Lithuanian Seaside Cognitive Cycling Routes, Part 3: Nida to the Grey Dunes
We have offered two cycling routes for holidaymakers in Palanga: to the north and to the south of the resort. Now we would like to present a route for holidaymakers in the Curonian Spit. This route of about 40 kilometres begins in Nida and extends to the Grey Dunes.
The First Stop – Nida, Five Hills Settlement
After cycling for about 1.5 km south-westward from Nida along the Smiltynė-Nida highway, you will find a forest clearing leading to the Gliders’ Dune. Turn into the forest and you will reach a Stone Age settlement, which we have written in detail about in a separate article. In brief, it is the largest territory of the Curonian Spit that was inhabited for the longest time, covering more than 4.5 square kilometres. Because of its relative distance from Nida, the Five Hills Settlement unduly receives too little attention from Lithuanian holidaymakers, so we invite you to discover and appreciate this historic heritage.
Walk through the Five Hills Settlement, cycle back to Nida and ride along Pamario Street, where you can stop for a short visit to the Curonian Spit Museum of History – many of the archaeological finds from the Stone Age settlement you have just visited are exhibited here.
The Second Stop – Vecekrug Dune
Instead of leaving Nida by the highway, cycle towards Preila along Purvynės Street, which runs by the lagoon. Upon travelling for about 6 km through the forest, very close to Preila you will see a huge forest clearing revealing a view of the Vecekrug (or Old Tavern) Dune. Its name comes from the Curonian words “vece” (old) and “kruogs” (tavern), as once there was a tavern standing at the foot of the dune. You won’t find a tavern here now, but you can rest and admire the view while sitting on the benches placed at the bottom of the dune. It’s definitely worthwhile to leave your bike at the bottom and to climb to the top of the dune, as it is the highest in Neringa – its height reaches 67.2 metres and 360-degree views of the spit can be enjoyed from the top: you will see the Nida and Preila forests, the lagoon and the sea.
The Third Stop – Karvaičiai
Less than in 2 km from Preila you will reach the place where the village of Karvaičiai was once located. This Curonian Spit village was mentioned in historical sources as early as in 1509, but today it would be difficult to believe that the area was ever inhabited. Liudvikas Rėza (Ludwig Rhesa), a Lithuanian folklore researcher, was born in Karvaičiai and lived here for some time. It is said that Karvaičiai fishermen sat in his living room once a week and discussed how to fight the moving sand. Unfortunately, they failed to find the solution: moving dunes buried the houses one by one, and the inhabitants constantly retreated from the sand until finally even the church was buried. In 1797 the last inhabitants of the village left, and Karvaičiai was drowned in the sand forever. Today, on the Skripstas Dune near Pervalka, an oak monument stands with the lines from Rėza’s poem “The Drowned Village” carved into it.
The Fourth Stop – Grey Dunes
After visiting Karvačiai, continue cycling until you reach the Grey Dunes, although perhaps the name the “Dead Dunes,” which is more popular, fit them better because entire villages have been buried under the sand. Old Nagliai Village disappeared under the Agila Dune. When sand buried the village, people moved to New Nagliai Village established not far away, where a large number of Karvaičai residents also settled, but the dunes drifted over this village too. Eventually, all the people who lived in this territory surrendered to the force of nature and moved to Preiļa, Pervalka and Juodkrantė, and only an impressive, still gently shifting sea of sand remains here.
Back to Nida
Turn back to Nida from the dunes. On your way back, stop in Pervalka at the Horse Horn Lighthouse, which stands in the water, or look around the area from any of the bird watching towers – you will see several of them on the way. And we will soon suggest a cycling route in the Juodkrantė area.