups, the indispensable element of the interiors.
Best preserved Boroviak houses, dated mainly from the second half of the 19th c., can still be admired in the villages of Rzepiczna and Krąg. The latter, famous for its remarkably uniform old architecture, is under the protection of a restoration officer. Boroviak cottages are also undoubted highlights of the villages of Sucha, Brzozowe Błota, Zazdrość, Śliwice, Zielonka, £ąski Piec, and Wielkie Budziska.
Boroviak embroidery based on the traditional Kashubian designs introduced gold stitching, a clear reference to old coifs with gold ornamentation, the only embroidered element of the traditional Kashubian costume. The art of making traditional velvet coifs decorated with gold (sometimes silver) metal thread has been restored in the region. The promotion of this traditional craft by its keen supporters paved its way to being an important part of exhibitions of the Kashubian art. In Tuchola alone there are 3 circles of traditional embroiderers.
A highly valued branch of modern-day regional folk art is painting on glass, based on the Kashubian painting tradition. Noble traditions of folk woodcarving are still being developed,  going beyond creating figures of saints. Contemporary artists portray everyday life of simple peasants. Moreover, real and fantasy brightly painted birds are a favourite theme for numerous renowned artists.
Landscapes, the environment, history, culture, tradition and cuisine are the key elements of  what makes a region one of a kind. The cuisine of the District of Tuchola has always meant cooking of high standard. In many restaurants of the district they keep traditional recipes alive so guests can try delicious Boroviak yeast pancakes with forest mushrooms or a choice of aromatic mushroom soups.

Kayaking trips
Kayaking trips on the Brda and its many tributaries are commonly associated with the District of Tuchola. Organized as far away as in the pre-war times, nowadays they attract legions of enthusiasts. Kayaking tours are the perfect occasions to practice skills, explore personal potential or just have fun. Moreover, the diverse Tuchola region is a paddler’s paradise. The wildness of this lightly populated area surrounds paddlers in stunning scenery.
The Brda is one of the most captivating kayaking trails in Europe. The river, with its twists and turns is a magnet for canoeists who shoot fearlessly through the often powerful rapids. Still, the journey is quite smooth-going, giving you the chance to appreciate the scenic surroundings of virgin forets, fields, and lakes - the real pluses of the experience.
Accommodation along the route is provided by (PTTK-run) campsites in Woziwoda, Gołąbek, Wymysłowo, Tuchola-Rudzki Most, Świt, Gostycyn-Nogawica, Zamrzenica and Sokole-Kuźnica, where you can also find several companies dealing with kayak rental and kayak trip organization.
Along most of its 238km the Brda (left tributary of the Vistula with the basin of 4.817 km sq), nicknamed the queen of Boroviak rivers, winds its way through thick forests. It starts in Lake Smołowe on the Bytów Lake District, takes you through a succession of 5 lakes, and flows into Lake Szczytno on the north edge of the Krajna Lake District. In its central stretch it flows initially to the east through a chain of beautiful post-glacial ribbon lakes on the Charzykowy Plain, then through the Tuchola Forest. Dammed up in its lower course it creates two small lakes and extraordinarily big and beautiful Lake Koronowskie, famous for its well-developed forested shoreline with numerous deep inlets. Many holiday centres are seated at Lake Koronowskie. The last stretch of the Brda is channeled, crosses Bydgoszcz and flows into the Vistula near Fordon (The Brda in the District of Tuchola: 60km on which the kayaking trip takes approx. 2 days).

Mushroom picking
There are literally dozens of species of edible wild mushrooms (one hundred approximately!) in the Tuchola Forest. Autumn is the most productive time, but there are always some species available in woodlands. Each autumn, when the biggest mushroom flushes of the year occur, your baskets will be filled to the brim. However, even as early as in April you may go mushroom hun-ting…The list of species, which lures even practised mushroom pickers includes: boletus, brown birch boletus, ceps, chanterelles, brown ring boletus, Tricholoma flavo- virens (Man on Horseback) and rare Saffron milk caps.
If you are lucky enough, you may come across huge colonies of some species of mushrooms. The Polish name of these colonies: ‘devil’s rings’, reflects an ancient belief that they once served as meeting places for wicked witches. However, the explanation of this phenomenon is quite simple: mycelia of some species expand rapidly making underground circles with a diameter of up to hundreds of metres.

