The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Shapely Rocks at Echternach (Luxembourg)

Alternative title: Thwarted, Thwarted, Thrice Thwarted!

More often than not when we're travelling outside of the UK, we choose where to visit based on where there is overnight parking available for Bertie-the-Motorhome. Once there, we look to see what there is around that area. Sometimes an area is interesting and we stick around, sometimes there's nothing to hold us; sometimes we find a walking route (like yesterday) that is pleasant, but not spectacular, and sometimes we strike gold, like today.

After an early 4-mile, 2-circuit run around the lake just outside of the town of Echternach (which sits on the edge of the area of Luxembourg marked on our road atlas as 'Little Switzerland'), we relocated Bertie to a car park in the town and off we set to pick up our intended 17km route.

In the middle of a town is not where we most expect to find an interesting tractor. We particularly liked the addition of half an ice cream tub, wired into position under the bit of the engine that was leaking fluid.

Usefully today we came upon an information sign with a clear map setting out the walking routes in the area, from which we discerned that it was route E1 we were to follow. From a waymarking point of view, that turned out to be a very easy thing to do; this is a route so well signed as to make it suitable for people with no navigational ability or aids.

A steepish haul up a road out of town took us to a more level path that felt a bit like a levada walk in Madeira, except the drop off the side of the path wasn't big enough:

The first 'thwarted!' came when we reached a road with 'closed' barriers across it. Initially I didn't think this a problem, as we were to branch off just before we reached the closure, Alas, it was a problem, as the path was also barred:

As we had left town one of the finger posts had tape covering over the E1 finger, and another of the fingers had a diversion map. As that map said E4 at the top, I didn't pay it any attention. Perhaps that was an error!

A large group of ramblers turned back from the same point just as we reached it, and having briefly looked at our options, we followed them. We know not where they went, as at the first bench we stopped for a very early elevenses and to more closely examine our options. The decision: we would backtrack a little further, follow a path that would join up with our return route, and change the circuit into a lollipop.

That mainly worked, although we did soon come across another obstacle that was far trickier than this photo makes it look:

Four trees were down across the path, with branches, twigs and foliage everywhere. It took a while to find a path through, knowing as we did so that we would have to return the same way, and hoping that they hadn't also closed this bit of path by then!

It was beyond this point that the truly excellent bits of the walk began, in the form of shapely rocks:

Soon after we entered what was labelled as 'The Labyrinth', which I would compare loosely with Lud's Church in The Roaches, but with added twists and turns:

A little while later it became apparent that the path ahead of us had recently suffered significant water damage and when we had to cross a stream the bridge was missing (we later found it further downstream, lying uselessly high up along one bank), but with the water low, we were able to cross. We only covered a handful of paces the other side when the second 'Thwarted!' occurred:

This was a more significant issue, as it meant we couldn't access the westernmost section of the route.

We would have turned around at that point, except that the rock structures across the road looked too interesting to ignore, so we went for a closer look, and what should we find there...

...but a staircase leading up into a fissure. Clearly, we had to go up it:

It got a bit steep at the top, and the staircase became a metal ladder:

That led us to a viewpoint, on top of the rocks (in fact, on top of an overhang - gulp!), and having admired our surroundings from up there, it seemed that, having gained all that height, we may as well take advantage of it by adding in a loop of the next valley along which the E1 headed.

Alas, my intention to walk out along the E1 then return along the bottom of the gorge met with another 'Thwarted!'in the shape of another path closure, so we stuck with the E1 until it took us back to the road. There we discovered, by a glance to our right, that this road was closed too. However, we were already past the 'road closed' barriers, and hadn't passed any signage saying we couldn't proceed, so proceed we did. The reason for the closure became apparent: more flood damage has caused the road edge to collapse.

A workman took a photo of us as we passed him further along. Or maybe we were being paranoid and he was actually taking a selfie of his spectacular work location. Either way, nobody challenged us as we returned to our outward path.

Back through The Labyrinth, back over/round the fallen trees, a stop in a substantial lunch shelter, and onwards we went to the 'Gorge du Loup' - of which I failed to take any photos. It was a vast limestone wall with interesting layers.

