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From Bistrita we headed north towards the Rodna Mountains which boast one of the longest continuous ridges in Romania, over 50 km from east to west. Our chosen road formed part of the perimeter of the Rodna National Park and crossed this ridge at the lesser used and second highest pass, the Rotunda. In the eastern Carpathians, close to the Ukranian border and away from the main through routes and larger towns, this area is something of a quiet backwater and the 567 km² of Park wilderness is home to brown bears, lynx, grey wolves, black capercaillies and eagles – sadly we didn’t see any ….. but then in some cases perhaps it was just as well 🙂

As we began to climb, fir trees moved in to flank the road, their foliage darkening the slopes around us. We had already passed small groups of cattle being brought down from the high summer pasture but soon our road was submerged beneath a sea of sheep and goats, tended by shepherds and a pack of fearsome looking dogs; shadowed by a growing cloud of dust. Sheepdogs and goatherd/shepherd on dirt road in rural Romania We pulled over to one side and the tide of animals flowed unchecked around us with the sound of bleating, tinkling bells and trampling of cloven feet filling the air. Getting down low for a more intimate shot one of the battle scarred dogs came in for a closer look but moved on once satisfied that I posed no threat to the flock. Fierce looking sheepdog A swaggering goat soon followed but the jaunty step and wicked gleam in his eye had me wondering whether being down at his level was quite such a good idea! Long haired goat with horns and attitudeEventually the end was in sight with a few stragglers taking up the rear …..Goatherd/shepherd on dirt road in rural Romania …… and finally they had passed. Clouds of dust around goatherd/shepherd with pink wellingtons on dirt road in rural Romania(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

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