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, 9 August 2018

Monday 8 June - a Swabian Stroll

On Sunday afternoon we found ourselves in a car park in a green valley flanked by forested slopes broken up by limestone cliffs and outcrops - not unlike we experienced around Beuron on the Danube a few weeks ago, but on a smaller scale. We have now left the Danube, after a few weeks spent often within a stone's throw of its waters, and are currently journeying northwards, through the Swabian Alps.

My only expectations of Sunday's car park were that it would be quiet and in pleasant surroundings. It surpassed those expectations (although we did have to wait for the 'quiet' attribute, having arrived at a time of day when it was absolutely rammed with picnickers and families enjoying the river, with cars squeezed into every available spot on all of the local roads and tracks).

A map board in the car park set out two walks in the area, one being 6.8km long, the other 239km, and it wasn't a difficult decision to stick around on Monday and walk the former, complete with its advertised 11 points of interest.

The route took us easily along the flat bottom of the valley, where a small river meanders its way...

...before a turn had us puffing our way steeply up to the structure we had spotted high up above us.

The signposts had this down as a ruin, but when we got there we found a sturdy, reconstructed tower, complete with an external spiral staircase giving access to the top:

The views weren't too shoddy...

...but with a lack of shade on the top, we didn't pause at the bench there for elevenses, deciding instead to wait until a Grillplatz we knew we would pass once we got back down to the river.

It took us much longer than anticipated to get there, because a signpost to another ruin, further up the valley, had us impulsively take a detour. Alas, this ruin was less impressive. In fact, we wouldn't have noticed that we were standing inside of it, if it hadn't been for the small 'this is your location' sign on a finger post.

Route finding to get from there back down to the river proved a little tricky, but after a bit of back-and-forthing we found the way, and popped out on the valley floor right in the middle of a summer camp group of early-teens. We soon left them behind as they waited for the laggards at the bridge that took us onto the other side of the valley.

A late elevenses was finally had in a substantial shelter at the Grillplatz, thus affording us some shade. Then, shunning the perfectly good riverside track, up into the forest we went.

Looking back up to the tower from by the Grillplatz. An information sign here showed how the tower was just one part of a large set of defensive buildings on this valleyside.

Mick did question whether there was any purpose to the indirect forest-bound route. I didn't know, having understood as much of the information sign as he had, but I figured there must be something of interest up there, to have made the trail planners take the route that way. I was wrong. There was nothing of interest about that detour, although it was nice to pop out into a meadow at one point, and find it full of sunflowers:

We have been seeing fields of wild-flowers all trip, but most of the varieties are now dying off, just as the sunflowers have come into bloom.

A lack of concentration had us walk a few minutes in the wrong direction at this point, winessed by a chap in a BMW that didn't look like it was designed to be driving up a rudimentary grassy track like this one (the grass in the middle was feet high). Perhaps he had taken a wrong turn and couldn't find anywhere to turn around?

Putting ourselves right was easy, and down we went, to rejoin the riverside track that, in hindsight, we shouldn't have left in the first place (I ran that track on Tuesday morning and can confirm that it was far more interesting than the forest route).

Back at our start point, we had walked 9km with 220m of ascent and had noted just one point of interest, rather than the eleven advertised. Examining the information board again, I came to the conclusion that most of the claimed points of interest were, to my mind, just nice surroundings (the meandering river, the riverside meadows, cliffs, etc). Still, it was all lovely and a good way to spend our morning.

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