King Boletus Gather them in summer and autumn when they are frequently found near or under firs and pines. They are usually found in big, scattered groups. The King Boletus is presumably the best edible mushroom ever, the reputation which it owes to an extraordinary taste and aroma reminiscent of that of walnuts. Other related species, abundant in the Tuchola Forest, are also considered extremely suitable for cooking experiments.

Chanterelles can be found in deciduous forests under beeches and oaks and in coniferous forests under firs and pines between June and November. A pleasant aroma (reminiscent of apricots) together with a distinctive, unique flavour gained it big fame. Chanterelles taste excellent served with meats and in sauces as well as preserved in vinegar. Unfortunately, unlike many other edible species, they can’t be dried. Boletus/Cep can be found throughout summer and autumn in many kinds of woodland near or under pines, firs, oaks and beeches. They make a valuable ingredient of traditional Polish Christmas Eve dishes.

Tricholoma flavovirens (Man on Horseback, Yellow Knight) Between September and November common in coniferous woods, in other habitats found only occasionally. They have a delicate taste and a distinct flour aroma.

Saffron milk cap can be found from August to November in the environment limited to several coniferous woods (forms a symbiotic relationship with pine trees). Its closely related species are also worth looking out for. Their lovely crunchy texture and good flavor makes them much sought-after mushrooms.

Forest Fruits
The Tuchola Forest are blessed with a veritable smorgasbord of summer fruits. There’s nothing that beats the satisfaction of harvesting one of nature’s great bounties, in the form of wild fruits and berries. They’re free, they’re fun to pick, and they’re delicious. The list of the plants is quite lengthy and together they make up a fruit and berry banquet, just waiting to be nibbled. Whether you just like a quick taste sensation on a morning walk or are into bagging bucketfuls for the freezer, Tuchola’s summer fruits are there for the taking.

Blackberriesare widespread shrubs producing soft-bodied fruits popular for use in desserts, jams, seedless jellies and sometimes wines and liqueurs. They are very pervasive, growing in woods, scrub, on hillsides and hedgerows, colonising wasteland and building sites. They ripen in August and September, developing to a black or dark purple colour from red in early stages. Blackberries, rich in mineral salts and vitamin C have unmistakable taste. Highly valued in herbal medicine for their anti-fever and anti-diarrhea properties.

Wild strawberries grow in deciduous forests, sunlit coniferous forests, woodland glades and edges, on clearings and in hedges. Delightfully sweet, scrumptious, aromatic fruit appear in early June and can be gathered until September. In quality of flavour, wild strawberries are  among the choicest in the world. Though preferred raw (fresh fruits make a delicious snack), amateurs of syrups, jams and jellies are numerous.

Blueberriesare vital elements of the undergrowth in conifer woods, on moorlands, peat bogs, and forest edges. The berries ripen as early as mid-July, but peak season is usually late July through August until September. Shiny red when young, they turn into deep blue when they are ripe. Delicious on their own, blueberries are successfully used in jellies, jams, and pies, baked into muffins, and are an ingredient of many other snacks and delicacies.They are still believed to be a remedy for diarrhoea. They contain a strong pigment which can dye your skin and clothes.

Swamp blueberries which you can find on peat bogs hidden between pines and birches, are similar to blueberries, though maybe slightly bigger. Since their fruits are responsible for stupor-like condition (a state in which a person is almost unconscious and their thoughts are very unclear), they are called “drunk berries” by locals.

Huckleberries grow in sunny pine forests, on peat bogs, swamps and moorlands. Their shiny red berries are ready to be gathered since July until September. A bit tart, they are rarely consumed raw. Rich in vitamins and mineral salts, they are excellent for the production of jams, jellies and alike. Huckleberry conserve is considered particularly tasty when accompanies meat dishes.

Cranberries grow abundantly in peatbogs. Rich in vitamin C and organic acids they have a strong tart sour taste that can overwhelm their sweetness. Most cranberries are processed into products such as juice, jelly and sauce, with the remainder sold fresh to consumers. Cranberry sauce and jelly are widely regarded as an excellent accompaniments to meat dishes.

