The hydroelectric power plant in Bielkowo is one of the eight power plants that were built on the Radunia River. The charmingly situated facility attracts history passionate and lovers of short walks in the beautiful surroundings.
We start our trip in a car park located on the route connecting Bielkowo with Bielkowko. There is a sign on the main road, directing you to the facility, so finding the parking lot will not be difficult. This is where we leave the car and go for a less than a kilometre long walk along the winding road to the power plant building. The paved path continues along the rapidly flowing Radunia River. The road located in a small ravine, wrapped in a tree tunnel, is extremely charming, especially in Autumn, when multi-coloured leaves make a carpet of Autumn colours in front of us.
The power plant in Bielkowo was commissioned in 1925 as the fourth hydroelectric power plant on the Radunia River. The facility in Bielkowo was one of the two, next to the smaller Lapino, built by the Senate of the Free City of Gdansk. The hydroelectric power plant was an important point on the military map during the liberation fights that took place in the area in 1945.
The compensation tower was transformed into an observation point and a fire post for defending Germans, and the drained pipeline was used to transport supplies to the station. During World War II, the power plant was significantly damaged. The retreating German troops dismantled and took away the production equipment, the tower and the working pipeline were also damaged as a result of fire and air bombardment. Fortunately, the most important parts of the machines were hidden by workers and local people from the nearby villages, due to that the facility return to work after the end of the war. The power plant started operating on November 15, 1945.
The authorities of the City of Gdansk, awaiting the arrival of the Soviet troops, chose the Bielkowo power plant to hide, among others, St. George statue from the top of the St. George Brotherhood Court from Gdansk Old Town. Many documents of the Gdansk City Hall have also been hidden in the power plant. The traces of the bombing from 1945, visible on the steel pipe, still recall the time of the war.
The Bielkowo power plant is the second on the Radunia River cascade, and it was design along the layout of the river bed. Between Kolbudy Gorne and Bielkowo 3.5 km away, the river runs in a loop, the length of which is nearly 11 km, and the difference in levels is almost 50 m. It was decided to make a shortcut that would use a large drop. Bielkowo, with the capacity of close to 7.2 MWp, is the largest power plant among small power plants owned by Energa Company.
When you are at the power plant gate, you can see the hole in the upper part of the pipeline that is left over from the WWII bombardment. The power plants can be visited, however, it is necessary to call in advance to arrange a specific date of entry.
We continue our journey, this time towards the compensation tower. To get there, we have to go back along the paved road towards the parking lot, and after about 150 m we will notice a field path departing to the right, which leads gently uphill. This is what we follow. Climbing towards the tower, we can see the power plant building from above and the entire area around.
We continue our walk along a narrow path along the fence to a white tower situated on a small hill. It is worth looking around, the views of the nearby areas, where estates of single-family houses are just beginning to emerge, can still be enchanting. Looking towards the main building, we can take a closer look at the pipeline, and see its size (3m in diameter) and how massive it is.
The compensation tower, which resembles the former castle tower, is one of the elements of the power plant. The facility serves as a water reservoir when a sharp reduction in water flow through the turbines and collection of backwater when the valves in the water lock are closed.
From the tower, we walk along a narrow path along the embankment towards the Bielkowo – Bielkowko road, in the distance we can already see the water castle located by the water reservoir. A charming route along a birch forest with to Kashuby will appeal to all lovers of weekend trips. The route is also suitable for walking with children, but due to the cobbled road and narrow paths leading to the tower, it is difficult to travel with a pram.