Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Europe Diagonal: The idea

The idea of this hike is the result of a quick look at the map: I have already hiked across Europe from East to West and from North to North, which can be seen as a vertical and horizontal traverse of the continent. So what is next? A diagonal! Ireland to Greece!

I liked the idea immediately because the route crosses two countries I have not hiked in before but always wanted to: Irland and Greece. When I then did some prelimenary research about different route options I came across a trail in Belgium called GR 129 "Belgique en diagonal". I decided to regard this as a hint of fate and was set on the idea thereafter.

As there are two obstacles in the way - the Alps and some private and professional obligations - I will hike the route in two summer seasons: This year I will start early July in Ireland and hope to get as far as the Alps before snow starts falling and my publishing house is calling me back to my computer.

This year's route includes the following trails:
  • In Ireland I will follow the European long-distance trail E 8. I am really looking forward to this part as I have never been in Ireland before.
  • In Great Britain the E8 coincides with the Transpennine Way which is more of a biking and than hiking route. I therefore decided to cross the island a bit further North on Wainwright's classic Coast-to-Coast. As I have already hiked the length of Britain from John O'Groats to Land's End I thought that this time an East-West-traverse is enough ...
  • In Belgium I will follow the GR 129 which is so aptly named "Belgique en diagonal" - another part I am really looking forward to as I have done shorter hikes in Belgium before and really liked this underestimated hiking destination.
  • Luxembourg poses a bit of a problem as there is no decent hiking trail in the Southern part of this tiny country but I guess I will somehow work my way across the tiny country on local trails.
  • In Germany I wanted to use trails I have not done before - a bit difficult because I have already traversed my home country several times on foot. But I discovered some totally unknown routes like Saar-Mosel-Weg and Saar-Rhein-Weg and a diagonal traverse of the Black Forest on the HW5. From Lake Constance I will either take the popular Maximiliansweg or use some pilgrim routes - depending on how far winter has advanced. 
This first half of the European Diagonal is only 2,500 kilometres, the second half next year will be longer.