Cultural events
The tradition of “The Days of the Tuchola Forest”, the most important event in the life of the district, has continued for almost half a century. If you want to participate in historical pageantry, festivities and feasting, don’t miss “The History Day”. History enthusiasts can parade in early-medieval knights’ armours, see how coins were made during Boleslaus the Brave’s rule, observe how old Boroviaks sheared sheep, combed and spinned wool, and knitted socks. People flock to try Boroviak old traditional dishes, higly praised delicacies. Every year a different event from the past of the Tuchola District is reflected in the celebrations.
An unmiss-able extra-vaganza that takes over the whole region is “The Day of Boroviak Folklore” You can see locals and visitors sipping home-brewed beer and munching and crunching noisily on traditional Boroviak delicacies, including buttermilk soup, dumplings with stewed sauerkraut, and blood sausage. Or you can have fun participating in plentiful contests and competitions; if you are lucky enough to be the best at rolling a bale of straw or running in clogs, you will be awarded jars of blueberries and honey. The area assumes a festive atmosphere with stalls selling folk art (embroidery, sculptures, paintings, wickerwork) and folk bands concerts.
Don’t fail to attend the International Festival of Hunting and Tower Music, in which artists from the diverse places come to create a series of exceptional concerts. The tower music competition is open to trumpet callers (soloists and bands) and bugle-callers (Tuchola is the only city in Europe where a bugle call is played on a hunting horn). A hunting music competition is open to soloists and bands playing the wooden horn.
“The International Road Run ‘Hydrotor Race’”, a popular sports event during “The Days of the Tuchola Forest” has a circle of devoted fans. An obvious draw are megastars of Polish athletics who enter the competition for champions. Children enjoy “the run for sweets”.
A royal shooting competition at the courtyard of the Museum of the Tuchola Forest with the participation of rifle brothers from numerous rifle clubs is an unprecedented occasion. A new shooting champion takes over the insignia from the last year winner to start his one-year reign. Shooting tournaments are usually very ceremonial and attract Polish and foreign visitors.
The Festival of Brass Bands held annually in Śliwice is a major attraction. Firefighters’ bands from all over the province of Kuyavia and Pomerania congregate in the village during the event that promotes traditional folk music. Spectators have a high regard for local bands… and traditional pea soup served generously. The performance “Night Mysteries” held under the stars is aimed at encouraging philosophical reflections in spectators. In a very atmospheric setting (on the beach at Lake Wielkie Cekcyńskie) under floodlights actors tell a story of things that make life an inestimable value. The programme is under the auspices of the Cekcyn Land Lovers Society and the Communal Culture Centre.
During the renowned “The Old Station” festival in July the village of Pruszcz-Bagienica is trans-formed into a huge railway station. People queue to have a ride in an old railway trolley. The accompanying events like a trolley race  add to the atmosphere of the day.
Don’t miss the autumn highlight: “The Mushroom Exhibition” organized by the Tuchola Landscape Park and the Museum of the Tuchola Forest, where you can see dozens of mushroom species freshly picked in the local forests. The accompanying mycological workshops run by research workers from the Łódź University make the event even more valuable.
For the majority of the communes the centrepiece of their cultural life are harvest festivals, during which local customs and traditions are revived.
Tourists eagerly join in colourful festivities prepared by local athorities and flock to outdoor parties, picnics, feasts, shows and tournaments. “The Days of the Commune of Cekcyn”, “Świêtojanki” at the lakeside in Pi³a, “The Review of Country Theatres and Folk Rituals and Traditions” in Lubiewo, “The Handball Festival in Kęsowo”, and “Sołtysiada” in Śliwice are unquestionable favourites.

Angling
Imagine your perfect holiday - an anglers’ paradise of wonderful lakes and rivers, plenty
of large and small fish, undisturbed and utterly peaceful fishing in beautiful surroundings. You’ve just imagined the District of Tuchola. In the past the local lakes were stocked with fish such as: roach, eel, pike, bream, carp, pike perch and perch and tench, catfish, burbot, avaret and whitefish. The River Prusina, one of the longest and most beautiful tributaries
of the Wda is particularly attractive for anglers. Boasting the water of crystal purity (1st grade clean), it is home to fish of the Salmonidae family. The River Brda and its tributaries also have a wide supply of robust trouts, big graylings and agile chubs. Angling licences may be purchased in fishing shops at Nowodworskiego and Świecka Streets in Tuchola or in the local PZW (Polish Angling Union) office at pl. Wolnoœci 15. The majority of lakes and rivers are under the managmenet of PZW Bydgoszcz and Fish Farm Charzykowy.

