The road winds through the forest.

We are unsure about it at first.

Will it be passable? Potholed?

Where does it begin?

It begins, as all things do,

at a crossroads,

which is to say

it has no beginning.

It comes out of nowhere,

leads somewhere,

but it doesn’t then end

– it is we who leave it.

The road continues through the trees.

Their shadows lie across the road

like corrugated iron,

a cattle grid,


They resemble the bars of a prison,

but they are just that

– shadows of trees

that from time to time

morph into potholes.

I steer carefully

to avoid sudden disappointment,

ranging from third to fourth

to neutral.

At one stage a golden leaf

has an unexpected burst of enthusiasm

and jangles (like your bracelets)

across the road,

reminding me of destiny.

Are we just Hardy’s playthings?

I have a different view.

Nothing begins or ends with us

(like the road).

Things pass through us,

or we pass through them

(like the forest).

What counts is how we respond

(with love or hatred).

It is our response

that makes us human.

We stop for lunch.

The sun lights up a patch of ground.

To the south,

Rila stands majestic.

In the north,

the Old Mountain belies his years

and blushes.

Tenderness abounds.

Jonathan Dunne, 17 February 2023


Chavdar is a pretty village about seventy kilometres due east of Sofia, a little south of the main road, the E871, that connects Sofia with Burgas on the Black Sea coast. This road runs alongside the Balkan mountain to the north, so from Chavdar and the walk to the nearby waterfall of Kazanite you get wonderful views of the Balkan itself. To the east, you also get a glimpse of the industrial town of Pirdop.

You drive straight through the village and continue for another three kilometres along the asphalt road until you reach the river Topolnitsa, a beautiful river that looks like elephant hide. Here the asphalt road becomes a dirt track. We went in January and decided to park the car on the verge just before the bridge. You then walk about 700 metres along the dirt track in front of you before cutting through the forest on your right (there is a signpost), again along a rutted track that climbs the side of the hill, offering wonderful views of the Balkan and Pirdop behind you.

You reach the top of the hill, and the track begins to descend. Shortly afterwards, there is a steep path going directly down to the waterfall. Again, this is signposted. The path leads to a metal bridge over the waterfall and to a picnic table on the other side, next to the stream (a tributary of the Topolnitsa). From here, you can see the top of the waterfall, but the only way to get a general view of the waterfall like the one in the photos is to backtrack a little and then edge your way along the side of the stream until you can see the waterfall in front of you. The ledge you walk along is narrow, so this is not for the fainthearted! You can also walk off the path down to the stream below the waterfall and again look upstream to the waterfall, though from here you will only see the lower part of the waterfall.

The waterfall is called ‘Kazanite’, meaning ‘The Cauldrons’ in Bulgarian. The various pools look like cauldrons, the running water is the ingredients being stirred. In the photos below, you can see the walk to the waterfall, which takes about an hour and a half, and the waterfall itself. A perfect day out from Sofia. On the way back, you can stop in the village of Chavdar and have a drink in the centre.

The river Topolnitsa, where we left the car.
A view alongside the Topolnitsa.
The rutted track running through the forest.
A view west (the side of the hill is being mined for something).
Beautiful white winter blossom.
Looking back – the Balkan mountain to the north of Chavdar and the E871.
The road ahead!
The bare forest – down below is the stream that creates the waterfall. We are nearly there!
The short path leading down to the bridge over the waterfall.
A general view of Chavdar Waterfall (I am standing on a ledge!).
A close-up of the waterfall. Note a waterfall comprises two things: the water and the rock around it.
A fiery heart in the forest. You can see the stream below the waterfall and an open area to the left.
Ditto. You can see the path on the left, which has a wooden handrail.
The open area next to the stream below the waterfall. You have to leave the path to get here.
Looking back up to the lower part of Chavdar Waterfall, with a January sunset.