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The Orlické Mountains

In the mountainous border area of the districts Rychnov nad Kněžnou, Ustí nad Orlicí and Náchod lie the Orlické Mountains, a part of which has been declared a protected landscape area. The protected area was founded on 28 December 1969, its purpose being to protect and preserve the harmonically balanced landscape of the Orlické Mountains. It has an area of 204 km2 and is situated on the territory of the district of Rychnov, with an area of 570 ha in the district of Ústí nad Orlicí, and encompasses the most valuable parts of the Orlické Mountains from Olešnice in Orlické Mountains to Čihák.

The Orlické Mountains can be found in the north of Eastern Bohemia. They form a part of the northern border between the Czech Republic and Poland. As an autonomous geomorphologic complex they are geologically a part of a large unit forming the Orlické Mountains-Kłodzko Crystallinicum. In the terms of geomorphology it belongs to the Sudetic unit, subdivision Western Sudetes. The former range mostly consisting of metamorphic rock was broken up, with individual slabs protruding alongside the faults. Between them the Kłodzko Basin was formed, which reaches our territory through the gap of Králíky. The northeast slope of the Orlické Mountains towards the Divoká Orlice River is very steep thanks to its tectonic origin.

Towards the interior of Bohemia the Orlické Mountains descend less steeply until they gradually change into the varied landscape of its foothills, consisting of cretaceous sediments. The whole mountain range is 55 km long and its width ranges from 3 to 8 km. Its average height above the sea level is 789 metres. The highest-lying and largest area of the mountain range, situated to the north-west, is mountainous country around Deštné in Orlické Mountains. Its main ridge, going from the north, is formed by Vrchmezí (1084 m), Šerlich (1027 m), Malá Deštná (1090 m), Velká Deštná (1115 m – the highest mountain of the Orlické Mountains), Jelenka (1097 m), Koruna (1099 m), Homole (1001 m), Tetřevec (1043 m), Kunštátská kaple (1035 m) and Anenský vrch (995 m). The steep north-east slope is based on a tectonic fault line. The south-west slopes reach out in cantles or ridges like Sedloňovský vrch (1050 m), Maruša (1042 m) a Zakletý (991 m – near Říčky, 5 km from Rokytnice in Orlické Mountains), separated by tributaries of upper Bělá, Zdobnice and Říčka.

The prevailing rock types are schists (orthogneisses and para-schists), less frequently quartzites and limestones. In the gap of Orlické záhoří cretaceous sediments were preserved. The Divoká and Tichá Orlice rivers carved water gaps through the range. The southernmost reaches of the Orlické Mountains are formed by the range of Suchý vrch. The climate is harsh with abundance of precipitation, with snow remaining for four months. The north of the area is drained by the river Metuje with its tributaries, the south by Tichá and Divoká Orlice. The rivers are navigable by small craft on high water. Dam reservoir Pastviny (98 ha) was built on the Divoká Orlice river in 1939. It contains flood water and is also a recreation resort.

From the point of view of botany and zoology the protected landscape area constitutes a quite varied complex including several rare and protected species. This fact led to the creation of 16 small-size protected areas within the boundaries of the protected landscape area, these consisting of 13 nature reserves, 2 national nature reserves and 6 nature monuments. The area is attractive not only because of its value for natural studies; it also offers a wide range of sports opportunities for the general public. The most common summer recreational activities are hiking and cycling tours. The appeal of the area interwoven with marked hiking trails is accented by a system of military forts built during the 1930s. In winter the area is popular with both, down-hill and cross-country skiers, the main resorts being Deštné and Říčky in Orlické Mountains. It has to be said that on the one hand the recreational activity within the protected landscape area is rather stressful for the PLA, together with other influences on the environment; on the other hand, the lack of other job opportunities leads to gradual developments in services in tourist industry.

Further information: www.orlickehory.cz

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