The Polesie region spans an area around the borders of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine. Although Poland is home to a relatively small part of the region, it still covers an extensive area in the east of the country. The Green Velo trail cuts through Polesie from north to south.
The Polesie National Park was founded in 1990 in the central part of the region, also known as the Łęczyna-Włodawa Lakeland. It is located west of the Green Velo route, which runs from Sławatycze via Włodawa towards Wola Uhorska near the border between Belarus and Ukraine. It is around 20 kilometres from the cycle route. The park, headquartered in Urszulin, protects peatbogs and marshland plant habitats. You can encounter rare European pond turtles and many species of amphibians; the park is also home to one of Poland’s largest waterfowl populations. There are numerous footpaths and gangways leading across the marshes, and the park can be explored on foot or bicycle following marked tourist trails.
The landscape of Polesie is flat around Włodawa, becoming more hilly as you head south. The region has poor soil quality, and it is relatively sparsely inhabited and largely unaltered by people. The vegetation growing on the loose, wet soil is somewhat reminiscent of that found in polar tundra regions.
The southern part of the kingdom, where the Bug river runs along the border with Ukraine, is home to marshland and the extensive pine Sobibór Forest. The trees sometimes grow in clumps which rise as small “islands” above the wetlands. The Sobibór Forest also holds a vestige of the darkest part of the region’s 20th century history with the former Nazi concentration camp in Sobibór.
The trail runs through Włodawa and Wola Uhruska, some of the most interesting towns in this part of Polesie. In Włodawa, visit the well-preserved monuments of its residents’ multicultural heritage, with the most notable examples of architecture being the church, synagogue and Orthodox church. It’s worth stopping over in the well-known village of Okuninka by Lake Białe nearby, which has many tourist resorts and agrotourism quarters.
The southern area by the River Bug around Wola Uhruska forms a varied, rolling landscape. In Wola Uhruska, visit the top of the observation tower to admire the countryside, looking towards Chełm and opening out onto Chełm Hills. The route includes many ascents and descents, with breathtaking views from the hilltops. This is where the trail becomes hilly for the first time since the Suwałki Region.
It’s worth stopping off for longer at the city of Chełm, once the capital of the historical Chełm Land and still bearing numerous marks of its rich, multicultural past. There are many historical monuments, with the most famous on Chełm Hill and nearby. The Old Chalk Mine of Chełm and the underground tourist trail is particularly worth seeing. There are also numerous cycle routes of different distances near the city.
Another interesting town along the Green Velo route is Krasnystaw on the River Wieprz, with a beautifully renovated market square and Jesuit monastery. After leaving Krasnystaw, the trail heads towards the forests and elevations of one of the most beautiful bike kingdoms along the route: Roztocze.