With its height of 346 meters, Tóti-hegy is the smallest of the “quartet” of buttes. Badacsony, Csobánc, and Gulács all offer more elevation, however, Tóti (or, as the locals like to call it, Tóóóti, with a long “o” sound) has at least THREE tricks that only she can do: an alluring, sloping trail, a quarry, and a view that sometimes even attracts nudists.
It’s surprisingly easy to climb Tóti-hegy (Tóti Hill) – well, at least during the first part, and we believed that it will be like that all along. We can reach the peak of Tóti through a longer trail from Salföld, and on a shorter one from Káptalantóti Road. We choose the latter, mainly because we were planning on having a late-lunch – with some Kéknyelű, of course – at Istvándy Winery down the road. Our route starts from here, and we follow the green tourist sign; we immediately find ourselves on a sloping uphill trail, with the cellar’s grey cattle stock grazing on our left, providing at least 50 shades of that certain color, and with a grassy-bushy ground on our right: every now and then we can catch a glimpse of the old quarry’s silhouette among the bushes.
The quarry can be visited – at the visitor’s own risk – through the trail on the right. However, we had different plans. The trail is slowly rising and it’s a pleasant walk even after a lunch. Following a sudden right turn, we are greeted by a forest, which is less dense here than on the other buttes, but it brings coolness on a hot afternoon just like any other forest. Tourist signs are rare, but since there’re only two paths leading to the top, and the other is exactly on the opposite side of the hill, we just simply have to follow the road.
The bend that goes right bypasses the quarry in a big arch, and rises slightly. As we spot the first press house and the steep rise of the quarry, we leave the trail behind and climb up the hillside. The moment we reach the tip, we realize that we’re practically standing on top of the mine: the grassy area simply ends, and we stare into a good 15-20 meters of deepness below our feet. Lying down on our bellies, we can clearly see the place where they once dug into the ground. Deep down, the remains of a basalt block remind us that the face of the quarry has changed recently. Later we learned that the block “broke off” from the quarry’s top a few months ago.
Those who don’t want to exert themselves too much for the sake of a gorgeous view can take a perfectly pleasant walk to here, the top of the quarry: they can see Lake Balaton on the left as Badacsony rises above her, while they can peek into Tapolcai-medence (Tapolca Basin) in a flat angle to the right. Since there’s no resting place anywhere on the hill, we recommend this short tour for those who don’t feel strong enough to conquer the tricky hill.
Returning from the quarry’s top, the path leads into the forest. It’s an easy walk with old, deserted, or neglected cellars and press houses lining up on the left. Most of them have an amazing view so their decay is incomprehensible, but we learned the reasons for it later while we were having lunch after the tour. Some of them are in the hands of property speculators, who want to sell the cellars for a very high price, while others were purchased by foreigners who rarely come here. It’s sad to see them decay: some of them only have the vaulted cellar left – we can freely peek inside.
As we climb higher, the forest gets denser, but compared to Gulács or Badacsony, there’s still more sunlight on the trail here. The triumphal march continues after the wrecked cellar for about 150-200 meters: the trails of Káptalantóti and Salföld meet here (a sign shows the route that leads to the top), and here we realize what Tóti has in store for us.
Very steep ones.
We have to suffer a little to reach Tóti’s third trick: on the 50-60 meters long section before the top, we have to rise almost the same amount (we suddenly climb about 30-45 meters), and there’s no chance to rest. So it’s best to take a break before we set to work. We’d previously been advised to climb with our eyes strictly on the ground, because, on the one hand, this way we can’t see how much longer we have to endure, and on the other hand, that’s how the third trick will work the best.
And we arrive to the peak, more precisely 2-3 meters below it, with our eyes on the ground. In front of us is the same view we saw from the quarry but from higher. We admire it a little, but there’s still a 30-meters-long walk left to get to the actual top: there’s no difference in the elevation here, only about three meters, so we approach it bouncingly. But the bouncing suddenly stops as we reach our destination.
The view that greets us is simply stunning. A three hundred and sixty-degree panorama! Naturally, we can see Lake Balaton, and all the buttes except Tóti, and as we glance over Tapolca Basin, we even see Haláp Hill, Vendek Hill, but also the faraway Csúcsos Hill at Sümeg.
If we climb up here on a foggy morning, that’s all right, too: the view of the fog settled down on the basin can be just as amazing as a sunset. Local rumor has it that once hikers found a stark-naked couple awaiting the sunset on the peak, and according to this urban legend, they even let the tourist of Tóti to take pictures of them: their only request was that they leave their private parts out of the shots. But seriously: who cares about the naked bits of strangers when there’s such a view to look at?!
LENGTH OF TOUR: 1.8-1.9 kilometers from Káptalantóti Road
DURATION: officially it takes 30 minutes, but with the detour to the quarry and the steep climb, it’s more like 50 minutes
Translated by Emma Póli