Berane: On That Hilly Sekular


 Many nice biking moments you will experience in Sekular, especially if you are ready to explore this isolated and still very rural area, maybe even more rural today than couple of decades ago. There are many fantastic trails here, and some of them will be included in our project of marking of trails in Berane municipality. Today we will take you through a route that we ride often, and we will take you through several pretty Sekular villages that are still full of authentic houses, sitting silent in enchanting scenery.

From Berane to Rijeka Marsenica, where we enter the area we want chose this trail for, you can get by taking the main road to Andrijevica, or you can take our recommendation and get here through the old road that goes through Buce and Vinicka. It is more scenic, and much safer. If you go from Andrijevica, on 8th kilometer you need to get off the main road and cross the bridge over Lim.

Soon after the cemetery in Rijeka Marsenica there is a crossroad where you need to turn right. The road that goes left we will show you on our way back.

This asphalt part of the route, some 10km long from Rijeka Marsenica, is the section that Berane cyclists often take. The incline is mild (average 5,2%), acceptable for anyone, and there is very little traffic. It is ideal for relaxed biking upstream from Sekularska river that curves in-between forests and slopes, and is made by cold streams and rivers that come from Mokra and Sjekirica. Next to the river you will often meet fishermen, as there is still trout here to catch. Illegal fishing has been a lively activity here, so fish in this river has been almost extinguished, as is the case with many mountain rivers that used to be full of fish.

5km from Rijeka Marsenica, on the left side there is a small bridge where unpaved road that goes to Mezgalje and other villages starts, and on our way back we will take that road. For now we keep going straight.

On 7.2km we pass next to saw mill, and 400m later we enter village Orah, where a small hydro plant has been built, first among three that are being constructed in Sekularska river. There is an unpaved road that leads up, on the left side, towards village Ulica, but our trail goes to the right, across the small bridge. From this moment and all the way to the place called Lazi, there is no asphalt road due to construction of hydro plants, but we will trust the investors and the promise they have made to the locals that the road will be rehabilitated and asphalted again, so in this text we will treat this road as asphalted road.

The section that comes, next to scenic area, is featured by increased incline, and will take you through villages Livadica and Lazi, though these villages are not visible from the road. Then another saw mill (10.6km from Rijeka Marsenica), and we find ourselves at the end of asphalt road, and next to the second hydro plant and school. In the house on the right side there used to be a café, but it has been closed for some time now. Don’t make a mistake as I did, and enter the house and order a drink. Fortunately, Sekular people are hospitable, so after I asked – Is there anything cold to drink? A beer? – the host saved the situation answering kindly – Certainly there is, we have always been hospitable family! He even hosted doctor Kljajic, who arrived after me, and we have found out what mistake we have made only 15 minutes later, when I realized the lack of café atmosphere and asked – Excuse me, is this place still a café?

So, end of asphalt. 20.5km from berane and 19.30km from Andrijevica. 1008m altitude. And crossroad. Two roads go towards south, one to village Bulici (300m, 1060m altitude), and the other to village Spalevici (1.7km, 1200m altitude). We continue towards northwest, across the wooden bridge, next to Rmuska river, some 200m longer. Here you need to stop. If you continue straight, you will go to Mokra mountain, and through Repista you can get to Masnicki katun (1790m altitude). To get to other villages of Sekular, where our route goes, you need to take sharp left turn, towards northeast, and this is the moment when over Zavor, we start the strongest incline on this route. It is only 2km long though, but average inlcine is strong, over 11% (maximum 24%).

It is worth your while to come here, even if you have to push your bike for these 2km, because the satisfaction is guaranteed. After the incline you start taking a relaxing downhill ride through Sekular villages, and if you are biking in the afternoon, the valley of Sekularska river is in shade and it can get chilly even in summer, while at this place you will experience pleasant afternoon sun. And couple of magnificent vistas.

Let us say that on 1.7km from the beginning of this incline you should continue straight, because the sharp right turn would take you to Rmuse village and further to Mokra mountain. A little bit further and you will get a nice view and see the first rural households scattered on this slope.

You now pass through villages Jasovici, Radmuzevici, Kukalji, Ulica, Cetkovici, Mezgalje.

Sekular is a big village, with rich history. First time it has been mentioned in Decanska hrisovulja in 1220, and in Banjska Povelja. It has been ruled by dukes, despots, princes throughout its long history. For centuries it had wars and peaceful times.