Sailing
Lake Koronowskie (with an area of 1,600ha, depth of around 20m and length of 36km) was created between 1956 and 1962 when the water of the river Brda was dammed up in Koronowo and Tryszczyna for a hydroelectric power station. North winds, prevailing on the lake, make waves reaching the stunning height of 1 metre. With west and east winds, bouncing from the high shores and resulting in whirls and currents in the bays, sailing is even more challenging.  Acres of water surface, a variegated shoreline, plus unspoilt nature around appeal to fans of sailing and can make for especially enjoyable and action-packed adventure… Lake Koronowskie gained fame for a score of yacht marinas and well-managed holiday centres located along its shores as well as for a number of boat racing events, the most famous of which are the August Regatta with as many as 100 tourist yachts competing to take first place. The most renowned holiday resorts here include: Gostycyn-Nogawica, Zamrzenica, Sokole-Kuźnica, Zacisze, Wielonek, Pieczyska, Samociążek, Srebrnica, Romanowo, and Krówka Leśna. The local Yacht Club “Wind” provides 100 moorings in its yacht port in Romanowo, runs a yacht hangar offering boat accommodation and a workshop offering repair facilities. The Club, equipped with a boat lift for lifting and launching yachts, has been running jachting courses from 1973. Besides, decent conditions for yachting enthusiasts are offered by the Family Yacht Marina “Tazbirowo”, the Military Sailing Club “Passat” in Pieczyska, and the Holiday Centre “Wrzos” in Wielonek. These premises have boat lifts, electricity supply, repair facilities, bathrooms, and car parks. They also offer yacht rental.
Boating regulations impose a no-wake zone (5kW) on Lake Koronowskie (to minimize the noise impact, boats with the engine power bigger than 5 kW are banned on the lake). Finally, in the wintertime Lake Koronowskie makes a perfect stage for ice sailing.

Hunting
Vast areas of unspoilt forests for years have been a big draw for hunting enthusiasts from all over Europe, who visit the District of Tuchola to experience the fever of wild fowl and game hunting. It is worth mentioning that modern wildlife management is based on culling for population control (only weak or ill animals can be shot). Moreover, forest inspectorates as well as hunting societies are obliged not only to provide food for forest animals but also breed the endangered species.
Local falconers’society, whose members use specially trained falcons and other raptors to hunt or pursue game and birds, enjoys growing popularity. The first falconry club was founded by Czesław Sielicki, a renowned falconer and hunter. Responsibilities of the  local Falconers Order (founded in 2001) and the Falconers’ Club include not only preparing birds for hunting but also curing and rehabilitating sick birds before they are released to the wild. Both organizations are seated in the Schools of Forestry and Agrotechny. In the Tuchola  Forest only licensed hunters can shoot deer, roe deer, boars, foxes, rabbits, wild ducks, common coots, Eurasian woodcocks and pheasants. For detailed information contact the Forest Inspectorates in Gołąbek, Woziwoda and Zamrzenica.

Survival camps
Extremely popular nowadays, survival camps are multi-sport outdoor adventure camps specializing in teaching coordination, self-confidence and life skills. This kind of recreation enhances the participants’ artistic, athletic and social skills and, with positive encouragement and reinforcement, develops a greater sense of self-esteem and self-reliance. Providing for oneself is what is tested.
In the natural environment of the District of Tuchola participants try camping in the backwoods, building a shelter, abseiling steep slopes of the river Brda, canoeing on the wild river, crossing it with the use of ropes, and crossing the marshes by the river Stążka. These and other activities are prepared by the Holiday Centre in Zamrzenica to thrill the daredevils.

Horse riding
Owing to the growing popularity of horse riding (including therapeutic horse riding) many agrotourist farms now tempt visitors with a wide range of equestrian events and experiences. The most renowned riding centres in the district, namely the Horse Riding Centre “Qñ” in Ostrów, Stud Farm “Arka” in Gostycyn and Stud Farm “Paradizo” in Wymys³owo offer horse riding lessons for beginners, exhilarating scenic rides for advanced riders, carriage rides throughout the year and sleigh rides in winter.
In the wintertime create a lasting memory as you listen to sleigh bells, and delight in the frosty scenery when the sleigh glides through open meadows and forest paths, under the starlit sky, then enjoy the warmth of the bonfire lit in the heart of the forest and a delicious feast of roast sausages.

