HISTORY OF THE COUNTRYWIDE BLUE TOUR

The Countrywide Blue Tour was the first long distance hiking trail in Europe. The first continuous path between Sümeg and the peak of Nagy-Milic with the length of 910 km was completed in 1938 (the 900th anniversary of the death of King St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary) on the initiation of dr. Jenő Cholnoky, the Chairman of the Hungarian Hiker's Association. The trail markers were painted along the route between 1928 and 1938 by the members of "Kinizsi Encián" (section of the HHA). In 1937, on the annual convention of the HHA in the village of Bugac, the delegates decided to celebrate the forthcoming 25th anniversary of the HHA with the opening of the CBT in the next year. The name of the first, organised hike was "St. Stephen Hiker's Wandering". According to the original announcement of the movement, jubilee tours in every 5 years should have been organized.

After the Second World War, the Tour was reannounced within the boundaries of the "Ready to Work and War" and  "Discover Our Country" movements in 1952. In January, on the initiation of József Bokody, János Faragó, Lajos Thuróczy and dr. László Vízkelety, The Hiker Section of the Lokomotív Sport Club of Budapest announced the Tour (for their members) between Tapolca and Tolvajhegy with the length of 852 km divided into 25 sections. The first Personal Booklet (12 pages) was published by the "Lokomotív Sportkör" in 1953. The first badge was given to József Horváth in the same year, and now there are more than 4000 hikers, who have obtained the famous Badge of the CBT, which symbolizes the distance stretching to the infinite with its irregular quadrangle shape. The first Personal Booklet with sketches of the route (on hand-drawn maps) was published three years later.

The Blue Tour Committee of the Hungarian Nature-Friends' Association was established in 1961 (by then, the movement became really nationwide). The first "handbook" about the trail (from Sümeg to the peak of Nagy-Milic) was published in 1964 (Along the Route of the Countrywide Blue Tour - editor: Lajos Thuróczy), with detailed maps (printed in colour) and a very detailed route description. (The Hungarian title: "Az Országos Kék-túra útvonala mentén".)

The route was extended to reach the Austrian border at Velem in the '70s. In 1979, Pál Rockenbauer and the movie shooting team of the Hungarian Television accomplished the whole tour and they made a documentary serial (One and a Half Million Steps in Hungary - "Másfélmillió lépés Magyarországon"), which was a real milestone in the history and the popularity of the Countrywide Blues Tour. Seven years later, they started a journey from the western end of the CBT, first to reach the starting point of the South Transdanubian Blue Tour (STBT) in Kaposvár on previously unmarked trails, and then to walk along the STBT to Szekszárd. From this, they made another serial: Another Million Steps ... ("Még egymillió lépés..."). This route was named after Pál Rockenbauer, and it officially became a part of the Blue Tours in 1989, when the Pál Rockenbauer South Transdanubian Blue Tour ("Rockenbauer Pál Dél-Dunántúli Kék-túra" in Hungarian) was announced. At the same time, plans were made to extend the Blue even further - inspired by a film (Bike-wheels and Steps... - or "Kekekek és lépések" in Hungarian) dedicated to the memory of Pál Rockenbauer.  The first section of the Great Plain Blue Tour ("Alföldi Kék-túra" in Hungarian) was completed in 1992 between Szekszárd and Öttömös in the County of Bács-Kiskun, then all the other eastern Counties marked out their sections for the GPBT in the next years. Thus by the year of the Millecentenarium (1996) the Blue was ready, the three parts (CBT, PRSTBT, GPBT) formed a complete circle. This is the Countrywide Blue Circle, or the Blue Circle.

As walking along the Blue Circle, the hiker can accomplish some local movements also (of the County or the geographical area). These are the three "Hikers' Movements for a Badge" described at the and of the Information page (from the Menu). Nearly all the sections from the GPBT can be accomplished as a separate movement too. Beside these, there are other, moderate distance paths also marked with blue trail markers, but not connected to the Blue Circle. Some of these are shortly described in the following lines. The Metallurgy Blue Tour ("Kohász Kék-túra" in Hungarian) was announced in the '60s. The route of the MBT connects the "metalworkers' cities" in the North-Eastern part of Hungary from Salgótarján to Miskolc-Diósgyőr through Ózd. The Blue Tour of the Uplands of Balaton goes from the Port of Badacsony to Péterfürdő on a 94 km long path. A bit shorter, but worth mentioning The Blue Tour of the Börzsöny Mountains from Szob to Diósjenő through Nagybörzsöny, Kemence and the Castle of Drégely.

The Countrywide Blue Tour in the European Long Distance Path Network:
From the '80s, the Countrywide Blue Tour integrates to the European Long Distance Path Network (ELDPN) progressively. On the 26th of October, 1980, the delegates from the Nature-Friends' Associations of the DDR, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary decided the creation of the EB (Eisenach-Budapest) or the Friendship International Mountain Tour. The eastern part of the CBT became the last section of the EB. By the end of the decade, the western part of the CBT became the closing part of the E4 European Long Distance Path. Later, the EB died with the Soviet era, and now the whole CBT and the north-eastern part of the GPBT are integrated into the E4. The latter is also a part of the E3. The original plans for the ELDPN had to be changed because the Balkan War, so the PRSTBT and the other sections of the GPBT became part of the E7 (which was originally planned to cross Yugoslavia). By the summer of 1998, all the by-pass sections were completed between the Blue Circle and the national borders. The official integration took place in 2001, with the "Tour of Europe"
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(originally in Hungarian by dr. András Rosztóczy)