Saturday, May 12, 2012

Westerwaldsteig II and onwards

Hollow trail
 I had a very nice break on the Westerwaldsteig. When I had posted my hiking route on a German outdoor forum a long term member had contacted me and said that he is living just 700 m off my planned route - and invited me to stay with him. I had happily accepted, especially since Werner is the most knowledgeable person about long-distance hiking in Europe that I know. He had helped me a lot in planning this route. Most European hikers go long-distance in the US or other countries, but not very often in Europe. Although hiking is extremely popular in Germany not very many hikers actually hike long-distance here, except for the pilgrims. With Werner being such an experienced hiker himself we had a lot to talk about - and I learnt a lot about what to expect on the Spanish caminos. I was very lucky to meet Werner because he had planned to start his first long bike trip just a couple of days before I arrived, but due to the very cold and wet weather he had delayed his start and made our meeting possible. As usual it was great to get clean again: A shower and clean clothes can turn you into a different human being.

Rhine at Bad Hoenningen
I stayed two nights and thus had a full rest day that I used for updating my blog and chatting with Werner. But on May 2nd we both left: I went hiking again and Werner started his bike trip after he had brought me back the place where he had picked me up two day before. That left me with two days on the Westerwaldsteig and they were actually the best ones. First of all this Western part of the Westerwald is much more forested than the Eastern part I had just hiked through. All Germans know the typical hiking songs about the beautiful Westerwald but so far it had been a mystery to me why everyone was so enthusiastic about this forest - because there was not much forest! Of course there were patches of forest everywhere but not what I had expected. All that changed now: For two days I almost constantly hiked through woods.

Reconstructed Roman watchtower
The closer I got to the river Rhine the more evidence of the Romans were to be seen. The Westerwaldsteig crosses the Limes, the old border of the Roman empire. Several watchtowers had been reconstructed and gave me a nice change in sightseeing. Another unexpected attraction was a wild pig farm where I could watch wild piglets happily playing in the mud because of course it was raining again. The Westerwaldsteig ends in Bad Hoenningen which could also be called mineral water city. Wherever I went I saw mineral water factories. I was a bit suspicious because this is so close to the river Rhine and the last thing you want to drink is Rhine water! In Bad Hoenningen I took a little passenger ferry and finally crossed the famous river. Of course on the other side I was rewarded with a steep ascent!

I now had to make my way over to the Eifelsteig and Werner had been most helpful in finding a good route. He had even supplied me with the relevant map. I was very positively surprised by that short 3 day stretch on the Ahr-Venn-Weg. It was very forested which made for easy camping and was a really nice and rather scenic stretch.

But now the verdict on the Westerwaldsteig: First of all it definitely wins the price for the best marked German hiking trail. Trail markers and signposts are everywhere and access trails make for easy logistics. The whole trail is quite varied and there is a lot of things to see if you are interested from old quarries to monasteries to Roman relics. It is definitely not straightforward but meanders around a lot. It is quite a good trail, but I would not go to much out of my way for it.

3 comments:

John Harwood said...

Wild pigs in the rain! I hope you were as happy as they were.

John Harwood said...

Wild pigs in the rain! I hope you were as happy as they were.

Anonymous said...

Hola Christine,

Wie ich sehe bist Du dem nächst auch auf den Camino del Norte oder Primitivo unterwegs. Ich werde ab Irun in Juni Starten. Toller Blog hast Du über deine Reisen, nur leider auf Englisch. Mein Englisch ist leider nicht so gut das ich alles verstehen kann.

Buen Camino
José Maria