Tuchola and around
Tuchola was founded by the Kashubian dukes at the beginning of the 13th century. The origins of the town’s name are still somewhat obscure. An enduring legend has it that ‘tu hola’ were two words uttered by a Pomeranian duke who ordered his army to stop there. According to another legend around year 1200 Pomeranian Duke Sambor I (ca. 1160-1207) handed a foundation document to a man called Tuchol, giving him official permision to establish the town, later named Tuchola.
Tuchola, a town located on the Brda’s tributary Kicza in the north of the Province of Kuyavia and Pomerania is an administrative, economic and commercial centre of the district, presently numbering around 15 thousand people.
The original Old Town layout from the turn of the 14th c. as well as the fragments of the city walls running along Okrężna, Murowa and Nowodworskiego streets are Tuchola’s greatest assets. Regrettably, the Gothic Teutonic castle did not survive until these days and at the foot of the castle the starost’s seat was erected.
The Old Town is the obvious place to start looking around, and it’s the Market Square with historic buildings dated mainly from the 19th c. that provides the focal point. The church of St. Bartholomew, until 1940 a huge decoration of the square, was dismantled brick by brick by Nazis in 1940. The Churches of Corpus Christi and of St. James majestically tower over the town. The interior of the modernistic Church of Corpus Christi hides treasures from the St. Bartholomew church, among others: a Baroque confessional, St. Barbara’s image and a manneristic box commissioned by queen Constancia, the second wife of king Sigismund III Waza.

The Museum of the Tuchola Forest at Podgórna St., housed in the former beer bottling plant from the latter half of the 19th c. has a lot of appeal. Inevitably, the exhibitions focus on Tuchola’s turbulent history and flora and fauna of the region. The life of past generations populating the region is vividly portrayed in priceless artworks and a miscellany of items.

Rudzki Most – Tuchola’s quarter created on the site of the village of Ruda, now a popular recreational spot and a stop on kayaking trips on the Brda. During the WWII it was a place of execution, where men and women from Tuchola were killed by shooting. The dead bodies of the martyrs were exhumed after the war and buried in the mausoleum in Tuchola. A stone’s throw from Rudzki Most “King Jagiello’s Stone”, a conical erratic of a seven-metre circumference rests in the Brda.

Raciąż – As archeological finds confirm Raciąż, in the ancient past the seat of a castellany, was originally founded on the peninsula of Lake Śpierewnik in the first half of the 13th c. The centre of the village is dominated by the Neo-Gothic Church of Holy Trinity.  At the adjoining cemetery the mausoleum of the Janta-Połczyński family, local land owners, is a valuable masterwork.

Mała Komorza – A densely forested park conceals a palace from the mid-19th c. designed in the Late-Classicism. The former pride and glory of the palace was its vast collection of books, amassed by an art connoisseur Aleksander Janta-Połczyński. The palace, taken over by the Government after the WWII, was recently reclaimed by the Janta-Połczyński family. In the competition announced by the Ministry of Culture the park received a gold medal in recognition of its exceptional landscape values. Another well-known landmark of the place is a Classical figure of St. John of Nepomuk from the first half of the 19th c. towering over the area from a tall column. At the base are buried the remains of the participants of a fierce battle fought by the Polish and Swedish armies at nearby Woziwoda.

Dąbrówka – a one-nave church from 1768 with an opulent Rococo interior and the tomb of the Janta-Połczyński family are worth seeing here.

Rzepiczna – located off the beaten track in a dense forest, this typically Boroviak village features several wooden huts, representative of the old regional architecture.

Wysoka – the knights’ property in the Middle Ages, from the 18th c. Wysoka belonged to the Janta-Połczyński family.
An impressive three-wing palace erected in 1870, refurbished at the beginning of the 20th c., stands proudly in the village, presently housing the Nursing Home. 
The surrounding admirable park offers plenty of paths for peaceful walks.

Woziwoda - a forest hamlet 8km north of Tuchola, the seat of the Forest Inspectorate. Through the vast primeval areas of “The Brda Valley” reserve and beyond leads a nature education trail “Along the River Brda”. Densely forested riparian terraces are habitat for aged oaks, birches, pines, bushes and a variety of other plants, including protected species. If you are lucky enough you can cross the path of a deer, glimpse a kingfisher swooping on its prey or trouts dancing in a stream. A local Centre of Biology and Forest Education will entertain you with a permanent biological exhibition and a documentary illustrating the life of the forest. Moreover, you can have a rest under the majestic oak tree “Zbyszko” (with the circumference exceeding 7 metres), which grows nearby at the Brda riverbank.

Wymysłowo - The obvious tourist attraction is the Exhibition of Native American Indian Culture (the only one of this kind in Poland).
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