Today they have some new times, and ironically it is today that Sekular, and many other villages, experience their toughest days. In 1961 there were 1564 inhabitants in Sekular, and this year there are only couple of hundreds. In primary school Vukajlo Kukalj 5 decades ago there were almost 400 students, while this year there are only 30 of them.

Bikers, mountaineers, flyfishers, photographers, nature lovers, ethno tourists, lovers of healthy food and healthy lifestyle would certainly love Sekular and the mountains around it. I am sure this is the direction to take and what people should think about. What is needed is modern strategy of development of the village, based on sustainable development, and two main preconditions for this are intertwined agriculture and tourism.

We will leave people that are paid to do this to finally start to think about these issues and about all the opportunities, and we continue to bike for our sake, as we often do.

From the first households in Jasovice until last households in Mezgalje we ride through unpaved road that cuts the slopes at the altitude between 1100m and 1200m, for 5.5km. Aside from beautiful authentic houses that we mentioned at the beginning of this story, another impressive view here is the view of Crvena stijena (1469m) which rises above Kukalji and is the part of the mountain Crni vrh, behind which there is village Rovca. If you stop and turn southwest, you will be amazed with white peaks of Mokra until late spring. And south and southeast you will see Sjekirica and Balj.

From Radmuzevici there is a road that you can take to Rovca, and the only confusing part of this road is on 25th km from Berane (24.2km from Andrijevica) as soon as you leave the Crvena stijena behind, where you need to turn right, uphill. The opposite direction would take you to village Orah and Sekularska river.

Just before the the entrance to the village with unusual name Ulica (Street), that you will recognize by church, the only one in Sekular, on the right side there is a spring with good, cold water.

Though at first glance you would notice nothing significant in this village, you would not conclude that this location with only 10 households was always the center of Sekular. It used to have, as people say, towers, fortifications, narrow paved streets, promenade. There used to be a monastery here, to which all the neighboring churches belonged, with many relicts and valuables. This was the place where all the important discussions used to happen, biggest decisions were made, important people met. There is a monument here to duke Dasa, who was the one who ruled for the longest time in Sekular, right from here, from Ulica. Next to rehabilitated monastery you can find his chair made of stone, and here his weapons and sword are kept. There is also a monument here dedicated to the fighters and victims of First and Second World War.

We leave this unusual historic location and we bike on (2km) between Cetkovice and Mezgalje, leaving slowly the last houses behind us, and when we pass a small cemetery on our right, this is finally our goodbye to Sekular, and beginning of 4.8km long downhill ride over Lipovica towards Rijeka Marsenica.

Some 450m from the cemetery, on the first curve you need to stop for a while. If you walk left, couple of meters on a narrow trail, you will get to the rock from which you have a magnificent view of Sekularska river and asphalt road that leads to Sekular, to Kostres and surrounding mountains.

When we get down to Rijeka Marsenica, we get on the left road that we mentioned at the beginning of this text (34km from Berane and 33km from Andrijevica) and you get to the crossroad that gives you couple of options for your return. You can get back to Berane through the old road that you took on your way here, you can take the main road, or go right on this crossroad and go through village Navotina. But if you are still missing adventures, there is another alternative. Back towards Sekular village, and 600m later you turn right on the asphalt, towards Lukin Fir village. From there another 2km of biking on unpaved road, and in the village you turn right again, on a trail that leads you to a nice viewpint where you can see Komovi mountain and river Lim. You will notice a hanging bridge, carefully go across it, which is attraction in itself, and by taking a steep trail 150m long you will get to main roadm and then you can choose to go either to Andrijevica or to Berane. Bikers who started the route in Andrijevica can take the road that leads from Lukin Fir to Seoce.

This is only a sugeestion. Our route continues as we said on the right bank of Lim, over Navotina, that is only 1km away from Rijeka Marsenica. This section is much nicer than the road we took on our way here, as we ride next to Lim river, and there is almost no traffic. Until the end of Navotina there is asphalt road, and from there on unpaved road which will take us under Ravne sume, through Pobijenik and Bijedanj to Donja Rzanica, through which we will, again on asphalt road, get to Berane through Luge.

This route might look as overly difficult to someone, but is the route that anyone with even a little bit of shape can take. Do not get discouraged, be brave and go to hilly Sekular, and if you like this route, know that there are many more hidden corners that await to be discovered by the fans of mountain biking.