This route is set up for the masses. There were benches and bins regularly, and a couple of big lunch shelters too. Due to the path closures, we had it almost to ourselves, encountering only 5 other people beyond the closed section (a group of three who commented how quiet it was, and a couple of dog walkers)

Just for the fun of it, we threw in an extra climb towards the end of the Gorge du Loup, when a sign told us we could climb another staircase up to the top of the wall, to a viewpoint. The viewpoint would have been a good one before all of the trees grew so big...

Down was then our direction, to regain the town, where this sign, outside of a school, caught my eye:

We often find ourselves bemused by European countries' adoption of English slogans

Even though we didn't get to follow the whole of the route, we still managed to cover 14km. I've no idea how much ascent was involved. Nor do I know how much more spectacular rock we missed, but if we should find ourselves passing that area again in the future, I'd be happy to stop by for a few more days to explore further.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

A Wander Around Wiltz, Luxembourg

As the title of this post suggests, we are away again in Europe. As always, anyone can see where we are at any time by nipping over to our daily 'what we are up to' blog at, but I will post here when we walk anywhere worthy of a mention. Having been on the road for just over a week, today was the first such outing.

The location was the town of Wiltz, which lies in the top third of Luxembourg - a country that neither of us had before visited. It's a very green, undulating area, with lots of summer meadows and woodland, and the route I had selected for today was described on as something like 'The woodlands and watercourses at Wiltz'.

Our route was the red one.

Based on the map (OpenStreetMaps - it's what we use for most of our walks abroad unless they are of a nature to suggest that a more detailed map is required), I had suspected that we would be in the trees for most of this walk, so I grabbed a couple of snaps early on when views presented themselves:

It turned out that we weren't nearly as hemmed in as I had expected, and even when we were in the trees, there were some clearings, including this one, covered in foxgloves:

Waymarks were plentiful...

...which might have been useful if we had known which, if any, we were trying to follow. As it went, there was no difficulty at all in following our route on the map.

There was, however, a little difficulty with two short sections of overgrown paths:

We battled through the first such section, but backtracked from the one shown above, feeling (quite literally!) that the number of nettles was incompatible with bare legs. It was easily bypassed via a road then a track.

The final section of the route ran parallel to the railway and a river, the former we had to cross a couple of times, the second time at a station. It was an odd place for a station, seemingly being beyond the end of the nearest road, deep in the forest, and with no haibitation around it. Curious.

Whilst nothing spectacular, it was a more pleasant outing that I'd expected, and a decent leg-stretch (9.5km, around 200m of ascent).

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Postscript to my earlier post

Earlier today I posted a photo of two cars jointly causing a dangerous obstruction of a road, as West Sussex Police's Operation Crackdown report form required me to upload the photos to somewhere on t'internet and to provide a link, rather than allowing me to submit the photos direct.

The acknowledgement I received in response to the report submission said that it was very important that the photo uploaded to somewhere on t'internet was not made public, because if made public it cannot be used in evidence. Key information that would have been better given at the point of instructing to upload the photo and provide a link to where it was located, rather than only imparting the instruction after the event (although in the absence of having an account at any suitable photo-holding website, all that prior notice of the requirement would do would be to stop issues being reported at all; not very user friendly).

As it goes, I'm almost certain that nothing will come of my report. I expect that only a requirement of access to the road by the emergency services would result in words being had with the drivers in question, and I sincerely hope that no such emergency does arise today.

As for us, thanks to Bertie's relatively slim stature (as A-class motorhomes go) we did get out and thus didn't have to move our Eurotunnel crossing, nor our appointment in Belgium tomorrow. A bit of careful measuring told us that the gap was 3" wider than Bertie. Some very slow guided manoeuvring ensued.

Mick took the job of steering and was patient enough to pause mid way out whilst I took these photos, to record our 'tightest gap we've ever had to squeeze through', although note that the photos were taken when Bertie's 'waist' was in the gap; his widest points are his wheel arches.

Obstruction Photo for West Sussex Police

West Sussex Police's Operation Crackdown requires all reports to be supported be evidential photos, but it doesn't allow photos to be uploaded with the form, instead they have to be placed somewhere on t'internet and a link provided. Hence this post. So, if you're not West Sussex Police you can move on to a far more interesting blog post.

(But just by way of a tiny bit of explanation: it's an inconvenience that we are currently trapped in this street (thankfully at a friend's house, not literally sitting in the street), it's far more of an issue, in an area with a high density of elderly folk, that access to the road is currently blocked for ambulances and fire engines.)