Bug River Valley
The Bug River Valley kingdom extends in the southern part of the Podlaskie Voivodeship and the northern part of the Lubelskie Voivodeship. In comparison to other kingdoms along the route, its landscape is relatively uniform. Apart from the gorge in the River Bug, the terrain is almost flat or gently rolling between Gnojno and Drohiczyn. The river meanders lazily across the plain, with picturesque villages and towns dotted along its banks. It is only near the Gnojno – Niemirów ferry crossing that both banks of the Bug River are Polish; the earlier section of the river marks Poland’s border with Belarus and Ukraine.
The largest towns are Siematycze in the north of the kingdom, Terespol in the central part of the region, and Sławatycze in the south of the Bug River Valley. Located a few kilometres west, Biała Podlaska is the region’s main administrative and economic centre. It is a typically agricultural area, exceptionally quiet and relatively sparsely populated.
The first section of the route, leading from near Siematycz to the Bug, is extremely beautiful, especially by the river. Make sure you stop off at the Grabarka Holy Mount – the most important site for followers of the Russian Orthodox Church in Poland – and Siematycze with its historical architecture. Also worth visiting is Mielnik with its Castle Hill and opencast chalk mine, Drohiczyn – the original capital of Podlasie – and bunkers along the former Molotov Line.
There are very few bridges on the River Bug, making it a natural obstacle for cyclists. The first bridge in the kingdom is all the way near Siemiatycze, on the busy national highway no. 19. Fortunately there are two ferry crossings along the route: Mielnik – Zabuże, and Niemirów – Gnojno.
The former ferry connects Mielnik on the right bank in the Podlaskie Voivodeship with Zabuże on the left bank in the Lubelskie Voivodeship, where a connecting trail of the Green Velo route takes you back to the main route via Serpelice. The alternative is to use the crossing between Niemirów on the right bank, in the Podlaskie Voivodeship, and Gnojno on the left bank and in the Lubelskie Voivodeship. The crossing isn’t always operational, depending on the water levels, so make sure you check ahead in Mielnik.
There are many marks of the region’s multicultural past along the route, including places of worship, sanctuaries and cemeteries of different religions and denominations. There are numerous small villages and towns, mainly with wooden architecture, which for centuries had been inhabited by representatives of various nationalities forming the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Travelling along this section you experience the true atmosphere of Eastern Poland.
Janów Podlaski in Lubelskie is home to a world-famous stud farm and many other fascinating sites. The small town of Terespol is an important communication hub located near the border crossing, with Brest just over the border on the Belarusian side. A notable attraction of Terespol and the nearby Kobylany are the Brest Forts, with several lying near the route. South of Terespol lie notable Catholic sanctuaries in Kodeń and Jabłeczna, and a wooden Neo-Uniate Orthodox church in Kostomłoty. The section south of Kodeń leads through several interesting villages and towns. The wooden architecture of the Hanna village and the town of Sławatycze are especially picturesque. The entire route in the River Bug Valley runs along paved highways with low volumes of traffic.