Tuesday, 29 October 2019
Camping turned into a bit of a problem that night
because the only small forest was located on a hill too steep for camping. And right on top were there was supposed to be a look out tower according to my map there was now cell phone tower with fences around the whole area. Luckily I found a flat spot right before sunset which was fairly quiet - until I realised that I was camped just a couple of hundred metres away from the church tower with the clock striking every quarter hour until 10 pm. And of course I was woken up in the morning with church bells as well. But the day took a very nice turn because my next rest day was coming up and I had been invited to stay with a fan of my books in Dillingen.
Hiking on I realised that this was not exactly the most scenic part of Saarland. The trail was ok but I was always close to civilisation and continously trying to find a campsite that was out of earshot of the various motorways. One evening I was so happy to find a spot out of sight that it took my a while to figure out that I was trying to camp on top of an old bunker! It was impossible to get my tent pegs in because underneath a very thin layer of earth I hit concrete. It felt a bit bizarre to camp so close to a WW II site but I had no other choice - and I slept well.The Saar-Mosel-Weg even took me right through a university campus where I used the change to charge up my cell phone.
I must say that Saarland was a bit of a disappointment although I had probably just chosen the wrong trail that led my through a very populated area.
Wednesday, 16 October 2019
I was very lucky to have an invitation in Kayl
where one of my FB friends had invited me to her house. I was not only heavenly fed but could eventually ask all my questions about multilingual Luxembourg: The little country has its own language which is kind of similar to German so that I could halfway understand what is going on. When I tried some newlearnt words on my hosts' dog it even obeyed! And most people here also speak German as a second language plus French as the third official language! Very impressive also the incredible apricot cake I was served for dessert. I liked it so much that I was given the leftovers when I departed next morning!
Tuesday, 15 October 2019
|Local bakery on wheels|
|View of Dinant|
thirsty I spotted a van in a litte village. It turned out to be the local baker on a sales tour. Two expensive but delicious chocolate croissants quickly disappeared into my belly before I continued to the two famous Belgian monasteries Maradret and Maredsou, know for their beer (which I don't drink) and cheese (which was nice).
Dinant was my next resupply stop and it greeted me with a wonderful view down at the river valley at sunrise.
|With Mick inside Bertie|
|River Semois at sunset|
I ended up doing a huge detour. Every access trail into the forest was blocked and warning signs were everywhere. I started to worry about were to camp that night! When I reached the forest I had planned to camp in I saw another warning sign and almost despaired. Luckily I took a closer look and discovered that this area had been closed a couple of weeks ago and was now open again. Still, it was already dark when I eventually set up my tent ... The disease has not reached Germany yet and I do hope it stays that way! Also Luxemburg which I was entering now is still free of the disease.
|Belgium is full of reminders of World War I and II|
Wednesday, 9 October 2019
|At the beach near Brugges|
Wild camping turned out to be a big problem because there was hardly any forest or trees to hide in! I had to plan very well in advance to find a suitable spot every evening. The trail itself wasn't too exciting either: More than 50% I was walking on concrete roads or bike paths! Flanders is definitely more bike than hike country. To my big surprise I even met another female hiker who was even wild camping like me. Still there were some highlights on this stretch: an old water castle and the pittoresque town of Oudenarde. From Ath where there was a big festival taking place I took the train to Brussels for my first rest day in Belgium - and to meet a hiker friend!
But there were also some highlights: Blackberries were ripe and I had always somehting to snack. And because I was walking along endless fields I could also skip lunch and eat corn cobs. And I passed the Mons which had just recently been Cultural capitol of Europe and was therefore full of interesting museums. There were so many that it was difficult to choose! I visited the War Museum because Mons played an important role in both world wars and the Silex Museum several kilometres away but along the GR 129. Here back in the stone ages flint stone had been mined and the museum is in fact a huge tent where archaelogists are still excavating the old mine shafts. When I had a break in the shade there I found a lot of stone chips that could well have been created by our human ancestors.
