"A wonderful valley where we’ve been going since childhood, and where we always keep returning!"
Dr Odett Halmosi Rokaj and Norbert Rokaj
"This sight speaks for itself."
Zsuzsa Balogh and Ferenc Banka
“One of Hungary’s most beautiful natural treasures.”
This popular hiking destination is situated 25 km from Eger and 160 km from Budapest, at the bottom of Bükk Mountains, in the vicinity of Szilvásvárad in Heves County. The Valley itself belongs to Egererdő Forestry Company, and its environmental protection is managed by Bükk National Park. Surrounded by a medium-sized mountain range, the valley took the name Szalajka after the potash burning that used to be the main resource of living for the residents of Szilvásvárad in the 19th century. The Latin for potash is sali alcali, hence the Hungarian szalalkáli.
Nearly half of the valley’s lush flora consists of hornbeam oak forests, while on around the third of the area tall beech trees are trying to reach the sky. The observant hiker will find pedunculate and moss-capped oaks to rest under.
Szalajka Valley has literally been inhabited since prehistoric times. As evidenced by the Palaeolithic findings excavated in Istállóskő Cave, humans were wandering the territory 35–40 thousand years ago. Written sources, as early as the 1300s, mention the name Wárad (Szilvásvárad). According to the chronicles, King Louis the Great enjoyed sojourning in the surroundings of the valley.
A considerable proportion of the residents of Szilvásvárad currently works in tourism. They endeavour to satisfy all eventual needs of the visitors coming here to enjoy the wonderful environment, the fresh air and tranquillity. The European Union has granted more than 500 million HUF in financial support to Egererdő Inc. for the development of the Valley, the narrow-gauge railway, the forest school and the valley road.
Since about the third of the old 21.6 km-long railway track has been removed, today the forest train chuffs along a section of just 3.6 km. Despite the short distance, the Szalajka valley forest railway is the busiest narrow-gauge railway in Hungary. In addition a regular service, the railway can be hired for private events by school classes, businesses or other groups.