Łyna is the longest river in Varmia and Masuria and an increasingly popular kayaking route (approx. 200 km long). Cycling routes are currently being created that are collectively known as the Łynostrada. The sections running through Olsztyn and then on to Lidzbark Warmiński (approx. 65 km in total) have already been launched. This allows tourists to combine various forms of active recreational activities with discovering the charms of the region from different perspectives.
The Olsztyn Łynostrada, which intersects the Voivodship’s capital city from north to south, was the first to be developed on the initiative of social organisations. The route quickly became a favourite among locals and tourists. Riding along it, apart from the picturesque river and its surroundings, there are the city parks and the urban forest to admire as well as the most interesting national heritage sites: the Gothic Castle of the Varmian Cathedral Chapter (now a museum), St Jacob’s Co-Cathedral, and century-old railway viaducts. The gravel track route traverses beautiful woodland areas and pretty riverside meadows, and continues through the City Centre along tarmac or paved cycle paths. The Olsztyn section ends at the hydroelectric generating station where River Wadag, also much liked by kayakers, joins River Łyna.
From Olsztyn to Green Velo
The next stage of the venture involved designing the Varmian Łynostrada that connects Olsztyn (from Wąwozowa Street) with Lidzbark Warmiński and, consequently, with the Green Velo East of Poland Cycling Trail (the longest in Poland), whose Varmian and Masurian section is close to 400 km long. The Varmian Łynostrada is a trekking cycling route where there is a mixture of different road surfaces. It runs through forest paths and wanders across meadow dirt tracks, passing through rarely frequented local tarmac roads. There are also sections of tarmac cycling paths (Swobodna-Knopin) and along a disused railway embankment (Łaniewo – Lidzbark Warmiński). The route is well marked and there are route maps in several points illustrating its course. It ends at the Idzbark Boulevard by River Łyna.
The Varmian Łynostrada is very varied and offers beautiful views, especially where it runs along River Łyna. The towns and villages it connects are also rich in heritage sites, museums and recreational facilities. Key points along the route include: Brąswałd (with St Catherine’s Church, Barkweda (Bergfriede) a Napoleonic battle site, Dobre Miasto (with the Gothic Collegiate church of the Holy Saviour and All Saints, and the Open Air Museum), Smolajny (with the Baroque Bishop’s Palace), Wichrowo Forests, and Lidzbark Warmiński (with the impressive Bishop’s Castle, now museum, and the Gothic Church of St Peter and St Paul, as well as the Baroque-Classicist style Krasicki Orangery). The Varmian Thermal Baths complex with thermal water pools is a unique attraction in the city. Health spa facilities and infrastructure, first and foremost including salt graduation towers, are also being established there.
Hop off your Bike and Jump Straight into a Kayak
Another asset of the Łynostrada is the fact that tourists can hop off their bike at certain points and jump straight into a kayak (or the other way around). There are several idyllic launch points along the river that invite travellers to relax and unwind (rest shelters, tables and benches, fire pits, floating platforms, toilets, and rubbish bins). Such launch points can be found in: Brąswałd, Cerkiewnik, Dobre Miasto, Smolajny, Łaniewo and Lidzbark Warmiński. There are also several convenient starting points in Olsztyn where one can embark on a kayaking adventure (Brzeziny, Central Park, and Podzamcze Park).
Recognising the natural need to develop the Łynostrada further, the initiators of the project are planning to extend it – firstly from Olsztyn to the sources of River Łyna and to Nidzica. The planned section will also cut across breathtakingly beautiful and unspoilt areas of the Varmian Forest Nature Reserve, running along the landmark section of the Łyna river banks and the shores of the Łańskie Lake. The River Łyna Sources Nature Reserve, which protects an area where river capture by headward erosion is occurring, is an important point on the route. There, the beginning section of the river flows along the bottom of a gorge lined with a deciduous forest.
The sections of River Łyna further down are accessible to kayaks. Kayaking trips can be conveniently started (or ended) in Brzeźno Łyńskie, Kurki, Ruś or Bartąg. In Kurki, the Marózka falls into the Łyna – one of the most beautiful and less demanding stretches for kayaking in the region. Nidzica, planned as the end point of the route, is famous for its monumental Teutonic castle (currently also home to a museum).
The Łynostrada is being built through the involvement and collaboration of the local government on voivodship, municipality and county level, forest inspectorates and non-governmental organisations, becoming an example of effective, multifaceted cooperation with the purpose of enhancing the tourism attractiveness of the region.
By: Rafał Śliwiak
Department of Sport and Tourism of the Marshal’s Office of Varmia and Masuria