The trail does hardly get any use here! Some paths are completely overgrown with blackberry bushes and nettles and I have to wear long pants despite the heat. Along the roads there are "mowers" to cut the grass and bushes and when one of these guys saw me coming out of the fiels he was so surprises that he mowed one of the guardrails off ...
Eingestellt von German Tourist um 09:34
Tuesday, 8 October 2019
This mostly unmarked trail then continued through the Lake District, a real gem! Despite a lot of rain this stretch was a real highlight and I could not take enough pictures. Unfortunately, in on of the most beautiful places I got so soaked in a cloud burst that I could hardly take any pictures any more. The touchscreen of my smartphone was wet and I did not have any dry cloth to clean it. Plus my fingers were so wet and frozen ... It was still a wonderful day despite the fact that I had to put on soaking wet and cold clothes the following morning. I rewarded myself with a breakfast of champions outside the little supermarket in Grasmere and ate an entire package of chocolate trifle.
|Idyllic campsite with unexpected visitors|
After a sort of connecting day I was in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and had reached the Pennines. More spectacular scenery, a lot of sheep and cattle - but unfortunately only chocolate brown drinking water that slightly tasted of iron but looked colorwise like peach ice tea. There were a lot of industrial remnants in this area which was a mining centre in the 18th and 19th century. What looks almost like wilderness now was a busy industrial area once. Coast to Coast (C2C) is a popular trail and I came across several churches that offered drinks and snacks at cost price for hikers and there was even some trail magic boxes along the way. Very welcome in the rainy weather!
|Drinking chocolate brown swamp water|
|Paragliders in the North York Moors|
Coast to Coast was the real highlight of this hike and I can highly recommend it!!!! I had hiked across Britain before from John O'Groats to Land's End and had not liked it a lot. With that experience I did not have high expectations for the Coast to Coast but I was literally overwhelmed by how great it was. One of the big advantages of the C2C is how easy wild camping is!!! It is tolerated in the three national parks and wasn't a problem in the connecting stretches in between. Although C2C is a popular trail I did not meet a lot of other hikers probably due to the fact that I had started on a Monday and mostly camped wheras most hikers stay in town.
Sunday, 6 October 2019
The last stretch through Ireland was on the Wicklow Way, a rather popular Irish hiking trail. There were even Appalachian Trail shelters along the way. Good for me because in one of them I could score an almost full gas canister and batteries (although they turned out to be the worst quality ever!). Some boggy sections even had brand new board walks! By now I had gotten used to Irish weather which meant a faint drizzle every day. No wonder the island is so green. Luckily it never rained hard. Although the area is called Wicklow Mountains it was not very mountainous at all, just rolling hills with more forest than usual. Camping got easier. Biggest highlight of this sections was Glendalough, an old monastery which was now a major tourist attraction. I was a bit overwhelmed by the masses of people, many of them Americans searching for their emmigrant ancestors.
|Glendalough in rain and mist|
Saturday, 5 October 2019
|Peat laid out for drying|
|With Andrea and Mike|
who were taking a nero day in Fermoy. They had invited my into their B&B to charge up my phone. In order to be not as smelly as usual I had even "bathed" in the river Blackwater before meeting them. Unfortunately this river is not called Blackwater for nothing. I was probably dirtier after bathing than before ... The owner of the B&B took pity on me and let me take a shower despite the fact that I was just visiting and not staying at his place. The three of us chatted so long that my empty powerbank was fully recharged by the time I left ...
|Along the river Barrow|
|Inside the cable car|
Once on the island I hurried to Dursey Head and the official start of my hike. I had even brought a
GoPro camera to record this moment. But when I tried to get it working the SD card was broken. I cursed modern technology and took some crappy pictures with my smartphone. Then I had to run back immediately to get the last ferry back. And this is when I first met Andrea and Mike who were also hiking across Ireland and had come by taxi .. We exchanged phone numbers and I hurried on. Being the only passenger in the tiny cabin was a bit scary. I had just caught the last ride. After all this rushing around I was rewarded with a wonderful sunset and a fabulous view over the sea from my campsite - although I was covered in fog the next morning in this exposed place.
|Butter shelf in an Irish Lidl - a lot of variety!|